The other part was my parents' landlords. When they were first married, and prior to having had me, my parents rented an upstairs apartment in a couple's house. We would visit them every New Year's Day and every year they would have photographs of the places that they had traveled. Far from being bored, though, I loved it. The wife was a musician and she would buy a small hand-held instrument at most of their destinations. They were on windowsills and bookcases and on top of the television. And every year I would think, "I'm going to go there someday."
Unfortunately it took me a long time to actually start checking places off of that list. This is because for most of my childhood, travel meant driving from Chicago to Florida to visit my mom's family. We would stop at some destinations on the way, but most of the time was spent at my cousins' house doing basically the same things I did at home, only with cousins. We'd go to the supermarket and cook dinner at home, and visit my mom's old high school friends, and sit around and watch television.
The one thing that was differentiated home from the cousins', though, was that my cousins' house was just a block away from the Intracoastal Waterway. My cousin's son is only a year younger than I am and we would go down and watch the fiddler crabs and the boats. This was in the 1970s, which was when the manatees were in decline. My mom would tell me about seeing them when she was in high school, though. The area of the Intracoastal Waterway that my cousins lived near had lots of mangrove plants when I was little. I didn't even realize that people lived on the other side until I was much older.
My last visit to the Waterway was after my mom's funeral. My dad and son and I walked down there. The mangroves were long gone and much of the land where my cousin and I used to watch the crabs had been paved over. It was so different from how it had looked in my childhood and yet it still feeled a bit like "home." Suddenly, my son, who was a kindergartener, said, "What's that?" and pointed out into the water. It took my dad and me a while to see what he was seeing. It was a small pod of dolphins. Probably there were two or three of them, it was hard to see at that distance. And, of course, this was before everyone had a camera on their person at all times, so no one got a chance to photograph them. Even if we had tried, they were is likely that they would have been just a little blip on the surface of the water, since they were about 600 feet (just shy of 200 meters) away by my calculations. I'll never forget it, though.
This was a kind of difficult article to get through for me. Partly this was because I had a dear friend at one time who had had multiple head injuries as a child. When I knew him, he was an adult, but he had impulse control problems, focus and memory issues, and a volatile temper. Years after I lost touch with him, I read an article on traumatic brain injury and it was kind of eerie how much this sounded like my old friend.
Additionally, there are pictures of an injured Marine, Corporal Burness Britt, and an art therapy project where the survivors of this kind of blast force trauma were encouraged to make masks depicting their feelings about the injuries. Some of the images, including the image of Corporal Britt, and of masks with the faces ripped open, were disturbing.
Alexander's article discusses the ongoing study into whether blast force trauma can induce traumatic brain injury. After World War I, soldiers came home with similar symptoms to the ones we are seeing in Gulf War veterans. This was termed "shell shock," and presumed to be the result of exploding artillery shells. Over the years, this cluster of symptoms were dismissed as a psychological phenomenon known as post-traumatic stress disorder. Now, with improvements in imaging equipment, the pendulum is swinging the other way. Scientists are beginning to believe that some of the symptoms really were from blast force.
We find out at the end of the article that this is a personal issue for Alexander. Her brother-in-law had been the victim of blast force trauma during his tour of duty in the Middle East. After he left the military, he trained explosive experts, using live explosives. He later took his own life. The ending paragraph is downright chilling after what came before it.
Pure Hawaiian, by John Lancaster, photographs by Paul Nicklen
Once again, we return to travel, this time Makaha, a beach on the western side of Oahu, which is mostly frequented by native Hawaiians. Lancaster had been told stories about how the Hawaiians at Makaha are unfriendly to haoles (white people), and he recounts his first experience there, which seems to bear this out.
Then Lancaster goes deeper into the culture. He discusses the history of surfing, and we meet some of the residents of Oahu's West Side, an area plagued by poverty. The first one we meet, Richard Keaulana, is a full-blooded Hawaiian who grew up in the area. We later meet a young surfer who dropped out of high school, Sheldon Paishon. Paishon's mother is a haole. His father's family has been on the islands for centuries, but his ancestors were Portuguese. The Paishons assume that there is native Hawaiian blood in the family, but they cannot know for sure. Paishon has dreams of becoming a professional surfer, but first he has to get his life together. We find in this article that he has gotten a job and that he might be on the right track now.
At the end of the article, Lancaster finds out his mistake -- newcomers are expected to introduce themselves to the locals at Makaha. He had a conversation, getting to know one of the locals and got the seal of approval to surf there.
This was interesting to me from a totally different angle than the one I was coming from for the previous article. When I got my divorce and started my job, one of my priorities was to begin taking vacations again (except for family obligations, I hadn't traveled for five years). I set up a fund that would pay for "entertainment" -- movies, restaurant food, bowling, and so forth. At the end of the month, anything that was left over went to pay for travel. My first two years, my son and I took a long weekend. Our first week-long vacation was to the Big Island. We didn't have the money or the time for surfing lessons, but we did go snorkeling. We had such a good time on that vacation that I actually puddled up a little when the time came to check out of our hotel. We hope to return to Hawaii in another three or so years from now, once I've worked my way up into making a little more money at my job and have enough money to take two vacations a year.
Burroughs, a native of South Carolina, is writing here about the ACE Basin, named for the Ashepoo, Combahee, and Edisto Rivers which border the area. This is more of a character study than anything else, going into the history of the area and touching briefly on the new prosperity of nearby Kiawah Island.
The ACE Basin was originally the site of rice plantations. Plantation owners would use the tides to flood the land with water from the rivers, and would grow rice there. During the Civil War, the plantation owners fled, leaving their plantations abandoned. Hunters move into the area In recent decades, the land has been reclaimed and is now a wildlife refuge.
As Burroughs travels through the basin, we see the remnants of former human inhabitants and the activities of the current residents, including the hunters who frequent the area and a church near the burial site of a number of slaves, former slaves, and descendants of these former slaves. We also see, through Burroughs's eyes, the wildlife of the area and the breathtaking sight of a pair of whooping cranes. In 1941, there were only 23 wild whooping cranes in the world, and at the time of the writing of this article, there were over 500 and today that number is approaching 600.
Musi's photographs are breathtaking. They are also the reason this article exists. Musi discovered the ACE Basin while working on a different article, and he sold the editors at National Geographic on it. They hired Burroughs to write the text. And then the article lay fallow for almost eight years while Musi tried to find the time to finish the photographs. The photos are worth the delay, particularly the three-leaf spread of the ghostly remains of several live oak trees on Edisto Island.
Carnivore's Dilemma, by Robert Kunzig, photographs by Brian Finke
Carnivore's Dilemma is part of the National Geographic's Future of Food series. In this article, Kunzig discusses the love of the residents of the United States for beef and the way that the ranching industry has adapted to the demand. I did not realize until this article that the peak consumption of beef in the United States was within my lifetime. In 1976, Americans ate 91.5 pounds of beef per year. By 2013, that number had dropped to 54 pounds per person. However, the population of the United States has also grown in that time, In 1976, we consumed about 20 billion pounds of beef, and in 2013, we consumed around 17 billion pounds of beef. Adding in how much the increased global demand for beef has increased, this means that production of beef is a big business.
Kunzig in this article, goes to visit a cattle feedlot and takes us with him. His impressions are that for a place doing a fairly distasteful but overall necessary job, they seem to be gentle with the animals and it didn't seem like a bad end, overall, for an animal that only exists to be turned into food for people.
The article, however, is accompanied by graphs showing how much land, water, and feed are required, and how much in greenhouse gas emissions are created, to raise a thousand calories of beef, pork, dairy, poultry, and eggs. In every case, the amount required for beef is far higher than for the others (the lowest is consistently eggs).
So the impression one gets from the article is that perhaps beef is less than ideal, but since people worldwide are going to eat beef (the article is accompanied by a map and graph showing how global beef consumption has increased over the years since 1961), the animal scientists working on raising the beef efficiently, economically, and humanely are doing better than they had done in the past and are likely to do so more in the future.
Monkeys of Morocco, photographs by Francisco Mingorance, text by Rachel Hartigan Shea,
I debated how to caption this one. I was not sure whether to continue to use the writer first or put the photographer first, since this article is largely a pictorial of Barbary macaques in Morocco with six paragraphs of accompanying text and a small map. And the photographs are well worth looking at.
Mindsuckers, by Carl Zimmer, photographs by Anand Varma, graphic novellas by Matthew Twombly
Mindsuckers is about, as I said above, how parasites change the behavior of their hosts. We see several examples, including a wasp that forces ladybugs to defend the young that are eating it alive; the lifecycle of Toxoplasma gondii, which forces rats to seek out cats to kill and eat them; a parasitic flatworm that causes frogs to develop deformed limbs, the easier to be preyed upon by herons; white buttefly wasps that use cabbage butterfly larvae as their hosts.
The theory for this alteration of behavior is that the genes of the parasites somehow override the genes of the host. And it seems that, to some extent, this theory is correct. Only from my reading, it seems that the parasites carry viruses which change the behaviors of the hosts, rather than the genes of the parasites doing it themselves.
I was mildly disappointed by the "graphic novellas." Twombly did a fantastic job of illustrating the lifecyles of the parasites. However, they are just illustrations of what we already read in the text, rather than providing us with new information. Additionally, I have been a comic book reader for over 30 years now, and the two-page spreads in question hardly qualify as "novellas." I would accept "graphic novelette," maybe, but I think that "graphic short story" would be more appropriate.
Sorrow on the Mountain, by Chip Brown, photographs by Aaron Huey
Sorrow on the Mountain recounts the events that took place in the Khumbu Icefall of Mount Everest on April 18, 2014. April 18, 2014 looked like an ordinary work day for the guides on Mount Everest. The guides were setting up ropes and moving equipment, just as they did for every expedition to climb the mountain. Some of the anchors had come loose, which caused delays. One of the Sherpas, Nima Chhring, had an experience known as a "crying ear," which is what some Sherpas experience when something dangerous is going to happen. Chhring heeded his ear and headed down the mountain, warning others to leave the Icefall. Many listened, but others felt that a crying ear was no reason to stop and carried on.
Disaster did soon strike. A tremendous section of ice fell off the mountain with a sound that survivors described as "tuuung," like a bell, rather than the rumbling that usually accompanied falling ice. 16 guides, both Sherpas and those of other cultures, were killed by the falling ice. Sorrow on the Mountain humanizes the men who died that day. We learn their names and their stories and the stories of their survivors, wives and children and even parents.
And, for someone truly unfamiliar with mountain climbing (the only mountains I'm familiar with are the Smoky Mountains of Tennesse and North Carolina) there are some very informative graphics, including a photograph of the mountain showing the areas on the mountain that are referenced in the article. This was a huge help to me.
Sherpa Pride and Sacrifice, images courtesy of Sherpa climbers, photographs by Aaron Huey
This is a several page photo essay on the Sherpas. We see photographs of the Sherpas on top of the mountain, many of whom are displaying prayer cards. We see Sherpas at work, as well, setting up ropes, carrying gear, serving food, and getting paid. We also see Sherpas at home -- a pair of grieving parents at a festival, setting up prayer flags at the altar of Khumbila, the god of the Khumbu, and we see Sherpa children at boarding school, getting the education they will need to build lives that don't depend on them climbing Everest.
When I say "definitely not all," a big part of the reason I travel goes back to my childhood visits to my parents' first home together. When they were first married, my parents rented an upstairs apartment from a middle-aged couple. Every year we would go visit them around New Year's Day, and every year they would have all sorts of photographs from their travels. Additionally, the wife was a professional musician and she would buy a small hand-held instrument every year as well. The instruments and the pictures always were fascinting to me and whether they were from Appalachia or from Oceania, every year I would say, "I want to go there someday." Over the years, the number of places that I wanted to go would grow, until finally I just threw my hands up and decided to try to go everywhere.
And I've made a pretty good dent in "everywhere." I've traveled to four foreign countries and 32 US states. The TripAdvisor map on Facebook says that I've traveled 7% "of the world," however they define "the world." Now, at the rate I'm going, in order to increase that 7% to 100%, I will have to live to be around 700 years old, but I'm hoping to speed that up a little more in the coming years.
I'm thinking that on some of my non-National-Geographic-reviewing days I may write a little about some of my own travel experiences. I haven't decided this for certain yet, but it is definitely something that I am considering.
Just Press Print, by Roff Smith, photographs by Robert Clark
I think that this may be the first non-travel-centric article that I've written about here, aside from the prefatory material from 1888. Though there is some geography-related content in the article, the article is mostly about the advances in technology that comes from 3-D printing. Most of the results of 3-D printing that I have heard of has been plastic and since the results of the 2-D printing industry, in the form of junk mail, has been a big stressor for me, my reaction has usually been "Oh, goody. Plastic three-dimensional stuff to take up even more space."
So, this article was good for me to read, since we see some of the useful things that can be made, including a new face for a man who lost much of his face to cancer (warning: if you are squeamish about these types of things, don't read this article, because there is a beautiful photograph of the man and his prosthetic face) and living tissue, with a view towards perhaps being able to print replacement organs for people.
The travel hook in the article is a bit about a printed house that the firm DUS is building in Amsterdam. They expect the house to be finished in around three years.
Wasteland, by Paul Voosen, photographs by Fritz Hoffmann
Wasteland is an article about Superfund sites in the United States. In 1980, Congress created a program, called Superfund, that was designed to remediate lands that were damaged by toxic waste. The Superfund program arose after toxic waste was discovered in the Love Canal neighborhood of Niagara Falls, New York. The original plan was for the companies that caused the waste to be left there to pay some of the cost of remediation and for the government to pick up the rest of the cost, but a number of the companies were unwilling or unable to pay for their share, leaving the government to pay the entire cost.
There are more than 1,700 Superfund sites in the United States, and one statistic given says that one in six people in the United States lives within three miles of a Superfund site. I have lived, if not within three miles, pretty close to that, of two in my life, one in the Chicago area when I was a child and one in the San Antonio area as an adult.
The article talks about the different types of remediation being done on some of the sites in the United States and also the increasing difficulty the government is having coming up with the money now that the tax that had previously paid for the government's share, a tax on chemicals and oil, has expired.
Images of other sites profiled in this, article, aside from Love Canal, are Tar Creek in Pitcher, Oklahoma; a landfill in Monterey Park, California; the Gowanus Canal in New York City; and the Berkeley Pit in Butte, Montana. There is information on even more sites in the text of the article.
Cowboys on the Edge, by Alexandra Fuller, photographs by Tomás Munita
Cowboys on the Edge is the tale of baguales of Estancia Ana María, in Patagonia in Chile. In the early 20th century, Estancia Ana María was owned by Arturo Iglesias. Some of his herd of cattle went feral and natural selection caused them to become wilder and stronger than regular cattle. Now, rather than vacas, the name for this type of literally savage cattle is baguales, and the men who herd them are bagualeros.
Fuller traveled with the bagualeros as they went to round up as many baguales as they could in the period before the Iglesias family sells the land to a rancher. The bagualeros hoped to collect as many as 50 baguales, but it was a tougher job than they expected.
I am used to running with a fairly sensitive group online, so I want to put a small content warning on this article. Several of the baguales die on the trip and there is one reference to invading Poland that is kind of tone-deaf to those who are sensitive to Nazism.
Otherwise, this is a quick read written in a pretty informal style. I did have to wonder about Fuller's assertion that boat or a 10-day horse ride through fairly deep water are the only ways to get to Estancia Ana María. I wondered if there are some extreme updrafts preventing one from reaching it by helicopter or if that was an oversight.
I haven't given up on 1888 yet. But these articles are so much easier to get through, that I'm focusing on them for the time being.
Do you think I should start tagging for writers and photographers as well as locations?
Cross Currents, by Kennedy Warne, photographs by Thomas P. Peschak
Even though this isn't an official part of the food theme of this issue, this is also an article on food -- fishing in particular.
After apartheid ended in South Africa, the government set up a new policy regarding fishing, allowing a certain number of licenses to commercial, recreational, and subsistence fishermen. The subsistence fishermen group were largely indigenous Africans who fish to provide food for their families. Subsistence fishermen had previously been shut out of getting licenses, so it was a huge step forward to allow them to have a certain percentage of the available licenses.
The are two problems with this scheme. The first problem was that the commercial licenses all went to large operations, leaving the smaller commercial operations (who are described in the article as "artisanal") without licenses. The second was that they overestimated the ability of humans to overfish. As a result, the government ended up rescinding a bunch of licenses and set aside "marine protected areas" where the fish could, theoretically, reproduce undisturbed.
The end result of this, however, was that poaching is now skyrocketing. Warne spends much of this article talking to the poachers and trying to balance their viewpoints with those of the people who are in favor of keeping, or even expanding, the marine protected areas.
Blessed, Cursed, Claimed: On Foot Through the Holy Lands, by Paul Salopek, Photographs by John Stanmeyer
Blessed, Cursed, Claimed is the third installment of Salopek's series, Out of Eden Walk, where Salopek is walking from Africa's Rift Valley and across the Middle East, then through Asia, into North America and then down into South America. Apparently Salopek is taking a fairly liberal interpretation of the term "walk," since he is doing some of the trip by boat. Salopek began the walk in 2013, and hopes to complete it in 2020.
In this installment, Salopek walks from Jordan to Jerusalem. We see archaeological sites, refugees, Bedouins, Jews, Muslims, and Christians, in this part of the walk.
Much of this article focuses on barriers. not only does Salopek cross a national border, he also crosses through the West Bank, where the two-state solution would have the nation of Palestine be. We also cross the barrier between the main city of Jerusalem and the community of the Haredi, ultraorthodox Jews who have a strict separation between men and women in their society. We also visit the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. The actual site where Helena (mother of Constantine the Great) believed that Jesus was born is now a Greek Orthodox church. At the height of the tensions between the Greek church and the Catholic Church of St. Catherine next door, the only way that Catholic visitors could see the church was through a peephole in the common door between the two churches. And, finally, we see the gulf of darkness that separates a Bedouin family that was Salopek's host on the shores of the Dead Sea from the nearby luxury resort.
The Joy of Food Text and photos by various writers.
The Joy of Food is the first pictorial in the article. There are both historical and current pictures of people eating (mostly of them sharing food) from as far back as 1894 and from locations all over the world.
We open with two children in England sharing an apple in a photograph first published in National Geographic in 1916 accompanied by text by Victoria Pope. Following this are images from Afghanistan, Germany, England, and the United States (one from California and one from Washington, DC). The 1894 photograph takes up two pages. It is of picnicgoers in Maine eating watermelon. The next pages feature images from Croatia, Ghana, China, and one of a family saying grace where the location is unknown (but likely is the United States once again). We get another two-page photograph, this one likely to be a modern photo of nuns in Beirut making marzipan. The final five photographs are of 1934 birthday party, an Armenian wedding, food laid out for the dead in Belarus, a fisherman in Alaska, and a boy eating porridge in Denmark.
In addition to the Victoria Pope quote, the text is from Erma Bombeck, M.F.K. Fisher, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
The Communal Table Text by Victoria Pope, Photographs by Carolyn Drake.
I think that this is the first article I've reviewed that has both text and photographs by women.
The Communal Table is about a meal in Milpa Alta, the poorest borough of Mexico City. Milpa Alta, which is Spanish for "high cornfield," is the site of around 700 religious festivals a year, culminating in an annual pilgrimage, which begins on January 3, to a holy site in Chalma, 59 miles from Milpa Alta.
This meal, which is held just before Christmas, is called </i>La Rejunta</i> (Spanish for the roundup), is a meal of tamales and atole, which is traditional Mexican chocolate drink. The tamales and atole of La Rejunta given to thank those who made donations to the pilgrimage, and the amounts of each are proportional to the value of the donation.
The Communal Table focuses on the people who make La Rejunta work, particularly on the 2013 majordomos of the event, Virginia Meza Torres and Fermín Lara Jiménez. Pope takes us through the steps of preparation for La Rejunta until the day of the event.
My only issue with this article is that the focus on the people leaves the places shrouded in mystery. The reference to "the ancient place of the holy cave," and to "a life-size darkened statue of Jesus" led me to the conclusion that the pilgrims still visited the original cave. Instead, the "statue" is a crucifix and the current pilgrimage is to a baroque church that stands in front of the cave. There are references in the text to Milpa Alta being "rural," but the images are all very crowded looking. In reality, the area is spread out enough that three major hot-air balloon festivals are held in the area every year.
By Their Fridges Ye Shall Know Them, photography by Mark Menjivar
This is a two-page spread featuring several photographs from Menjivar's "Refrigerators" project. Menjivar takes pictures of the insides of people's refrigerators and displays them full-sized, so that the viewer gets the feeling that he or she is really looking into someone's refrigerators. Four images are featured in this spread, including the refrigerators of a football coach and social worker, of a midwife and science teacher, of a street advertiser, and of a bartender.
The bartender, by the way, has a container of mayonnaise from the Central Market Organics line which is local to South Texas (where I live currently). I looked up Menjivar's CV, and he is in South Texas, as well.
Yes, I'm still working on Geographic Methods in Geologic Investigation.
First Glimpse, by Timothy Ferris, Photographs by Robert Clark
This article is on cosmology, and cosmology really isn't my thing. Somehow, the huge numbers of years and distance and things just serves to remind me that the clock is running and the universe will wind down someday. I mean, I'd be gone by then anyhow, unless an article I read a few years ago that said that time might stop any second turns out to be true, but I still find the thought, particularly that there is nothing we can do to stop it, or even slow it down, sort of distressing.
That being said, I read this article, which opens with a quote that cosmologists are "Often in error but never in doubt." That's comforting. Well, not really, but it does kind of remind me of the Dunning-Krueger effect, which says that people who don't know what they're doing ("often in error") will be more likely to be certain that they are experts ("never in doubt") than one would expect. It is likely that they do know what they're talking about, but obviously someone has some doubts.
The article that follows talks about "dark matter" and "dark energy," which are two forces that we cannot perceive but that seem to have some kind of effect on the universe. "Dark matter" seems to be pushing things closer together, while "dark energy" seems to be pushing them apart. Ferris also talks about the things that cosmologists are doing to measure what they perceive as being dark matter and dark energy, including a large sphere of lights pointing inward towards a pool of argon. The hope is that dark matter will pass through this device and make flashes of light.
I did find out that dark matter is not some mysterious thing "out there," though, which was kind of interesting. Apparently, the Earth is being bombarded by it constantly and since we cannot perceive it, it is likely to be be passing through our bodies and we just are not aware of it.
First Americans, by Glenn Hodges
Now I'm back on familiar, and far more comfortable, territory.
In 2007, Mexican divers found a cavern full of bones. The oldest one whose skull was intact enough to do a facial reconstruction on, was a teenaged girl who died somewhere between 12,000 and 13,000 years ago. She was given the name Naia, after the Naiads of Greek mythology. Naia's basic genetic structure is the same as that of current Native Americans, indicating that the current Native American population is descended from the people who were here all those centuries ago, but her facial structure is very different, with much coarser features.
The bodies of Paleo-Americans that have been found so far seem to be very likely to have evidence of injuries from some kind of close-range battle. The standard explanation is that the men were fighting over women, and the women were victims of domestic abuse. While this is a possible explanation, and may even be the most likely explanation, I was a teenager several decades ago and remember a few physical fights among my female peers. As a result, I'm not going to completely discount the idea that perhaps the women fought among themselves just as the men seem to have done.
The article also discusses the Friedkin site which is described as being in central Texas "about an hour north of Austin." That's still a very large area, so I did a little digging and discovered that it is in Salado, Texas, in Bell County. The Friedkin site may be the earliest settled place in North America. A large quantity of stone tools have been found on the site, some dating back 15,500 years. The quantity of tools seems to indicate to the archaeologists that a group of Paleo-Americans actually settled there for an extended period.
Hodges mentions the Anzick site in Montana, as well, where the 12,600-year-old skeleton of a child. They were able to extract an entire genome from this child, the first time we had been able to do so. Fossilized human waste was also found in a cave in Oregon, which gives archaeologists a chance to see what people of the area ate and which indicates that the Paleo-Americans may have settled there for a while.
The photographs on the article were taken by various photographers including Timothy Archibald, Paul Nicklen, James Chatters, David Coventry, and Erika Larsen.
First Bird, written and photographed by Klaus Nigge
This is a short, six-paragraph, piece on the bald eagle accompanied by five beautiful photographs. In the article, Nigge discusses his time photographing the bald eagles of the Aleutian islands, who were so habituated to humans that they would let him walk right up to them to photograph them.
First City, by Robert Draper (Photographs by Robin Hammond)
In the case of this article, the word "first" is more a reference to rank rather than to chronology. The census for the country of Nigeria has trouble tabulating the population of Lagos, which has grown so fast that, at the moment it is somewhere between 13 and 18 million. The economy of Lagos is flourishing, as well. In the 21st century alone, consumer spending in Lagos has grown from 24.4 billion to 320.3 billion. The economy of Nigeria passed up the previous front-runner, South Africa, in 2012.
As with many National Geographic articles, this one features the stories of a number of Nigerians, from Onyekachi Chiagozie, an electrician who has big dreams, to Banke Meshida Lawal, a beautician with offices in Africa but who has representatives in other countries, including the United States, to Kola Karim, a multimillionaire who owns a conglomerate that employs more than 3,000 people.
The article also discusses the political climate of Nigeria, including the gap between the culture of Lagos and the upheaval of the rest of the country. Draper also discusses the corruption of the national government of Nigeria, which is a major exporter of petroleum but which doesn't have enough gasoline for its citizens and which is unable to supply a steady level of electricity to any of its residents.
The photographs range from sitting portraits of residents to pictures of people going about their daily lives, both in the upscale and downscale areas of the city.