Josette And Ron’s Wedding – God, America, Jamaica And Israel

Josette and Ron’s Wedding – God, America, Jamaica And Israel

‘Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
 I took the one less traveled by,
 and that has made all the difference. “ Robert Frost

It is not a poem I expected to be read at a wedding by the father of the groom. It is one of my favorite poems. I had to memorize it in high school. I know it well.

I hadn’t spoken to Josette in a while . She was a good friend of my daughter and they had grown up together in the dance world.  Josette is a beautiful Jamaican American girl. She contacted me to invite us to her wedding. I knew she was engaged to an Israeli boy. I responded that “I know rabbis’ ha ha.”  She said “Not so ha ha. I’m Jewish now and I live in Tel Aviv.” I spent that day laughing about how strange the world was and that people will always surprise you.  She was having two weddings one in California and one in Israel. It turned out that you can not be married twice by a rabbi so she was getting married in California by the pastor from her church.

I’ve known her family for seventeen years. They are the most devout Christian family I know. We have never had a conversation that didn’t mention Jesus or God or praying – a lot of praying.  I wrestle with God so their unshakable faith is hard for me to understand. I’m also a little bit jealous of people who have that kind of faith. I think they are happier.

I was curious how they would feel about their daughter marrying outside their race and religion and moving  far away to start a very different life. Their close family and their faith was such a big part of who they were.

The families couldn’t have been more different. Jamaican Americans and Israelis from Israel. For younger Americans, racial and ethnic diversity are a part of their lives now– for their parents not so much.

It turned out that these families had more in common then one would think. They were both intact loving families. Their parents had long-term marriages and were growing old together. Both Josette and Ron talked about learning honor, integrity and kindness from their families. Their values and their belief in God made them more the same than different. I think that is what God is supposed to be about – not the separate God of individual countries and religions. There was a lot of praying and it was the first time I heard Christ Our Lord and Mazel Tov (pronounced with the accent on the zal the way the Israelis do) in the same sentence.

There was so much love in that room. Ron and Josette seem to have the same soul, the same values and the same dreams.    If they change the world around them a little bit and offer some hope for the future , that is a bonus. (Oh and they both can dance) Both families seemed very happy with their new family members and they loved Ron and Josette!!.

The ceremony was beautiful. The setting was exquisite. Their Christian ceremony ring was placed on the third finger. Their Jewish ring will be the fourth finger and then they ended the ceremony by jumping the broom. This practice is common today in African-American families as a remembrance of the “mock marriage” ceremony for the slaves in the South in the 1840s and 1850s. They will be married now in the eyes of God, two religions and history.

Ron’s mother ran up to Josette’s brother’s girlfriend. “Are you coming to Israel next month?” They talked about travel plans. We saw Josette’s mom when we were leaving. I said “I can’t believe that you are going to Israel before my kids.” She replied in her beautiful Jamaican accent to my daughter. “You haven’t visited the homeland? You know that you can go for free.” (Birthright trip)

I said congratulations. We talked about how brave Josette was to make a decision to live such a different life. She answered, “that we can only pray.” (photo -Nicole Lennox Creative.)

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Keep Safe Josette and Ron and Fly Safe Everyone,

JAZ

Things That I Have Learned In Victoria, Canada

Things That I Have Learned In Victoria, Canada

“He’s got this thing about Canada. He says it’s like America only with health care and no guns, and you can live up to your potential there and not have to worry about what society thinks or about getting sick or getting shot.” Ruth Ozeki

Victoria is the capital of British Columbia. It was incorporated as a city in 1862. The city is named after Queen Victoria. Victoria lies on the southern tip of Vancouver Island on the Pacific Coast.

It is called the “city of gardens.” The famous Butchart Gardens opened in 1904are only about a twenty-five minute drive from downtown Victoria.

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Approximately 1,500 hanging baskets adorn lampposts throughout the City of Victoria each summer

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Victoria’s Inner Harbor is the heart of the city. There are historic buildings and a lot boat and seaplane activity on the water.The Royal BC Museum and the BC Parliament Buildings are all in this area.

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The food in Victoria reflects the local ingredients and flavors of the Pacific Northwest. Victoria’s rich farming regions and coastal waters yield an abundance of produce and seafood, particularly shellfish and salmon.

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When someone in Victoria says oot and a boot, they mean out and about.

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Fan Tan Alley is the narrowest commercial street in North America. It is located in Chinatown – the second largest Chinatown in North America after San Francisco.

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You can get to Victoria via ferry. Float planes come from all over including regular scheduled flights from downtown Vancouver.

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Forty six percent of people in Victoria walk, ride or use public transportation to get to work.

It’s an outdoorsy place with hiking, biking, kayaking and sailing. It is the cycling capital of Canada.

The world’s largest totem pole was raised in Victoria in 1994 as an homage to Victoria’s native history.

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The architecture and tea and crumpets at the Fairmont is a reminder of the British heritage. Cuppa tea anyone?

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

 

 

Ten Things That I Have Learned From Watching The World Cup

Ten Things That I Have Learned From Watching The World Cup

“Life is like a game of soccer. You need goals. If there are no goals in your life then you can’t win.”  Unknown author

It’s not football, it’s futbol.

America was the least excited about the World Cup and Indonesia was the most excited. Brazil was in the middle.

The World Cup has weird opening ceremonies and I missed them. People were dressed as soccer balls.

These teams have the hottest players of any sport. It’s hard to pick the cutest one.

Both Germany and Brazil have made it to the World Cup finals seven times and now going for eight. Brazil has won the World Cup five times.

They said Americans would never watch soccer. More Americans are watching the World Cup than the World Series.

But there are soccer haters here. There are people who feel that World Cup fever somehow diminishes American sports. “It is a sport for new Americans.“ Get over yourselves. It’s nice to be a part of the world.

Though most South American countries have supported each other, the rivalry between Argentina and Brazil over who really has the best soccer player continues. Was it Maradona or Pele? Will it be Lionel Messi or Neymar?

Argentina is the second most buyer of World Cup tickets after the US. Twenty five thousand people traveled from Argentina (mostly without tickets) to line up to support their team against Switzerland. They are in the finals (yay).

Soccer Fans are the most passionate sports fans –especially in Latin America. The game is tied up with politics, religion, macho and national pride. I saw the Boca Juniors (Maradona’s team) play at La Boca stadium in Buenos Aires and I was hooked. It was Soccer Fans The Musical with just enough danger thrown in to make it interesting. The game was good too.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Things I Have Learned In Vancouver, Canada

Things I Have Learned In Vancouver, Canada

“I’ve been to Canada, and I’ve always gotten the impression that I could take the country over in about two days.” Jon Stewart

Vancouver is named after George Vancouver, a morose sounding guy who hated the place. ( Opening to the Northwest Passage – monument to Captain Vancouver in Vanier Park)

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Thirty five per cent of Vancouver’s population is foreign-born (the highest figure for a city in the world). It has the highest proportion of Asians in any North American city.

Greenpeace was started in Vancouver – just in case you thought it was started by vegans in San Francisco.

Sun Yat Sen Gardens (named after the Chinese revolutionary) were the first authentic classical Chinese gardens ever built outside of China.

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Chinese gardens employ  principles of Feng Shui and Taoism, to achieve harmony and a balance of opposites. Craggy rocks, for example, are juxtaposed against delicate foliage. Water is also an important element of the garden. It is an oasis of peace in the beautiful city.

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Vancouver ranks third in the world as the best city to live in.

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This is a great eating city. Their specialties are seafood, local cheese and fresh produce. There is excellent Asian food as well. Don’t miss the Granville Market which is an entire island near downtown filled with crafts, farmer’s market, and specialty food vendors.

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The Vancouver (YVR) airport has free WiFi.

Vancouver has the highest real estate prices in Canada.

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Stanley Park is Vancouver’s largest and much used park.

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Set against an urban seawall there are miles of trails, bike paths, beautiful beaches, gardens, monuments, sculptures the first nations totem poles., local wildlife, food, natural, cultural and historical landmarks.

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You can’t buy beer or alcohol in the grocery store.

The Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG)) is the fifth-largest gallery in Canada.  Its permanent collection is about 10,000 pieces. . There are always interesting exhibitions as well and is a nice break from all the outdoor activities.

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Vancouver is North America’s second largest port. (after New York)

Vancouver is the second or third largest film production centre in North America. It is second to LA in television production & third behind LA and NY in feature film production. This is due to favorable tax concessions to the industry, the year round mild climate, and Vancouver’s wide variety of locales. Most productions are American. Most Canadian productions are in Toronto.

The Twilight Saga was filmed in Vancouver.

Gastown was the first settlement in Vancouver. Today it has a lot of tourist shops, First Nation galleries, and pretty street lights. The main activity seems to be taking a picture of the steam clock.

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Vancouver has the largest crime rate in Canada but still well below many American cities. This is due to the large number of drug addicts who live here.(because it is the third best city in the world to live?)

The city has less than fifty murders a year. Some of them are criminals killing other criminals. You can’t make this stuff up.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Bucket List Places From People That I Know

Bucket List Places From People that I Know

“People don’t take trips . . . trips take people.”– John Steinbeck

Where is the place you most want to visit?

Tibet and maybe part of Mt Everest. RA

Tracking the gorillas in Rwanda because they are so fascinating and so like us in so many ways. CL

Scandinavia because they make great short films. LZ

Argentina for wine and steak. KZ

Alaska i want to look out  and see snow and polar bears. SR

Venice because I have never been there. TN

Grand Canyon with my family, the Straits of GibraltarEaster Island to see the Moabs and Sicily for pizza. JZ

Dubai because it looks rich, fun and interesting. KR

Scotland to play golf. PF

Great Wall because you can see it from space. AR

Istanbul and ballooning over Cappadocia, Turkey. JF

Harry Potter Land In London with the kids. BE

Thailand to experience a Thai Buddhist monastery. JR

Malta  I think it would be fantastic to take the ferry from  Genoa. HM

Machu Picchu. EH

Jerusalem because I would like to see the places I read about in the Bible. Greece and Rome because of all the history there. JR

A Safari in Africa with a lot of animals. VC
Morocco because of the music and history. IF

Brazil I was there before and want to go back. I love the lifestyle, the people, the food and the Capoeira. GW

Antarctica  I want to see the penguins in their natural environment. JL

 Northern Lights because I want to see part of the Universe that is greater than us. SL

Myanmar They have a deep-rooted Buddhist tradition that I would like to experience. JB

Israel I want to lie on the beach in Tel Aviv. CB

Russia. I want to spend some time there – especially in St. Petersburg and SIberia. RC

Buenos Aires  because I fell in love with the language in Spain but I’ve never been to South America, because of my nerdy obsession with the musical Evita and my affection for bustling cities with classical architecture. KB

Italy because that is where my ancestors are from. VB

Petra, the Ganges River & Himalayas. EK

I want to go through the Amazon Rainforest  and see all the different indigenous tribes and the TranSiberian Railway. TM

Spain because I love the culture and hear great things about it. RA

Patagonia, Chile  because  it looks so beautiful. AR

Eze and Cap Ferrat because I love France and have not been to those cities yet. RW

Champagne for wine tasting and Monaco for the F1 race. RH

Fiji  It has  clear water and  beautiful beaches. BM

China because I have always been interested in the culture. SF

Galápagos. LA

Buckingham, England The Hughenden Manor- the home of Disraeli, Queen Victoria’s much loved Prime Minister. I admire Disraeli who was a writer, social thinker as well as a prime minister. His Manor carries the same name as The Hughenden Hotel built in Queen Victoria’s reign. SG

Egypt, Cambodia, Vietnam, that’s it. been everywhere else I want to go. DL

Ireland to find out about my heritage. AD

New Zealand because I had a pen pal from New Zealand when I was a kid. CG

Kilamanjaro and  Nepal because I love mountain climbing. MS

Japan The people are very honest and polite. DH

Any more?

Fly Safe,
JAZ

Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena, Colombia

“I wondered about the explorers who’d sailed their ships to the end of the world. How terrified they must have been when they risked falling over the edge; how amazed to discover, instead, places they had seen only in their dreams.” Jodi Picoult

The heat in Cartagena gives it a sleepy feeling which kind of makes it okay to sit on the wall, browse through shops and street vendors, buy fresh fruit from a woman carrying it on her head and not go to a museum.

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The city was founded in 1533 and was the main South American port for the Spaniards. They stored treasures pillaged from the indigenous people in Cartagena to ship to their homeland. Silver, gold, cacao beans, chile peppers and tobacco from the new world were shipped to Spain. Cartagena was a marketplace for slave ships coming from Africa. It was probably the most looted port in the world. As a result of constant pirate attacks, the Spanish built a solid wall to surround the town to protect their valuables. It was built during the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries and is the only walled city in the Americas. It took more than two hundred years and fifteen million African slaves to build the wall.

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The main fortification was the Fort of Castillo San Felipe de Barajas (named after Spain’s King Philip IV) which is located on a 130-foot-high hill towering over the city. Originally built in the mid-1600s, it was rebuilt and enlarged several times over the years to become the greatest fortress Spain ever built in the Americas.

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Las Palenqueras are the famous fruit basket ladies you see around the walled city. They come from San Basilio De Palenque which is an hour away from Cartagena.

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These women are the descendants of South American slaves and San Basilio De Palenque was the first city in South America of free slaves. Las Palenqueras keep their African culture and traditions.

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The food market in Cartagena is hot and dark with a lot going on. The smell hits you. It is a mixture of sweet smelling fruit, fish smelling fish, raw meat and live birds.

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The thing I always notice in these markets is that they use every part of the animal and the parts are all there to buy. There are always flies and fast-moving, knives, machetes and hammers.

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Tables are filled with all the local fruits and vegetables. I eat delicious tamarind from the pod. I have never seen a raw one before. (tamarind)

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Everyone is moving quickly carrying a lot on their heads or in their arms. It is a market for locals and you can buy anything from toiletries to clothes as well. I bought flip-flops.

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La Boquilla is a poor fishing village twenty minutes outside of Cartegena. (poor but happy)

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It is a peninsula at the end of a beach with the Caribbean Sea on one side and a lake with mangroves on the other.

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The guide takes you on an old canoe through mangrove tunnels with flocks of birds and fishermen fishing for crabs ,shrimp and small fish.

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After the canoe they pull out a fresh coconut and make a hole for a straw with a machete. When you finish the water they quickly open it up and slice up the meat. It was clearly not the first coconut they’ve opened with a machete. It feels very far away from Cartagena.

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Then I walk for a long time with my feet in the Caribbean sea. I have lunch on the beach of fresh fish, plantains and coconut rice.

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Day and night the sound of clip clopping horse and carts carry tourists around the city. I prefer to wander around and walk the walls at dusk.

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Gabriel Garcia Marquez became a writer in Cartegena. His novel Love in The Time Of Cholera Is set here. It is one of my favorites. I see Fermina riding in the horse and carriages and Florentino wandering everywhere in despair.

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You can see how much of Cartegena is in his books. Garcia Marquez or Gabo died a few days after I returned . But now I can picture him  sitting in La Vitrola, Café Havana or in a square in Cartegena writing his stories. ( a person standing in front of Gabo’s house, some famous characters from another author play chess in the square)

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Thank to Jose and Kevin Rodriguez for their kindness and knowledge of a city they love.

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Colombia is now one of my favorite places. One of my best trips happened because I said yes to something I never thought I would be doing alone. Thanks Jeannine Cohen from Geox for planning this wonderful adventure.

Viaje Con Cuidado,

JAZ

Ten Things That Separate New Yorkers From Los Angelenos

Ten Things That Separate New Yorkers and Los Angelenos

“When its 100 degrees in New York, it’s 72 in Los Angeles. When its 30 degrees in New York, in Los Angeles it’s still 72. However, there are 6 million interesting people in New York, and only 72 in Los Angeles.” Neil Simon

Comparing people in NY and LA is like comparing apples (big) to oranges (they grow them).

1. If a person in NY says they hate you, they hate you. If a person in LA says they like you, they hate you.

2. Women in LA like to be “healthy”. They are tan ,(usually fake) do juice cleanses, eat kale and hike in the canyon. Women in NY like to look pale, very skinny and on the verge of death.

3. In LA, you are judged by the car that you drive. In NY you are judged by your address. No one actually has to see your apartment, but where you have chosen or can afford to live is who you are.

4. People In NY eat dinner late. People in LA eat dinner early because they have to go to the gym in the morning before work.

5. LA could be burned to the ground at any time or destroyed in an earthquake. New York could be under water or snowed in. So be correctly prepared.

6. People in LA seem tired and move slowly (unless they are jogging or power walking). People in NY always act like they had an extra cup of coffee that they didn’t need.

7. People in NY hang out with interesting, motivated people. In LA they hang out with the people they grew up with.

8. The car is still king in LA though they are trying very hard to improve the public transit system. So don’t text or pick your nose while you are driving. In NY most people cannot afford to park their cars so public transportation is the norm. Keep your head down, avoid eye contact and grab that seat before someone else does.

9. In Los Angeles, they know how to make a good salad. In NY, they know how to make a good bagel, pizza, egg roll with duck sauce and cannoli.

10. People in LA are always between projects. People in NY better be doing something with their lives.

Fly safe,

JAZ