Natural Health Products From Different Countries That I Can’t Live Without

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 Natural Health Products From Different Countries That I Can’t Live Without

“We are healthy only to the extent that our ideas are humane.” Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast Of Champions

Manuka Honey is made by bees that feed the Manuka trees  in New Zealand. It has antibacterial properties and has been used by the Maori in their tonics and remedies for many years. Manuka Honey is graded with UMF rating. A rating of 20 or above will give you the strongest medical benefits. Under that number, it is still expensive and tastes good and acts like other honey. I use it for everything.  It is particularly good for colds and wound healing. You can get it on Amazon.

 Japan is a country of specific etiquette. Correct manners are very important to the Japanese. It’s very easy to embarrass yourself in Japan as an American.  Japan is a society of cleanliness. It is a culture of bath houses and onsens. You have never seen so many people brushing their teeth and gargling  in public restrooms. Japanese are obsessed with Gargling With Salt as a cure for everything. My Japanese friends carry salt when they travel. According to my doctor, it’s a home remedy that really works.  They also carry handkerchiefs in case there is nothing to dry their hands with in a public restroom.

 I stumbled upon Twenty Per Cent Arnica (ours is five percent) in Israel when I hurt my knee in Tel Aviv. Your bruise can be  gone in two days. I found it at a homeopathic pharmacy on Ben Yehuda Street. I use it very sparingly till I get more. 

Coca Tea is used in the Andes to help with altitude sickness- which it does. I drank it every day in Peru.  It also gives you an energy boost without the caffeine spikes. I usually drink it as my second cup of coffee.  It is also good if you have an upset stomach. 

Olive Oil in Spain cures everything. If you are sick, it will make you well. If you are fat it will make you thin.  If you are short, it will make you tall. I also  use it as a make up remover.

 Be physically and mentally prepared to shop in the Spice Market in Istanbul, Turkey.  Be in a good mood. You will have many best friends and marriage proposals. Years ago, a man working there told me of the health benefits of Turmeric. Though the market is known for saffron, I had also heard turmeric was good for illnesses.  I’ve been taking it ever since and most recently bought some at the Arab Market in Jerusalem.

At Ver A Paso market in Belem, Brazil  I got some Brazilian Ginseng from the Amazon. It is used to build your immune system and give energy. They had a lot of interesting health products including many kinds of natural Viagra (seemed to be a big seller)  but that was the only one I knew. 

I came back from Argentina with Yerba Mate and a Yerba Mate cup and straw. Yerba Mate is the national drink of Argentina.  Besides being a stimulant with less caffeine the coffee, it is packed with nutrients. It can boost the immune system, burn fat, increase bone density and help with digestive problems.

Marula Oil is a highly anti-inflammatory plant oil from South Africa and is known for it’s very high antioxidant count and  light texture. It is naturally soothing, fast-absorbing and suitable for all skin types including reactive and sensitive. ( that would be me).  My daughter gave a small bottle to her wedding guests in South Africa. I loved it.  I get it on Amazon now as well. 

Fly safe,

JAZ

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Things I Have Learned In Jujuy, Argentina

Things I Have Learned  In Jujuy, Argentina

‘Mountains are giant, restful, absorbent. You can heave your spirit into a mountain and the mountain will keep it, folded, and not throw it back as some creeks will. The creeks are the world with all its stimulus and beauty; I live there. But the mountains are home.”

~Annie Dillard

The Train to the Clouds makes up one of the most important attractions in this area because of its distinct building and engineering.

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It is now closed but you drive along this route of unique beauty where the mountains touch the clouds.

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The Puna is part of the barren high altitude landscape that stretches across the Altiplano in Northern Argentina. It is around 4000 meters high.

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The Altiplano (high plain) is the most extensive high altitude plateau outside of Tibet.

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You don’t see much except wild vicunas and guanacos.

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The viaduct at La Polvorilla is the last stop of the Tren A Las Nubes at 4200 meters above sea level.

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Las Nubes means the clouds. It is a word you quickly learn in Salta and Jujuy (between 10-14,000 ft. above sea level most of the time.) There is the train to the clouds,  restaurant in the clouds, farm in the clouds, gym in the clouds, winery in the clouds,  hotel in the clouds, store in the clouds, etc. In other words, you are very high up in the Andes.

San Antonio de Los Cobres is one of the highest altitude towns on the Puna and is known because it is one of the stops on the Train to the Clouds. That’s about it.

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The cold wind rips through us and it turns out that it is the windiest day in thirteen years. We are at our highest altitude of 14,000 feet. The altitude headache is kicking in and it is freezing.  But I have been in a cozy restaurant drinking fresh coca tea, eating llama and lentils, and talking about the rainy season and mine exploitation.

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It is not a good day for a drug test when you are at high altitudes in the Andes chewing coca leaves and drinking coca tea. The test is for coca, not the chemicals that turn it into cocaine.

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It takes about three hours on an unpaved dirt road to go from San Antonio  to Salinas Grandes.  When someone tells you that you are taking the road alongside the train to the clouds, it sounds so exciting, but  why do they forget to tell you it is unpaved and very rocky?

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A stunning natural phenomenon, these salt flats took about 22 million years to form the current topography. Salt deposits from a since-disappeared body of water cover the ground here, forming a durable surface that appears snowy from a distance and almost fossil-like up close.

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Salt  can have a big glare, when not in a salt shaker and laid out in salt flats of 8,290 kilometers.

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The pueblos of Purmamarca, Tilcara and Huamahuaca are on the main highway to the Bolivian border. (Pucara of Tilcara-pre Inca fort)

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This entire area is the Quebrada de Humahuaca . a UNESCO site for its villages and natural scenery.

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The towns are more interesting in Jujuy than Salta.

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We see no tourists here from the United States but you can always find South Americans, a few Germans and Australians, and of course the British. They go everywhere.

The Tropic of Capricorn is the southernmost latitude where the Sun can be directly overhead.

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One of the markers of the Tropic of Capricorn is in Jujuy province in Northern Argentina.

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This beautiful church in Uquia is one of the many colonial churches in Jujuy. It has a fine collection of paintings from the Cusco School of Art . (the Incas were taught to paint for the Spanish and put their own symbols in the paintings)

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There are nine angel paintings. When the Indians were told to paint angels,  they did not know what they looked like. The Spanish told them that they look like us, but with wings. They painted soldiers with swords, spears and wings. The most beautiful wings that the Indians knew were the ones from the flamingos of the highland lakes and so the wings in the paintings on the soldiers are pink. The angels have very red cheeks from the wind in the northern Andes against the Spanish fair skin.  (no photographs please)

The seven colored mountain of Purmamarca pink, green, grey, purple, orange, brown, white) is pretty impressive as far as colored stone goes .

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It shows many geographical ages.

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The mountain is a backdrop for the village.  Everyday, there is a big handicraft fair in the main square of the village which adds even more colors.

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Purmamarca was my favorite place on this trip. Hiking in the colors of the mountain made me feel like I was in some amazing painting.

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I have so many beatuiful photos it was hard to pick just a few.

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Tilcara is a lively Andean village . There is an arts and crafts market and many restaurants around the main square. There are many gatherings in restaurants at night with live traditional music (sometimes from the guests) and local food.

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Indigenous cultures are very much alive in these mountain pueblos.

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Humahuaca is a pueblo in the Humahuaca Valley, 10,000 feet above sea level.   Many Bolivian immigrants sell traditional Andean crafts and coca leaves. The architecture, adobe houses, street lamps and cobblestone streets are all from another time.  The ancestral customs continue here.

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The historic Cabildo building (town hall) is the home of the main tourist attraction. There is a stellar performance by San Francisco Solano, a mechanical  statue with waving arms that blesses the audience of tourists and locals every day at noon. It comes complete with music blaring from the nearby Church of the Candelaria..

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Gauchito Gil is another folk saint. He was the Argentine Robin Hood who got tired of fighting in the Civil War  and protected the poor instead. He was found in the forest by a general and pleaded for his life. He said to his murderer, “Your son is very ill, if you pray to me, he will live.” This turned out to be true. Again the story spread. Today, small red shrines can be found on the roadsides of most northern Argentine motor-routes, and great pilgrimages are organized to his sanctuary in Corrientes.  Drivers believe that if they fail to acknowledge or leave offerings to the saint during their journeys, they may crash or breakdown. You can find red flags along the  route.  When I was checking the facts (yes, I do that) I found out that Gauchito Gil also has a facebook page.

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Traveling with Daniel Salazar from Cultural Xplorers is never boring.  His sense of humor, adventure, kindness, shopping skills, intelligence and knowledge of many things made this trip so much fun. I also have to thank him for being my personal photographer most of the time, and I hope we will remain friends.

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It is always good for a New York city kid to spend some time in small villages in Argentina. When you are young, it looks like just the kind of places to escape from, when you get older, you are not so sure.

Buen Dia And Fly Safe,

JAZ

Things I Have Carried

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful we must carry it with us or we find it not “             Ralph Waldo Emerson

Things  I   Have Carried

1. I have this GIANT CONCH SHELL on my kitchen table. It is from a pink sand beach in Eleuthera,Bahamas.  It is one of those giant shells you see in stores and think it isn’t real. There it was on the beach one morning when I was walking. I carried it back to my room and then proceeded to carry it back on the plane with a three-year old and a six-year-old. I see that shell every morning and it reminds me of a pink sand beach and a happy  very young family.

2. My friends told me about the perfect gift to bring  from Munich – DAS MURMELTIER DER ALPEN  ( singing  animal in the chipmunk family) They told me to buy them at the airport –more carry on bags. I  put them in the overhead compartment and went to sleep. Weisswurst breakfast is very heavy in the morning (white sausages and a pretzel) Suddenly everyone on the plane is in a panic. There is a  clicking noise and no one can figure out what it is.  Our first thought is that it must be a bomb. As they are about to call security, the yodeling and drinking songs in German  begin. The chipmunks had started singing in the overhead compartment.  Travelers are way too stressed out these days.

3 The Maneki-neko (beckoning cat) is a sign of good luck in Japan. They are made of ceramic  ( most common) and usually come in pairs.  You can find them everywhere in Japan. The beckoning right hand means money and the left hand means happiness. BECKONING CATS are found often in Japanese businesses and homes. Since I felt that everyone in my family needed Japanese luck, I bought several pairs of the cats. Between the Starbucks mugs from every city in Japan and the several pairs of cats, they overflowed into my carry on luggage.  I’m  pretty sure airport security in Osaka would have laughed at me while looking at  the x-ray machine, if it wasn’t Japan and they weren’t so polite.

4. The following year I had to carry  the protective and breakable lions from Okinawa.  They are called SHISAS and are half lion half dog from Okinawan mythology. They come in pairs. The shisa on the left traditionally has a closed mouth, and the one on the right has an open mouth. The open mouth is to ward off evil spirits and the closed mouth is to keep the good spirits in. They are usually guarding the entrances to homes and businesses.  They are sold everywhere in Okinawa. I feel that anything to ward off evil spirits makes an excellent gift.

5 Betel nut is a mild stimulant that is chewed throughout Asia.  It involves, betel nut, fresh pepper leaves (or other spices), powdered lime and damp tobacco leaves. It is wrapped in a betel vine leaf forming a wad or quid. The last ingredient is saliva . ,Your gums , teeth and tongue turn bright red when chewing it.  Eventually, you spit it out.  It is one of the most used addictive substances in the world. It creates a buzz and curbs hunger. The streets and stairwells of Burma are stained with red betel nut. It is customary to use special compartmentalized boxes to hold the ingredients for the betel nut quids. When guests visit, they are presented with a fully stocked box. Some of them are quite beautiful. I brought BETEL NUT BOXES back from Burma.(but no betel nut)

6  There is a Shang Hai Tang store in the Hong Kong airport and it was having a sale.  Shang Hai Tang is DESIGNER CHINESE CLOTHES. Their flagshop store is in Hong Kong but was always one of my shopping stops in NY.   Changing planes in Hong Kong, I managed to add to my already bulging hand luggage , two sweaters, a shawl and some Chinese shirts in beautiful fabrics.  You can’t go to Hong Kong without shopping – even if it is just in the airport.

7.  My goal when skiing in  Cervina, Italy was to find a pair of those FLUFFY WHITE AFTER SKI BOOTS It was many years ago and I had never seen them  when I was  skiing in Vermont.  I finally found the perfect pair in a shop next to my favorite cappuccino bar. The best thing was to wear them on the plane since they took up so much space.  It was April and we had been spring skiing. Changing planes in Brussels,  we were walking slowly and my friends and I got bumped from the plane.  I remember thinking it was odd that the teacher left us there.  The four of us were sixteen and seventeen.   I felt really embarrassed walking around the city in those after ski boots, ( the weather was quite warm) but having an unexpected   free day and night in Brussels was very cool.

8.  There is a craft  market  in the Plaza del Armas in Old Havana not far from El Floridita.   (Hemingway’s hangout where he used to drink his daiquiris not mojitos) They sold  WOOD CARVINGS OF DANCERS   The woman who was helping me spoke English with no accent. She told me her father was the linguistics professor at the university and she spoke twenty languages . She was selling wood carvings for a dollar.   They were quite nice but very delicate . .   I had to put them in my carry on bag and hold it very carefully. Still,many of them  arrived with missing limbs. It  looked a bit like a war when I unpacked them. Arms and Legs all over. –luckily there is no shortage of crazy glue here.  They were great gifts for all our dancer friends.

9. Hvar,Croatia is where some of the highest quality of lavender is grown in Europe. I bought a lot of small glass bottles of LAVENDER OIL I figured if something broke, it would be better  in my carry on bag. . Lavender would have a calming effect on the nervous  post 9/11 fliers.

10 Coca leaves have been part of the Andean Culture for 5000 years. COCA TEA   is made from the coca plant.  It is not cocaine  like grapes are not wine.  Neither drinking  or chewing turns it into cocaine. It is a mild stimulant without the speedy effect of caffeine.  However when airport security sees a word like coca, they are paranoid.  I thought the best thing to do was put some  in my luggage and carry a few in my hand luggage as well.  If I got stopped, this would show that I was innocent. (I watch a lot of Locked Up Abroad episodes)   The guide in Peru was trying to find out once if it was ok to bring back coca tea to the states. She asked airport security in Miami and was questioned for four hours.   I didn’t want to bring it up.I walked through customs in Miami right  passed the sniffing dogs with no problem.

Some things are good to carry with us and others should be put down or left where they were. We choose the things we carry.

Fly Safe,

JAZ