How To Pack For The Wet Season In The Amazon Jungle

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How To Pack For The  Wet Season In The Amazon Jungle

“Rain didn’t make things messy. People did that all on their own.” Barbara Delinsky

I try to control my trips as much as I can. I agonize over temperature charts and rainfall counts. Just what were the best times to visit my bucket list places? I try to avoid the rain as much as possible but lately the weather has been unpredictable or that is when I have to travel.

 This time I could be traveling to the Amazon Jungle during the wet season which is a bit different from the rainy season. The best thing you can do is pack rainy season clothes and embrace the rain. 

Wet season (which might be called monsoon season in other countries)  also means hot and humid so your clothes need to be breathable, cooling, quick drying and light. It is really hard to get your clothes to dry during the wet season.  Bring at least two outfits per day.  I remember from living in New York in the summer about that really oppressive heat and humidity where you are just waiting for it to rain. This will be worse.

You need to be covered from head to toe in that heat. Your body needs to be protected  from – things. Poisonous plants, leeches, mosquitos, tarantulas, big biting ants and snakes are part of life in the jungle. Pools of water are breeding ground for mosquitos, zika, malaria, typhoid and cholera.  Yellow fever has broken out in Brazil.

There is no weather pattern during wet season. Just know it is going to rain every day and there will be major electrical storms. Flooding is everywhere. But, the landscapes will be lush and gorgeous with interesting light. Hopefully the natives will be friendly . 

I’m not brave, There are so many things that can go wrong on this trip. But I have a chance to go on a real adventure-the kind where anything can happen in the jungle. I realize that it is when you are petrified that bravery can happen. If you are not afraid to do anything, than you never need to be brave.

I’m thinking waterproof mascara.

Fly safe,

JAZ

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Ten Ways That I Want To Die

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Ten Ways That I Want To Die

“You die in the middle of your life, in the middle of a sentence” John Green

My landlord died suddenly. He was about  to move to Thailand for a year and we were about to have the do you want to keep renting or buy discussion? It turns out that people are fragile and  I am face to face with the realization that tomorrow is promised to no one. So I thought of several ways that i would like to die.

1 Being in a Terrorist Attack in any country but my own. lb Accidentally shooting myself to protect small children in above terrorist attack.  

2. Contracting malaria during the rainy season in the Amazon.

3. Being kicked in the head by a cow walking on the side of the road in India.3b. Being gored by a bull while running in Pamplona. 

4. Falling down the temple steps in Daramasala after the Dalai Lama has told me the secret of life.

5. Laughing too much like the third century Greek philosopher Chryssipus  did.

6. Overeating at a feast given in my honor in Japan,Turkey, Israel or Spain.

7. Being crushed quickly in an earthquake by all the books I have hoarded for my whole life.

8.Skiing down La Pas De Chavanette Porte du Soleil in the French Swiss Alps. It is known as the Swiss Wall and has a vertical drop of 300 kilometers I haven’t skied in fifteen years but I used to be good. I don’t want to be injured though-just dead.

9.Being electrocuted on stage while jamming with Imagine Dragons which would be doubly cool since I don’t play the guitar.

10. Getting a deadly food poisoning which eating at NOMA one of the best restaurants in the world. 

Fly safe,
JAZ

Thirty Six Hours In Lisbon, Portugal With the Flu

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36 Hours in Lisbon With The Flu

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” Anthony Bourdain

Flying to Porto, Portugal from Spain I traveled  in a haze of recycled stale air, surrounded  by the germs of a hundred set of lungs. It did not help that the people I sat next to were both sick and coughing.

 I’m a germaphobe. I get on the plane with hand sanitizer in my purse.  I bring wipes into the bathroom in case i have to touch something. I put polysporin around my nostrils not to breathe anything in. i have a mask if necessary. This usually works along with my various good luck charms. 

The next evening I felt like I had been hit with a truck.  If I had been in Southeast Asia or Africa, I would have been sure it was malaria or dengue. Being in Portugal, I went with the flu. The rain in Porto is not helping.

A few days later when we got to Lisbon,  it was in full force. 

 We checked into Santiago del Alfama around nine pm. Driving through the steep, narrow one way cobblestone streets at night, made us glad we weren’t driving.

The hotel was a fifteenth century palace restored into a beautiful modern five-star hotel.  I loved every piece of furniture and  art that I saw in this hotel. It was  totally my taste. The room was beautiful.

The average standard illness is easy to cope with when you are home and much worse when you are traveling. If it had really been the fifteenth century, I would have thought it was God’s will – but instead i can blame the people next to me on the plane.  Luckily the hotel has a  lovely  restaurant with delicious food. and we don’t have to go anywhere.

i have breakfast at one of the most charming  breakfast places in a hotel with wonderful food and coffee. My cold pills have not kicked in yet and i am sneezing. “God bless you” says the person sitting next me. I remember that sneezing was a symptom of the bubonic plague and they used the term God Bless you to ward off  the evil. I wondered if i had the plague.  Maybe there were some fifteenth century plague germs lying around. I do get a lot of weird things. 

My plan is to go to the Tile Museum which i missed the last time I was in Lisbon. My body is fighting me on this to stay in bed but there are no sick days when you are a mom of small children and so my body has learned to rally.

The Museo de Nacional De Azuelo was definitely worth it.

The building is the former Madre de Deus convent founded in 1509 by Queen D. Leonor.

The collections  are tiles  from 15th century till present days.

It gives amazing insight into the beautiful tiles you see around the city. i could have spent all day here. 

Portugal has a long history of preserving fish which  has been traced back to the Phoenicians, Romans  and Carthaginians. It became a gourmet thing a lot more recently. The best thing to buy are the sardines which are healthy and delicious. i definitely needed healthy.  We head to Conserveira de  Lisboa the oldest and best family run business to buy tinned fish. They are in beautiful tins and packaged in boxes. 

We have met the owner of the hotel and we end up having lunch with him at Prado a place his wife likes and turns out to be delicious. Lunch in Portugal takes a few hours.

  It is amazing how shopping and a delicious meal can miraculously take away my symptoms for a bit.

We walk back to the hotel and I take a nap and pack. The flu has moved into my lungs by now.  Getting up at 4am for the long plane ride home is not going to be pretty. I have some soup at the hotel restaurant.

 

I put my body in mom mode. This will be so much  easier than having the flu and entertaining a baby and toddler at the same time. All I have to do is get to the airport wait in line, go through security, find the plane, fly to London, pick up my luggage, change airports, go through customs and security, check in  again, walk really far to the plane, wait four hours , get on the plane for ten more hours, go through customs and security, pick up luggage and go home. I have had children. I can do this. 

Fly safe,

JAZ

Ten Countries With The Worst Health Care Systems

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Ten Countries With The Worst Health Care Systems

“Let us be the ones who say we do not accept that a child dies every three seconds simply because he does not have the drugs you and I have. Let us be the ones to say we are not satisfied that your place of birth determines your right for life. Let us be outraged, let us be loud, let us be bold.” Brad Pitt.

There is a huge difference between developed and developing countries when it comes to healthcare. Each year, more than eight million children die from preventable diseases in countries with the worst health care. These countries receive a raw deal from growing globalization, inequitable infrastructure, brutal or ineffective government and poor resource allocation. This results in a cycle of poverty and ineffective healthcare. Here are the worst countries. There are many more.

1. Sierra Leone has the dubious distinction of being the worst country in providing healthcare to its citizens, with a score of 0.00 on the WHO health systems performance index. During the most recent civil war the medical facilities in the country were looted and destroyed. There are only about 22 physicians for every million people, and about 60% of the rural population does not have adequate access to clean drinking water. Life expectancy at birth is about 54 years. Malaria is a big problem.

2. Myanmar spends much more of its money on the military than healthcare. Malaria, AIDS, malnutrition and tuberculosis are serious problems. The risk of infectious diseases is very high and life expectancy is now fifty years old. The government spends less on health care than almost every other country.

3. Central African Republic ranks third as far as health care is concerned. The political instability and general lawlessness, combined with poverty and poor infrastructure, have brought down the average life expectancy to 49 years. Sanitation problems and lack of clean water are major sources of ill-health in this country. Diarrhea is one of the main causes of death for children under 5 years old.

4. The Democratic Republic of Congo is almost always in conflict. Average life expectancy is forty-eight years old. Cholera and diarrhea are rampant due to unclean water and lack of sanitation facilities. Malnutrition and malaria are the biggest problems.

5. Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa with more than 174 million residents. The average life expectancy in the country is fifty-two years. They have the second largest number of people in the world living with HIV. Malaria is the top cause of child illness and death. As one of Trump’s s—-hole countries, they suffer from a continual mass exodus of nurses, doctors and other health practitioners who leave looking for better opportunities abroad.

6. Liberia is sixth on the list of countries with the worst health care.The people have a life expectancy of fifty-seven years. The health care system in Liberia is highly dependent on support from foreign agencies which now carry out more than 90% of health service. They have the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the world. Childhood malnutrition is high.

7. As with many African countries, common diseases in Malawi are malaria, measles, tuberculosis and pneumonia. The country also suffers from a HIV/AIDS epidemic which has struck southern and central African countries so severely. Over 90,000 people in Malawi live with HIV/AIDS – more than one in ten adults are infected. The life span in Malawi is fifty-four years with the main cause of death being malnutrition. Access to basic sanitation and clean water is difficult.

8. The lack of healthcare personnel is a major problem faced by Mozambique. Most professionals move to other countries to seek better opportunities. There is always a shortage of necessary drugs, so locals often resort to traditional medicine. Mozambique is plagued by severe HIV, malaria, and cholera.The average life span is fifty years.

9. The situation looks bleak for the people of Lesotho: the average life expectancy is 49 years, and 25% of the people between 15-49 years of age have contracted HIV. There are rising rates of tuberculosis, malnutrition and infant and maternal mortality Access to health care is difficult for people in rural areas. Serious emergencies are often referred to neighboring South Africa.

10. The country with the tenth poorest healthcare system is Zambia. The average life expectancy of Zambians is fifty-five years. Diarrhea is the leading cause of child death because of limited access to clean drinking water and adequate sanitation. Almost half the population of Zambia is below the age of fourteen because of the tremendously high birth and death rate. Malnutrition is widespread particularly in rural areas. Malaria is proving hard to control and there has recently been a resurgence in some areas.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Ten Of The Poorest Countries In The World

Ten Of The  Poorest Countries In The World

“Once poverty is gone, we’ll need to build museums to display its horrors to future generations. They’ll wonder why poverty continued so long in human society – how a few people could live in luxury while billions dwelt in misery, deprivation and despair.” Muhammad Yunus

This is a hard one for me. Why have we always spent so much money on defense and war? I have never understood it. I believe for much less money than we have spent in my lifetime we could have provided clean water, adequate diets, sanitation services and basic education for human beings in the world. It is possible that would have solved both the refugee problem and the terrorist problem.

Decade after decade, politicians and international organizations have failed to tackle poverty in Africa. Nor have they been able to help generate growth or build basic infrastructure.  Some countries here struggle more than others. The cycle of poverty in Africa will unfortunately  continue without the help of the international community.

The Central African Republic is the poorest country in Africa and the world. They have been badly governed since they received their independence from France in 1960. It is plagued by fighting, coups and rebellions. Political instability has prevented the country’s development, despite an abundance of timber, gold, uranium and diamonds. More than fifty percent of the population is below the age of fourteen. Children that manage to avoid becoming internally displaced persons or child soldiers often never enter the educational system. There are terrible health conditions and an alarming food crisis. Violence has displaced 1.2 million people and most of the country is in urgent need of humanitarian assistance and  clean water.

There are two Congos. There is the Democratic Republic Of Congo and the Republic of Congo. The  DRC received their independence from Belgium and  The Republic of Congo received their independence from France in 1960. The DRC is neither Democratic nor a Republic. The extremely corrupt government rules over one of the poorest countries that is also one of the richest in natural resources.The world’s bloodiest conflict since WWll – The Great War of Africa has been fought almost entirely in DRC with over five million deaths. Kinshasa is one of the most dangerous cities in the world. The DRC is a country of human suffering on an unimaginable scale.

Burundi is considered the hungriest nation on earth. The unstable political situation continues to make things worse. Like much of Central Africa, Burundi is prone to natural disasters such as floods, hailstorms, drought and torrential rain which has contributed to the displacement of communities, the destruction of homes, the disruption of livelihoods and the further deterioration of food security. Burundi needs social and economic change and political institutions that are genuinely accountable to its people.

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Two civil wars in the last 30 years have decimated Liberia‘s infrastructure and led to widespread poverty.  The civil wars have left the country with inadequate roads, water and other basic infrastructure which has proved to be a significant barrier for economic growth.The wars also contributed to the over 250,000 Liberian orphans who frequently suffer from malnutrition and are sometimes completely abandoned. The lack of health care access often leads to high fatality rates. As far as education goes, only half of the Liberians are literate, and many Liberian children are kept out of school in order to help on their families’ farms. The good thing about Liberia is that it has the landscape, resources  and a new stable government available to make it a prosperous country.

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Life just gets tougher in NIger. Niger is more impoverished today than it was thirty years ago. Hunger is the biggest problem. High birth rates make it harder and harder to feed families.  Half the deaths of children under five are from malaria. Less than half the population has access to clean drinking water causing  typhoid and cholera. Any small crisis creates a humanitarian disaster. They need an international commitment to help develop the country and get it out of poverty.

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Poverty in Malawi is at a critical level. It is one of the  most impoverished nations in the world. Malawi was one of the worst hit countries by HIV AIds. There are over a million orphans due to Aids. As with other countries, lack of education, droughts, sanitation and corruption impede economic progress.

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Despite its  economic growth rates and the encouraging development progress made by the government in recent years, poverty continues to be severe and widespread in Mozambique. It ranks among the lowest in human development, life expectancy, and inequality. Rates of Malaria and tuberculosis are very high in Mozambique. Lack of improved water sources is a major issue for both urban and rural populations. More than half of Mozambicans must walk more than an hour to reach the nearest health facility. The potential is certainly there for Mozambique to capitalize on its many resources, but foreign assistance  may be the key to ensuring  Mozambicans are able to help themselves.

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Despite its rich natural resources,including diamonds and gold,  Guinea remains underdeveloped. Poverty and malnutrition have an enormous impact on children and young people in the West African country, where more than half the population is under eighteen years of age. Although Guinea has abolished school fees, learning materials  still cost money and many teachers are poorly trained. Children are dropping out of school and either looking for work in the streets or falling victims of child trafficking. As a peaceful country, it has become home to neighboring refugees increasing the poverty level.

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Eritrea is one of the youngest independent countries in the world, but it is also one of the poorest.  It won its independence from Ethiopia after thirty years of war  in 1993. It has become one of the world’s fastest emptying nations, Droughts, conflict, malnutrition and disease  is  overseen by a corrupt dictatorship that has been accused of many human rights violations. Attention is focused on the Syrian refugees but far more Eritreans are fleeing. Perhaps that is why it has been included in Donald Trump’s Muslim ban.

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Madagascar’s poverty is due to political corruption, economic colonialism, lack of infrastructure, poor education system and environmental degradation. There are severe food shortages causing serious starvation and  acute malnutrition. Almost half of  the children under five suffer chronic malnutrition, the fourth highest rate in the world.  Severe water safety and sanitation are huge problems.  Madagascar is an island. There is no terrorism. There are no geopolitical interests.There is a need for an urgent priority list but Madagascar will probably never attract the necessary donor aid from the global community.

Fly safe and I did not take these photos.,

JAZ

Top Ten Travel Travails (say that three times fast)

Top Ten Travel Travails (say that three times fast)

“The Act of God designation on all insurance policies… means roughly that you cannot be insured for the accidents that are most likely to happen to you. If your ox kicks a hole in your neighbor’s Maserati, however, indemnity is instantaneous.”  Alan Coren

I think the word travel comes from the word travail. Travail comes from the Latin word: trepalium, which is instrument of torture. The definition of travail is use of physical or mental energy; hard work. It means suffering and singing the blues while you work. It means an epic Greek Tragedy is happening. That is how travel used to be for the ancestors, pilgrims, pioneers and explorers. It was arduous and life-threatening. I think going away back then meant having travails or  “travailing.”

I thought that I would write a blog about some of my modern-day travel travails.

1. You’ve spent months planning your trip. Life kicks in and things go wrong. For me it is  illness related, I sprain my wrist the day before I fly. I get a weird fever, rash or asthma the week I am leaving. It is definitely anxiety. I always go away carrying some new medicine or arm brace that I didn’t need the last time. When I get there, it is fine.

2. Other than Japan and Switzerland, I always experience flight delays. There are no explanations and no one seems surprised or aggravated in third world countries. Planes leave when they leave. Hakuna Matata is a real thing. I hate when I have connecting flights in these countries. I am always running through airports only to find the next plane is late also. There was that one time that the connecting plane was on time and it was the last connecting flight of the day and no one spoke English.

3. Rain can ruin your holidays. If your hair frizzes in the rain, you are going to feel ugly. There is nothing more dreary than seeing the sights of London soaking wet because a car drives by and splashes water all over you.  Running across a marble courtyard in high heels during a downpour in Ankara can be dangerous. How often do we hear “the first day was great and then it rained.” But rain is not exactly a reason to sit in your hotel room watching reruns of seventies sitcoms in Chinese. It is only water.

4. Malaria and Dengue Fever.  Avoid being bitten by mosquitos. Mosquitos prefer fat, sweet-smelling, sweaty people who leave lights on, and who’s fashion choices are bright colors and sandals. Daytime mosquitos carry dengue. Nighttime mosquitos carry malaria. Dusk can be both. Take malaria pills if recommended, use netting, cover up and Spray, Spray, Spray.

5 Being robbed not at gunpoint. (hotel room, pickpockets, car break ins, etc) There is nothing like having to contact your credit card companies, insurance companies and banks while on vacation.  If they get your passport, let me add in the US embassy.

6 Being robbed at gunpoint – ok that is really scary.

7. Food Poisoning. There is a specific misery that comes with being violently and uncontrollably sick in a place that is not your home and especially in a foreign country.   I am normally germophobic so when I travel I become the food police. I don’t know when the last time the street vendors have washed their utensils or what kind of water they are cooking in. It is not enough for me to just not drink or brush your teeth with tap water in countries with poor sanitation. After seeing “Slumdog Millionaire” I now have to worry about fake sealed bottles of water and make sure to drink a reputable local brand.

8. No electricity. Many third world countries have power outages. It’s always a good idea to carry a flashlight or perhaps a generator if light is important to you. Find the stairs if you are staying in a hotel with an elevator. From experience, I try not to stay on a high floor if I see bad weather, lights flickering or dim street lights. It is pretty much of a given that it will happen somewhere when you are in India or Africa . You might be traveling to places with no or limited electricity.  Be aware of that before your cell phone dies.

9. No hot water. Hot water is a luxury that we take for granted. There are moist towelettes and dry shampoo but you might at some point have to take that very cold shower.

10. Poverty and begging. In third world countries you are going to be approached by children, the elderly and people with physical and mental disabilities begging in the street. It’s hard to see and to know what to do. I’ve heard if you give kids money it keeps them on the street supporting their families and out of school. It is said that if you give things in packages, they can sell them for drugs or glue to sniff. People maim and blind kids on purpose to get more money. I don’t know what the truth is. It is something I don’t understand so it is best  for me to give to charitable organizations in the country.  I always bring pencils, stickers and small inflatable balls to give out. It is not an answer but it is something.

These are the challenges that I face on the road to adventure. They are the anythings that can and always do happen. The most interesting things happen when I am cold, hot,  hungry, wet, tired and uncomfortable. The travails become the stories.

 

Fly safe,

JAZ