reto mag

about the land and the people

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Entries from December 31st, 2013

Christmas Traditions

December 31st, 2013 by nina · article, germany, reportage

i really like the cold season. i like wearing beanies and scarfs and that i get red cheeks outside and my face hurts a little. i love snow and cold air. for me christmas is a very special time of the year. i love christmas. i love the lights and the decoration, christmas markets, mulled wine, cookies and advent calendars. much to the chagrin of my family who needs to act as if they like it as much as i am.

in every family there is a special tradition about the advent time and christmas. different from the usa we germans celebrate christmas on the evening of the 24th of december. we are having a tree and a nice dinner and presents. a lot of things are quite the same. the tree is decorated, there are cookies, the family is having dinner around the table and there are presents of course. but even if we are from the same country there is a difference in how the families celebrate. the food for example. in germany the traditionally food would be roast with potato dumplings and red cabbage. but also a lot of families eat potato salad and sausages for christmas. a huge question is always do we hand out presents before or after the dinner? i can’t tell how other families celebrate christmas. but i can tell how mine is doing it.
my sister and me normally celebrate with our dad and our gran. my sister is coming some days before christmas and we prepare the christmastree a day before christmas so the branches can recover from being in the transportation-net. on the morning of the 24th we are having breakfast together and i start decorating the tree. we wrap in the last presents, listen to music and talk. in the afternoon we normally start having a mulled wine, call some friends to whish them a merry christmas and start preparing the dinner and the table. there are a white table cloth and red place mats on our christmas table. for decoration we have some chambersticks, strewing reindeers and small red christmas balls. our christmasfood this year was lamb’s lettuce with walnuts and warm goat cheese, gilthead in salt casing with some vegetable and potatoes and as dessert we had gingerbread parfait. making dessert is my part on the meal. i am the dessert woman. to make this food doesn’t take too long and is not too elaborate. so no one get stressed in the kitchen at christmas. it is always a lot of fun to crack the salt casing and a huge mess. while eating we take our time. we listen to music and talk about plans and the last year. we are handing presents after the dinner. while having coffee we change to the couch where the tree is. of course  the presents are under the tree already. we hand them to each other, unwrap them and say thanks. we start reading our books and play with our presents if there is something to play with. this is how we celebrate christmas eve. on the holidays we visit friends or have them over to drink more mulled wine or hot orange-juice and change presents.

while i am writing the last sentences it is all ready between christmas and new year and i take the time to write birthdays and appointments in my new calendar, see some more friends who are home for christmas and update my address book.
i hope you all had a merry christmas and that you will have a very happy new year. may it be a great one.

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52/2013 image of the week:”Weird like christmas”

December 27th, 2013 by Jasime · architecture, art, image of the week, surfing

Melilla, Spain

© Jasime El Ouali


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Merry Christmas!

December 25th, 2013 by sophie · retomag

We wish you all wonderful Christmas with the people you love and at the place you like to be.
Its time to thank you for your frequent visits this year and your lovely emails! We are very happy about having you!
I also like to thank the wonderful team I am honored to work with. You are great and it is a real pleasure to have you on my side.
Have a lovely time with loads of food, some time off and making plans for 2014!

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A stone for the world market – LUC FOLLIET – Nauru

December 22nd, 2013 by sophie · review

Everything had its origin in a strange stone which did not serve any purpose than to keep the door open. But this stone was much more than mineral mass. Because of it, the fate of the island Nauru took its course. A fate that also reflects a piece of human history: the human greed for more, for money, for wealth.

Nauru, located in the Pacific Ocean northeast of Australia, is the world’s smallest republic and today one of the poorest. The island has indeed experienced very different times. Times in which the island had the highest gross domesticproduct. Today there is not even a bank on Nauru that has cash reserves.

French journalist Luc Folliet describes this development in his book “Nauru – The desolated Island”. He tries to find out how it could lead to this small state’s decay and who would be to blame. Folliet reported in detail which different influences and power interests played a role. And hereof there are many because Nauru has become a global village over time. Not in the sense of McLuhan. Nauru did not become global because of the electronic age; it became global because of the desires of the world market which slowly started off with the colonization of the island by the British Empire in the mid-19th century. Folliet’s description of Nauru’s history reveals this and is therefore so exciting. There were times when the island was taken by the British, the Japanese, the Australians, “but the Nauruan’s fate was relentlessly connected to phosphor.”

Nauru finally became rich because of excrements, specifically bird droppings, skeletons and corals, which were the basis of the emergence of huge stocks of phosphate on the island. In 1896 the Australian captain Henry Denson took a strange stone from Nauru to Sydney and there he used it to keep his office door open. This stone, whose story has become a legend, consisted of nearly pure phosphate which is the most important ingredient of all fertilizers. Eleven years later the digging of the mineral material began on a grand scale. “Who controls the phosphor supplies, indirectly controls Europe’s agriculture”, Folliet writes – which explains why it is to no one’s surprise that European colonial powers were fighting over the island. The Germans, the English and the Australians – they all benefited from Nauru’s mineral resources with the exception of the local population.

That first changed with Nauru’s independence in 1968 and the government takeover of the phosphate industry. The life of the Nauruan people now took on an entirely new dimension and they reveled in wealth and unbridled consumerism. Although there was only one street on the entire island Nauruans owned up to three cars on average. The government built ginormous skyscrapers but no one thought about working, foreign workers were responsible for that. The principal activity of the locals was to purchase luxury goods from abroad and to do nothing. “The phosphate money has changed our lives and our culture” summed up Violette McKay who works today at the Women Affairs Office and tries to restore women to an independent and more responsible life. She is one of many that Luc Folliet has spoken. He lets politicians, locals and foreign workers have their say which makes his book an authentic and highly interesting reportage. Thematic jumps encumber temporarily the flow of read without disturbing it blatantly.

Therefor the issue is too exciting and the development of Nauru too notable – cause in the 90s finally follows the rude awakening: The phosphate reserves were depleted up to 80 percent and Nauru was threatened by bankruptcy. The government has lived for years beyond their means and backed the wrong horse. The money that was put into a variety of investment projects was gone. Financial sharks took advantage of those responsible and their ignorance. The following attempts to avoid a national bankruptcy were desperate and not always legal. In shell banks Mafia cash was laundered, trade with false passports was practiced and finally Nauru took in exchange for financial support refugees from Afghanistan who Australia did not want to have in his own country. But all this could not modify the situation of Nauru which fell back into the status of a developing country. The previous lifestyle of the Nauruan people takes revenge because the majority of the population is meanwhile obese and diabetes is the number one cause of death. Today the life expectancy is less than 50 years; the once ultra-modern hospital is degenerated into a “field hospital”.

Who bears the actual blame for the miserable situation of Nauru cannot be clearly identified. Folliet is also unable to do so. One Nauruan poses the question “Who wouldn’t want to be rich?” and simultaneously gives the answer that fits not only Nauru and its population. This island’s story could have been told anywhere else. Luc Folliet deserves the credit having told this extreme interesting story. With his brilliant portrayal of the rise and fall of Nauru he shows what the greed for money can wreak. In Nauru and around the world.

And what does the future of the small state look like? Nobody knows exactly. Only this: The legend of the stone lives on.

Nauru, die verwüstete Insel – Wie der Kapitalismus das reichste Land der Erde zerstörte. – Luc Folliet, Verlag Klaus Wagenbach, ISBN-10:3803126541


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52/2013 image of the week: lights

December 20th, 2013 by Evangelia · image of the week, photography, spain

Bilbao, 2010.

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50/2013 image of the week: waiting for sunlight and asparagus

December 13th, 2013 by Julia · Uncategorized

Photo © Julia Dreier, 2013

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Just fell in love with autumn (indoor)

December 10th, 2013 by sophie · forest, germany, nature, photography, reportage

The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves of red and gold
I see your lips, the summer kisses
The sun-burned hands I used to hold
Nat King Cole – Autumn Leaves 

Photography by Sophie Daum

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49/2013 image of the week: cliffs in mallorca

December 8th, 2013 by sophie · image of the week, mallorca, photography, spain

A photograph from one of my trips to Mallorca, taken in 2009. It was a very windy, almost stormy day but still beautiful.

© sophie daum

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