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In Tierra Del Fuego, Findings Of A Unique American Biologist

In far southern Argentina, writer Pablo Bizón recalls a chance encounter with a woman who followed her passion for science all the way from Kent State to Patagonia.

The interior of The Acatushun Museum of Southern Birds and Mammals
The interior of The Acatushun Museum of Southern Birds and Mammals
Pablo Bizón

ESTANCIA HARBERTON — I wish I could have coffee with her now and chat about Tierra del Fuego. And listen to her talk about the islands she fell in love with in her youth, when she first read The Uttermost Part of the Earth by E. Lucas Bridges.

The book recounts the adventures of Thomas Bridges, the first white man to live on the Tierra del Fuego archipelago and the founder of the Harberton Estate, some 80 kms from Ushuaia, in far southern Argentina. And it was here on that same estate, years ago, that I had a chance to meet the late Natalie Goodall, or Rae Natalie Prosser de Goodall, to give her full Argentine name.

I was very young, but I had enough sense to know that Goodall was no ordinary person, that she had one of those rare combinations of tenacity, intelligence and passion. I also remember that she gave us a copy of her book, Tierra del Fuego, in which she shared years of work devoted to studying and collecting data on the archipelago's flora and fauna.

I was very young, but I had enough sense to know that Goodall was no ordinary person.

The book included Goodall's own photographs, drawings, and maps. And it brought fame to this biologist and graduate of Kent State University, in Ohio, the U.S. state she left behind for windy Patagonia.

She stayed for passion alone, because she adored life on this island. But her work also had a big impact, attracting the attention of the National Geographic Society and other research bodies. In addition, Goodall founded the Rae Natalie Prosser Foundation, which provides grants to natural science professionals and students.

Drawn here first by the accounts of the adventures of Thomas Bridges, she ended up marrying his great-grandson, Thomas Goodall. Praised and awarded for her work, she died in 2015 on her beloved estate on the banks of the Beagle Channel.

Harberton was declared a National Historical Monument in 1999, and retains its original architecture: wooden buildings covered with corrugated sheet roofing and adorned with gardens, piers and stone terraces. It is now the property of the grandsons of Will and Lucas, the sons of Thomas Bridges. Its administrator, Thomas Goodall, is the fourth generation living with his family (the fifth and sixth generations), in the original house built in 1887.

museum_tierradelfuego_argentina_nataliegoodall_museum_birdsandmammals_ushuaia

The exterior of the museum — Photo: Liam Quinn

Natalie Goodall's famed collection of photos, fossils and bones — which fascinated me to no end when I visited Haberton as a child — has been converted into a museum: The Acatushun Museum of Southern Birds and Mammals. In it are the skeletons of more than 2,700 marine mammals and 2,300 birds. Above all, the museum showcases Goodall's 34 years of research.

For some reason, off all the things I remember from that visit years ago, what sticks out most is Goodall talking about the hours she'd spent studying birds on Punta Páramo, a desolate peninsula that extends into the ocean in northern Tierra del Fuego, almost closing off San Sebastián bay. I never saw her there. And yet it's easy to picture her: sitting and observing; jotting notes; thinking, despite the wind, which tosses papers about, and the cold, which seeps into her bones.

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Geopolitics

Patronage Or Politics? What's Driving Qatar And Egypt Grand Rapprochement

For Cairo, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil,” with anger directed at Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, and others critical of Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood ouster. But the vitriol is now gone, with the first ever visit by Egyptian President al-Sisi to Doha.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met with the Emir of Qatar in June 2022 in Cairo

Beesan Kassab, Daniel O'Connell, Ehsan Salah, Hazem Tharwat and Najih Dawoud

For the first time since coming to power in 2014, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi traveled to Doha last month on an official visit, a capstone in a steadily building rapprochement between the two countries in the last year.

Not long ago, however, the photo-op capturing the two heads of state smiling at one another in Doha would have seemed impossible. In the wake of the Armed Forces’ ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, Qatar and Egypt traded barbs.

In the lexicon of the intelligence-controlled Egyptian press landscape, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil” working to undermine Egypt’s stability. Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, was banned from Egypt, but, from its social media accounts and television broadcast, it regularly published salacious and insulting details about the Egyptian administration.

But all of that vitriol is now gone.

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