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From Issue #12 March 14, 2013

Names of the Games

The inhabitants of two lands labor endlessly, beset by bandits and corruption, for our pleasure.

By Adam Rothstein Twitter icon 

The land rises over the horizon just after dawn. I was told that I should arrive by ship at this time of day to best appreciate the island. And so I stand on the bow, feeling just the slightest chill in the breeze as the dark sea rises and falls around us.

Before I know it, we are upon the island, its rolling green hills looming in front of us in the rising light, mountains extending up through clouds. The white buildings of the port look pink, ringing the narrow harbor ahead of us like a string of lights being turned on.

On the other side of the world on a different day, I approach by train from the airport. I transfer at a station in the middle of pastures, and the original train departs toward the sprawling city, which is obscured on the horizon by dirty air. I board a train with uncomfortable seats and in poor repair. After a half-hour delay, we lurch to a start. Out the window, the slums fade away, and are replaced by farmhouses and cloisters — no doubt quite like my destination, which lies down a dirt road from a lonely depot somewhere ahead.

Photo by Tiffany and Marco Arment.

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