“The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.” Voltaire
To better understand the health care debate it is important to note that not all the countries in the world have the same health care. The commonality is universal coverage, but wealthy nations have taken varying approaches to it, some relying heavily on the government (as with single-payer); some relying more on private insurers; others in between. Experts don’t agree on which is best; a lot depends on perspective. Nothing seems to be perfect. This rating is the top ten countries from the World Health Organization.
1. France does not have socialized medicine. They have both privatized and government insurance. Everyone has health care. When someone goes to see a doctor, the national insurance program pays 70 percent of the bill. Most of the other 30 percent gets picked up by supplemental private insurance, which almost everyone has. It’s affordable, and much of it gets paid for by a person’s employer. In France, the sicker you are, the more coverage you get. It’s expensive to provide this kind of health care. But it is not as expensive as the U.S. system, which is the world’s most costly.
2.In Italy, healthcare is considered a right and the national health plan is designed to provide for all Italian citizens.The health care is funded by a broad tax system. The money to fund the system comes from all the classes.
3.Local and foreign national residents of San Marino are entitled to free, comprehensive health care from public hospitals. All employees must register upon starting a job and are issued a health card and number, and are automatically registered with a doctor in their neighborhood. Employers pay a contribution for each employee and dependent family members, deducted from their salaries, while the self-employed must pay the full contribution. Vulnerable people, such as the unemployed, aged and seriously ill do not need to register with an employer, and are entitled to free treatment.
4.Andorra has some of the most technologically advanced hospitals in Europe, and is similar to the French healthcare system. Public health is linked to social contributions.
5.Malta has a strong public healthcare system, which provides free services to all Maltese citizens and European Union residents. Malta has both a government healthcare service and a private system.
6.Singapore shows that fusions of conservative and liberal ideas in health care really are possible. Singapore is a place where the government acts to keep costs low and then uses those low costs to make a market-driven insurance system possible. Singapore’s government controls and pays for much of the medical system itself — hospitals are overwhelmingly public, a large portion of doctors work directly for the state.
7.Spain‘s single-payer health care system is ranked seventh best in the world by the World Health Organization. The system offers universal coverage as a constitutionally guaranteed right and no out-of-pocket expenses — aside from prescription drugs.
8. All Omani citizens have free access to universal healthcare. Much of the staff is foreign-born or received training abroad, but with more young Omanis completing college, this is beginning to change. In larger cities, especially Muscat, the quality of medical care is high, but you shouldn’t expect the same standards in rural areas. It has emerged that Oman is in the process of drafting a new set of mandatory health insurance laws beginning January 2018.The new laws will pass on some of the responsibility of looking after employee health to their employers by mandating that they implement suitable health insurance provisions.
9.Austria has had a health care system that ensures high-quality medical care for all citizens, independent of their social status or income. Building such a health care system has not been easy: it is the result of a long, hard road; many people have fought for it. The can also purchase supplementary private insurance.
10.In Japan, health care has long been likened to air and water — often taken for granted. Under the Japanese system, everyone must join a public insurance program through their employer or municipal government and pay a monthly premium that is determined by income.
Palaces and Castles
“ And if she asks you why, you can tell her that I told you, that I’m tired of castles in the air “Don McLean (I love that song)
Castles and palaces are pieces of the past. They are evocative of the people who lived in them many centuries ago. They are rich in folklore and history and often built with astonishing craftsmanship and innovative design. Here are some of the palaces that I have toured. Many of these photos were before I was blogging so less palace and more look I was there shots.
Alhambra – Granada, Spain
Buckingham Palace – London, England
Buda Castle – Budapest, Hungary (view near castle)
Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale) – Venice, Italy
Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland
Neuschwanstein – Hohenschwangau, Germany
Pena Palace – Sintra, Portugal
Peterhof, (known as Petrodvorets and Petergof) – Petergof ,Saint Petersburg, Russia
Pitti Palace – Florence, Italy
Prague Castle – Prague, Czech Republic
Schoenbrunn – Vienna, Austria
Trakai Castle – Trakai, Lithuania.
Palace Of Versailles, Versailles, France
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.
Turkey Pide, fresh pomegranate juice, anything with eggplant, and any dessert made with semolina.
Croatia Fresh tuna and bean salad, grilled calamari and swiss chard.
Cambodia Fresh coconut water and amok (I loved Cambodian food).
Greece Avgolemono soup, baklava and Greek salad (feta, tomatoes and olive oil don’t taste the same anywhere else).
Italy Pizza, pasta with fresh tomato sauce and basil. (My dream is to go to Sicily and eat pizza).
South Africa Biltong (Im not even a meateater and I love it).
Israel Falafel and Hummus.
Colombia Guanabana juice and Arepa con Quisito.
Spain Churros, hot chocolate and real gazpacho.
Panama Sancocho soup.
Netherlands Pofferjes and poached egg on brioche with smoked salmon, (first time that I have had that).
Brazil Tacaca with shrimp and fresh acai ( not the watered down sugary stuff we get here) in the Amazon.
Thailand Thai iced coffee.
Peru Ceviche with giant corn.
Argentina Alfajores from Havanna.
Mexico Tacos, guacamole, mole or really anything in Oaxaca. (except not a fan of the crickets every day)
USA When I come home I want a turkey burger from Golden State in LA.
“Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all”
Today I have nothing.
I have written about packing and not packing, carry on luggage, check in luggage, travel clothes, travel companions, souvenirs, my bracelet collection, my Starbucks collection, my good luck charms, LA – where I live, Manhattan and Brooklyn where I am from, places I love, places I hate, my mother, my dog, people who have died, animals that have been killed, airports, airplanes, stewardesses, airport security, things I’ve learned from traveling and not traveling, hotel rooms and things Ive left behind in them, travel addiction, people who think they are black, superstitions, proverbs and quotes from around the world, movies, books, children’s books and songs that have inspired me to travel, food, restaurants, turkey burgers, acting like a tourist, not acting like a tourist, tourist traps, tourist attractions, holidays, traveling alone,eating alone, random photos, being a godmother, travel etiquette, third world countries, countries that have changed names, countries not to travel to, misspelled countries, auto-correct, photography, art, urban art, music, world affairs terrorists and should you blame your parents if you are one, philosophy, spirituality, religion, prejudice, meditation, things to say and not say to a world traveler, places I haven’t been to, bucket lists, top ten everything, travel problems, imaginary places, movie locations, trip planning, weddings, World Cup, Olympics, first world problems, blogging, Nellie Bly, touching strangers, things i like, things I dislike, the 100th monkey, coffee, sunrises, how to avoid the paparazzi, travel tv shows and people in the world.
I don’t know why they call it writer’s block. I have idea block. I could start reblogging pieces, post other writers, post more instagram photos, read more books and think about writing. I could hope that this is only a temporary setback, go out and do something and then write about it – like move to Spain, go to a wedding in Africa or perhaps the new Broad Museum in LA.
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)
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)
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)
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)
Visit the coffee shops in Amsterdam. If that is where you are spending all your time in Amsterdam, you have a problem.
See the Aurora Borealis.
Walk the Camino de Santiago.
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.
Visit the Grand Canyon – still have not done this
Walk the Great Wall of China.
Visit the Acropolis, Stonehenge, the Colosseum, Ephesus, Delphi, the Moabs or other famous ruins. They stay the same just a bit older.
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.
“I wondered about the explorers who’d sailed their ships to the end of the world. How terrified they must have been when they risked falling over the edge; how amazed to discover, instead, places they had seen only in their dreams.” Jodi Picoult
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.
The city was founded in 1533 and was the main South American port for the Spaniards. They stored treasures pillaged from the indigenous people in Cartagena to ship to their homeland. Silver, gold, cacao beans, chile peppers and tobacco from the new world were shipped to Spain. Cartagena was a marketplace for slave ships coming from Africa. It was probably the most looted port in the world. As a result of constant pirate attacks, the Spanish built a solid wall to surround the town to protect their valuables. It was built during the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries and is the only walled city in the Americas. It took more than two hundred years and fifteen million African slaves to build the wall.
The main fortification was the Fort of Castillo San Felipe de Barajas (named after Spain’s King Philip IV) which is located on a 130-foot-high hill towering over the city. Originally built in the mid-1600s, it was rebuilt and enlarged several times over the years to become the greatest fortress Spain ever built in the Americas.
Las Palenqueras are the famous fruit basket ladies you see around the walled city. They come from San Basilio De Palenque which is an hour away from Cartagena.
These women are the descendants of South American slaves and San Basilio De Palenque was the first city in South America of free slaves. Las Palenqueras keep their African culture and traditions.
The food market in Cartagena is hot and dark with a lot going on. The smell hits you. It is a mixture of sweet smelling fruit, fish smelling fish, raw meat and live birds.
The thing I always notice in these markets is that they use every part of the animal and the parts are all there to buy. There are always flies and fast-moving, knives, machetes and hammers.
Tables are filled with all the local fruits and vegetables. I eat delicious tamarind from the pod. I have never seen a raw one before. (tamarind)
Everyone is moving quickly carrying a lot on their heads or in their arms. It is a market for locals and you can buy anything from toiletries to clothes as well. I bought flip-flops.
La Boquilla is a poor fishing village twenty minutes outside of Cartegena. (poor but happy)
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.
After the canoe they pull out a fresh coconut and make a hole for a straw with a machete. When you finish the water they quickly open it up and slice up the meat. It was clearly not the first coconut they’ve opened with a machete. It feels very far away from Cartagena.
Then I walk for a long time with my feet in the Caribbean sea. I have lunch on the beach of fresh fish, plantains and coconut rice.
Day and night the sound of clip clopping horse and carts carry tourists around the city. I prefer to wander around and walk the walls at dusk.
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. Garcia Marquez or Gabo died a few days after I returned . But now I can picture him sitting in La Vitrola, Café Havana or in a square in Cartegena writing his stories. ( a person standing in front of Gabo’s house, some famous characters from another author play chess in the square)
Thank to Jose and Kevin Rodriguez for their kindness and knowledge of a city they love.
Colombia is now one of my favorite places. One of my best trips happened because I said yes to something I never thought I would be doing alone. Thanks Jeannine Cohen from Geox for planning this wonderful adventure.
Viaje Con Cuidado,