The Azores: Shucks! No Lava

For seven days, the isle of Sao Jorge in the Portuguese Azores pitched like a cork. It was another of the unsettling earthquakes that periodically shake the middle-Atlantic archipelago. As Sao Jorge's 20,000 inhabitants fled into the streets, at least 1,200 of their stone and tile houses crumbled, and the local jailer saved the lives of his five prisoners by freeing them on parole shortly before the hoosegow collapsed. An eleven-ship rescue fleet evacuated 1,800 islanders, whose chief, and understandable, concern was the plight of their abandoned unmilked cows.

At week's...