Thoughts on quirky news and life in Buenos Aires and Washington, DC

Bad English can kill

The Telegraph reports:

Vera Mol, 17, died in August 2015 when she jumped from a viaduct on a highway in Cantabria as part of a group trip organised by a local adventure sports company.

The girl had misunderstood an instruction from the instructor to “No jump” as “Now jump”, when he in fact intended to say “don’t jump”, the judge wrote in the ruling reported by EuropaPress.

The director of the company will now face prosecution for homicide through negligence, after appealing a court ruling last year. The appeal had argued that the teenager had jumped before she was told to.

But the appeal judge said the instructor’s level of English was not sufficient to be guiding foreigners in “something as delicate as jumping into the void from an elevated point”.

Brush up on your English or your boss may face criminal prosecution!

Genoa airport relaxes security rules to allow pesto on planes

From UPI:

The Genoa, Italy, airport issued a new rule starting June 1, which allows passengers to take up to 500 grams of pesto onto their flights. Airport security is waiving the usual 100 milliliter limit for liquids, if those passengers make a donation to Flying Angels, a children’s healthcare charity.

Pesto-bearing passengers also need to get an official sticker on their jars before they go through any security checkpoint. Once at security, guards will scan the liquid with equipment otherwise used to check medicines brought onto flights.

When you’ve got to eat pasta al pesto, you’ve got to eat pasta al pesto.  It’s good for you.  Have some more!

Back from Eastern Med

Hello readers!  Cheblogudo is back from a long-ish vacation in Israel and Cyprus (see pics below).  Before we get back to our regular programming (plenty of odd news in the pipeline), here are a few travel notes in chronological order.

Zurich: didn’t really see much of the Swiss financial capital, but the city center seemed elegant, orderly, clean and safe (also less expensive than expected).  Hopefully, Switzerland will be a destination in its own right in the near future.

Tel Aviv: an enjoyable and welcoming Mediterranean city.  Would recommend.  The  white sandy beaches seem to go on forever.  Still safe from mass tourism, although this looks like it’s changing based on the ubiquitous American accents on those beaches.  Be prepared to hear such visitors refer to the Mediterranean as “the ocean” again and again.  Room for improvement: food tends to be overpriced and unremarkable (with the notable exception of spicy shakshuka); getting around is more complicated than it needs to be (no Uber, except after sundown and on Shabbat).  Pro tip: security lines at Ben Gurion Airport are actually not as bad as expected based on internet complaints (security for two different outbound flights took under half an hour each time), but be prepared for some very personal questions (give the agents the benefit of the doubt, as whatever they’re doing has resulted in a perfect safety record since the ’70s).

Jerusalem: a once in a lifetime experience.  Further visits may not be necessary.   Walking around the thousand-year-old streets of the aptly named (and very compact) Old Town is unique and exciting, especially for New World types.  But it’s hard to shake off the religious Disneyland vibe created by modern kitsch peddlers.  Favorite attraction: the Tower of David, a multi-layered fortress housing a thoroughly informative history museum.

Nicosia: the last divided capital in the world.  Although, quite frankly, it’s hard to see why a sweltering provincial-looking small town has stirred up so much passion.  Pros: the food – delicious and surprisingly cheap for an EU country.  Cons: everything else.   Favorite (and pretty much only) attraction: crossing the border on foot between the Greek and Turkish-controlled parts of town.  Pro tip: the omnipresent graffiti will provide unique conversation topics (some examples below).


Mario Karts stir up controversy in Tokyo

When Cheblogudo was in Tokyo last year, it was hard not to notice the go-kart drivers in colorful costumes at many downtown intersections (see picture below).  The culture war surrounding them was less obvious, but the Wall Street Journal is at long last shedding some light on it:

A new business here takes advantage of Mario Kart’s popularity and loose regulations on go-karts to offer self-driving tours of Tokyo and other cities, with costumes of characters from the game provided. The company, MariCar, says it books thousands of trips a month and most of the customers are non-Japanese.


Groups of MariCar drivers have become a common sight in downtown Tokyo, zipping through the shopping district of Shibuya or across Rainbow Bridge in Tokyo Bay. U.S. military personnel based in Japan are among the customers. Videos of MariCar riders spotted in Tokyo have been posted online by visiting celebrities Kim Kardashian and Hugh Jackman. (Watch those videos here and here.)

Rides are led by a guide and participants are asked not to race each other or throw banana peels or other items from the game onto the street.

The red karts and colorful outfits stand out among the mostly white, gray and black cars on the orderly streets of Tokyo, ranked by the Economist Intelligence Unit think tank as the safest city in the world in part because of a low level of deadly traffic incidents.

Foreign tourists are loving it.  Locals (and most of all taxi drivers), not so much.

“They really are a nuisance,” said Akio Arinaka, a Tokyo-based taxi driver in his 60s, of the costume-clad MariCar riders. “When I see them driving close by it’s scary, especially since they drive in large groups.”

Photo: Cheblogudo

Seen in Nicosia

The TRNC has marked its territory

Greek Nicosia

Ledra Street, the main drag in the Greek zone

Sidewalks are impossibly narrow, even without cars parked on them

Hope springs eternal

Piatsa Gourounaki. You should eat here

Everyone’s a little bit racist

Something to brag about?

What did the dolphins ever do to you?

Or take Advil

Main drag in Turkish zone

The Great Inn, a landmark in the Turkish zone

I prefer real food

You can’t always get what you want

My girl Friday

Our Lady of Phaneromenis

Military border post

Checkpoint Ledras


Venetian bastion

Seen in Jerusalem

Cheblogudo haggled for this and got the price down from 20 shekels to 11

The heart of Dixie in the heart of Jerusalem

The metal detector is taking the day off?

Seen in Tel Aviv


Same Fiorello, different context

Jesus saves. Moses delivers?

Driving and parking on the sidewalk are ubiquitous

To each his own


Car on Embassy Row (HaYarkon)

On the side of the British Embassy

All stop signs look like this