TRADING PLACES: Reporter Philip Smucker met the subject of today's story last April (page 7), while staying at a guest house at the governor's compound in Zabul Province in southeastern Afghanistan. Mohammad Tahir said that he had just finished a stint as a spy for US Special Forces, and was looking for a less dangerous lifestyle. "He was nervous that former senior Taliban officials in the area might come after him. We were headed to Kabul, so he jumped in the back seat of our car," says Philip.
He spent a few nights sleeping on the floor of the house the Monitor rents in Kabul, before moving on. That was in April. When Philip returned in September, Mr. Tahir dropped by the house to say hello. Clean-shaven, turbanless, and wearing Western garb, it took a moment for Philip to recognize his old friend.
YUM, GOOSE BARNACLES: Reporter Sara Miller admits she's not much of a crustacean aficionado. Still, after reporting today's story on harvesting percebes (goose barnacles) on the western coast of Spain (page 7), she decided to try the delicacy. "I took me a good 20 minutes to build up the courage to try them. I was at a very expensive restaurant in Galicia for a wedding. I didn't like the first one I tasted, or the second, or third. But once I got over their appearance (especially the color), I started to appreciate the flavor which really is the essence of the sea no matter how much of a cliché that may sound! But they are not the least bit filling. You can eat an entire plate and feel that you haven't eaten a thing."
Sara watched the fishermen scale cliffs and was out in a boat with some of them when lunchtime rolled around. Javier, a fisherman, popped a few raw percebes into his mouth, which he does almost every day because he gets so hungry out there. He offered Sara a bite, too, but she politely declined.
David Clark Scott