About jaynezak

"I havent been everywhere, but it is on my list." I can eat anything raw. I can go to the bathroom standing up. I am fluent in hand motions and can speak Spanish in the present tense only.. Though directionally challenged, I can find my way in any airport to the gate and the luggage terminal. I must be an airport savant. I can cram more things into a suitcase than it is supposed to hold. If I have a few drinks, I forget that I cant speak the language of the country i am in. I still carry travelers checks for an emergency thought no one will cash them anymore. I make sure to learn how to say coffee with milk and no sugar in every language. I have accidently used tap water to brush my teeth in countries that you shouldnt and I am still here to write this. I have been to the gynecologist in Greece, the dentist in the Kyushu Islands in Japan and the emergency room in Edinburgh twice ( that trip was with my kids). Heels are my walking shoe of choice. (though I always have the appropriate shoes with me in case I need them) Ive perfected speed shopping and no matter how many bracelets i buy as gifts, it is never enough. Im afraid on small planes. I always have another trip planned (even if it is just in my head) before I return from the one I am on. Those are my credentials. Fly Safe JAZ

Travel Pinch Me Moments

“You have to travel to see new light, find new hope, renew the mind and revitalize the soul.” Lailah Gifty Akita

It was summer in January on a beach in Napier, New Zealand.  The weather was hot and the sun was setting at 930 PM. The moon was out at the same time.  My new friend pinched the fingers of both her hands together and said, “This is a pinch me moment”.  I had heard of pinch me moments when someone wins an Academy Award or accomplishes a dream but I had never heard of it standing on a beach watching a sunset.  She explained that, “You pinch your fingers to save the moment. When I am sitting in my kitchen in England and I look out the window at the dreary weather, I will remember this moment.” 

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 As I watched the moon that night, it made sense that it is also the small moments that resonate in our minds. They are part of the story making events of our lives. Here are some of my travel pinch me moments. (photo by Cordula Reins)

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Looking out at the balloons in the air over Cappadocia, Turkey.

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Watching the sun set over the Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia

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Rainbow over Iguazu Falls, Missiones, Argentina

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Angor Wat, Cambodia

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Walking on the beach in Varadero, Cuba

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 Sailing on the Mekong Delta, Viet Nam

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Machu Picchu .

Seeing the elephants up close in Kruger National Park, South Africa

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The Tori Gates on Myajima, JapanIMG_1074

The view of the volcano in Santorini, Greece

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Fly safe,

JAZ

Travel Well

Travel Well

“Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting an uphill battle.” Ian Maclaren

The name of my blog is Travel Well Fly Safe, It was named that for a reason –  a reason I have never talked about.

I have been lucky to have lived for a long time without any serious illness.  But I believe that health is a bucket. You add in stress, emotional pain, genetic predisposition, and environmental factors and when your bucket is full you get sick.  In my case, six years ago,  I became very allergic to smoke, pollution and chemicals. It is called Reactive Airway Disease.  Traveling to third world countries in Africa and Asia has put me on a nebulizer and high doses of cortisone. I call my doctor much more from a trip than from my house. I  became very allergic, developed Reynauds – a circulation problem which causes your fingers and toes to turn blue in the cold and Gerd. Two years ago (after a 16 hour flight to Australia) I was diagnosed with Sjogrins symptoms and didn’t know what it was – making dehydration and dry eyes on a plane something to worry about. But I am not these things.They are just a small piece of who I am.

I didn’t choose this but this is the hand I was dealt. I had to learn how to travel with the new normal. The alternative of staying home is unthinkable. I have had to alter my vision of what a trip should be to allow for the unpredictability of all these symptoms. I look at every trip now as a gift. The difficulty of having all these weird autoimmune symptoms is that every day is different. It is easier to stay home but traveling is my passion so I make it work.  It requires more managing and planning, To do something in a new way, you need new  ideas. The list of countries I can safely go to gets smaller. The list of medicines and toiletries I have to bring and activities I can not do anymore gets longer.

The hardest thing is because I don’t look or act sick, people believe it isn’t real. They express concern and suggest strategies and remedies. After a while they just like to pretend it isn’t there and hope I go along with that. It is hard for them to understand how in some places I am totally fine and in others I am on sixty milligrams of cortisone a day. They don’t realize that once I am exposed to something, it doesn’t disappear without medication. I can’t just walk away unless I do it quickly.  There is an invisibility of certain illnesses that other people say they can see but they don’t.

Life does not always go the way you want.  I place one foot in front of the other and climb higher. I believe that I have a great responsibility to live as happily and as fully as possible, to listen to my body and trust my instincts. I’m telling my story not for anyone to feel sorry for me, or excuse anything but to start the conversation. What if my story offers some hope to someone who thinks they can’t travel because they have “stuff”?  A dull and predictable life is boring. Just do what you need to do to get where you want to go. 

Fly safe,

JAZ

Ten Of The Poorest Countries In The World

Ten Of The  Poorest Countries In The World

“Once poverty is gone, we’ll need to build museums to display its horrors to future generations. They’ll wonder why poverty continued so long in human society – how a few people could live in luxury while billions dwelt in misery, deprivation and despair.” Muhammad Yunus

This is a hard one for me. Why have we always spent so much money on defense and war? I have never understood it. I believe for much less money than we have spent in my lifetime we could have provided clean water, adequate diets, sanitation services and basic education for human beings in the world. It is possible that would have solved both the refugee problem and the terrorist problem.

Decade after decade, politicians and international organizations have failed to tackle poverty in Africa. Nor have they been able to help generate growth or build basic infrastructure.  Some countries here struggle more than others. The cycle of poverty in Africa will unfortunately  continue without the help of the international community.

The Central African Republic is the poorest country in Africa and the world. They have been badly governed since they received their independence from France in 1960. It is plagued by fighting, coups and rebellions. Political instability has prevented the country’s development, despite an abundance of timber, gold, uranium and diamonds. More than fifty percent of the population is below the age of fourteen. Children that manage to avoid becoming internally displaced persons or child soldiers often never enter the educational system. There are terrible health conditions and an alarming food crisis. Violence has displaced 1.2 million people and most of the country is in urgent need of humanitarian assistance and  clean water.

There are two Congos. There is the Democratic Republic Of Congo and the Republic of Congo. The  DRC received their independence from Belgium and  The Republic of Congo received their independence from France in 1960. The DRC is neither Democratic nor a Republic. The extremely corrupt government rules over one of the poorest countries that is also one of the richest in natural resources.The world’s bloodiest conflict since WWll – The Great War of Africa has been fought almost entirely in DRC with over five million deaths. Kinshasa is one of the most dangerous cities in the world. The DRC is a country of human suffering on an unimaginable scale.

Burundi is considered the hungriest nation on earth. The unstable political situation continues to make things worse. Like much of Central Africa, Burundi is prone to natural disasters such as floods, hailstorms, drought and torrential rain which has contributed to the displacement of communities, the destruction of homes, the disruption of livelihoods and the further deterioration of food security. Burundi needs social and economic change and political institutions that are genuinely accountable to its people.

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Two civil wars in the last 30 years have decimated Liberia‘s infrastructure and led to widespread poverty.  The civil wars have left the country with inadequate roads, water and other basic infrastructure which has proved to be a significant barrier for economic growth.The wars also contributed to the over 250,000 Liberian orphans who frequently suffer from malnutrition and are sometimes completely abandoned. The lack of health care access often leads to high fatality rates. As far as education goes, only half of the Liberians are literate, and many Liberian children are kept out of school in order to help on their families’ farms. The good thing about Liberia is that it has the landscape, resources  and a new stable government available to make it a prosperous country.

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Life just gets tougher in NIger. Niger is more impoverished today than it was thirty years ago. Hunger is the biggest problem. High birth rates make it harder and harder to feed families.  Half the deaths of children under five are from malaria. Less than half the population has access to clean drinking water causing  typhoid and cholera. Any small crisis creates a humanitarian disaster. They need an international commitment to help develop the country and get it out of poverty.

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Poverty in Malawi is at a critical level. It is one of the  most impoverished nations in the world. Malawi was one of the worst hit countries by HIV AIds. There are over a million orphans due to Aids. As with other countries, lack of education, droughts, sanitation and corruption impede economic progress.

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Despite its  economic growth rates and the encouraging development progress made by the government in recent years, poverty continues to be severe and widespread in Mozambique. It ranks among the lowest in human development, life expectancy, and inequality. Rates of Malaria and tuberculosis are very high in Mozambique. Lack of improved water sources is a major issue for both urban and rural populations. More than half of Mozambicans must walk more than an hour to reach the nearest health facility. The potential is certainly there for Mozambique to capitalize on its many resources, but foreign assistance  may be the key to ensuring  Mozambicans are able to help themselves.

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Despite its rich natural resources,including diamonds and gold,  Guinea remains underdeveloped. Poverty and malnutrition have an enormous impact on children and young people in the West African country, where more than half the population is under eighteen years of age. Although Guinea has abolished school fees, learning materials  still cost money and many teachers are poorly trained. Children are dropping out of school and either looking for work in the streets or falling victims of child trafficking. As a peaceful country, it has become home to neighboring refugees increasing the poverty level.

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Eritrea is one of the youngest independent countries in the world, but it is also one of the poorest.  It won its independence from Ethiopia after thirty years of war  in 1993. It has become one of the world’s fastest emptying nations, Droughts, conflict, malnutrition and disease  is  overseen by a corrupt dictatorship that has been accused of many human rights violations. Attention is focused on the Syrian refugees but far more Eritreans are fleeing. Perhaps that is why it has been included in Donald Trump’s Muslim ban.

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Madagascar’s poverty is due to political corruption, economic colonialism, lack of infrastructure, poor education system and environmental degradation. There are severe food shortages causing serious starvation and  acute malnutrition. Almost half of  the children under five suffer chronic malnutrition, the fourth highest rate in the world.  Severe water safety and sanitation are huge problems.  Madagascar is an island. There is no terrorism. There are no geopolitical interests.There is a need for an urgent priority list but Madagascar will probably never attract the necessary donor aid from the global community.

Fly safe and I did not take these photos.,

JAZ

I Don’t Eat Meat Except When I Do

I Don’t Eat Meat Except When I Do

“Life is too short for self-hatred and celery sticks.’ Marilyn Wann

I’m not a meat eater. I can live without bacon. I don’t have a plant-based diet. I’m not a vegan or a pescetarian. I don’t have a superior I’m going to be healthier than you while saving the planet attitude. Meat is just never my food of choice unless it comes in a casing or is ground.  It is my occasional secret guilty pleasure. I’ve switched to chicken sausage and  turkey burgers in public but the truth is that it is just not the same.

I’m not even an ethical carnivore. Can one still be spiritual and eat the occasional ground meat? Even if it is not grass-fed, free range and organic? I pride myself on being an honest person. Is it dishonest to be a secret fast food eater?

Once in a while I need a real burger. I want an In N Out Burger or a Pink’s real hot dog every time I drive by. I rarely go in. Comfort food  is comforting – as long as you don’t overdo it. I’m not buying the 24 pack of hot dogs or burgers at Cosco. There is a difference between getting McDonald’s for dinner or scarfing down a bag of cookies or pint of ice cream so fast you didn’t enjoy it.

Quarter Pounder with cheese is my go to when necessary comfort food. You can’t beat McDonald’s prices and it’s only 600 calories if you were counting calories at a fast food restaurant. I feel like McDonalds is getting better at making their burgers look good and hiding the grey meat in the middle so you can’t see it. I notice when McDonalds says Deluxe it means they  add lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise, because apparently nothing adds class like mayo.

It brings up a cherished memory of how much my son and his friends enjoyed going to McDonald’s. Waiting in line at the drive through, I think about all the Happy Meal toys we collected and all the Chicken McNuggets they consumed. I was not allowed to eat sugar or junk food as a kid which is why I crave it. I made sure it was a part of my children’s childhood.

Stored in my brain is the memory of when McDonald’s came to Brooklyn. I went with my boyfriend and all our friends for the first time. We  cut classes to have lunch there and ordered everything so we could try it. I believe everything was Filet of Fish, Cheeseburger, Hamburger and Fries. If there was chicken it was not McNuggets and no one ordered it. We thought it tasted good and was definitely cost-effective. There were no fancy burger options then. I take the first bite and I see them all dressed in their cool seventies fashion once again.  

And of course there was the movie Pulp Fiction. “What do they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris? They got the metric system. They don’t know WTF a quarter pounder is. They call it Royale with Cheese”’

I  call it the taste of memory.

Fly Safe,

JAZ

Beautiful And Beautiful-er, Tongariro and Abel Tasman National Parks, New Zealand

Beautiful and Beautiful -er Tongariro and Abel Tasman National Parks

“The landscape belongs to the person who looks at it…” -Ralph Waldo Emerson”

New Zealand is far enough away from the rest of the world to protect its natural beauty from hordes of tourists. If you are a sucker for a beautiful view, New Zealand is your place. Truthfully, beautiful is not even an adequate word to describe them.

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Tongariro National Park was made more famous by its star appearance in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, like so many places in New Zealand.

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The alpine, volcanic scenery is the setting of Mordor, in which stands Mt Doom, aka Mt Ngauruhoe. For the entire trilogy, Frodo and Sam are trying to get to Mt Doom in order to destroy the infamous ring.

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The Tongariro Crossing is a 19.4 kilometre track.

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It is billed as the best day hike in the country and one of the shorter Great Walks in New Zealand.

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The land for Tongariro National Park was given by the local Maori to the government in 1887.

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The condition was that a protected area for all to enjoy would be established.

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This is the first example of an indigenous people gifting land to a colonial government anywhere in the world, and this is what earned Tongariro its dual ‘World Heritage Area’ status – signficant for both natural and cultural values. (photo Cordula  Reins)

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Abel Tasman National Park is the smallest National Park in New Zealand.

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The Abel Tasman Coastal Track which is another one of New Zealand’s Great Walks stretches 51km and can be completed in anywhere from 3 to 5 days, depending on your motivation and level of fitness.

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Kayaking lets you explore the small coves and beaches that are harder to get to.

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You can also do the park as a day trip and take shorter hikes. We stayed in Nelson which I think is too far at 56 kilometers away. Motueka is closer at 20 kilometers which makes more sense if you are doing it as a day trip. There are also lodges at Arawoa and Torrent Bay in the park if camping isn’t your thing. All food has to be carried into the park as there are no shops at which to purchase groceries or supplies, however, there is a cafe at Awaroa Lodge in Awaroa Bay. (stopping to get fresh drinking water for the boat)

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I love spending time on a beach.

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The color of the water is ridiculous – deep turquoise.

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It is one of the sunniest places in New Zealand. (here’s my uber)

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Some of the beaches and rainforest feel a lot like Thailand.

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There is so much beauty in New Zealand it is hard to imagine that there is so much hatred in the world. There is something healing and peaceful about being in these places. – about just being and realizing that the Maori have it right and everything we need is free. (or perhaps  for a small entrance fee)

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

 

 

Ten Of The Coldest Countries In The World

Ten Of The Coldest Countries In The World

“You can’t get too much winter in the winter.” —Robert Frost

I‘ve lived in Southern California for a long time. I do not do cold very well. Neither does my body. I have a weird autoimmune thing where my fingers and toes turn blue very quickly from cold resulting in circulation problems.  I don’t usually consider very cold trips, but there are some places i will have to go. The places on this list are cold. They have some beautiful white scenery. They are amazing countries. The only thing is – it is very, very cold.

Antarctica is the coldest country in the world. It is the Northernmost place on planet earth and gets little to no sun all year round. There are no native human Antarcticans. Nobody conquered anybody and it really was discovered. People who travel to Antarctica are tourists or they work on scientific research stations. No one actually lives in Antarctica the way they do in the rest of the world. If you want to go to Antartica on your own without a tour, you need permission from your government and you have to show how you will have no environmental impact. It is an environmentally sensitive place. The last  flight out of the South Pole is in February and there is not another one till November so plan your trip accordingly.

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Greenland is the  world’s largest island located  between the Arctic and North Atlantic Oceans.  When you hear the word Arctic you know it is cold. Eighty percent of the island is covered in ice. the other twenty per cent is inhabitable. Greenland has an Arctic Tundra that is being affected by climate change. so you might want to see it soon.  Tundras are among the earth’s harshest landscapes. If you’ve missed the Northern Lights, you can see them here three hundred days a year. Icebergs are visible everywhere.  They do have a short  summer season. People live in Greenland. There are flights from Iceland, Denmark and Canada which are other cold countries.

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Iceland. Take a look at the name. The country is cold. Iceland is a road trip and best done in summer. If you are thinking of road tripping in the winter in the snow, I hope you are in a four-wheel drive. Seat warmers are a good thing. Iceland is one big photo-op so be prepared to take a lot of pictures. Also Icelanders love ice cream.

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Russia. Parts of Russia are very cold-like Siberia.The world’s coldest city is Yakutsk, located in Yakutia a republic in Siberia. I can not go there because if you wear glasses outside the metal will freeze to your cheek making them difficult to remove without taking out part of your face. Five to ten minutes a day outside in winter can cause pain. Clothing for maximum warmth is fur. It is expensive but it’s a good investment in your future of not freezing to death. If you drive to work, you will need to run your engine all day.  Winter lasts about seven months. This doesn’t sound like a trip for everyone.

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Kazakhstan. The best time to travel to Kazakhstan  is not in the cold biting winter. It would not be my personal choice. The danger in winter is frostbite and stupidity. Things fall on your head – ice slides off a roof, large icicles drop from branches trees fall.  Stay away from narrow slippery streets. You will never dress right – no matter how much clothing you wear. You will be too hot inside or too cold outside.You cannot predict it.

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Canada. Parts of Canada are effing freezing. (I’m running out of cold adjectives.) Winnipeg, Manitoba has the coldest winter weather of any major Canadian city. It ranks first for the lowest average temperatures. Snag Yukon is the coldest city in North America. Canada is frigid dark and cold in the winter. You will have no trouble getting into restaurants, museums and events  because most people are home. It is beautiful in the summer.

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USA. Alaska is one of our states. Weather in Alaska in the winter is cold and dark. Days are short to very short, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t skiing, dog sledding,  ice skating and viewing the Northern lights. They are big on winter festivals and hotels and tours are fifty per cent off. Do you know why? because it is cold, cold, cold. It’s not deadly cold like some other places. But cold enough to wear a heated jacket and carry a supply of handwarmers.

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Finland is close to the Arctic Ocean and the Northern winds bring the cold. It is one of the  northernmost places in the world with a population.The cold does not disrupt their life. They have well heated houses, cars, saunas and food. Lapland doesn’t get any light from December to mid January. Lapland is the official home of Santa Claus so of course it is cold. Santa never looks cold. 

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Estonia is the most northern of the Baltic countries and has very cold winters. It’s always below  freezing and snowing with plenty of cold air coming in from Russia. The best time to visit Estonia is not winter.

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The capital of Mongolia which is Ulaanbaatar, is described as the coldest capital city in the world. It is cold from October through April. No other capital city demands as much tolerance, fortitude, and strength from its citizens than Ulaanbaatar does. I guess the next time you are cold, it could be worse, you could be living in Ulaanbaatar.

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Fly safe,

JAZ

What Not To Bring To New Zealand

What Not To Bring  To New Zealand

“Anything to declare? the customs inspector said.”Two pounds of uncut heroin and a manual of pornographic art,” Mark answered, looking about for Kitty. All Americans are comedians, the inspector thought, as he passed Parker through.” Leon Uris, Exodus

Biosecurity entering  New Zealand is definitely a bigger threat to them than terrorist security. New Zealand depends heavily on natural resources and agriculture and they have gone to great lengths to prevent foreign organisms or disease from entering and harming the country’s wildlife, plant life, marine life and health. I know this because I waited in a queue for two hours to be checked for fruit. If you carry an Australian or New Zealand passport, their line moves faster.

The best thing is not to bring anything with you that resembles food. I ate my almonds while I waited. The sign says no dairy products, honey products, meat, fish, fresh foods, anything not sealed in manufacturer’s packaging or any plant material including seeds, cuttings, and bulbs. Also excluded from entry are some medicinal or natural health products, especially anything unpackaged or without a full list of ingredients. You may also need to be wary of materials such as animal hide, bones or teeth etc. I really want to make some jokes here but I won’t because I was really annoyed about that wait.

If you are bringing outdoor equipment such as tramping boots, camping, fishing or diving gear, this also needs to be declared. It is also a good idea to make sure that your gear is clean, give it a good wash and clean off any debris, such as plant material or soil.

There are specially trained dogs at the airport to check for food. How specially trained does a dog have to be for that? There is an exhaustive list on the MPI  website of things that you cannot bring in. (Ministry for Primary Industries not Military Police Information as I originally thought)

Having an Arabic sounding last name when pronounced wrong, I’m used to being thoroughly checked for weapons and really did not understand the seriousness of this.  I did not declare the closed big bags of M and M peanuts, jelly bellys and vitamin C bars  in my luggage. It passed through the  food X-ray machine and no one went through my bags as they normally do. Apparently I look more like a terrorist then a candy smuggler. 

If you don’t declare any at risk goods you are immediately fined 400 NZ dollars and it can go up to 100,000 NZ dollars. So declare all food. I will next time also.They will decide if you can keep it or not. 

There is a big  interactive exhibit in the Wellington Museum called Catch the Invaders where you can pretend to be the MPI. I was finally able to comprehend the importance of this. New Zealand’s isolated geography has been helpful in keeping disease and pests out. Greater international trade, climate change and tourism makes it vulnerable to new pests and diseases that will affect their wildlife and economy. New Zealand is a beautiful country that still has vast areas of wilderness  and I understand now why they want to keep it that way. (photo Cordula Reins)

Fly safe,

JAZ