Travel Advisory Is In Effect

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Travel Advisory Is In Effect

“How dare you open a spaceman’s helmet on an uncharted planet? My eyeballs could’ve been sucked from their sockets!” Cathy East Dubowski, Toy Story

These days, planning a trip to Iraq or Afghanistan is probably not a good idea. The United States and other nations are currently advising their citizens against all non-essential travel to these countries. But a government travel warning doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a bad idea to plan a trip to a particular part of the world.

Governments issue travel advisories to let their citizens know about safety concerns that may affect travel to a particular country or region. In the United States, these warnings are issued by the State Department.

Travel advisories are released for a variety of reasons, including terrorism, natural disasters, political unrest, wars, health emergencies and outbreaks of crime.

In many cases, violence, unrest or natural disasters are confined to a particular region while the rest of the country is still safe and welcoming to tourists.

The fallout from an isolated act of violence can affect an entire country’s tourist industry — and have a disproportionate effect on the economy of a developing nation.

Today i received a state department warning about a change in travel for Americans traveling to or living in Israel.

“The U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem advises U.S. citizens in, or considering travel to, Jerusalem, the West Bank or Gaza to keep up a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness in light of the current environment.  Individuals and groups opposed to U.S. policies may target U.S. government facilities, U.S. private interests and U.S. citizens.  U.S. citizens should be aware of their surroundings and avoid crowds or areas where there is a large police or security presence.”

The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens to consider the risks of travel to and throughout Jordan due to persistent terrorist threats.  The self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS), its affiliates, sympathizers, and other violent extremist groups have successfully conducted attacks in Jordan and continue to plot against local security forces, U.S. and Western interests, and “soft” targets. Jordan’s prominent role in the counter ­ISIS Coalition and its shared borders with Iraq and Syria increase the potential for future terrorist incidents. This replaces the Travel Warning issued December 23, 2016.

Ok- Jordan looks a bit unsafe at this time.  I’ve decided to go to Israel  despite the government’s warning email. But i will take certain precautions. It’s best in troubled times to be in a country that has an embassy from your own country and make sure it is fully staffed and functioning. The US Embassy which has not moved yet is a two-minute walk from my airbnb. Under the circumstances, it may not be a good thing.

I registered for  the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. I will keep my family at home aware of my itinerary, watch the news, get travel insurance and have a backup plan.

I will be careful in these areas but I think if I cancel my plans, the terrorists win. We beat them by being unafraid in the way we choose to live.

Fly safe,
JAZ

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Least Friendly Countries In the World

Least Friendly Countries In The World

“I’m a stranger in a strange land.” Carson McCullers 

As any world traveler knows, not every country offers tourists a warm welcome. Everyone does not “like to practice their English” for you English-speaking tourists. Everyone does not like foreigners. Friendliness is rated by attitudes toward foreigners. Here are the least friendly countries in order.

10. Mongolia is not a nation of smiling quaint little Asian people. They come from warrior lineage and showing emotion to strangers is a sign of weakness. It is a cultural difference and that is the way it is. They often seem rude and unfriendly, especially in cities. Once you go out of the city, this is not the case. The challenging nature of nomadic life has shaped the need for the unique hospitality and genuine warmth extended to all travelers and pilgrims. Mongolians believe that the welcome offered a stranger today will be repaid in the future. This concept is at the very root of Mongolia’s centuries-old culture.

9. Bulgaria is about as East as Eastern Europe gets and Eastern Europeans are not friendly. They don’t smile and I don’t speak Bulgarian. I don’t know much about this country. It is not famous for gymnasts or shooting dictators.There is a lot of stuff on the internet about people being rude and ripping off tourists when possible. Least friendly does not mean unsafe. I guess I will go and see for myself and bring a book.

8. Slovaks are not friendly to people they do not know. I am not sure if this reserve is a Slavic trait or a product of the Socialist regime that they lived under for so long. Smiling customer service will not be part of your shopping or dining experience in Slovakia. They want tourism but they can’t figure out how to market themselves. If you need help in English “ask young,” The older people working in train stations and bus terminals do not speak English. There have been several racist incidents in this homogeneous white society that make people not want to return.

7. Latvia is a good place to not ask directions because no one is going to help you. I have been there. The locals are not friendly and if anyone is friendly to you they want something – so be careful. It is my least favorite of all the Eastern European countries that I have been to so far.

6. Pakistan is a country rife with crime and terrorists. Home to the Taliban and other extremist organizations, Pakistan is unsafe and unfriendly.

5. Iran is a tough one. I think it is on this list because it is ruled by savage mullahs who sponsor terrorism. But from everything I have heard, Iranians are welcoming to visitors and happy to see travelers in their country. The President leads chants that say Death To America. There are posters that say Death to Israel and We Have No Homosexuals. This definitely makes it unwelcoming, yet by all accounts, the people are kind and friendly.

4. Kuwait is incredibly hot which probably makes people irritable. Do not expect a warm welcome here. It is a conservative Muslim country and from being around conservative Muslims in my travels, I notice that they avoid eye contact with anyone in Western clothes. There is not a lot to do other than eating vast amounts of food, smoke shisha (hookah) and walk around luxurious shopping malls. Apparently, the locals don’t seem to want foreigners to do that.

3. I was in Russia a while ago. No one spoke English and at that time every sign was written in Cyrillic. It was hard to get around and I tried to learn temporary Cyrillic as fast I could. The no smiling, no small talk is standard Russian behavior. It was still early in the post-Communist era and people were adjusting. The life of a Russian person in Russia had always been hard and a constant struggle. When I was there, they had many issues between this new “free” life and the feeling that life under Communism was easier. It was what they knew. I found the people cold, rude and unfriendly but I never found that with the many Russian immigrants I have met in the States. I understand why it is listed as the third most unfriendly country in the world because that was my experience as well coming from a completely different culture. 

2. Venezuela is a country in crisis.  It is socially, economically, and politically in ruins. Venezuela is full of violent crime, inflation, and corruption. The local people spend half their lives waiting in line at empty supermarkets, bus, train and gas stations. Hospitals are empty because there is no medicine in this oil-rich country.  The black market is so much cheaper than inflated prices so everyone carries cash. Tourists are robbed by both criminals and police. Traffic accidents are common because cars don’t stop at street lights for fear of being robbed. Protests are daily and often turn violent. Venezuela is a dangerous country and not on most people’s list to travel to right now. Everyone is way too worried about their own safety and precarious future to be friendly to strangers. 

1. Bolivia took the dubious honor of being the most unfriendly country in the world. I know you probably thought it would be the French. I’m not sure I get this one. The only Bolivians I have met were in Northern Argentina selling hand-made souvenirs and coca leaves for altitude sickness in the Altiplano. It is the most extensive high altitude plateau outside of Tibet -4000 meters high. Chewing coca leaves and drinking coca tea is very helpful for avoiding altitude sickness. The legality of coca leaves in Buenos Aires is questionable but it is medicinal in the Altiplano and they bring it in from Bolivia. Some Bolivians were friendlier than others but no one was rude. I’ve always found South Americans to be kind and helpful and I can’t find any information on why it is number one. It is an odd choice for a poor, beautiful country that needs tourism. I’m definitely going anyway.

 

Fly safe,

JAZ

Do Not Cancel Your Travel Plans Because Of Fear

Do Not Cancel Your Travel Plans Because Of Fear

“Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you. You must travel it by
yourself. It is not far.  It is within reach. Perhaps you have been on it since
you were born, and did not know.  Perhaps it is everywhere – on water and
land.” Walt Whitman

The US State Department has a worldwide travel warning in effect.

“U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using transportation. Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid large crowds or crowed places. Exercise particular caution during the holiday season and at holiday festivals or events”

What this warning does is play into our culture of fear. If something should happen anywhere in the world, the State Department is covered.

When you look at the statistics, your likelihood of being killed by terrorists when traveling are less than your likelihood of being struck by lightning when traveling. Unless you are a single woman over the age of fifty.  In that case, your likelihood of getting killed by terrorists is higher than your chance of finding true love and getting married. The number one cause of death abroad for tourists is car crashes.

Here are a few things that will probably kill you. Heart Disease is the number one cause of death in the US. The death certificate for my ninety-one year old mother said that.  Prescription medication, brain parasites, something large falling on top of you and police officers kill a lot of people.

It’s the media’s job to give us a play by-play of every horrific thing happening in the world and it’s my job to fight my resulting anxiety and paranoia. We put a lot of power into the idea of a potential threat.

Psychologically we are more afraid of a terrorist attack because it is a new unfamiliar fear than car crashes and heart disease that we hear about all the time. One incident with multiple deaths is scarier than many incidents the same day of single deaths. This is why plane crashes are scarier than car crashes which are far more likely to happen. The uncertainty of where to travel is scary. We don’t know where they will hit next so you really can’t plan and control what will happen. Chances are small to none that it will seriously affect your trip. The best thing to increase your travel safety is to plan to drive carefully to the airport.

Drive safe,
JAZ

Ten Reasons Why We Need Strong Gun Control Laws In The U.S.

Ten Reasons Why We Need  Strong Gun Control Laws In The U.S.

“Every day in America is a day with a shooting.” Bill Maher

Orlando, Florida

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San Bernadino, California

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Colorado Springs, Colorado

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Newtown, Connecticut

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Roseburg, Oregon

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Charleston, South Carolina

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Santa Monica ,California

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Aurora, Colorado

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Tuscon, Arizona

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Blacksburg, Virginia

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AND

Killeen,Texas   San Ysidro, California,    Austin, Texas,    Littleton, Colorado    (Columbine),    Edmond, Oklahoma,    Fort Hood, Texas,    Washington DC, Chattanooga, Tennessee,    Isla Vista, California,    Brookfield, Wisconsin,    Minneapolis, Minnesota,    Oak Creek, Wisconsin,    Oakland, California,    Seal Beach, California,    Manchester, Connecticut,    Huntsville, Alabama,    Binghampton, New York,    DeKalb, Illinois,    Omaha, Nebraska,    Salt Lake City, Utah,    Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania,    Goleta, California,    Red Lake Indian Reservation, Minnesota, Meridian, Mississippi,    Santee, California,    Wakefield, Massachusetts,    Honolulu, Hawaii,    Forth Worth, Texas,    Atlanta, Georgia,    Jonesboro, Arkansas,    Garden City, New York,    San Francisco, California,    Iowa City, Iowa,    Jacksonville, Florida,    Stockton, California 

Walk, dance, party, sit, pray, shop, study and fly safe,

JAZ