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text 2017-12-31 21:18
16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 8 - Las Posadas

Tasks for Las Posadas: Which was your favorite / worst / most memorable hotel / inn / vacation home stay ever? Tell us all about it!

 

 

I think I am going to divide the honors three ways here -- and very fittingly, two of the three hotel stays in question were in Spanish speaking countries.

 

1.) Hacienda Cocoyoc near Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico

My mom, my BFF, a cousin (of sorts -- the brother of my eldest cousin's husband) and I spent a few weeks in Mexico and Guatemala over Christmas and New Year's some 20+ years ago.  This was in the days when even fax machines were still a relatively new thing (and home faxes -- which I had -- were even less common), and the internet wasn't a household commodity by any stretch of the term, so I organized the whole trip by telephone, fax, and good old mail, based on hotel recommendations from a number of trusted travel guides.  And fortunately, I totally struck gold with the place where I decided we were going to spend New Year's Eve: Hacienda Cocoyoc, as the name implies, a converted large, traditionally-built ranch with guest bungalows (new, but also in the traditional style) spread out over the estate near the main building, lush, tropical vegetation all over the place ... and the most generous, mouth-watering breakfast buffet I've ever come across, featuring everything from authentic Mexican dishes, American and English breakfast, and Continental European breakfast.  (Oh yeah, and we had fun on New Year's as well).

 

 

2.) Paradores

In the year after that trip to Mexico and Guatemala, my mom and I visited Spain.  Having by that time discovered a great travel agency not far from where I was living, this time around I chose to call on them for advice -- and boy, did they ever deliver.  The single greatest suggestion they made was for us to stay at Paradores -- hotels belonging to a (then) state-run chain and created in authentic historic buildings, such as medieval and renaissance palaces and monasteries (and even where we didn't stay at a Parador, they found hotels for us that were similarly converted historic buildings run privately as hotels).

 

Parador de Granada, a converted 15th century monastery

(not my own photos -- alas, virtually all of my photos from that trip were drowned in a basement flooded by a leaking pipe)

 

3.) Torridon Hotel, Western Ross., Scotland

Some twelve or thirteen years ago, a colleague told me he was planning to spend a few days in November in the western Scottish highlands with his girlfriend.  "Western Scotland -- in November?  You're kidding me, rigiht?" was my response.  Then he showed me the website of the hotel where he was staying ... and by the time I made plans to travel to Scotland myself a year later, he'd sung the praises of that hotel so thoroughly that I decided to check it out for myself.  Since then, I've made a point of including a stay there (even if only overnight) in pretty much every trip to Scotland taking me at least arguably in that vicinity.  For one thing, this part of the western highlands is among the most dramatic that all of Scotland has to offer, and there's things aplenty to do and see, and for another thing ... talk about getting pampered!

 

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text 2017-10-06 02:33
Galveston Capital Tourism And Marketing: Potential Zika Vaccine Protects Against Infection, Pregnancy Transmission & Testicular Damage

For the first time, a collaborative team led by The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston has shown that a potential Zika vaccine quickly can protect fetuses against infection as well as protect males against testicular infection and injury. It also prevents a lowered sperm count after one vaccination. The findings are currently available in Nature Communications.

 

Although Zika infection typically results in mild or symptom-free infections in healthy individuals, infected pregnant women without symptoms may still give birth to a baby with birth defects like microcephaly. Similarly, infected men without noticeable signs of illness may still incur testicular injury and lowered sperm count. The Zika virus could infect the male reproductive system for several months, posing risk for sexual transmission.

 

“This study showed, for the first time, that a single-dose vaccine candidate could prevent Zika infection in non-human primates, block mother-to-fetus transmission, and stop male testis infection in mice,” said UTMB’s Pei-Yong Shi, senior author and the I.H. Kempner professor at the department of biochemistry and molecular biology. “Besides quickly mounting a protective immune response, this live-attenuated vaccine exhibited an excellent safety profile in both mouse and non-human primate models. Taken together, the results suggest that this vaccine merits further development in humans.”

 

“Having a Zika vaccine that can protect male reproductive systems, pregnant women and their unborn babies would improve public health efforts to avoid birth defects and other effects of the disease in regions where Zika is circulating,” said Pedro Vasconcelos, director of Evandro Chagas Institute in Brazil and co-developer of this vaccine. “It’s important to note that a single-dose vaccine is practically important; vaccines that require booster shots are impractically challenging for people living in developing regions where access to medical facilities may be limited.”

 

Other authors include UTMB’s Chao Shan, Antonio Muruato, Bruno Nunes, Daniele Medeiros, Xuping Xie, Jannyce Nunes, Alan Barrett, Scott Weaver and Shannan Rossi; Justin Richner, Brett Jagger and Michael Diamond from Washington University School of Medicine; Kaitlyn Morabito, Wing-Pui Kong, Barney Graham and Theodore Pierson from the National Institutes of Health as well as Pedro Vasconcelos from Evandro Chagas Institute, Ministry of Health, Parå State University, Brazil.

 

The National Institutes of Health, UTMB, The University of Texas System, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Pan American Health Organization and the Kleberg Foundation, supported this work.

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