April 1, 2019
My Dear Friends:
An important announcement:
I have decided to retire from my career in International Travel.
I have traveled to more than seventy sovereign countries on five continents. Alas, I have never visited Madagascar or the Maldives or Micronesia. I plan to donate my Frequent Flier Miles to the Travelers Aid Society.
Please do not be alarmed. For a man of my age, I am in satisfactory health, thank Heavens.
To replace my addiction to international travel, I will resurrect my love for Teaching and Education.
I am pleased to announce the formation of "Universidad Completada."
April 1, 2017
Sunny and Hot
I am disappointed … in myself.
For weeks, I have tried in vain to find a theme for my annual April 1 “gotcha” letter. Not that there haven’t been suitable subjects.
One recent event comes to mind.
“President Trump declined the invitation to throw out the first ball at the start of the baseball season. So, to substitute for the president, I thought I would nominate friends who are die-hard baseball fans. But a few of them are already gone too soon and others have just gone fishing.”
I considered the list of Presidential Succession: Pence, Ryan, Hatch, Tillerson. “Now close your eyes and try to imagine one of those guys on the mound.”
The conclusion of my unwritten baseball letter could have been, “Mr. Trump, this is a tradition for all presidents. Please, get a grip!” Then I understood why he said no. He probably couldn’t get a grip, if you follow my meaning.
United Arab Emirates
April 1, 2016
I need your help.
I have been asked to conduct a search for an Executive Director of a large and diversified Trust Fund. The position requires senior-level expertise in operations and financial management in the Real Estate and Hospitality Industries.
As a life-long registered Democrat, you can imagine my surprise when I received a personal letter from Donald Trump. This was no ordinary mailer asking for a contribution. This was a personal letter, on his personal letterhead.
Mr. Trump is optimistic and looking ahead to winning the Republican Party nomination for President. As the nominee, he wants to be a visionary when it comes to foreign affairs, especially in the area of military preparedness. Consequently, he is researching the sites of closed or abandoned military bases in order to expand our global reach and readiness.
In his search, Mr. Trump came upon my website and my travel letter and photographs from my recent visit to the abandoned World War Two United States Air Force base in Greenland. Apparently, Mr. Trump’s military advisors informed him that this remote spot in the North Atlantic has significant strategic importance. **
Just by chance, on my website, Mr. Trump also clicked on the link to “Jan’s CV.” He found that I had a long career in the Hospitality Industry. So he was interested.
April 1, 2015
Sunny and Hot
What’s the problem?
Does everyone I know in my age category seek their own personal Fountain of Youth? Has “growing old gracefully” gone completely out of fashion?
One of my friends here swears by Yoga to keep fit and mentally alert. Another friend attends weekly Buddhist meditation sessions.
One friend in China urges me to drink organic green tea. Another recommends Vitamin D supplements. One friend touts Ginkgo biloba.
One of my friends goes on an annual pilgrimage to Alaska to fish for salmon. Another friend in New York goes hunting for sharks! And does everyone and his cousin play tennis?
One friend in Florida pitches on an All Star softball team. And another volunteers all night for Neighborhood Watch. Another flies his own airplane.
Some of my friends slog to remote locations just to catch a glimpse of a rare bird. Another schlepped to South Asia and made the trek to the Base Camp of Mount Everest!
(I'm talking about Senior Citizens here.)
April 1, 2014
I haven’t mentioned this to anyone before because it was such a long shot. Astronomical, really. I never thought that I would even have a remote chance. But now …?
Last Easter, (Orthodox Easter), the USA National Aeronautical and Space Administration, NASA, in conjunction with the Russian Federal Space Agency, Федеральное космическое агентство России or the FKA, sent out a notice to several hundred travel bloggers. Including yours truly.
They were looking for an experienced traveler and travel writer to ride to the International Space Station. They wanted to transport someone talented who could write an arresting essay about their visit there. (You know. Something like the New York Times “36 Hours in Ocho Rios.”)
The requirements are quite stringent: decent physical condition, current Passport valid for at least 90 days, travel experience beyond the Caribbean, and the ability to feel comfortable in Slavic cultures. (Ha! Jan? Polatschek??)
Single and “mature” is also an advantage. Just in case anything unforeseen happens, either during the training somewhere in Kazakhstan, or during the blast-off somewhere in Siberia, or during the re-entry heat and friction somewhere in the Ukraine, or somewhere, you know, as they say at NASA, “up there.”
Well, I just got a message on my mobile phone. (How the hell did they find the number?) It’s good news. I am on the “Short List.”