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This week: Florida


The Story of a Railway That Ran Far Out to Sea
BY MITCHELL SMYTH Meridian Writers’ GroupPALM BEACH, Florida—“Flagler’s Folly” his critics called it, when Henry Morrison Flagler announced that he planned to run a railway out to sea, down the Florida Keys all the way to Key on...


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Tips from the latest guidebooks



Rough Guide to the Philippines, 4th edition





THE BIGGEST AND most prolonged party in the country is a “quasi-religious mardi gras” and “a flamboyant alfresco rave,” says the fourth edition of the Rough Guide to the Philippines.

Ati-Atihan is a two-week event held in January in Kalibo, a town on the north coast of the island of Panay, about 350 kilometres south of Manila. For the rest of the year, says the guidebook, people who fly into Kalibo skip the town, getting straight onto the bus for nearby Boracay, famed for its white beaches. But in January, they stay.

Ati-Atihan’s origins go back to 1210, more than 360 years before the Spanish took control of the Philippines and brought Catholicism to the islands. Originally, it celebrated a real-estate deal with newcomers. The 16th-century friars who ran the country introduced Christian elements to the festival.

Today, pre- and post-colonial aspects co-exist, especially on the third Sunday of the month when a “three-day, three-night frenzy of carousing and dancing” culminates with a procession where, “transvestites bring out their best frocks and schoolgirls with hats made of coconuts join aborigines, celebrities and priests in fancy dress,” and everyone moves to “the unending beat of massed drums.”

The Ati-Atihan motto is Hala Bira, Puera Pasma, says the guidebook, which means, “Keep going, no tiring.”



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Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West opens


OPENED 15 JANUARY 2015, Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West in Arizona is a two-storey, 4,000-square-metre centre whose focus is the past, present and future of the American West, although it appears to understand that the Old West is likely to be its main draw. Wagon wheels hang from its rafters and the Arizona Republic writes that the place smells of “aged leather and the cedar and oak wood that caps the ceilings, staircases and floor boards.”

One of its opening shows is “Inspirational Journey: the Story of Lewis and Clark.” Meriwether Lewis and William Clark crossed the American West in 1804, looking for a trading route to the Pacific Ocean, and kept journals describing what they saw. These are the basis for the 100 paintings by modern-day artist Charles Fritz that form the backbone of the exhibition.

Another of the opening shows is “Will James: Cowboy Artist and Author.” James (1892-1942) wrote and illustrated almost two dozen books based on his experiences as a cowboy, five of which were made into movies.

The museum’s “heritage wall” has photos of Western trailblazers from a century ago to today. Along with the expected (Billy the Kid) and understandable (former U.S. Supreme Court judge Sandra Day O’Connor, who grew up on an Arizona ranch) is, surprisingly, Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft. He counts because Washington state, where Microsoft is based, is among the 19 western states covered by the museum.


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