ELISSA Liebowitz described how she became "almost desensitized" to bullfighting and learned "to accept" the torture and killing of creatures viewed as inferior ["Surprise Conviction," July 18]. Whether in Kosovo or Rwanda, we humans seem to have an extraordinary capacity to convince ourselves that an ethnic group is inferior and therefore deserving of torture and death. That attitude--so deplorable when applied to our fellow human beings--is equally wrong when it comes to the other creatures with whom we share this planet.
FOUR WEEKS have passed since I witnessed a bullfight during my first visit to Spain. I admit I was mesmerized by the opening events--the parade colors vivid against the dull sand of the ring; the tension in the matador's step; the proud and powerful animal's entry into the arena.
But let's call it what it is. A bullfight is not a "fight." It is 20 minutes' worth of watching a frightened animal bleed into the dust while men succeed in various degrees of teasing and terrorizing it until it dies.
I don't regret attending the bullfight for the few minutes I was there and I don't regret leaving it. I do regret reading of the enthusiasm of new converts for a sport that isn't very sporting.
NOTHING LIKE glorifying violence. Should we look forward to Leibowitz's taking a trip to Mexico to report how much fun cock-fighting really is? Or to Pennsylvania to report on the rush from pigeon shooting?
I HAVE just seen your article about Hotel Reservations Network [Worldwise, July 4]. I used HRN in April for a hotel in Washington, and discovered on arrival that the normal rate of the hotel was $20 less than HRN was charging me. It took an entire week of phone calls and e-mails to get HRN to agree to reduce the charge to the quoted rate, and they were very unfriendly about it. I would advise anyone using HRN to check the price being charged with the hotel, and get some independent information about the hotel as well--the one I selected from their descriptions was far less elegant than the HRN prose implied.
U.S. Embassy, Madrid
On the Road
I RISE TO defend the honor of the stretch of I-81 between Hazleton and Harrisburg, Pa. ["Bob Levey's America," July 11], ". . . unanimously voted Worst Piece of Road We Encountered" in the Leveys' 3,049.6-mile cross-country trip.
As a native Pennsylvanian, I've grown to love every pothole, bump and "road under construction" sign on I-81. Who needs theme park thrill rides when one can surpass those thrills on I-81?
Considering the wear and tear exacted by the overweight 18-wheelers that race up and down, the roadway is in pretty good shape. Winters devastate the pavement, especially in the vicinity of Hazleton, a city with one of the highest elevations east of the Mississippi. Post readers who risk driving to Hazleton will be rewarded by one of the loveliest sights in the East, the Conyngham Valley--scenery reminiscent of Switzerland.
James V. Dolson
AS AN avid road tripper, I read with interest "Bob Levey's America." If he should have the opportunity to do it again, I would suggest travel along the "Mother Road"--Route 66.
As Levey stated, it is a "legendary" highway. But it is far from "abandoned." Congress has just approved a bill to invest $10 million to preserve this highway. An estimated 90 percent of the original roadbed still exists.
My father and I just traveled Route 66 from Dwight, Ill., to Ludlow, Calif., with only 200 or so miles requiring interstate travel. We had the time of our lives.
For more details, I suggest "Route 66: The Mother Road," by Michael Wallis, and "The Illustrated Guidebook to the Mother Road" by Bob Moore. Both are excellent books on the highway's history, and the latter is a how-to guide on traveling the highway.
YOUR FEATURE on Parc de la Villette was interesting [The Unbeaten Path, July 11]. I am from Paris but have never visited it; maybe now I will. Just one thing: If you are going to quote the expression "pelouses authorisees," it should be spelled the French way: pelouses autorisees, without the H.
This is not the first time I've noticed French words misspelled in The Washington Post. As a matter of fact, whether in the Food section or the Travel section, I have seldom seen a French word spelled the correct way. Don't you have French dictionaries?
I READ with interest your tip on getting shells home from the beach in one piece [Travel Tip 106: "Shell Game," July 25]. It reminded me of two trips that I have made to Sanibel Island, Fla., and the dilemma I faced in getting sand dollars home without breakage. I discovered that if you buy a loaf of bread and put a sand dollar in between two slices of bread and then wrap up each "sand dollar sandwich" in tissue paper, your treasures will be protected for the trip home.
John F. Van Ogtrop
One Man's Everest
NEPALESE Suresh Sapkota and Ujiwal Amatya of Arlington recently expressed disappoint [Message Center, July 18] at Mike Klesius's account of his Mount Everest climbing experience ["Everyman's Everest," June 27].
My experience in the Khumbu region was different. Before beginning the trek from Lukla to Pangiboche and Thyangboche in 1991 with a group from Elderhostel, we visited religious sites and attended classes on Sherpa culture. We also were briefed on the need for environmental awareness on the trail. We came away with a pretty good understanding of the country and the people.
They didn't warn us about the landing at Lukla!
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