A Dazzle Of Zebras

“No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.” Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

All animals gather into groups at some point in their lives. Herd immunity is one reason, since packs of prey are harder to attack, but many animals also use collective wisdom to make better decisions. Some even blur the line between individual and group, while others limit social time to mating season.
Regardless of what draws them together, something odd tends to happen when creatures form crowds. They’re suddenly known by a bevy of bizarre names. In fact a bevy is what multiple otters are called. These group nouns are rarely used, even by scientists, but they nonetheless represent our own species’ collective creativity for linguistics. We used them a lot in Africa.

An Implausibility Of Wildebeests

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A Pride Of Lions

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An Obstinancy of Buffalo

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A Memory Of Elephants

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A Float OF Crocodiles

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A Tower OF Giraffes

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A Bloat of Hippopotamuses

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A Leap Of Leopards

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A Barrel Of Monkeys

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A Crash Of Rhinocerouses

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A Swarm Of Termites

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A Herd Of Springbok

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A Dazzle Of Zebras

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A Perfection Of Rabins (We Love Pictures)

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Fly safe,

JAZ

I Am Not My Passport

 I Am Not My Passport

“Should such an ignorant people lead the world?  How did it come to this in the first place?  Eighty two  percent of us don’t even have a passport. Just a handful can speak a language other than English (and we don’t even speak that very well.)’  Michael Moore

I have the passport of an international drug smuggler. It has visas from Myanmar, Brazil, Argentina, Cambodia and Viet Nam and stamps from  Mexico, Thailand, Turkey and Colombia. There are stamps in it from six of  the seven continents on this passport. My passport says to passport control, airport ticket counters and security, “Yes I know to take my shoes off. I know the weight my suitcase should be regardless of whether it is or not. Of course I have global entry.” Now that security screening is more efficient,  I am no longer being racially profiled for having a Middle Eastern sounding name when pronounced wrong. This passport says that I am a World Traveler.

 Every ten years there is a new passport and  a ten-year older photo.   My passport is full a lot earlier this time because of all these visas.  I went to get more pages and was told that as of January first  you can no longer do that and you have to get a new passport. If you travel a lot you have to ask for extra pages when you apply.  I’m devastated. I can get through another trip as long as I don’t have a visa. I’m going to plan to travel to a few countries where I don’t need one. It’s only five years and I’m just not ready.

Our possessions do make up our identity and express who we are to the world to some extent. Or maybe we acquire certain things to project the kind of identity we want to have.

When I lived in New York City, you were judged by the neighborhood you lived in. No one ever had to see your apartment. You were from the East Side, an Upper Westsider or a Downtown girl. Brooklyn was not cool then and if you lived anywhere but Manhattan you were Bridge and Tunnel people.

 In LA, it was all about what car you drove. I proudly had a new Jeep Cherokee. I felt so Californian.  One day I drove my husband’s new Jaguar. It was a different world. It was like I had suddenly become a blonde. The valet parking guy at the restaurant ran to open my door. The parents at the mommy and me class engaged me in conversation. I hadn’t noticed that I was the only one not driving a foreign car.

I hate to see this passport go. It has stamps from some of my favorite countries. I take it out and look at it because I can’t believe that I really went to all these places.  The first entry was a visa for Myanmar. That was cool.  It has a new South Africa stamp from my daughter’s wedding, I made them do it very dark. This is the passport that I learned to travel alone with. I’m not ready for airport and hotel staff to think that I have not been anywhere.

The next one will start with Australia (because I need a visa) and New Zealand. This one will get just as crowded. I’m ordering the supersize.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Cleaning Out Stuff With My Kids In Los Angeles

Clearing Out Stuff With My Kids In Los Angeles

“I have learned that if you must leave a place that you have lived in and loved and where all your yesteryears are buried deep, leave it any way except a slow way, leave it the fastest way you can”. Beryl Markham

I  moved a lot  when i was growing up so I didn’t get to save things.  I wanted my kids to have their stuff and my house was big enough to save it.  Now I am moving and I can’t keep it anymore. I  really don’t want to let go of anything. I want to cram every exam paper, swimming trophy, essay,  dance tape, favorite stuffed animal and birthday invitation into a storage locker. I would know that it would be there if for some incomprehensible reason we would ever need it.

My kids started going through their stuff together. There were years and years of accumulation of things in this house. That is what happens when you have many closets.

“Here is your pile.” says my son.  I don’t need a pile. “It’s my college diploma, bar mitzvah stuff, first birthday invitations and all my baby pictures. Don’t you want  to keep that?“ I replied “Don’t you?” He said “I have no room for it so you keep it. Don’t you want memories of me?” Yes I think to myself.  I want to hold on to you both as kids forever. I want  very much to have all the pieces of our past.

He reads aloud his speech from when he ran for seventh grade president. “I remember that being a much better speech,” he said. The sorting continues.

“I need this, I’m keeping this, I can’t get rid of this, I must have this, oh wow look at this – all my Nintendo games. I have to get a Nintendo player.” His pile gets bigger and  bigger.

I once read that you are supposed to ask a question with each item. Does this bring me joy? If not, toss it. His reply is that ‘Maybe someone will make a documentary about me some day and they wont have any information about my past. We need to keep this stuff.”

My daughter finds something that belongs to him. “Here pass that to the ‘A Beautiful Mind’  pile” she says.”Look I found dad’s Bar Mitzvah invitation.” It was clearly something his mother had kept.  “Give it to me”, I say, “Are you going to give it to him?” “No.” I answer. They look horrified and snatch it back. I was going to save it for future grandchildren but I did not tell them that. 

My son starts taking pictures of things and posting to his friends. His friend replies “Great, send that to me in another ten years when you go through your boxes again.”

My daughter isn’t doing that much better. I start to pull out some of her discarded clothes to save for my god-daughter. “Why are you saving stuff for  her and not me?” “Did you want to save stuff? I ask.  “I didn’t know that we could. “Now she starts making a pile of things she wants to save and not take.

I pull out one coat I took when my mom died a few years ago. “Have you ever worn that coat?” she asks. She tries it on. “I would wear it today. You have never worn it.” I put it on. ”Uh, it looks like a bathrobe on you. It looks so much better on me. “ Now that is all true and probably why I have never worn it.  It is one of the few articles of clothing that  I took from my mom so it is hard for me to part with it. 

My daughter takes a lot of boxes out of the storage room and leaves them in the garage. Can’t we do this one by one I ask? I don’t want boxes all over. She says that she has to leave now. My son says quietly,“I agree with you but I’m not siding with you publicly against her.“

There are about twenty boxes unopened from our old house that no one has looked at in sixteen years. They are filled with their elementary school things. They carry all the pieces of my children that I was trying to hold onto. It was the same way I took things from my mom’s house after she died to hold on to her and her past. I realized that whatever was in those boxes, I hadn’t seen in all that time. I remembered their childhood without ever accessing the boxes. I didn’t need them and they probably don’t either. 

I know now that I will remember things or I won’t but I don’t need a storage locker filled with stuff. It is difficult to distinguish between possessions and memories.  The possessions do trigger the memories for me. The emotional cost of letting go of their childhood is high. These things connect me to a happier time in my life.

We are more than our  possessions.  Our memories are inside us and maybe writing my story is a way to remember. The most sentimental things aren’t things at all, but stories of the people and places we love, and how we spend our time.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Things I Have Learned In Capetown, South Africa

Things That I Have Learned In Capetown, South Africa

“Visit Cape Town and history is never far from your grasp. It lingers in the air, a scent on the breezy, an explanation of circumstance that shaped the Rainbow People. Stroll around the old downtown and it’s impossible not to be affected by the trials and tribulations of the struggle. But, in many ways, it is the sense of triumph in the face of such adversity that makes the experience all the more poignant.” Tahir Shah

Capetown was founded in 1652 when Jan Van Riebeeck (an employee of the Dutch East India company) arrived to established a way-station for ships traveling to the Dutch East Indies.

The Port of Cape Town is deemed to be one of the busiest shipping corridors in the world.

Though Capetown  has incredible weather, Table Mountain can be cloudy. We ascended via cable car ( you can hike) to clear skies.

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It was the ultimate view of the city.

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Table Mountain alone has over 1,500 species of plants, more than the entire United Kingdom.

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The top of Table Mountain is relatively flat and easy to explore.  The views are wildly different in each area and It’s fun to walk around.

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It did feel a bit like being on another planet and seeing your closest friends there.

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We were lucky to see the sunset on a clear day.

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Table Mountain’s peak, Lion’s Head has not seen a lion for over 200 years. After once thriving in the area, and no doubt giving their name to the smallest peak at the western tip of the mountain, the last lion was shot in 1802. Leopards followed in the 1820s, but the area is still home to some  nocturnal cats. These include the small Lynx-type Caracal, and the far rarer African Wild Cat. It’s a good morning or sunset hike for those in good physical condition. 

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Bo-Kaap  is the city’s Muslim quarter, known for its brightly painted houses in shades of lime, fuchsia, and turquoise.

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it is also the best place to try Cape Malay cuisine.

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Uthando is a nonprofit company that oversees many different community projects in the townships in South Africa. Uthando raises money and awareness for the many projects they fund through these tours. You are driven through very poor areas in the townships directly to these programs. I highly recommend it in Capetown.  For more info read my my blog. https://travelwellflysafe.com/2016/05/10/visiting-community-projects-in-the-townships-in-capetown-south-africa-with-uthando/

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Cape Town has an estimated population of 3.5 million people and its the 2nd biggest city in South Africa (behind Johannesburg.

La Colombe is Oprah’s favorite restaurant in Capetown. Make reservations in advance.  it was also my favorite restaurant in Capetown but I didn’t try Test Kitchen. (fois gras)

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An hour’s drive from Capetown are the wine lands.

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Franschoek and Stellenbosch are two  favorite regions.

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Camp’s Bay, nestled just below the Twelve Apostles mountain range, is the perfect chic and trendy beach town to visit.

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Camps Bay Retreat  in a nature reserve across the street from the beach is a great place to stay.

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Dogs are allowed off lead at Camps Bay Beach before 9am. It is so much fun to see what a great time they have there. I walked on this beautiful beach every morning before nine.

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If you are in Capetown on a Saturday morning a visit to the Neighbor Goods Market at the Old  Biscuit Mill should not be missed. It features a range of food stalls, fresh produce, and crafts and clothing for sale.

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I tried fresh dried biltong for the first time here. Its amazing  – it definitely has a higher fat content then American dried meat. It’s too good.

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Afterward take a street art tour of the nearby Woodstock  neighborhood with Juma Mkwela a local street artist and guide. (juma.mkwela@gmail.com) . Socially conscious artists from South Africa and beyond have joined forces to help spruce up, and add color to the poorer parts of this neighborhood.

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V&A Waterfront has to great hotels, restaurants, an aquarium, a Ferris wheel, and a gargantuan shopping mall with African crafts.

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It is the most visited tourist destination on the continent.

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Boulder Beach is home to a colony of African penguins.

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I’m not going lie it was the first thing we did when we got to Capetown.

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Who doesn’t love penguins on a beach? I could have gone twice.

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We stopped for lunch and shopping at Kalky’s.

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We continued on to the Cape of Good Hope.

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As we learned in Elementary School, Cape Point is the end of the world – the most southern point in Africa.

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And it has baboons who will take any food or water you have on you.

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On the way back navigation decided that we should take the beautiful Chapman’s Peak Drive on the west coast.I love a good road trip with friends and family.  It had huge cliffs dropping down to the turquoise sea and crazy bends and turns with more lookouts and views than you could ever hope for.

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Capetown  is one of the most beautiful cities.

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Fly safe,

JAZ

 

First Food That I Want To Eat When I Revisit A Country

First Food That I Want To Eat When I Revisit a Country

“Like I said before. Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.”Anthony Bourdain

 Japan Sushi at Tsukiji Market, any dessert made with yuzu or green tea.

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 Turkey Pide, fresh pomegranate juice, anything with eggplant, and any dessert made with semolina.

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 Croatia Fresh tuna and bean salad, grilled calamari and swiss chard.

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Cambodia Fresh coconut water and amok (I loved Cambodian food).

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 Greece Avgolemono soup, baklava and Greek salad (feta, tomatoes and olive oil don’t taste the same anywhere else).

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 Italy Pizza, pasta with fresh tomato sauce and basil.  (My dream is to go to Sicily and eat pizza).

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South Africa Biltong (Im not even a meateater and I love it).

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Israel  Falafel and Hummus.

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Colombia Guanabana juice and Arepa con Quisito.

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Spain Churros, hot chocolate and real gazpacho.

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 Panama Sancocho soup.

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Netherlands Pofferjes and poached egg on brioche with smoked salmon, (first time that I have had that).

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Brazil Tacaca with shrimp and fresh acai ( not the watered down sugary stuff we get here) in the Amazon.

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 Thailand Thai iced coffee.

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 Peru Ceviche with giant corn.

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Argentina Alfajores from Havanna.

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Mexico Tacos, guacamole, mole or really anything in Oaxaca. (except not a fan of the crickets every day)

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USA When I come home I want a turkey burger from Golden State in LA.

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Fly safe,
JAZ

Following Nelson Mandela In South Africa, Robben Island, Capetown

Following Nelson Mandela In South Africa   Robben Island, Capetown 

“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”  Nelson Mandela 20 April 1964

I had a lump in my throat when I heard that Mandela had died.  Now that life has taught me how hard it is to truly forgive and make amends with our own private struggles, I had no words to describe how I felt that day.

When Mandela became president he set out to repair a brutalized nation. Within five years, South Africa was reinvented from a country with UN sanctions against it, to the Rainbow Nation. No other leader has achieved such a remarkable change of direction in so short a time.He led his nation on the long walk to freedom and reconciliation and we watched and joined in the joy that such a change was possible.

South Africa was back on the map. It had become a major tourist destination and I wanted to know as much about this great man as I could learn during my visit.

Nelson Mandela was born in the Eastern Cape and grew up in Qunu. There are tours, museums and memorials showing his childhood. In Mthathta there is the Nelson Mandela Museum which has different sectors in the villages where he lived.

My trip started at Robben Island where Mandela had been imprisoned for 18 years.  I had heard it was run down, the boats weren’t good and that parts of it were too long. i wanted to see this piece of history and form my own opinion.The tour sells out quickly so it is good to get tickets in advance.

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It was a beautiful Capetown day. I enjoyed the ferry ride talking to someone who worked on the boat. He said some of them were the original boats used to transport the prisoners.

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The views of Table Mountain and Capetown are spectacular.

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Upon arriving, I was immediately surprised by how big the island actually was. I was picturing it more like Alcatraz.  Ex-political prisoners act as tour guides and many live on the island with their families Their school was recently closed so the kids have to take the ferry back and forth every day. A lot off times the ferry doesn’t go out because of the wind.

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Our prison tour guide was very friendly and informative.   It was hard to hear and understand a lot of what he was saying. Luckily, I was there with my great Capetown guide  Lazarus ( http://www.wilderness-touring.comwho explained a lot to me and to everyone who asked him questions. 

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The prison itself was quite impactful on its own.

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  It was dark,sad, and disheartening to be there and to hear the stories of how these prisoners were treated

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He took us back into the prison and into the Maximum Security wing, where the senior ANC members were held. Mandela was amongst them. The cells are tiny. No more than 6 feet square, with just a thin mattress, a bookcase, a stool and a bucket.

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Suddenly it was my turn to stand right in front of Nelson Mandela’s cell where he spent 18 years of his life. I was standing  in front of the place where a terrible wrong had been committed.

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Our tour guide liked my hat. It was from my Viet Nam trip with the red star of the Viet Cong and was one of my favorite hats. He had given the tour with dignity and humility and spoke without resentment about his time in prison. Hat hair was a small price to pay for the surprised smile on his face when I handed it to him on the way out. I bought another hat there with Mandela’s prison number on it that i wore for the rest of my trip.

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After the prison, you take a bus ride around the island. It’s very pretty with great views. We saw some whales. We passed the limestone quarry where prisoners, including Nelson Mandela himself, were forced to break up the stone and work with it all day long. A lot of the work they were doing most of the time was pointless, they were instructed to carry the limestone from one end of the quarry to the other just to keep them busy and keep them working. The prisoners had no tools or protective gear when working with the rock, resulting in major vision problems for many of the prisoners due to the sun reflecting off of the lightly-colored limestone. This is why photographers were never allowed to use flash when photographing Nelson Mandela in his later years.

In the centre of the quarry is a small cairn – this was started when Mandela. On his first visit back to the island in 1995,he  placed a single rock in the centre in memory of all the prisoners and said he’d return each year to add one more stone until all the ex-prisoners had died. Others who were with him then added to the pile and it will continue until all have passed on.

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On the ferry back, i thought about the Robben Island Bible.  I had seen it in an exhibiton in London. The book’s owner, South African Sonny Venkatrathnam, was a political prisoner on Robben Island from 1972 to 1978.  The prisoners were briefly allowed to have one book in their cell. He asked his wife to send him a book of Shakespeare’s complete works, Venkatrathnam passed the book to a number of his fellow political prisoners,  Each of them marked their favorite passage in the book and signed it with the date. There are thirty-two signatures, including those of Walter Sisulu, Nelson Mandela, Govan Mbeki, Ahmed Kathrada and Mac Maharaj, all luminaries in the struggle for a democratic South Africa.

The selection of text provides fascinating insight into the minds of those political prisoners who fought for the transformation of South Africa. It also speaks to the power of Shakespeare’s resonance with the human spirit.

Mandela chose a passage from Julius Caesar — just before the Roman statesman leaves for the senate on the Ides of march: “Cowards die many times before their deaths/The valiant never taste of death but once.”

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I was glad I had gone to the place where Mandela and others epitomize the triumph of the human spirit over adversity. Did they ever think that one day it would look like this?

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Fly safe,

JAZ