Southwest Europe’s Surfing Peaks at Easter

Southwest Europe’s Surfing Peaks at Easter

“We can breathe again, so we have found our voice again, but our neighbours are not so lucky yet, but hopefully soon we will all learn that liberty cannot be taken away by a medical intervention that is not based on good medical evidence (clinical evidence)”, medical specialist and medical director. “It is like a wave, some have freedom now, some don’t, it comes and goes, but like the famous song goes, if one of us is in chains, we are all in chains, we need to ask questions, speak up, protect those without a voice, so that this pattern stops”, medical specialist, expert in the field. “I have survived the pandemic only because I surfed and windsurfed most days, so I could have normal, where the world made sense, where truth and beauty lead”, GP.

Further to recently travelling along the south coast of Iberia, travelling west then north along the coast in Portugal, mid Algarve to Ponta de Sagres and then north along the coast to Cabo Ortegal, Spain, and along the northern Spanish coast to San Sebastian then Biarritz in France and finally along the Pyrenees mountains to Banyuls-sur-Mer and the beautiful D914 to the border of Spain, and along the Mediterranean coast in France towards Italy, we observed significant variations in culture, unique beauty and opportunities, along with excellent surf.

One of the reasons for our trip was to meet with colleagues in the south of Iberia to discuss child mental health needs and services. We have worked with interpreters since 2004; for instance, we have seen children in the UK, children with families or unaccompanied minors, from Asia, Africa and Europe, language is never a barrier for doctors. Many of the areas where we have offered services have various local languages and dialects, language cannot prevent children from an effective and user-friendly service. Many of our patients, children or adults, are also non-verbal, however mental health and risk assessments can still be completed, as most communication is non-verbal. Doctors who offer services in different countries and cultures often benefit as much as the communities where they work, because with every patient or local colleague they learn something new.

We share our observations and areas of extraordinary beauty as requested:

Every country or area presents with strengths and weaknesses, which vary, depending on time, seasons, environment, leadership and many other factors.

Some Strengths: We could not spend a significant amount of time in most places, especially northern Spain, but would recommend the trip with a focus on ocean, mountains, nature and camping.

Portugal

Extraordinary beautiful coast, roaring ocean in too many areas to mention

Around Lagos – snorkel, caves, rock formations as dramatic as in Thailand or Greece

Ponta de Sagres – uniquely beautiful and excellent walking

Zambujeira do Mar – beautiful surf

Odeceixe – beautiful surf

Estoril and Cascais – as above

Praia de Guincho – as above

Supertubos beach south of Peniche – excellent beach and casual dining

Pinhal de Leiria north of Nazare (fire destroyed some of the area north, but the beauty remains)

Spain

Cabo Fisterra close to Santiago de Compostela – dramatic and beautiful

Cabo Ortegal (north) – most extraordinary route – arrive very early

France

Beautiful Petites Pyrenees – take the smaller mountain roads such as the D117 towards St-Martin-Lys

The D914 between Coullioure and the border of Spain (Mediterranean coast) is extraordinary with excellent diving and snorkelling opportunities

Windsurfing between St Cyprien-Plage and Canet-Plage (30C)

Further north of Perpignan – horse riding

Kitesurfing south of Port-la-Nouvelle

Driving east along the coast to Marseille (excellent seafood), Toulon and along the D98 to Cap Camarat (excellent walks) towards Juan-les-Pins (excellent Jazz festival in Summer – our favourite performance was New Orleans’s Preservation Hall Jazz Band in 2014 or 2015) and then to Menton filled with orange blossoms in Spring.

General Observations:

• We arrived from outside of the EU and the first thing we noticed as different compared to many other countries was the opportunities for wonderful and simple fish dishes; most eat fish twice a week at least.

• Salsa is a common theme in Latin America, Florida, Portugal and Spain. We heard salsa music all over Portugal, the Portugese islands and Spain. The only difference is that most people danced in Latin America. We are connected by music and food. This is often the turning point when we meet with refugee children or unaccompanied minors – our joint interest in food and music – how many connect with communities. Food is a wonderful theme. We enjoyed wonderful local cheese and breads from Portugal to Spain and to France and Italy. There is no better way to experience the terroir, the climate, the culture than talking to people, sharing food and music, and often, dancing, or in Portugal, surfing. Culture around food is educational. Most say that they always arrive too early for food in Spain (arriving at 5-6pm, but waiting for dinner served from 8pm often in the areas we visited) and too early in France (lunch often ends at 2pm or 3pm).

• Most of the markets were indoors in Spain and Portugal, but outdoors in sunshine in France during this trip.

• Portugal and Spain provided wonderful shows of blooming flowers, Azaleas, Rhododendron and Magnolias. Portugal was more or less 17-23C along the coast, towards the northern coast in Spain more or less 17C, and in France 25-28C away from the coast with blooming Lilacs. Witnessing the changes in temperatures and subsequent changes in nature, the ocean and blooming flowers is reason enough for this trip in Spring, before the waves calm slightly.

• Sailing, snorkelling, diving, surfing, kayaking, biking, camping, walking, hiking, running opportunities everywhere along the coast.

We are frequently asked, since early 2020, by patients, their families and colleagues what we suggest in terms of “travel opportunities to recover health” or “travel opportunities to keep health up”.

We usually recommend areas where:

1. Good clinical evidence is followed at all times.

2. Clinical thinking or approaches, based on clinical (medical) training, clinical experience and good clinical evidence is adhered to, along with laws relating to capacity, confidentiality, liberty and autonomy.

3. Protective factors for general and mental health, based on good clinical evidence, are adhered to, such as normalcy and prioritising education relating to health and safety for children and adults. Areas where education is prioritised in the context of the pandemic are usually associated with calm and positive individuals within the general public and medical profession. Calm and positive mental states usually lead to good health and mental health and reduced risk.

Crossing Borders:

We arrived in Iberia from the abroad and no passengers were asked about recent symptoms, recent positive tests or recent contact with individuals with symptoms or positive tests on our 7-14 day journey to Europe. We were however informed that “masks have to be worn everywhere” in Iberia.

In Portugal and Spain every shop or business owner asked individuals who have medical exemption for face masks why they are not wearing masks and then for proof of medical exemption (a GP letter). This is not a pattern we observed in any other European country or country where face mask exemption was accepted. Most were not aware that medical exemption was possible and needed to see the government web page, which was shown. Shop or business owners informed us of how “stressful” it was to “have to enforce masks”. It was reported that “many became aggressive when masks are not worn, some faint, some run to the corner of the shop, people call each other murderer, it is a nightmare, people tattle on each other like it is war”, shop owner. Most agreed that “we know that masks are not backed by good research (good clinical evidence) and that the things that have good research behind it like education is not done”, shop owner. Many reported that they did not know that they could get medical exemption for face masks, and said that they avoided shops or anywhere where they have to wear a mask, and sometimes ask friends for favours, many said “it has disabled us”, veteran.

We observed that most individuals did not cover their mouths when sneezing or coughing, and that most restaurants served individuals with significant symptoms of colds and flu (the culture is not to remain at home if significant symptoms from our observations during this trip). Many reported that they were “extremely sad to see what has happened to this world with everyone in masks, and no one any wiser on how to keep healthy”, GP.

We observed a significant sense of fear in the areas were travelled in Portugal and Spain, less so in the south of Portugal, but much more so compared to France or other areas in Europe where masks are not compulsory. “For some, if you wear a mask or see a mask your emergency signals go off, you know something is really wrong, and you go in stress mode, you know nothing is normal, so when masks stop, people relax and become hopeful sometimes, and that helps more to keep you healthy than a mask, and people also leave their homes, because they have avoided life with masks – I say this because I see people in clinic every week who hate themselves, because they cannot cope with masks, and if people know it is ok and many feel this way, that it doesn’t make them abnormal, this protects many people, so we need to be honest with what we see in clinic, this is how we protect people and our jobs as doctors are to protect people’s health – I know doctors would never have gotten ethical approval to masks people for a research study, so it is interesting that this happened so fast and so vast, even though it has no good evidence backing it”, GP.

Colleagues avoided hotels or shops and remained in areas or engaged in activities where masks were not mandatory, such as camping, biking, walking or surfing.

Colleagues reported “extreme joy to reach France where we can breathe again”, medical specialist. “I can breathe again” is a phrase we hear very often from patients and colleagues. It is interesting to observe the noticeable change in anxiety crossing into France; face masks are not mandatory, are worn by less than 5% from our observation, most are calm and positive, laughing with friends and making jokes.

As we have mentioned before, statistics support the approach regarding masks taken by countries in Asia in early 2020, such as Singapore, and countries who have subsequently taken steps to prioritise good clinical evidence, education, liberty, autonomy and normalcy.

“I hope this wave that we are seeing where countries are dropping restrictions and returning to normal reaches us too, because we need it, having no normal, no choice, no freedom (“we have no freedom or choice to wear masks, this now year 3″, GP) for going onto 3 years now is wrong on so many levels, and it hurts people’s health, mental health and safety, but people remain quiet, doctors remain quiet, courts remain quiet, is it too much to ask to follow good clinical evidence and to respect laws relating to liberty, autonomy, confidentiality, capacity, protecting adults and children taking a systemic view – we need people who care and understand these things, with training and experience, to stand up, speak up, make their voices heard, medical opinions clear, this is an international problem, we need to work together”, medical specialist and medical director.

#Sea #Coast #Ocean #Surfing #Diving #Waves #Portugal #Spain #France #Health #Children #MentalHealth #Interpreter #Communication #calm #positive #flowers #camping #Jazz #music #salsa #food #travel

Europe: Lack of Normalcy linked to Fear

Europe: Lack of Normalcy linked to Fear

“If we can’t have normal or freedom or choice, we live in constant fear, and fear, if it goes on and on, makes us sick, we all know this”, medical nurse.

“Deprivation of liberty, autonomy and normalcy will always be linked to increased general and mental health morbidity, mortality and social risk”, medical specialist, 20 years experience.

We returned to Europe recently from the Americas.

On our arrival in Europe, border crossings posed no questions regarding recent clinical symptoms or clinical signs, recent confirmed contact or positive tests, which are clinically appropriate and based on clinical reasoning, training and experience, along with good clinical evidence in a health crisis related to respiratory infections. However, we were informed that face masks must be worn by everyone at all times, which is an approach we have not observed for more or less 3 months in other developed and developing countries. Face masks have never been associated with good clinical evidence in the general public, as many doctors have warned since March 2020. Most medical doctors recommend that only good clinical advice is followed in a health crisis.

We were informed that “the state of emergency continues and face masks must be worn at all times, and we, shop owners, are told we have to check up and tell people they have to do it and can’t come in otherwise, it causes a lot of fights, it scares people, and sadness”, shop owner.

Medical colleagues recommend that countries either agree that this state of emergency is over and discontinue all mandates, or state that it is not over and follow all recommendations based on good clinical evidence; “it makes no clinical sense to force people to wear masks, but not ask about positive tests, symptoms or contacts, honestly, it is not congruent with a health crisis, either it is one or it isn’t”… “we can’t pick and choose, most now say it is over, since September”, medical specialist.

We recently liaised with contacts who travelled across Europe from the east to the west through many nations; “we keep a record of what we see and most countries don’t make a fuss about masks now, because we all know it is politics, but some think it is magic, that it is all you need, I wish I had a magic see-through mask, then I can have a normal life and a happy life”, medical professional and professional driver.

“We just arrived in Europe from America and no one asked us about the people with us who tested positive or if we have symptoms or if we had tests ourselves, and many did, many with us tested positive, but they force you to wear masks in a big airy hall with no one there, it makes no sense at all, not clinical sense anyway, this hurts a lot of people and for too long, it is not right, we should treat people with dignity which starts with following good clinical evidence and you can’t force people to do things that make no sense”, GP.

“I went to the southwest of Europe but because I found no normal, I rather avoided hotels and shops, and camped, then went on to France, where I found a lot of normal, all normal, then north, for me, I need normal now, more than ever”, ITU consultant.

“It is funny, people and nations now show you who they are, do they choose good evidence, do they choose fear, do they choose control or do they have courage to stand up and do the right thing now, to audit numbers, to give people education, choice and freedom, return their normal life so that they can have health and sanity again, these patterns have said everything I ever needed to know about where I want to spend my future. We show each other who we are in times of crisis, much more so than when things are going well, and the tough, the smart, those who can understand, assess, manage risk, think big picture, make difficult decisions that will protect, they will be remembered. Many pretend to be tough and leaders, but they are not. Those who asked questions, curious, went the extra mile to follow good evidence for the sake of the people who will be in chains otherwise, who did not govern with fear, we will remember them, for they are the true leaders”, medical director, 20 years clinical experience.

The UK ended all restrictions relating to this outbreak including passenger locator forms. Many other countries also offer normalcy, liberty and autonomy such as in Asia, as previously mentioned, since January 2020, and Europe, Sweden (from the start to a significant extent) and France (before most other European countries). We thank you for your efforts to prioritise evidence-based protective factors for general health and mental health for the general public of all ages. We also thank you for following good clinical evidence when considering risk assessments and management plans.

We would recommend travelling to or in nations where:

1. The general public is educated in terms of respiratory and general infections.

2. The general public is offered choice (autonomy), liberty and normalcy.

3. The general public is mostly calm and positive, where no illness theme or theme of fear exists.

4. Your or the medical doctor has the final say about impression and recommendations for your general health and mental health. Medical and mental health advice should be patient specific from medical doctors with medico-legal responsibility for their recommendations and actions.

This in our specialist opinion will contribute to general health and mental health. As always, we always recommend that you follow the local laws and policies of nations or organisations.

Countries included in this list are for instance France, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Croatia, Czech Republic, the UK, Ireland and now the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, and the areas we visited in Mexico, Belize and Honduras. Please feel free to email us for more specific information. States in America also offer wonderful opportunities for normalcy and good health such as Florida. Individuals mostly over 75 in Florida spoke at length of how important normalcy, liberty and autonomy will always be for health and mental health.

“I will always remember the countries that gave us light in these dark days and years, the countries that offered us normal and freedom and choice, the three words everyone is talking about”, medical specialist.

“We will change rules over Easter only means we don’t make decisions based on clinical reasoning, but it is political, as no virus sends a memo that it will change what it is doing over Easter. We do a risk assessment, based on the findings, we act now, this is evidence-based risk management”, medical specialist.

“What I need for my own health and mental health is freedom, choice and normal”, ITU consultant, 40 years clinical experience.

In the USA “Twenty-one states with Republican attorneys general sued Tuesday to halt the federal government’s requirement that people wear masks on planes, trains, ferries and other public transportation amid the coronavirus pandemic.” https://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/florida-states-challenge-cdc-transit-mask-rule-83746002

#UK #Europe #travel #tourist #normalcy #camping #Easter #health

Florida’s Peace

Florida’s Peace

This photograph was taken on South Beach, Miami, Florida, USA. This board also reminds people of the importance of safeguarding children between regular advertisements.

“People forget that freedom and peace are linked, people forget we need to educate and then give people choice, people forget we fought and died for a normal life for our children, where we don’t live in fear or in chains, where everyone can do what they believe they need for happiness, health and safety, which is the definition of normal, your normal and my normal don’t have to be the same, but they are equally important – normal keeps us sane”, veteran, age 85 on his Harley Davidson.

We left for the Americas in December 2021. We have experienced normalcy, liberty, autonomy and the general public well educated in terms of respiratory infections and professionals regarding good clinical evidence for 3 months. Statistics support these evidence-based approaches. Most agree that this viral outbreak is now “similar risk or less dangerous than the seasonal flu”, medical colleague.

We liaised with people from various cultural, political and socio-economic backgrounds in Florida, many with military backgrounds. We also liaised with individuals from other states such as New York, or other countries such as Canada or in Africa, Asia or Europe. We met people from Europe and UK almost daily. Most reported that they “came for the freedom”, medical doctor from Europe. Many returned to the UK and France when restrictions were lifted and said that they will treasure their kindness; “we will not forget that they stopped taking away freedom, when it was so easy to continue like many other places”, GP.

We can strongly recommend holidays in Florida at the moment. We have found much calm, compassion and positive energy in Florida. There is no illness theme or theme of fear, as per our observations, much like in Latin America. We spent a significant amount of time on both coasts along with the cities and neighbouring areas.

We thank you Florida for your kindness and for contributing to the immediate, short term and long term general and mental health of individuals of all ages by choosing to follow good clinical evidence.

#Florida #normalcy #evidence #tourists #travel #peace #freedom #happiness #families #children

Mexico

Mexico

We left for the Americas in December 2021. We have experienced normalcy, liberty, autonomy and the general public well educated in terms of respiratory infections and professionals regarding good clinical evidence for 3 months. Statistics support these evidence-based approaches. Most agree that this viral outbreak is now “similar risk or less dangerous than the seasonal flu”, medical colleague.

In Mexico, south east coastal areas, we were met with much kindness. We observed great gentleness within most people. People spoke about the importance of family, spending time together and that Sundays were spent picnicking at the beach with family. The food was excellent. “We value the best things in life, kind people, good food, it must be very good, salsa and salsa, food and dancing, and culture, telling stories, learning through stories, and being part of the community”, business owner.

We have observed that many cultures, nations or areas in Latin America have their own unique salsa dance, this is a fond topic of conversation and a wonderful experience where families and individuals from age 8-98 join in before or after dinner. Musicians often say before they start a song “this salsa is from eg Puerto Rico (or elsewhere). One dance that connects us all.

Mexico’s beauty will be remembered, in the people, in dance, and in nature.

We thank you Mexico.

#LatinAmerica #Mexico #travel #gentle #food #kindness #dance #salsa #families

Belize

Belize

We left for the Americas in December 2021. We have experienced normalcy, liberty, autonomy and the general public well educated in terms of respiratory infections and professionals regarding good clinical evidence for 3 months. Statistics support these evidence-based approaches. Most agree that this viral outbreak is now “similar risk or less dangerous than the seasonal flu”, medical colleague.

People spoke to us of the importance of equality and sharing good food; “good food, the best quality, is shared by the rich and the poor, we all eat good food”, boat operator for tourists. We were shown how the food was prepared and we tasted the most memorable chilli seafood cooked with lime. We will return for the people, and the food.

Many move to Belize for the diving, snorkelling, boating or good weather, however, most spoke of how kind people were, which is why they stayed.

We thank you Belize.

#Belize #LatinAmerica #diving #snorkelling #boating #seafood

Honduras

Honduras

We left for the Americas in December 2021. We have experienced normalcy, liberty, autonomy and the general public well educated in terms of respiratory infections and professionals regarding good clinical evidence for 3 months. Statistics support these evidence-based approaches. Most agree that this viral outbreak is now “similar risk or less dangerous than the seasonal flu”, medical colleague.

People spoke with much compassion about the importance of protecting animals that have been treated with cruelty and showed us examples of pumas, parrots and sea turtles. Many spoke of how important family was and that the animals became part of the family; “we saved each other”, manager and father of four.

Many visit Honduras for the beautiful beaches and warm oceans, wonderful diving and snorkelling on the famous reef in the area – we understand the 2d largest reef. We experienced much kindness by divers enthusiastically offering to show us the best sites and their “favourite fish”. We will return for the people.

We thank you Honduras.

#Honduras #Americas #LatinAmerica #animals #rescue #beaches #ocean #snorkelling #diving #kindness