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

Kicking the Shit Out Of Plan B,C,D, etc

Kicking the Shit Out Of Plan B,C,D etc

“Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of option B.” Sheryl Sandberg

I have always been a planner.  I‘ve always tried to figure out what I needed to do next or what needed to happen next in order for life to go on as it should. it turns out that life is unpredictable and even the best Plan A doesn’t turn out the way you thought.

Accepting change no matter how hard is a process that cannot be avoided. Some changes are easier to accept than others, but the decisions about how to cope with those changes are personal ones.

When Plan A fell apart I went through all the usual thought processes –  drugs, drinking, suicide, bank robbery, revenge killing, monastery/convent, prison etc. I screamed, yelled, cried, cursed beat the crap out of my pillow, hid, walked or hiked for hours and listened to a lot of loud angry or sad crying music.

Ancient cultures believe that the dark times are a time of transformation. It is a time when our strength is tested and we must draw on the things we have learned. Modern culture calls it a mid-life crisis. Instead of working out our problems we run from each other and are left alone isolated by shame. We get facelifts, sports cars, new houses and young new partners. People we believed to be our friends or family back away. We aren’t left with much in the way of support. 

After too much time wallowing and feeling sorry for myself, Plan B began to take shape. I thought it was a good plan. I pictured my future living in another country or maybe a few different ones.   

When completely unexpected health problems made Plan B fall apart, I went through all the usual thought processes  – drugs, drinking, suicide, bank robbery, revenge killing,  monastery/convent, prison etc. I screamed, yelled, cried, cursed beat the crap out of my pillow, hid, walked or hiked for hours and listened to a lot of loud angry or sad crying music.  But it did not go on for as long this time.  I started unwillingly working on Plan C.

I learned C wasn’t the answer either and faced challenging family problems. Change is the rule, not the exception. Whether you like change or not, (and most of us hate it), you at least know to expect something, and that makes the unpredictable more predictable.  I’ve learned that not knowing is part of the process. It is the scariest and greatest potential that we have.

I’m not going to lie  – Plan D needs some work. The twists, turns and barriers are clearly visible. I’m waiting to figure out what the best course of action will be. I don’t want to give up on it. So since plans A through C are no longer available, I’m going to kick the shit out of Plan D. If that doesn’t work,  I’m going to have to kick the shit out of Plan E (when I have it)  because that is life.

Fly safe,
JAZ

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Venice, California Street Art

Venice, California Street Art

“I spray the sky fast. Eyes ahead and behind. Looking for cops. Looking for anyone I don’t want to be here. Paint sails and the things that kick in my head scream from can to brick. See this, see this. See me emptied onto a wall.”Cath Crowley

When I walk down the streets in Venice, California there is everything from simple tagging to beautiful complex scenes. I always see art- despite the sometimes rough locations. Cities are the best art galleries to me. When I am looking at freedom of expression or paid murals, I am forced to acknowledge their existence. It is color and expression instead of drab walls. I  have always felt  – better spray cans then guns. Here are some examples of art that I see every day.

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

Ten Things That He Wants to Do In Chile

 Ten Things That  He Wants To Do In Chile

“I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” – Mark Twain

Buy a charango.

Learn to play a charango.

Photograph everything – especially people.

Bring a sports jacket.

Taste every Chilean food.

Find some new fabulous wine.

 Bring an extra bag for shopping. Is he a shopper?

Not go to a nine-course tasting meal at Borago right when we get there.

Read 100 Years Of Solitude or Love In the Time Of Cholera. I can’t remember which. It is Colombian not Chilean but South American and everyone should read both of them anyway.

Sleep on the plane.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Ten Things To Do On Easter Island

Ten Things To Do On Easter Island

“Whether an island such as Easter Island can be considered remote is simply a matter of perspective. Those who live there, the Rapa Nui, call their homeland Te Pito Te Henua, ‘the navel of the world’. Any point on the infinite globe of the Earth can become a centre.” Judith Schalansky

1. Get there. Easter Island is one of the most remote places in the world. There is one airline that flies there which is LATAM. You can only fly there from  Santiago, Chile or Papeete, Tahiti.  It is six hours away from each place.

2. See the Moai. Easter Island is famous for the Moai statues. A plethora of theories surround the origins and construction of these giant, monolithic stone statues, but the truth is that they are the legacy left behind by the Rapa Nui civilization that once inhabited the island.

3.See the Moai at sunrise and sunset.

4.Hang out at the beach.

5.Hike the volcanoes.

6.See the other ruins from the Rapa Nui – the petroglyphs.

7.See a Rapa Nui cultural show. Rapa Nui are similar to the Māori.

8.Bike around the island. You can do the entire island in a day.

9.Take amazing photos.

10.Get an Easter Island Moai stamp at the Post Office (not the airport) on your passport. I’m so doing that. This is a bucket list thing for me!!!!

Fly safe,

JAZ

Least Friendly Countries In the World

Least Friendly Countries In The World

“I’m a stranger in a strange land.” Carson McCullers 

As any world traveler knows, not every country offers tourists a warm welcome. Everyone does not “like to practice their English” for you English-speaking tourists. Everyone does not like foreigners. Friendliness is rated by attitudes toward foreigners. Here are the least friendly countries in order.

10. Mongolia is not a nation of smiling quaint little Asian people. They come from warrior lineage and showing emotion to strangers is a sign of weakness. It is a cultural difference and that is the way it is. They often seem rude and unfriendly, especially in cities. Once you go out of the city, this is not the case. The challenging nature of nomadic life has shaped the need for the unique hospitality and genuine warmth extended to all travelers and pilgrims. Mongolians believe that the welcome offered a stranger today will be repaid in the future. This concept is at the very root of Mongolia’s centuries-old culture.

9. Bulgaria is about as East as Eastern Europe gets and Eastern Europeans are not friendly. They don’t smile and I don’t speak Bulgarian. I don’t know much about this country. It is not famous for gymnasts or shooting dictators.There is a lot of stuff on the internet about people being rude and ripping off tourists when possible. Least friendly does not mean unsafe. I guess I will go and see for myself and bring a book.

8. Slovaks are not friendly to people they do not know. I am not sure if this reserve is a Slavic trait or a product of the Socialist regime that they lived under for so long. Smiling customer service will not be part of your shopping or dining experience in Slovakia. They want tourism but they can’t figure out how to market themselves. If you need help in English “ask young,” The older people working in train stations and bus terminals do not speak English. There have been several racist incidents in this homogeneous white society that make people not want to return.

7. Latvia is a good place to not ask directions because no one is going to help you. I have been there. The locals are not friendly and if anyone is friendly to you they want something – so be careful. It is my least favorite of all the Eastern European countries that I have been to so far.

6. Pakistan is a country rife with crime and terrorists. Home to the Taliban and other extremist organizations, Pakistan is unsafe and unfriendly.

5. Iran is a tough one. I think it is on this list because it is ruled by savage mullahs who sponsor terrorism. But from everything I have heard, Iranians are welcoming to visitors and happy to see travelers in their country. The President leads chants that say Death To America. There are posters that say Death to Israel and We Have No Homosexuals. This definitely makes it unwelcoming, yet by all accounts, the people are kind and friendly.

4. Kuwait is incredibly hot which probably makes people irritable. Do not expect a warm welcome here. It is a conservative Muslim country and from being around conservative Muslims in my travels, I notice that they avoid eye contact with anyone in Western clothes. There is not a lot to do other than eating vast amounts of food, smoke shisha (hookah) and walk around luxurious shopping malls. Apparently, the locals don’t seem to want foreigners to do that.

3. I was in Russia a while ago. No one spoke English and at that time every sign was written in Cyrillic. It was hard to get around and I tried to learn temporary Cyrillic as fast I could. The no smiling, no small talk is standard Russian behavior. It was still early in the post-Communist era and people were adjusting. The life of a Russian person in Russia had always been hard and a constant struggle. When I was there, they had many issues between this new “free” life and the feeling that life under Communism was easier. It was what they knew. I found the people cold, rude and unfriendly but I never found that with the many Russian immigrants I have met in the States. I understand why it is listed as the third most unfriendly country in the world because that was my experience as well coming from a completely different culture. 

2. Venezuela is a country in crisis.  It is socially, economically, and politically in ruins. Venezuela is full of violent crime, inflation, and corruption. The local people spend half their lives waiting in line at empty supermarkets, bus, train and gas stations. Hospitals are empty because there is no medicine in this oil-rich country.  The black market is so much cheaper than inflated prices so everyone carries cash. Tourists are robbed by both criminals and police. Traffic accidents are common because cars don’t stop at street lights for fear of being robbed. Protests are daily and often turn violent. Venezuela is a dangerous country and not on most people’s list to travel to right now. Everyone is way too worried about their own safety and precarious future to be friendly to strangers. 

1. Bolivia took the dubious honor of being the most unfriendly country in the world. I know you probably thought it would be the French. I’m not sure I get this one. The only Bolivians I have met were in Northern Argentina selling hand-made souvenirs and coca leaves for altitude sickness in the Altiplano. It is the most extensive high altitude plateau outside of Tibet -4000 meters high. Chewing coca leaves and drinking coca tea is very helpful for avoiding altitude sickness. The legality of coca leaves in Buenos Aires is questionable but it is medicinal in the Altiplano and they bring it in from Bolivia. Some Bolivians were friendlier than others but no one was rude. I’ve always found South Americans to be kind and helpful and I can’t find any information on why it is number one. It is an odd choice for a poor, beautiful country that needs tourism. I’m definitely going anyway.

 

Fly safe,

JAZ

Ten Things To Do In Chile

Ten Things To Do In Chile

“Latin America is very fond of the word “hope.” We like to be called the “continent of hope.” Candidates for deputy, senator, president, call themselves “candidates of hope.” This hope is really something like a promise of heaven, an IOU whose payment is always being put off. It is put off until the next legislative campaign, until next year, until the next century.”  Pablo Neruda

Eat at Borago. which is one of the top Michelin starred restaurants in the world.

See the street art that defines Valparaiso.

Visit the homes of Pablo Neruda.

See the Museum of Memory and Human Rights commemorating those who suffered under the Pinochet regime.

Visit Chiloe Island and hope it isn’t raining,

Visit the art museums and galleries of Santiago.

Eat Chilean empanadas (different from Argentinian ones). Drink Pisco Sours.(like Peruvian Pisco Sours). Have Chilean hot dogs (different from American ones.)

Have a ski day in the Andes Mountains.

See Castro which is famous for its colored wooden houses built on stilts. I love colored houses.

Spend a day visiting Chilean wineries and Vino Del Mar. 

Fly Safe,

JAZ

It Is Like Your Mom’s Facebook Page

It is Like Your Mom’s Facebook Page

“Can we go back to using Facebook for what it was originally for – looking up exes to see how fat they got?” Bill Maher

I heard two twenty-somethings having this conversation I didn’t hear the question but the answer was, “You know, it’s like your mom’s Facebook page.“

Hmmm. They couldn’t be talking about me. I’m totally cool and of course, you are too if you are reading this. I’m a parent and I love parents. But Facebook does broadcast our lives across the internet. Here are some things that might be bothering your kids.

1.The good news is that your parents have actually learned how to work a computer. As soon as we get on Facebook, our first friend request is always our kids. Your kids grudgingly accept because they have no choice. How do you not accept your mom’s friend request? Mine had rules. “Do not like or comment on my page.” Without those rules, I would have commented on every one of their Facebook statuses and retagged their photos on friends and relatives pages.  I would have left embarrassing personal messages for everyone to see. That is what they believe. Then we add their friends who also don’t really want to say yes but do.

2. There are parents who post way too many pictures of their kids. I get it. B being a parent is life-changing. I have flooded social media with many photos of L and K at different stages of their lives. Moving brought out a ton of the old photos. I have no ground to stand on. When I’m not posting my kids, I’m posting my dog because you know the internet needs more cute dog photos.

3.There is always an alarmist in every group of parents. Giving overprotective parents who don’t use Snopes a social media platform is a disaster of misinformation. “If you don’t post this legal copywrite, Facebook can steal your photos”. I mean don’t you think they can do that anyway?

4.Bragging on social media is part of the deal. “Look at my son’s cute Harvard sweatshirt.” “Really, fifth grade already?” “I love our family matching outfits.” “My son in law has another song out.”Everyone has a perfect life on social media.

5. And then there is commenting which could be worse than bragging. “Oh, your son or grandson is walking at one year. Mine walked at eight months. All kids are different.” “Where are you getting married? My daughter got married in Africa but everyone is different.” “Your daughter is a comedian, that is so cool. My son is working at Google and has great insurance’ ”Oh, you traveled to New Zealand alone? Here is a photo of me with my family in New Zealand.”

6. Facebook is a safe place for parents to vent their frustration about their kids. “Anyone else sitting in the emergency room at 11pm because their son decided to climb out the window?” “Here is a photo of my son driving cross-country on his motorbike.” “Here is my daughter crying on her first day of camp.” “Anyone else’s kid’s college dorm room look like this?”  We don’t want advice from other parents. We just want to vent about our kids who are also on social media. 

7. Hipster parents and ”cool” parents (There is no such thing’) Hipster parents are always showing photos without kids. Here we are in Cabo or Vegas, having dinner at Nobu, at yoga, training for the marathon etc. If they do pose with their kids, everyone is hipster dressed. Older parents are always doing something cool. Here I am at a rock concert, climbing a glacier, at Hamilton (everyone posts that photo-including me finall),, at the Vanity Fair party, in Hawaii, Paris or on Safari.

9. Perfect Facebook Families. They have beautiful houses, smiling faces and luxury cars. They travel all over the world together. Their children are flawless and brilliant at school or in their careers.  They either look like supermodels or haven’t aged or gained a pound since they had kids or became grandparents. They have beautiful family dinners and holidays.  No one has ever seen them fight or worry about anything.

The reality is once we started joining in large numbers, Facebook stopped being cool. I guess like your mom’s Facebook page is not a compliment. I believe that this has been the downfall of Facebook and why the teens and twenty-somethings have moved to Instagram, Twitter and Snap Chat. These are things that many of us have not mastered yet though I love Instagram. When you are in high school, parents are the least cool people imaginable.  We stay on Facebook because it is a comfort zone and most of our friends aren’t on Twitter or Snap Chat.  Parental embarrassment on Facebook is becoming less of an issue because everything is always changing on the internet. 

Fly safe,

JAZ