The In Between Traveler

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The In Between Traveler

“Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralyzed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birds’ wings.” Rumi

I’m probably never going to trek in the Himalayas, hike the Inca Trail and camp out in the Carpathian Mountains. I prefer not being locked in a fancy resort for my entire trip but I don’t mind a few days. On the other hand, I will probably never go on a charity vacation where you perform worthy labor on behalf of poor people. I don’t see a cruise as being a fun thing but I have never been on one.

I am the in between traveler. I search for the right balance between comfort and strangeness – not too hot and not too cold, not too scary but not too fake, not too primitive and not too antiseptic. I like a mix of culture, history and nature. I’m not jumping out of airplane adventurous but I enjoy going to places that many people have not been. I have been known to eat insects in countries that do that but tying my feet together to bungee jump off a bridge is not my thing.

I will always prefer to do something out of the ordinary when traveling but there are times that I want to do the touristy stuff as well. I hate words like glamping, staycation or bleisure (that one sounds like something that requires medical attention). I do not like when trips are described as soul-searching. Eat Pray Love came out a long time ago. I am over it. Nor do I like it when they are described as good for people who like to live on the edge. Do I need any more adrenalin in my life? I’ve learned that recommendations are tough. One person’s paradise might be my idea of hell. I do a lot of research.

I like mental adventures. I prefer to visit countries that have fought wars or had revolutions in my lifetime, extinct volcanoes, countries we are mad at that aren’t dangerous and countries with drug cartels that are safer now. I am interested in seeing history unfold.

For me, in between is the way to travel. The adventurers and the cruisers have their paths set. But the journey in the middle is the path of movement. As the travel guru Goldilocks says, “This one is too big and that one is too small but the one in the middle is just right.”

Fly safe,
JAZ

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Ten Countries With The Worst Air Pollution

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Ten Countries With The Worst Air Pollution

“I’m always amazed at the human capacity to not make fundamental changes, but instead merely adapt. I see these pictures of people in Beijing and New Delhi, walking around with masks on, because you can’t walk outside your house and breathe? If you can’t breathe?…If that’s not the cue to make a fundamental change, I don’t know what is!” Bill Maher

Every country these days has bad air pollution. Cities are usually worse than rural areas. China is famous for terrible air pollution but they are trying to be better. Here are the top countries for air pollution.

1.The World Bank says Pakistan’s air pollution is the most severe in the world.
The harm caused by air pollution in Pakistan’s urban areas exceeds most other high-profile causes of mortality in the country, including traffic-related accidents. Declining government attention to air quality leads to weak implementation of environmental policies.

2. Air pollution in Qatar vastly exceeds safe limits and is damaging the health of the population. It can be explained in part to the country’s building boom, vehicle exhausts, smelting plants and the burning of organic materials.

3. Along with all the other problems, walking the streets of Kabul is a health risk. Thick columns of smoke from ovens and factories and bumper-to-bumper vehicles producing harmful gases create various types of respiratory disease. No city in Afghanistan has a proper and technical management of solid waste. They are dumping waste in valleys and open fields, which is extremely dangerous not only in polluting the air, but also for underwater pollution. Three to five thousand people a year die of air pollution related illnesses In Afghanistan.

4. Air pollution kills fifteen thousand Bangladeshis a year according to the World Bank. Large numbers of children, street children, local street-walkers, and rickshaw pullers in Bangladesh are at particular risk from this air pollution. According to this report, there are two major sources of air pollution in Bangladesh, vehicular emissions, and industrial emissions. These are mainly concentrated in the cities. Dhaka is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, with an estimated population of more than 8 million. Air pollution has emerged as an acute problem in the city. Blackening of the city air and reduced visibility can be observed at times.

5. There is a black cloud over Cairo, Egypt. The smog is  caused by farmers piling up rice straw and burning it, because they lack the means to transfer the rice straw from their fields to recycling centres. Millions of cars prowl the traffic-clogged streets, while a thousand factories belch smoke into the air. On a bad day, the smog in Cairo and the Delta cities is unbearable.

6. The United Arab Emirates has air that is a bit worse than China and twice as bad as India. Cement manufacturing, power generation, desalination and cars all add to its pollution. But one of the biggest contributors in the region is dust made of sand, kicked up by construction or windstorms. The combination is lethal.

7. Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia is the world’s coldest capital. One third of the people live below the poverty line and burn coal for warmth. The toxic fumes make air pollution worse than Beijing. Children and old people are affected the worst but the government does not see it as a priority.

8. India’s cities are consistently ranked among the world’s worst polluted cities. Sometimes the air quality numbers are worse than the highest number in the world pollution index. More than 2.5 million premature deaths in India last year were attributed to air pollution. Crop burning, diesel fuel, dust, wild fires and coal all contribute to the increasingly polluted air.

9. Bahrain is another unhealthy country for breathing. Diesel car exhausts , factory fumes and dust storms contribute to particles in the lungs. It is a wealthy country and not heavily populated and should be doing more to correct this.

10. The pollution from Katmandu floats toward the Himalayas. Nepal has become one of the worst countries for air pollution due to car emissions, brush fires, burn farming, brick kilns, and cooking stoves. The black carbon emissions are affecting the nearby glaciers in the Himalayas which affects the water supply for that region.

Other countries with high levels of air pollution include Ghana, Jordan, China, Senegal, Turkey Bulgaria, Mauritius, Peru and Serbia .

Fly safe,
JAZ