The Azmat People
I recently read an article about some exotic destinations, which reminder me of one of my favorite trips – a visit to the Azmat people of the western side of Papua New Guinea.
The Asmat are a tribe that are found on the south side of the western part of New Guinea, ruled by Indonesia. The Asmat prefer to live on small islands with mangrove forests, saltwater and freshwater swamp land and lowland rainforest. Renowned wood carvers, their work is collected worldwide – unlike the results from the other skill they have long been famed for, as headhunters. They are perhaps the most famous cannibalistic tribe on Papua.
Headhunting raids were an important element of Asmat culture until Christian missionaries worked hard to convert the Asmat to Catholicism ending the in the 1990s. Headhunting was practiced both for revenge and to complete certain rituals. One of America’s famous sons possibly came to a sticky end at the hands of the Asmat. Michael Rockefeller, from one of the richest families in the USA, was collecting Asmat art in the region and went missing in 1961. Some say he was lost to a river when his boat overturned…some say he was invited to a barbeque… Sadly, he has never been seen again.
We arrived in the Asmat region by small plane from Irian Jaya. The flight had been cancelled the day before when we had a choice of a plane with a flat tire or one with only one engine. We decided to wait another day on order to get spare parts. There were 6 of us, who flew with some live chickens (in cages), and dozens of eggs, waiting to be delivered, all in the passenger compartment of the plane. The plane itself was missing its passenger doors, but we did have seatbelts. We flew at low altitude over forest for miles. There were no roads to be seen.
When we arrived at the airstrip, hundreds of villagers came out to meet us, swarming the grass field and surrounding us, all with looks of friendly curiosity. Apparently, pale people had not been seen in awhile, and their interest in us was equally matched by our fascination with them. We were led by the hand to their houses. They live in thatched longhouses – dark, smoky places on poles above the land, where little sunlight entered through the small open windows. In fact, it was hard to see the faces of the people living there, but we certainly knew they were about from the clink of the trinkets they were offering to us and the ripe odor of unwashed bodies in the heat.
Once back in the sunlight, we were loaded into long canoes to visit some of the neighbors. About halfway to our destination, out on the open water, we were greeted by hundreds – literally hundreds of men dressed in their tribal best in long canoes. Some males had empty coke cans hanging from their noses. Other had bones as nose piercings, colorful feather necklaces and headdresses made of leaves. I wish I had taken pictures of all of them. This was back in pre-cellphone days, when camera film was a limited commodity. They were moving so fast that it would have been hard to capture most of them so quickly.
I have been to many unusual places on the world, but the Azmats visit was one of the most exciting “meet and greet” experiences ever. Some small ships (more like yachts) visit the area on a very infrequent basis, if you are interested in experiencing this remote part of the world yourself.
Another memorable trip. I had always wanted to visit Burma. Although I did not approve of the political regime in the country, I had wanted to sail along the Irawaddy River, travel to Mandalay and see the stupas and pagodas Myanmar is famous for.
In Mandalay, we visited a Buddhist Monastery and witnessed the assembly of the shaven-headed monks in burgundy robes on a lunch break. We stood in line, too for a bit of rice in a metal bowl. The setting was lovely, and peaceful though.
At sunset, we climbed to the top of a temple where there were many young men dressed in sarongs taking in the view, and practicing their English. The four young men who approached my husband and myself were eager to talk, but shy. They each tried out various sentences like “Are you enjoying your trip?” and other basics. The most memorable though was a very slightly built, but tall young man, who must have weighed all of 90 pounds. He asked me. “Why are you so fat? Do you not take any exercise?”. I laughed all of the way home.
Cruiselines sailing from US ports have limited their sailings to seven nights or less based on a directive from the CDC. As cruise operators move to commercial sailings, initial cruises should be as simple as possible with limited destinations, controlled excursions, and short trip lengths. Once these initial sailings are conducted and internally examined, it may be appropriate to carefully expand operations. Most US cruiselines have limited their US sailings through October 2021.
In related news, there aren’t going to be any world cruises in 2021, but many cruise lines are already promoting sailings for 2022 and beyond.
Whether or not travel is on the menu for your family this Thanksgiving, a surprising number of Americans still plan to hit the road for Turkey Day this year, a new study claims.
On Monday, Tripadvisor released the findings from its 2020 Thanksgiving Travel Index, claiming that over half of Americans polled – 56% – intend to leave home for the holiday amid the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19. Of those, 75% said they plan to drive to their destination, while a slim 11% said they’re flying to their Thanksgiving celebrations.
“This year, we can expect shorter trips with smaller groups of people for more intimate, close-knit gatherings. Many are taking day trips (24%) or spending one night at their destination,” Christopher Hsi, consumer market research lead analyst for Tripadvisor, said in a statement. “Americans are also continuing to avoid big cities, instead opting for warm weather and beach destinations in Southern states.”
While the numbers are down from last year, travelers are still planning trips during the traditionally busy holiday season, according to Allianz Partners’ Top 10 Thanksgiving Destination Index. Internationally, for the sixth consecutive year, Mexico will attract more Americans for Thanksgiving than any other international destination, with Cancun, San Jose Del Cabo and Puerto Vallarta taking the top three spots. In comparison with 2019, Cancun moved up one spot while San Jose Del Cabo and Puerto Vallarta each jumped up by four places.
2021 is only a couple of months away, and with it brings the hope that travel will return to “normal”. We conducted an unscientific poll of our 824 Meetup members. The results:
So we all want to travel - now or later. Pick a favorite destination to go to when we can travel again.
What is your #1 destination post Covid?
When will you be ready to fly again?
When will you feel comfortable traveling by air, in the US or elsewhere?
Spring 2021 34%
When a vaccine is available 57%
Rules for refunds from airlines and tour operators change on a daily basis, and they have changed dramatically over the past few months.
At the start of the pandemic and when decisions had to be made on an immediate basis,most travel providers stuck to their original cancellation penalties. They did not make any allowance for what was seen as a short lived "crisis": As the cancellations and postponements expanded, so did the thinking on refunds. As of now, there are more liberal refund policies. This, too will change over time.
My recommendation is to wait until the airline or tour operator cancels your trip or changes your schedule, giving you more leeway in getting your money back. Some tour operators are now offering a bonus for postponing rather than cancelling your trip with some adding 20-25% to the amount of funds you have to spend on your postoned trip.
If you are too nervous to wait, and you cancel now, make sure that your reason for cancelling is one that would be covered by your travel insurance, i.e, a medical reason, job loss or other covered reason. Although your travel supplier may charge a penalty, you should be able to recover this amount from your travel insurance company. Policies differ by the state in which you reside, so make sure you check your policy before cancelling.
How to get a refund from an airline
As of 4.3.20: The U.S. Department of Transportation has mandated airlines to refund passengers in the event flights are canceled, significant schedule changes or made, or government restrictions prevent flying due to the coronavirus outbreak. The order applies to any flights on U.S. or foreign airlines “to, within, or from the United States.
An airline can still provide a travel voucher in lieu of a refund if the airline tells passengers who already received that voucher about the option to receive a refund, updates and clarifies their refund policies, and goes over the new refund policies with staff, according to the notice.
Make sure you know the penalties involved in your program, and ALWAYS BUY TRAVEL INSURANCE.
Let the people back home know when you arrive safely at your destination.
· Get the complete name and address of the hotel/resort where you are staying and carry it with you.
· Stash some extra money on your person outside of your purse, so you will always have enough to get back to your hotel in case of emergency.
· If you plan on leaving your resort/hotel let the front desk know where you will be, give them the name of the tour company you are using if you are taking a tour. If you are just spending time walking around on your own, let them know when you plan on being back. Have them note it in your record.
· Leave the name brand fancy t-shirt or your favorite NY baseball team cap at home. Blend in with the locals.
· Try to arrive during daylight so you can check out your surroundings. Avoid going out at night alone.
- Don’t wear your finest jewelry and bling. That can draw attention for all the wrong reasons. Speaking of jewelry, pack fragile necklaces in drinking straws to keep them tangle-free
· When ordering a drink at the bar, be observant and pay attention to who is making it and handling it. Do not over indulge, but enjoy.
· Make friends and have a great time. Traveling solo can be adventurous and extremely fulfilling.
Travel Safe – Travel Solo – Travel Now!
When I went to the eye doctor recently, she told me that I should wear sunglasses, particularly because I have light-colored eyes. Sunlight plays a large role in cataract development. That made me start thinking about other things that are imprtant during the summer months to protect yourself from the sun.
(excerpted from Health.com)
SPF smarts By now, you probably know that you should use sunscreen every day both to help reduce your risk of skin cancer and to prevent pesky wrinkles, dark spots, and other signs of premature aging.
Here are the most common ways you're messing up with sunscreen—and how to truly protect yourself from UV rays.
1.You wait until you're outside to apply sunscreen
2.You apply sunscreen around your clothes Skin cancer can strike anywhere, so it's best to apply sunscreen before you get dressed
. 3.You don't protect your lips So try a lip balm with SPF, which is thicker so it stays on longer. "Then reapply even more frequently than you do body sunscreen, since talking, eating, and drinking removes the sunscreen on your lips faster,"
4. You miss other key spots Dr. Graf says. "The most commonly missed areas are toes and feet, including the bottoms of your feet; underarms; back of the neck under the hairline; ears, especially the tops and back of your ears; eyelids; and inner upper arms." Put that stuff everywhere.
5. You sweat (or rinse) it all off
6. You use a body formula on your face
7. You only use it when it's nice out 8. You don't use enough The old rule about using a shot glass worth of sunscreen every time you apply still holds up, says Dr. Graf. (That's about 1.5 ounces.)
9. You think you're safe indoors or in cars Unless you choose to spend your time in a windowless bunker, you're not protected
10. You don't use a broad-spectrum formula To be fully covered, look for sunscreens labeled "broad spectrum," which means they thwart both types of rays.
11. You chose an SPF that's too low The SPF (sun protection factor) measures how well the sunscreen blocks out UVB rays—which are primarily what cause sunburns. The number tells you how long it would take to redden your skin versus the amount of time without it. For example, with SPF 15, it will take you 15 times longer to burn than if you were wearing nothing. So what number should you aim for? Yes, tanning oil with SPF 8 technically is sunscreen, but it's just not enough protection. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends using broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15.
12. You use an old bottle Shelf life varies from two to three years, depending on the formula you choose.
13. You don't reapply often enough . How often? "Every 80 minutes, even if it's water-resistant," says Dr. Graf.
14. You skip it if you're going to be in the shade 15. You don't protect your eyes Sunglasses aren't just a fashion statement—they're critical to keeping your eyes safe from UV rays. Make sure your sunglasses offer UV protection, because some inexpensive styles don't have the protective coating. "Without it, the dark lenses actually allow your pupils to dilate, allowing even more UV rays in, which can play a big role in cataract development," says Dr. Sherber. Finally, a health reason to buy a pair of nice shades!
More info: https://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20818090,00.html
People often put vacationing aside, whether it’s because they think they can’t afford it or that they’re worried their job is too demanding to leave for a period of time, or they are afraid to leave the dog behind. But it’s actually really important to be able to take a mini break and travel, especially with friends. It help you cope with bad experiences in your life, reduce stress, and boost your mood and overall happiness, among other benefits.
Southern Living has recently reported that taking a trip with your best gal pals can improve your overall mental and physical well-being. It can refresh you when you’re burnt out on work, plus give you quality time with the people who you love most. Forbes reports that women who take advantage of vacation time are less tense, depressed or tired, and have even showed to be happier with their spouse. Their mood is better, and it can even improve productivity and creativity.
On the contrary, not taking trips can contribute to a higher risk of heart disease and death from heart disease for women. Even for men, traveling can reduce the risk of death by 21 percent and mortality from cardiovascular disease by 32 percent.
It makes sense that when you put together good friendships and travel and the health benefits are vast.So what are you waiting for?
POSH This acronym stands for Port outward, Starboard home. It refers to the ships which sailed from England to India years ago. Those “in the know” wanted to face land from their cabin windows or balconies, which meant the left side or port going east, and the right side or starboard coming home. You might keep this in mind when choosing a cabin for your cruise. If you have an oceanview or above, my favored side would be that facing land for the best views. Just take a look at the itinerary and choose.
If you have mobility challenges or like the quick way to get to the dining room or elsewhere on another deck, choose a cabin near the elevator and stairs.
Look at what is above and below you on the ship’s layout. Perhaps being near the disco, or the kitchen galley may not be the best location for you. Your best bet is to select a cabin that is both above and below other cabins. This is important when you are offered a cabin upgrade. Check the location first, before you agree.
We all have our list of our must have's. It all starts with making a list. Here's what I need to bring:
Earplugs adjust to new noises
Dryer sheets keep my suitcase smelling fresh
Thin rubber gloves. Store small items in them, use them to wash clothes, etc.
Extra plastic bags, ziplocks for small items and larger ones for laundry
Small amount of laundry detergent
A shawl perfect as a blanket on flights
A scarf for warmth or dress up
Clothes I can layer
One set of earrings. I'll never lose them this way.
A sleep mask is a must
Extension cord. Sockets are always in the wrong place
Rain poncho - lighter than an umbrella
What to know before you go
There’s nothing like a trip away from home! Here are some things to think about before you go:
Take Care of "Stop" Orders and Advance Payments You should look into placing "stop" orders on any regularly occurring deliveries or services. These may include postal mail, newspapers, housecleaners and the like.
Getting Foreign Currency If you're traveling overseas, the most economical option is to visit an ATM as soon as you arrive in your destination and make a withdrawal in the local currency. Check the website of the airport where you'll be arriving to make sure it has an ATM you can use. Most international airports have several, You need a PIN with number, not letters.
Call your bank or credit card company and let them know about your travel plans. Most banks and credit card companies keep track of spending patterns and may interpret an unexpected overseas purchase as credit card fraud. Your bank or credit card company could lock your account if you use your card in another country without notifying them.
Credit cards Discover is not an international card. Visa and Mastercard are readily accepted, but Amex is less so. Make sure your card does not charge you international fees, or that $100 bargain can become a $150 expense.
Don’t assume that your cellphone works overseas Call your phone company and make sure that you know what their overseas. Turn your phone off or put it in airplane mode to avoid charges.
I use VIBER or WHATS APP for international calls. You need to set it up before you go, and both the caller and recipient need to be on the program. It is free.
Electricity. Your US appliances can be used. Bring an extension cord as there are usually only 1 or two outlets in a room.
In Europe, the voltage is 220, and you need an adapter and converter. Bring both, since you cannot count on the hotels having enough for every person in the hotel.
Clothing: Pack an umbrella and a fold up jacket or poncho for rainy days. Pack clothes you plan to throwaway soon so you can do just that and empty out your bag (more room for souvenirs). Smart casual and casual with comfortable shoes, a swimsuit or gym clothes will be best. You may want to bring a formal outfit for the ship.
Remember that you are traveling to another country. Hotels will be comfortable, but not fancy, and not just like home. When traveling internationally, you need to be flexible. Rooms, taxes and breakfast are included. Everything else is your additional expense.
More info: http://www.wisewomentravel.com/newsletter.html
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