Ten Amazing Travel Days

Ten Amazing Travel Days

“It’s a perfect day, drank Sangria in the park, later on when it gets dark, we go home”  Lou Reed

A perfect travel day is when everything falls seamlessly into place. There are days when you experience amazing things because the world is an incredible place. I picked ten of my favorite days

Cappadocia , Turkey

Cappadocia could be among my favorite places in the world.  The dramatic landscape is the result of volcanic eruptions that happened millions of years ago. Wind and water eroded the land leaving these odd surreal land formations, fairy chimneys, caves and underground cities.

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Floating across the sky at sunrise, above the lunar-like, rugged moonscape of Cappadocia in a hot air balloon was one of the most incredible mornings of my life and should be on everyone’s bucket list.

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Dubrovnik and Peljesac Penninsula, Croatia

I had a great time in Croatia with my kids. A particularly beautiful day was spent exploring the Peljesac Peninsula with our tour guide Petar Vlasik http://www.dubrovnikrivieratours.com.  We stopped at a few different wineries for wine tasting. Ston is a fortified city from the middle ages with stone ramparts said to resemble a small great wall of China. Ston is known for their lush oyster beds and salt pans and is a great place to eat the freshest oysters and buy salt.

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That night we attended a really good jazz concert at the Old Rectory Church in Dubrovnik. It was a great family memory.

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Onsets and Ryokans, Japan

Ryokan are Japanese style inns found throughout the country in hot springs resorts. Ryokan are a traditional Japanese experience, incorporating elements such as tatami floors, futon beds, Japanese style baths and local kaiseki ryori (eight course typical Japanese meals with local and seasonal specialties).

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The main activity besides eating is bathing. The geothermal springs located throughout the country( onsens) provide hot mineral-rich water for indoor and outdoor baths. The chemistry, temperature, pressure, buoyancy, sulfa and magnesium of thermal baths have curative properties . The meals show all that is beautiful about Japanese culture. Kaiseki is a multi course meal rooted in the Buddhist idea of simplicity. I have been fortunate to visit a few ryokans in Nikko, Yufuin and Iso Nagaoka. Each one has been special.

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Marajo, Brazil

Marajo is an island in Brazil in the state of Para at the mouth of the Amazon. It is the size of Switzerland and home to many beautiful birds and water buffalo.

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The story goes that a ship laden with goods and water buffalo from India hit a reef and sank off the coast of Marajo. Some of the buffalo escaped the wreck and swam to shore. The buffalo are descendants of this shipwreck though now more have been brought in. There are large herds of domesticated water buffalo on the island. At Fazenda Sanjo you can experience life on a farm in the Amazon. There is piranha fishing, riding and milking buffalo, canoeing and horseback riding through the river with the buffalo. We did the riding with the buffalo. It was definitely the most different thing I have ever seen up close and pretty amazing.

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Edinburgh, Scotland

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is a summer theatre festival that includes cutting edge theatre, interesting comedians, and everything else. It is a festival where anyone can perform and my daughter’s high school took advantage of that and had a three-week summer program in Edinburgh. My son and I went to see her perform. It was my first time at the Edinburgh Fringe. Being a theatre person, I loved every minute of it and have been back a few times.

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My son worked there the following summer. The Royal Mile is the definitive part of the fringe. This road is packed full of street entertainment, groups doing excerpts from their shows (mainly musicals) and lots, lots and lots of acts trying to flyer you to get you to see their shows. There’s not really any equivalent to this anywhere else. Theatre goes on all day and all night. We had a blast.

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Cartagena, Colombia

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

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La Boquilla is a poor fishing village twenty minutes outside of Cartegena. It is a peninsula at the end of a beach with the Caribbean Sea on one side and a lake with mangroves on the other. The guide takes you on an old canoe through mangrove tunnels with flocks of birds and fishermen fishing for crabs ,shrimp and small fish.

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After the canoe they pull out a fresh coconut and make a hole for a straw with a machete. I walk for a long time on the beach with my feet in the Caribbean Sea. I have lunch on the beach of fresh fish, plantains and coconut rice.

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

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Hoi An, Viet Nam

Hoi An is one of the most charming cities in Viet Nam .Hoi An’s Old Quarter is lined with two-story old Chinese buildings that now house shops with elaborately carved wooden facades and moss-covered tile roofs.

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The food market reminds visitors of another era when it was filled with goods from all over the Asia. (mangos, rambuchan, snake wine) Hoi An is a place where you can get clothes and shoes made at a reasonable price as long as you have a picture. It is also one of the best eating cities in Viet Nam and known for cooking classes and especially delicious food.

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After spending the day in the hustle and bustle of the busy streets of Hoi An, i head back to the Nam Hai all-villa resort on quiet Hoi An Beach. The contemporary architecture is welcoming and eye-catching as feng shui mingles with strong modern lines.

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The Spa at the Nam Hai is truly something wonderful. Composed of 8 villas, floating around a lotus pond, it is the ideal location for a relaxing massage, steam shower and herbal tea! The people who work there are most helpful and always want to practice their English.

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Venice, Italy

Every corner you turn in Venice ,you walk deeper into some real-life watercolor painting that a camera can never do justice. It’s like no place else I’ve ever been.

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It’s  a maze of canals and small streets, whimsical bridges, and colorful buildings. And as with all mazes, you should prepare to find yourself lost a time or two. I was there with my kids and a friend,  It was during the Art Biennale in the summer.

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We got to see incredible modern art from all over the world in the morning and explore the city in the afternoon.

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An important Venetian holiday is held on the third week in July. It is the Feast of the Redentore commemorating the end of the plague that killed fifty thousand people including Titian. The fireworks display is so extensive and significant that the re-election of the mayor is contingent on their quality (sort of like us picking a governor based on his movies) I have to add that they were the most incredible fireworks of our lives –I hope that mayor got re-elected.

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Buenos Aires, Argentina

It started in Tigre, a port a half hour from Buenos Aires. We sailed through the different rivers of the Delta Del Parana.

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At lunchtime, we went to Tres Esquinas in Barranca, a working class barrio in Buenos Aires for steak and empanadas. I love outdoor markets but the Sunday antiques market in Plaza Dorrego  in San Telmo is a phenomenon. The antiques are around the plaza but the shopping continues with arts and crafts vendors for many blocks. It is curbside capitalism at its finest.

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La Confiteria Ideal did not start as a tango hall but as  a pastry café in 1912. In the nineties it became a tango hall. Its faded glamour was a perfect background for the faded glamour of the tango dancers I saw that day. Dance has been a big part of my life. Andres Miguel my tour guide is a tango dancer.  tango@culturacercana.com.ar  Everything we did that day was related to tango  –  a boat on a river, good food and shopping, a milonga and always tango stories. He was the perfect tour guide for me and gave me a gift of the perfect day.

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Krueger National Park, South Africa

My daughter and my new son-in-law  were married on a safari In South Africa with sixty-five of their closest friends and family. A game park in Africa is an unlikely wedding destination. (We Love Pictures)

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You know that word that we Americans overuse for everything – awesome? i didn’t expect to have the feeling of humbleness and awe I had when seeing the African animals in the wild up close. There are moments of joy in your life. Watching your daughter get married to the right guy   in the peace and beauty of the African Bush is a distinctive moment of happiness. Watching your son officiate the wedding with intelligence, humor, kindness, sensitivity and even a bit of spirituality  (albeit in the form of animals)  makes it perfect.

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Fly safe,
JAZ

Global Peace Index

Global Peace Index

“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love, mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”Talmud

The Global Peace Index measures each year the national peacefulness of a country based on  perceptions of criminality, security officers and police, homicides, incarceration, access to weapons, intensity of internal conflict, violent demonstrations, violent crime, political instability, political terror, weapon imports, terrorism impact and deaths from internal conflict.

I’ve done blogs about it before rating the safest countries and the not  safest countries to visit.

But what really shocks me  is that the US  is a slacker when it comes to promoting positive peace. It is rated 103 on a list of 163 countries. This means that there are are a 102 countries that are safer to visit and live in than the US. Our performance  number is lowered because of the number of people in our prison system and our involvement in conflicts overseas.

There are the usual but many were surprising to me. Uganda is rated 101. Uganda is safer to visit than the US – apparently. Jordan (where I just was) is much safer at 96. Angola, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Jamaica, Gambia, are all in the nineties. Haiti, Burkina Faso Peru, Cuba, Bangladesh  and Paraguay  have a rating in the eighties. Liberia, Benin, Oman and Senegal are in the seventies. Nicaragua, Argentina, Mozambique, Lesotho, United Arab Emirates, Bosnia and Herzegovina are in the sixties.  Madagascar is above Italy  which is rated 39. Chile and Botswana are in the twenties.

According to the data, we are further away from World Peace then ever with the Middle East dragging us down. 

The most peaceful countries continue to improve their rating while the least peaceful ones are getting worse. Violence and conflict are escalating.  The world continues to spend enormous resources on creating and containing violence but very little on peace.

In case you just woke up from a coma, the world is less peaceful this year than it was last year.

Fly safe,

JAZ

My Top Ten Desserts In The World So Far

My Top Ten Desserts In The World So Far

“I am starting to think that maybe memories are like this dessert. I eat it, and it becomes a part of me, whether I remember it later or not.” Erica Bauermeister

When the mood for dessert strikes, I am there. I consider it a necessity not a choice to try desserts when I am traveling.  There isn’t a problem in the world that a good dessert can’t make feel a little better. Here are some of my favorites in no particular order.

Pastel de Nata – Portugal

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Baklava – Greece

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Red Velvet Cupcakes – USA

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 Semolina Halva –  Turkey (nice with fresh fruit)

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Black Sesame Ice Cream – Japan

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 Malva Pudding  (poeding) – South Africa

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Sweet Sticky Rice With Coconut Cream and Mango – Thailand

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Dulce de Leche –  Argentina ( on ice cream, cookies, cake, bread)

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 Fresh Acai  and Tapioca Ice Cream – Belem, Brazil

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Mango Pudding – Hong Kong

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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

My Top Ten Instagram Photos This Year (travelwellflysafe)

“Just give me a thousand words and you may make your own pictures.”
Erica Goros

I have been instagramming for about half of the year. I see the world in pictures anyway so it is really fun for me. I learn as I go. I have “internet brain” now. i think it’s going to be a real thing. It is getting harder and harder to immerse myself in a book or lengthy article. It is much easier to spend time looking at photos that have nothing to do with anything, places I want to go or have been or finding the perfect emoji to put on my comment. My topic hopping, time-wasting, hashtagging, bad spelling sessions have resulted in this blog. (No particular order)

#sunset (Yesilkurt,Turkey)

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#hiking in#redmountain (St. George, Utah)

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impossibly#wide #beach (Marajo, Brazil)

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Can you take a bad #Venice photo? (Italy)

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#car in#cuba (Varadero,Cuba)

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#streetart in #bogota (Colombia)

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Holding up the #mountain just noticed the #cross (Tilcara, Jujuy, Argentina)

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#cactus or #cacti  (Jujuy, Argentina)

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#sunset makes the best #photo (Izmir, Turkey)

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Another boring day in #marajo (Belém, Brazil)

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None of my LA photos made it into the top ten. Instagram likes me out-of-town, with mountains, a beach and a great sunset. I agree.

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

Ten Reasons Why I Love Pope Francis

Ten Reasons Why I Love Pope Francis

“The media only writes about the sinners and the scandals but that’s normal, because ‘a tree that falls makes more noise than a forest that grows.”  Pope Francis

Its true. I have a crush on the Pope. Every story I hear about him reminds me that I can do better. He leads by example. I was lucky enough to see him in Argentina and if he came to Los Angeles, I would be one of those people in the crowd.

1. When he was in Buenos Aires, he was known to eat with the homeless in the street. He often leaves the Vatican at night to hang out with the homeless. Why is it surprising that he chose to eat lunch with them in Washington DC?

2. In his first year, he refused to move into the 16th-century Apostolic Palace, had his old black shoes replaced by the cobbler instead of buying fancy new papal slippers, and opened his door to three homeless men and a dog named Marley (after Bob Marley).

3. Pope Francis has an “intense fondness” for tango dancing. In 2014, over 3,000 dancers from all over Italy celebrated his birthday by dancing tango in Saint Peter’s Square. A lifelong fan of the Argentine soccer team San Lorenzo, he celebrated the team’s victory by hoisting the trophy over Saint Peter’s Square for the crowd to see.

4. The Popemobile is a Ford Focus or other non luxury car. He refused to drive in a bulletproof car with glass up. He said “its true that anything can happen but at my age (78) I don’t have much to lose.”

5. He studied philosophy at the Catholic University of Buenos Aires and also has a master’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Buenos Aires. He was a teacher of literature, psychology, philosophy and theology before becoming the Archbishop of Buenos Aires. It seems like he was interested in everything.

6. He is the first Pope to deal with the “political” issue of the environment and climate change. “Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last 200 years,” he wrote. He has been criticized for meddling in a non religious issue.

7. Pope Francis is a porteno, a man of the people. He wants the church to be available and accessible to all people and he knows that it begins with him. His focus is less on sin and more on love. He is less about judgement and more about open-mindedness. He talks about gay marriage and abortion in a way that the Church hasn’t dealt with it before.

8. The reason that the Pope has never been to the Unites States before is because he has made a point of prioritizing the third world countries.

9. He is unusually multilingual, speaking Spanish, Latin and Italian fluently and understanding German, French, Portuguese, English, and Ukrainian.

10. Pope Francis is exactly who he appears to be, which is so often not the case with a public figure. He doesn’t “play the Pope.” He is 100 per cent sincere.

Fly Safe,

JAZ

Around The World With Beaded Bracelets

Around The World With Beaded Bracelets

“I learned that you should feel when writing, not like Lord Byron on a mountain top, but like a child stringing beads in kindergarten, – happy, absorbed and quietly putting one bead on after another.” Brenda Ueland

That should really be the name of my blog. I don’t know when it started but I buy cheap ethnic bracelets in different countries around the world for myself and gifts. People like them. (temple cedar bracelets – Viet Nam)

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I try to spend under five dollars a bracelet and buy them in markets or from street vendors. A dollar or two is even better. (ceramic – Mexico)

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It is an easy to pack gift and a nice memory for me of a country I have been to. I mix them all up and wear them almost every day. Today I am wearing Argentina, Mexico, Myanmar and Thailand. (Myanmar, Thailand)

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It’s good to buy indigenous jewelry because it helps the local communities. Many countries have stores or markets that feature local artisans. The bracelets are made from wood from local trees, nuts, seeds, glass, silver, tin, brass, bamboo, woven, pottery and even plastic. Sometimes they have religious significance and sometimes only decorative.(Peru)

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My favorite one comes from Panama and is made from a tagua nut which is known as vegetable ivory. Due to tagua’s properties in color, appearance, hardness and feel like those of natural ivory, it is being substituted for the latter one. This helps in the depredation of elephants while at the same time keeps rain forests from being deforested which in turn favors the ecosystems and the environment.

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I also buy ethnic designed bracelets for myself. When I wear them, they remind of the special day in the country where I bought them. (Myanmar, Cambodia, Murano glass – Italy, Argentina, real coral-Croatia)

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Another important factor to consider is that making things by hand provides work to thousands of people in these poor countries giving them and their families a better life and the opportunity of offering their children a better education. (shells-Panama)

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Shopping for bracelets is perfect street consumerism for me.(Coca nut -Argentina)

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There is the thrill of finding the bracelet among the crafts and tourist crap. I know these look touristy but there was a beach in Panama that was covered in these pinkish orange shells so they remind me of that beautiful beach. Yes I brought home a bag of the shells also.  (Panama)

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Then there is the delicate negotiation of getting the right price without insulting anyone.There is the danger of going too low and the stupidity of paying too much. (plastic- Turkey or anywhere that has real Turquoise)

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Finally we have the adrenalin rush of the purchase. (Aborigine – Australia)

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It makes my world better and their world better. It’s a win – win situation.

Fly safe,

JAZ