National Geographic : 1982 Aug
On Assignment FOREIGN TELEPHONE SYSTEMS can be the bane of those on assignment, but for Senior Writer William S. Ellis a phone proved to be a lifesaver. "I was in Lebanon this year, driving south from Beirut, when we stopped to make a call," he said. "Two blocks away-we would have been there if we hadn't stopped-a car bomb exploded, killing seven persons. Of course the phone was out of order, but who cares?" That was not the only turmoil Ellis has en countered in his 25 assignments for NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC. In 1972 he chronicled the vio lent birth of Bangladesh after it split off from Pakistan. In 1977 he described black unrest in South Africa, and in 1979 the despair of boat people who fled Southeast Asia after fighting erupted between China and Vietnam. And in a forthcoming issue, he reports on his most re cent visit to war-torn Lebanon, which he last wrote of in 1970. A veteran of both domestic and foreign assignments, Ellis found the distinction some times blurred in Florida. Below, he watches as a rifle-toting trainee follows an instructor through an Everglades camp of Alpha 66, a group of Cubans dedicated to the overthrow of Fidel Castro. "Miami has become a bridge be tween the United States and Latin America," Ellis says. "I heard Spanish spoken there more often than English." DAVID AUSTEN INSTANT SNAPSHOTS helped free-lance photographer David Austen make friends as he explored Papua New Guinea on his first GEOGRAPHIC assignment. Austen, like many photographers, always carries an instant cam era. "Offering portraits is a fine way to intro duce yourself," he says, "and provides an opportunity to thank people." When he want ed his picture taken wearing a mud mask, above, he handed the camera to one of his new friends. Indiana-born Austen spent several years in Europe before moving to Australia eight years ago to cover Asia and the Pacific. Recently on assignment in Indonesia, he hiked with a team of scientists into the crater of an active vol cano, 2,168-meter (7,113-foot) Mount Galung gung on the island of Java. Six hours after the party returned from the summit, Galunggung erupted, hurling rocks more than four miles and through the tile roof of their headquarters. Lacking a hard hat, David covered his head with a chair cushion.