How Travel Changed My View Of The World

How Travel Changed My View Of The World

We should come home from adventures, and perils, and discoveries every day with new experience and character” – Henry David Thoreau

The world news catches my attention in a way it has not before I started traveling.
Meeting someone from another country changes you. You gain entirely new perspectives on the world from the conversations you have and the meals you share. You realize what you see in the news is not reality and friendships can be formed in all corners of the globe.

I learned very quickly that humans aren’t so different. We have a family we love and jobs to go to during the day. People are generally good to each other no matter their backgrounds. We all want to be safe, happy, work, do what we love and be loved. While we go about it differently, we are all after the same things in life. Negative stereotypes disappear when people are exposed to new cultures and places.

I have learned that relative wealth—the wealth we have in the West in the form of opportunities and a government that generally provides basic services and support—does not isolate us from similar common human experiences. Though I have never gone hungry or wondered about my next meal, I do understand loss.

Even amidst poverty, I always feel a commonality of shared experiences—a desire within a person to better themselves, or perhaps a parent working day and night in the hope of a better life for their child. The circumstances of people I have met while traveling are often so seemingly different from mine, but yet underneath, deep within the travel experience were common themes. I found common hopes and common fears within each person’s story. Witnessing this, hearing the stories and feeling the kindness all over the world, has broadened my sense of self, and my understanding of the threads of connection that bind us all.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Ten Of The Hottest Countries In The World

Ten Of The Hottest Countries In The World

“The heat made people crazy. They woke from their damp bedsheets and went in search of a glass of water, surprised to find that when their vision cleared, they were holding instead the gun they kept hidden in the bookcase.”  Kristin Hannah

Summer in an already hot country might give you the feeling of what hell would be like – where summer never ends.

Libya is considered to be the world’s hottest country. The hottest place in the world is El Azzizia, Libya. The Libyan desert covers much of the country making it quite hot. It’s very easy to get blisters and diseases on your skin from the heat. If for some reason you are going –  like to fight in a war or if you are Anthony Bourdain, cover up.

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Saudi Arabia is one of the hottest and one of the richest countries in the world. The country consists mostly of Arabian desert and luckily has air conditioning. The religious make the pilgrimage to Mecca. If you are unaccustomed to scorching hot temperatures and no rainfall then you should probably avoid the summer months.

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Oman is also one of the richest and hottest countries in the world. Public transportation is air-conditioned. Some of the women say they get used to wearing the burkah and it protects them from the sun. If you are not a fan of being covered up in desert heat and humidity, avoid the summer.

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Sudan gets almost no precipitation year round. It is one of the driest countries on the planet making it one of the hottest as well. Severe food shortage last summer was one of the worst due to wars and poor harvests. It is not usually a tourist destination due to violence, disease and poor infrastructure.

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In addition to ISIS and terrorist bombings,  Iraq is very hot in the summer. Bagdad is one of the hottest cities in the world with a lot of power outages due to everyone trying to use air conditioning. On some days you cannot stand in the sun for even a few minutes.They have had a few mandatory “heat holidays.’ It doesn’t sound like a holiday I will be taking.

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Somalia may not be one of the safest countries in the world but it is one of the hottest. There is little to no rainfall and no food grows due to lack of irrigation.  It is not your every day vacation spot,though there are always people who want to go somewhere new. Being near the equator it is always hot but June through September are brutal months.

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Hot countries and Africa go hand in hand. Most of Algeria is desert.The summers are dry, moist and hot and it can stay hot most of the year. It is best to not go to North Africa in summer especially if you are planning to visit the Sahara.The US State Department reinstated its travel advisory so you might want to go somewhere else hot.

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Iran is not a tourist destination at the moment and especially not in summer when it is scorching hot. It is especially hot if you have to follow Islāmic dress codes. Iran’s anti West policies have not made it a popular holiday spot with Americans but the always adventurous Europeans are traveling there in the cooler months. In July and August the heat is exhausting.

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India is a large country but the hot winds off the Indian Ocean in the summer bring sweltering temperatures. Rajasthan has the highest summer temperatures in India. Severe heat waves cause many deaths. Summer is not the time to visit.

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Parts of Mexico are very hot in the summer. It’s not the hottest country but it’s in the top ten.  There is a lot of dry brush around. Mexico is not all beaches. It has year round high temperatures. Plan your visits to Mexico during the cooler seasons or maybe not in the next four years.

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Fly safe,

JAZ

Amelia’s Divorce

Amelia’s  Divorce

“But in the real world, you couldn’t really just split a family down the middle, mom on one side, dad the other, with the child equally divided between. It was like when you ripped a piece of paper into two: no matter how you tried, the seams never fit exactly right again. It was what you couldn’t see, those tiniest of pieces, that were lost in the severing, and their absence kept everything from being complete.”  Sarah Dessen

 I  have noticed that kids around the world are all the same. They might eat different foods or attend a village school in the rainforest but they share universal commonalities. They all need to have their basic needs met and feel safe, secure and loved.

A little girl came over to my dog Banksy  at the hairdresser.  She wanted to pet him. I said that  he was kind of nervous because we had just moved to a new place and dogs don’t understand moving, She asked where we had moved to. I said to Venice/ Marina Del Rey.

“My dad used to live in Marina Del Rey but now he lives in the valley.  My dad doesn’t live with me anymore. I am from a divorce now. I live with my mom near here in a new house,“she replied.

“Since you are in a new house,  maybe you could help Banksy. Do you have any ideas how to make him more comfortable in his new home?“

She asked if Banksy was from a divorce? I said “No, it was just me and Banksy.”

”It is just me and my mom now,”she answered. Amelia told Banksy not to be sad because everyone will still love him the same even if he has a new stepmom who is going to have a baby.  “My new stepmother is Filipino so we don’t know what the baby will look like because my dad is Jewish. But the baby won’t look like  me and no one will know that she is my sister.”

“You will know and she will know and that is all that counts.” I said.

“She isn’t really going to be my sister. She will be my half-sister because we don’t have the same mother.”

”To her, you will be her big sister and a very important person in her life when she gets a bit older.“ I said.

She smiled and said “Yes, but the valley is very far away. Banksy, even though you are scared now, your new home will be great. You won’t have to miss things when it is your weekend with your mom or your weekend with your dad.” Amelia is seven.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Ten Of The Richest Countries In The World

  Ten Of The Richest Countries In The World

“I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.” Jim Carrey

It is confusing to rate the wealthiest countries these days.  It is usually rated by the GDP – gross domestic product. But there are other categories which change the list – third world rankings, most money, most growth etc., country size etc.  I’m going to go with the  original criteria which always puts the small Arab Oil Countries ahead of the big countries like the United States, Russia and China. Lists are different and I compiled a few.

1. Every list is in agreement that Qatar is the world’s richest country. It is full of five star hotels and has a five star airline.  Qatar wants to be the Arab world’s next super power.The streets are not paved with gold but consistently being dug up for new electrical cables and drainage getting ready for World Cup 2022. There are questions about bribery for the games. In fifty years it has gone from a poor fishing country to a rich oil-producing country. Qatari are the world’s richest people with an average income of 400,000 dollars per year. They are also rapidly becoming the world’s fattest. Since they don’t need to work and everything is done for them, they sit around smoking and eating junk food. The country’s traditional culture makes it difficult to go on a diet. You never leave someone’s house without eating.

2. Tiny Luxembourg is rich. It pays the highest wages in Europe so people from surrounding countries often work there. It is great for financial companies, banking and tax breaks. The reason it is rich is for stability, financial and investment reasons that I can not really explain. Luxembourg is on all lists in the top three every year.

3. Singapore has more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the world. It is a city-state with about five million people so the scale isn’t comparable to the challenges of a country. Singapore is not fueled by natural resources. It is perfectly positioned to take advantage of the rise of Chinese and Southeast Asian wealth in coming years. Singapore has also pushed into electronics and tech.  Singapore made itself an internationally oriented economy and that has  paid off for its people.

4. Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates is the richest city in the world. The city of  Dubai is well-known as a playground for the rich. There is no sales tax or income tax. They have tried to cut their dependency on oil by diverting their economy, creating new businesses and increasing tourism.

5. Brunei is a tiny country on the island of Borneo in the South China Sea.  I do know that it is ruled by a Sultan and he is very rich. He owns the Beverly Hills Hotel among many other things. It is one of the smaller countries in the world so I don’t know how fair that is. The Sultan of Brunei presides over an absolute monarchy, and the government has just delayed its decision to reintroduce stoning, severing limbs and flogging for theft, adultery and homosexuality under the code of Sharia law. The UN has expressed concerns. But as long as the oil doesn’t run out, they are good.

6. Norway is prosperous, happy and free. Its towns and cities are orderly and comfortable. The people are educated, speak many languages and trade comfortably with the European Union. The nation is the largest producer of oil on the continent, and that advantage has helped the country put together a sovereign wealth fund of $860 billion dollars.  Norway sets itself apart from many oil-producing countries, particularly in the former Soviet Union and the Middle East in the way that the wealth is distributed. Instead of  oil generating revenues that make the governing elites fabulously wealthy, while the rest of the citizens depend on their leaders’ handouts or upon trickle-down economics for their share of what is left, Norway puts the money back into the country funding many government programs. 

7. Kuwait is an oil rich country in the Middle East. They say there are no poor people in Kuwait but that is usually said by the very rich who don’t know them. The provision of social services to Kuwaiti citizens, compared with most Western countries, is extensive. The state welfare system  cares for the needy, and aids families in need because of divorce, old age, disability, parental death, illness, or financial difficulty. Educational and marital status are taken into account in granting aid. Long standing tribal families and Sunni Muslims receive preferential treatment in Kuwait. They are an economically backward and politically unstable country compared to other oil-producing  countries.

8. Long-term monetary security and political stability has made Switzerland a safe haven for investors, creating an economy that is increasingly dependent on a steady tide of foreign investment  They aren’t picky about who invests money there – blood stained dictators, mafia, embezzlers, Nazis are among the many investors throughout the years.  The country’s small size and high labor specialization make industry and trade the keys to Switzerland‘s economic livelihood. They are rich, happy  and have great chocolate.

9. The United States has a lot of rich people. We have the largest amount of private wealth in the world. We also have one of the largest wealth inequality gaps making the uneven distribution of wealth a persistent issue. Yes even with all our problems, we are still considered lucky and rich.

10, With its vast oil wealth, Saudi Arabia has one of the highest concentrations of super rich households in the world. They are so rich that they have been able to hide the poverty in the country from sight. Saudi Arabia  had the largest oil reserves in the world. They are the biggest international exporter in crude oil and the amount of revenue they make from it is huge . Mecca helps – bringing in a lot of tourists. for the annual pilgrimage But unless Tesla really takes off, Saudi Arabia will continue to be one of the richest countries in the world.

Fly safe,

JAZ

July 4th – We Hold These Truths

  July 4th    We Hold These Truths

”May the foundation of our new constitution, be justice, truth and righteousness. Like the wise man’s house may it be founded upon those rocks and then neither storms or tempests will overthrow it.” Letter from Abigail Adams to John Adams, July 13, 1776

The importance of July Fourth is that it marks the birth of the United States of America.

The signers of that document composed by Thomas Jefferson in Philadelphia, knew that a declaration of independence from the dictatorial rule of Great Britain would lead to war.

They understood that the strong British army would be sailing across the Atlantic to descend on the relatively defenseless colonies. They knew that they didn’t have the numbers, arms or training to stand against the British, much less defeat them militarily. Yet they put their signatures, lives, families, and their destiny, on that parchment.

Against all odds, and even against reason, that Declaration told the world that “these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states.”

Most of the people living in those colonies had simply had enough of British domination, of working and existing at the pleasure of a king they didn’t know and who obviously considered them his indentured servants. They wanted to be free, to make their own decisions and govern themselves.

The Declaration legally created the United States of America. But it did much more than that. It stated all governments everywhere were supposed to derive “their just powers from the consent of the people,” and that when any one of these governments became destructive of the people’s rights and liberties, the people could alter or abolish that government and begin a new one.

These words have served as inspiration for people everywhere.

But for Americans the Declaration has a special significance. It infused into our culture most of what we have come to believe and value. Our noblest ideals and highest aspirations—our beliefs in liberty, equality, and individual rights, including the right of every person to pursue happiness—came out of the Declaration of Independence.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”  Declaration of Independence

Happy July Fourth and Fly Safe,

JAZ

My Ten Favorite LA Restaurant Dishes

My Ten Favorite LA  Restaurant Dishes In No Particular Order 

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world”. JRR Tolkien

Sea Bass Ceviche at Lonzo’s Bakery Restaurant http://www.lonzosperuvianrestaurantbreadcompany.com/

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Turkey Burger at Golden State http://www.thegoldenstatecafe.com/

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Charred Cabbage with Yogurt and Sumac at Charcoal https://www.charcoalvenice.com/

Pasta Al Pomodoro at Ponte (formerly the Pasta Al Pomodoro at Scarpetta)  http://thepontela.com/

Roast Chicken with Panzanella and Olives at AOC http://www.aocwinebar.com/

Salmon Sashimi with Dried Miso at Matsuhisa https://matsuhisabeverlyhills.com/

Any hot dog at Pinks http://www.pinkshollywood.com/

Shakshuka at République http://republiquela.com/

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Glazed Donut hot out of the oven at Krispy Kreme https://www.krispykreme.com/

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Caesar Brussel Sprouts at Baco Mercat http://www.bacomercat.com/

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