Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Lifestyle: Travel Insurance - when the unthinkable happens while on vacation

Travel Insurance - when the unthinkable happens while on vacation: A tragic story

The widow saved her money to go on her dream vacation: a tour to the Holy Land. She booked her excursion trip and was really excited. Upon arriving at the hotel, jet lagged and tired, she decided to take a nice, warm shower to relax before going to bed. When she turned on the shower, a fast and heavy jet of very hot water hit her on the chest, prompting her to slip and fall inside the bathtub. She couldn't get up fast enough, and the boiling water splashed furiously on her naked body, cruelly burning her skin. When she was finally able to stop the water, she had severe burns on 70% of her body. She was eventually taken to a hospital in a country where she didn't know anyone, didn't speak the language, and was alone. When her family was notified of the tragic accident, her son flew in immediately to be at her bedside. A day later, she died of severe burn complications. Her son, lost and desolate, had to go back home alone, accompanied by the coffin  holding the mortal remains of his beloved mother. A shattered dream, a tragic event.

Having worked in travel assistance for years, this was one of the situations I never forgot. How awful for someone to die during what is supposed to be the best time of their lives, on a dream vacation? That lady had travel insurance. The son's ticket was paid for by the travel insurance, as well as the repatriation of her remains back to her country of origin. This is something you don't want to think about when booking the trip of your dreams. But unexpected and unthinkable events unfortunately occur. When purchasing travel insurance, make sure there is a hefty benefit for repatriation of mortal remains, just to be on the safe side.

What do you need to know if you or a family member suffers death while traveling abroad?

- Contact the local Embassy or Consulate immediately to report the death. The Embassy will need to issue paperwork for the remains of the deceased citizen to be shipped, and can assist with any needed investigation, body recognition, and/or referrals for an international shipping funeral agency;

 - Contact a local funeral agency (usually referred by the Embassy) - they will make arrangements for the remains to be shipped internationally, according to international standards of cargo shipping for the airlines - if the Embassy doesn't make referrals, ask the hospital case manager, or search online for an international shipping company;

- Establish a receiving funeral home at the city and country where the remains will be shipped to - the receiving funeral home will need to be in touch with the local funeral home to know when the remains will be flying and when to pick it up upon arrival at the airport;

 - Collect all personal belongings and documents from the deceased. Documents will be needed by the Embassy to issue death certificates;

- Expect the process to last at least one week. Depending on the country where the incident happened, it may take even longer. Cremation can be chosen instead of a regular shipping of mortal remains; however some countries do not have cremation facilities. Due to religious concerns and holidays, Embassies, mortuaries, and other government agencies may be closed, delaying the process. Some countries demand autopsies to be performed before embalming and preparing the remains for shipment;

- Prepare to pay a minimum of $10,000.00 for international shipment of mortal remains. This doesn't include any services at the receiving end: charges usually include embalming, container, ground transportation to/from mortuary to airport and flight transportation up to receiving airport.

Viewing, flowers, funeral services, religious services are rarely included in the repatriation of remains benefit.

If you have repatriation of mortal remains benefit included in your travel insurance, be sure this incident is a covered event. Look at the fine print to find out if the repatriation of remains benefit covers for accident and/or sickness. Some policies may only cover for accidents, and may not cover what may be considered as "natural cause" death or pre-existing conditions. You will still need to cover the costs for funeral services, viewing or anything else not covered in the transportation of the remains.
It is not a pleasant experience, and it will not be a quick process, but you need to be patient during this time of suffering and pain. Just be prepared for the unthinkable. You don't want to be caught off guard if something this tragic happens to you or your loved ones.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Books: New Indie book reviews - Henry Martin and Eric L. Olson

A couple of blog posts ago, during the author interview with Henry Martin, I mentioned I was reading his first book and would later post a review. Here you will find not only his first book's review, but also the second installment of his Mad Days of Me trilogy's review. For those who like literary fiction, Martin is a great Indie writer. And I'm also adding a review of Eric L. Olson's historical fiction book, "Dance of the Berserkers". Be adventurous and pick up one of these Indie books - all available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback versions.

Mad Days of Me: Escaping Barcelona 
Mad Days of Me: Escaping Barcelona (Henry Martin)

Where have you seen Rudy before? You wonder, while reading Escaping Barcelona. You've seen Rudy walking around aimlessly in the plazas and train stations and dark alleys of every big city. A lost, homeless, dirty young man, suspiciously provoking feelings of disgust, distrust and even fear from the passersby. The invisible scum of society, the runaway, the bum. But that's all there is for the eyes to see. What no one sees, is a tortured soul, a man in search of his destiny, questioning rules, normalcy and desperately trying to find meaning in all of it.

In Escaping Barcelona, we find a traveler - not totally comparable to the traveler in Damon Galgut's "In a Strange Room", but nonetheless possessing the same unsettling feelings when one is restless to leave, searching for what can't be found at home, and, not knowing what to expect, finding misery, horrors, the disdain of society and the cruel madness of a life without boundaries.

Interesting read, food for thought, creative and fast paced, with vivid descriptions of the city of Barcelona. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy to find out Rudy's redemption.

Mad Days of Me: Finding Eivissa 
Mad Days of Me: Finding Eivissa (Henry Martin)

This food for thought second installment in the Mad Days of Me trilogy is hard to put down. Rudy, the main character, finds hope once again, despite his unfortunate circumstances. He becomes more likeable, and because of love, his faith in humanity is somewhat restored. However, it doesn't come easy and he still has many challenges to overcome. His yearning for "normalcy" and routine sees him accepting a bizarre situation, with a woman whose past continues to haunt hear and threaten their new-found promising relationship.

Rudy's narrative reads almost like a journal, where he rambles philosophically about his emotions, feelings and uncertainties. Vivid descriptions of the island of Ibiza also transport the reader to a utopic paradise, and the cliff-hanging ending leaves you longing for more. Literary fiction at its best.

Dance of the Berserkers 
Dance of the Berserkers (Eric L. Olson)

This is a great novel by a new author, and worth reading! Especially for those who love historical fiction, since it seems the author did a lot of research. The beginning of the book stirs interesting right away, however it takes a couple of chapters to understand and start to identify all the characters in the story (mostly, for me, because a lot of their names end in "bjorn" - which became a little convoluted until I sorted out who was who).

Overall, it was a fast paced, well detailed story. I thought the "glossary" at the end for the readers to do their own research of the characters was a plus for history lovers. I would recommend this book for YA and older who love myths and history.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Poetry Review: Holes in Space - A Poetry Collection

April is National Poetry Month. Let's celebrate Poetry Month by reading some inspiring poems! It may even motivate you to write a few!

Holes in Space is a collection of poems. Love, passion, lust, heartbreak, desolation, loneliness, celebration: these are some of the themes captured in this poetry collection; reflections of time, tiny holes in an endless open space, intriguing possibilities, where anything can be accomplished with the power of words.The book features beautiful photography to illustrate the poems. It is featured on Houston Writers Guild's April newsletter as a new release ( http://us7.campaign-archive1.com/?u=8c7f242f256a7fca2a6500bd2&id=f0a3aad979.) 

Here are some reviews readers are posting about the collection (reviews originally posted on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Holes-Space-Collection-Andrea-Barbosa-ebook/dp/B00IIZ9TJ2/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=).

"This was my first book by Andrea Barbosa and found it to be well written and very inspirational too. This book is written with passion and romance. I have lots of favorites. Here's one quote from the book:

When Icarus desired to fly
he never dreamt of a Saturn V.
Majestic, it now extends, dead,
In Rocket Park, put to rest.

Reading Andrea Barbosa's poetry book felt at times like entering an enchanted garden. She makes us see the beauty of it all! I was impressed with the word choices and her deep reflections. I really enjoyed "the City Collection". I really wish there could have been more poems about different cities. Maybe in her next poetry book! Highly recommended." - by D.W.

"Andrea Barbosa is clearly a gifted poet and storyteller. The poems are listed as a series of collections, covering a wide range of topics: love, loss, lust, fear, the city and others. While some sections were short containing only one or two poems, each well-crafted individual poem left me wanting to continue on to the next. The Emotional Collection is especially poignant in that these pieces express those private and personal thoughts that are rarely conveyed in words." - by Amy Freeman

"I just love Andrea's style. Really easy to read and get into the mood of the writing. Simple eloquence describes it best." - by Cindy.

"A well written book and poems to really enjoy. If you like poetry then you will love this book. Its such an easy read and will take you away from your worries and make you feel good about yourself. A real joy!" - by Juber.

"What a wonderful collection of poems about various subjects, feelings and happenings.
Well written, very atmospheric, a joy to read and ponder about.
A must have for every collector of contemporary poetry." - by Timon.

"Holes in Space" is wonderfully written. The author seemed to take her time writing each and every word to form the sentences to form the stanzas. I was thoroughly impressed by the varied topics that she discussed As a lover of Poetry, i greatly appreciate and recommend this book. - by Marc.

"I enjoyed this book very much, my favorite poem being "Shattered Glass," which was simply beautiful! Touching on subjects such as love, loss and her tributes to others, Ms. Barbosa is a true poet with the gift of weaving words that touch the human spirit!" - by Kim.

"The authors thoughts and feelings are well expressed thru her poetry. I very much enjoyed her poem Seduction from the emotional collection." - by Walter Daymon.

"By its nature, poetry is often very intimate. The author has grouped her poetry into classifications in this gem of a small volume of 48 pages. The first grouping contains poetry of a personal nature, sensual and feminine. Another section reveals the genuine affection the author has to her cities of the heart, Rio de Janeiro and Houston. A third pays tribute to two public figures. The last is a collection of reflections on "the dark." The poetry of this latter section tells stories that, with each re-reading, one can discover new layers. Interspersed among the poems are beautiful photographs that I wish I could see enlarged. I bought the e-book version. It looks fine, but I suspect that this collection rests best in paper on a desk where the reader can retrieve it from time to time to escape the distractions of a frenetic world. I like the book's title very much. It goes well with Andrea Barbosa's novel, Massive Black Hole." - by Daniel Wetta.

"Beautiful cover, beautiful photos, beautiful and thoughtful poems! I loved the romantic ones - deep thoughts... my favorite? Hard to tell but I loved Devotion, especially the last verse!

My pulse beats
at the thoughts of your body,
getting warm, getting closer...
and the images vanish
like soft clouds up high,
transforming the colors of my rainbow
into the dark loneliness of my night. " - by Claire Lambert.

The collection is written by Andrea Barbosa and features beautiful photography by Antonio Rezzonico, Cid Bonifacio, Pitti Andrade and Joao Paulo.