Countries My Friends And Family Have Emigrated From To America

Countries My Friends And Family Have Emigrated From To America.

“No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark.” Warsan Shire

Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Colombia, Egypt, El Salvador, England, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Hungary, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica,  Japan, Lithuania, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand,  Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico, Russia, Serbia, Scotland, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria, Turkey, Viet Nam, Zimbabwe.

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Growing up in New York, with immigrant grandparents, the Statue of Liberty meant something. “Tell us the story of when your parents saw the Statue of Liberty for the first time again” we asked.   My mother would say that to her parents and many like them, the statue meant freedom to live in a country where you could be whatever you wanted to be. America was the place to go to flee from oppression, racism, class-ism and poverty. We understood that it was something special to be born in a country with ideals like that.

America is not perfect. We have racism and poverty. But that doesn’t destroy the dreams it was built on. Millions of people came to America to build a better life for themselves and for their families and still do to this day.

On the Statue of Liberty, there are words I know so well: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free.” That’s the spirit that made me feel like an American.  I wouldn’t be here without that philosophy.

Fly safe.

JAZ

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Travel Things That You Will Probably Do Only Once In Your Lifetime

Travel Things that You Will Probably Do Only Do Once In A Lifetime.

“Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.” – Benjamin Disraeli

There are many things I would like to do again in my lifetime, go back to Croatia and Turkey, spend more time in the Amazon, eat street food in Thailand and sushi at Tsukiji etc. Then there are things that I know I will only do once. (Croatia)

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Climb to the top of the Empire State Building, Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, Washington Monument , etc. Any monument that you climb is a “one and done” for me. (Washington)

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Shop at Harrods in London or Ginza Mitsukoshi in Tokyo. The largest department store in the world is a one time visit – especially for the food areas. i can’t focus enough to buy anything. There are better places to be in these cities. (Tokyo)

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Climb to the top of some big mountain like Kilamanjaro, Everest or the Matterhorn. If you are capable of doing this, it is great for your quadriceps but words like summit and base camp are frightening to me. (Kilamanjaro)

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Visit the coffee shops in Amsterdam. If that is where you are spending all your time in Amsterdam, you have a problem.

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See the Aurora Borealis.

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Walk the Camino de Santiago.

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Take a gondola ride in Venice. I had every intention of doing this but after getting woken up every morning to gondoliers singing Volare, I felt like i had done it and took a boat instead.

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Visit the Grand Canyon – still have not done this

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Walk the Great Wall of China.

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Visit the Acropolis, Stonehenge, the Colosseum, Ephesus, Delphi, the Moabs or other famous ruins. They stay the same just a bit older.

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Go to Oktoberfest in Munich, Carnaval In Rio, Running With the Bulls In Pamplona, La Tomatina in Spain, Kumbh Mela in India ,Burning Man in Nevada, Dia De Los Muertos in Mexico, Chinese New Year in China and the International Balloon Festival in New Mexico.

I still have a lot to do.

Fly Safe,
JAZ

What To Bring Or Not Bring To Someone’s Home In A Foreign Country

What To Bring Or Not Bring To Someone’s Home In A Foreign Country

“What you consider gross—dead rats—I consider considerate gifts.” Jarod Kintz

I’m a person who always likes to bring the right gift so having dinner in foreign country at someone’s house always requires a bit of research for me.

To the Japanese, gift giving is a way of communicating respect, friendship, and appreciation. It is good to be ready for the gift giving ritual that has been deeply rooted in the Japanese culture for centuries. Everything should be beautifully wrapped and ripping open the paper is bad form. Downplay the importance of the gift. This is typical in all Asian cultures. Always present the gift with two hands.

Do not give wine as a hostess gift in Argentina because it is considered common. Champagne or hard liquor is fine. Don’t bring scissors or knives because that means you want to sever the relationship.

What can you bring to someone in China? They make everything there. First off gift giving is not easy. They don’t open their gifts in front of you and they refuse them several times. You have to be persistent but not pushy. It’s a delicate balance. Again no knives or scissors to break the relationship. I am missing something. When people in these countries get invited for dinner is the go to gift a pair of scissors? Why do they have even have to say that? Also no clocks or anything in sets of four. Four is an unlucky number in Chinese because it sounds like death. This is true in most Asian countries. Avoid white chrysanthemums because they are used at funerals.

In Malaysia pay attention to the Muslim culture. Avoid pork, knives, alcohol, and highly personal gifts. Present gifts in the right hand only. In Indian sections of Malaysia, avoid black and white colors. Instead, opt for yellow, red or green which symbolize happiness.

Israelis have a tendency to overdo gift giving and put a lot of thought into choice and presentation. If you are going to the home of Orthodox Jews or Muslim Arabs remember that the gifts must not violate any of their religious beliefs. Candy, flowers and gifts for the kids are always appreciated.

If you are invited to a Quechua home in the mountains of Peru, coca leaves are an acceptable gift. Coca leaves have always been present at all important moments of community life. Today, the history and traditional use of the coca leaf in Peru are a solid part of ethnic and national identity.

In Korea, generosity is a highly valued personal trait. Give expensive gifts if possible.

When invited to a home in Russia, bring something other than vodka. If you bring flowers only present them to a woman. Avoid yellow flowers (unless you picked them yourself in the countryside). White flowers should be given with caution. Same with red as they usually mean love. Fine chocolates are always appreciated.

In Italy, it is nice to bring cakes for coffee when invited to dinner. The cakes have to be of a special kind, bought in a pasticceria by weight. These delicious cakes are placed in intricate patterns on a golden paper tray and wrapped in paper nicely folded with carrying handles After opening the present the hosts and the other guests will take pains to point out which cakes, they each do not like. In the end the cakes are pushed aside in the assumption that nobody can eat another bite after having partaken of a full delicious meal.

You must bring a gift if you are invited to someone’s house in India. Chocolates or flowers is acceptable. Different flowers have different meanings in India so always check with the florist about what is a proper choice. When in doubt red roses usually work. If they have children (and many do) it is nice to bring something for them. If you are visiting during a festival always carry a box of sweets with you. Be cautious in giving leather as a gift. The cow is sacred in India and many Hindus are vegetarians.

In Ethiopia a traditional gift if you are visiting someone’s home is coffee. However a chicken from the market may be well appreciated. They cost anywhere from $5-12. The average weekly wage is around $25 a month in a government job. So a chicken is quite a gift. If they have room the family may keep it for eggs. If not then it will make the next meal. To transport them, just pick them up by their feet. When chickens are upside down they do not move or make noise. They are very easy to handle. See this is where they lose me, I feel bad to carry an upside-down chicken around.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Where Is The Biggest ……….. In The World?

Where is the biggest……. in the world?

“You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.” Dr Seuss

The tallest building in the world is now in Dubai.

The largest department store in the world is in South Korea.

The largest sports stadium in the world is in North Korea.

The biggest factory in the world is in China.

The largest restaurant in the world is in Syria.

The longest highway is in Canada.

The largest museum in the world is in Russia.

The largest cemetery is in Iraq.

The largest oil refinery is in India.

The largest investment fund in the world is in Abu Dhabi.

The biggest Ferris Wheel in the world is in Singapore.

The heaviest building is in Romania.

The largest hospital in the world is in South Africa.

The fastest train in the world is in Japan.

The largest theatre in the world is in Poland.

The largest dairy farm in the world is in Saudi Arabia.

But the country that sells the largest hamburger in the world is the epicenter of hamburgers, the USA . We are still big at some things.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Holiday Traditions With Friends

Holiday Traditions With Friends

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”Ralph Waldo Emerson

I was in the Bahamas one Christmas when I was nineteen.  The Monday after Christmas I needed to go to a pharmacy. They were all closed because it was Boxing Day. That was my first real experience with  a holiday that we don’t celebrate here.  You never think about that until you are in a country that is celebrating their holiday.  It gives you a little more insight into a place when you see them observing their traditions.

Boxing day is traditionally the day following Christmas Day, when servants and trades people would receive gifts from their superiors or employers, known as a “Christmas box”. Today, Boxing Day is better known as a bank or public holiday that occurs on 26 December, or the first or second weekday after Christmas Day, depending on national or regional laws. It is observed in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and some other Commonwealth Nations. I always remember that Dec 26 is Boxing Day though I don’t celebrate it. JZ, BAHAMAS

Cuban families in Miami have a delicious Cuban tradition that we carry on with zeal. Every Christmas Eve starting early in the morning, all the men in the family set up a ‘caja China’ (direct translation: Chinese box) in the front yard of the house. They sit outside, smoke their cigars, drink their rum and cokes and roast a full pig in this box for hours on end. When the whole family comes over for dinner, the pig is still cooking and the men cut off the skin to serve as ‘chicharron’ while the rest of the pig roasts. It’s undeniably good. Our ‘kosher’ Jewish neighbors will tell you the same.   MA, CUBA

All Saints Day on Nov 1 is big day. Croatia is a strongly Catholic country and November  1st – the day of the dead – is a big family occasion.  All Saints Day is the day that people go to  visit the cemeteries . They bring flowers , light candles and say a prayer. All the businesses are closed and it is a time for families to be together in peace and quiet. ( spirituality)  to celebrate the lives of their deceased relatives.  PV, CROATIA

In Colombia, the Christmas traditions come from Spain. They make nativity scenes  called Pesebre.  Columbia is deeply rooted in Catholic tradition. From the 16th till the 24th everyone gets together and prays to the Novena and sing Christmas songs called Villancicos.    On Christmas Eve, the families gather around the Nativity Scene    and eat pork or ham,  dulce de guayaba , dulce de guanabana,bunuelos  ( fried dough) and natilla  (special pudding dessert with sugar, cloves, panela and milk). They drink Aguardiente (fire water) and dance and sing all night. The kids write letters to Nino Dios ( baby Jesus) and wait for him to bring them presents. On Christmas Day everyone makes their own brightly colored balloons and fills them with hot air and lets them into the sky at the same time. Feliz Navidad. AN, COLOMBIA

Shavuot is a holiday that usually  occurs in May, fifty days after Passover. It is  the end of the harvest season for grain and wheat.  People brought  the first fruits  of the season to the temple to thank God. It is fun to celebrate Shavuot on a kibbutz in Israel. Everyone wears white . The girls braid their hair and  make crowns of greens and flowers .  Families bring blankets and carpets and sit out on the grass and have a picnic. They eat dairy food.  The kids bring decorated baskets of fruit. There is a “parade” of tractors and farm equipment decorated for the holiday. This is followed by a lot of dancing and singing to celebrate the day that the Torah was given to the Jewish People on Mount Sinai.   KR ISRAEL

Peruvians put up a nativity scene at Christmas, not a tree.  In the Andean city of Cusco they buy the pieces for their nativity on Christmas Eve at the festival of Santorantikuy  — “buying of saints”. The city fills up as people come to Cusco from all over the region to sell little figures they have made of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the Magi, the star and the stable animals, along with an array of ornaments, moss, lichen, ferns, bromeliads and other wild plants to create the backdrop. PF, PERU

One of the events I’m going to is Maha Kumbh Mela in February.  Maha Kumbh Mela held in Allahabad , India is the “ largest pilgrimage on earth.” It attracts between thirty and seventy million people.  The Maha Kumbh Mela comes every 144 years and will occur this Feb 2013.  Hindus gather at the Ganges for a purification bathing ceremony during the auspicious days. Other activities include religious discussions, devotional singing, mass feeding of holy men and women and the poor, and religious assemblies. The devout –including mystics, yogis and sadhus (in saffron sheets with powder and ashes on their skin), spend a month there. Kumbh Mela is the most sacred of all the pilgrimages in India- the Maha being the most important. DL, INDIA  (if you are interested, some of the other videos that appear at the end are fascinating)

People prepare their homes for Christmas. Dubrovnik  is covered in Christmas lights and a lot of Christmas trees on the Stradun. On Christmas Eve, lunch is traditionally fish. (codfish-usually)That is the same in many Catholic and Eastern European countries. In the afternoon we go to our first neighbors to wish them  a good Christmas Eve. We sing the traditional Christmas song from door to door. (Colenda song – a song that has been sung for centuries). In the evening most people go to confession to wait for Christmas in the best spirit. Then we go to midnight mass.On Christmas Day our families are altogether for lunch. It is a time of happiness and celebration. PV CROATIA

New Year is a special holiday in Japan. It is leaving of old and starting of new. At the end of the year, we clean the house and decorate the entrance gate with ornaments made of pine, bamboo and plum. Bonenkai parties (forget the year gathering) are held everywhere to leave the old worries behind, and on New Years Eve, just before the temple bells ring at midnight, we eat toshikoshi soba (end of year buckwheat noodle) wishing for another healthy new year to come.

Viewing the first sunrise of the New Year is the best way for a fresh start.  We visit the shrine or temple, buy o-mikuji ( random fortune written on strips of paper) and hope for another happy year. RH, JAPAN

Happy Holidays and Fly Safe,

JAZ