Living Donors Meeting to Attempt Guinness World Record

As a grateful recipient of a liver transplant I hope you will consider sending this to friends who may be interested in this important event to promote life saving organ donation.

Gathering of living donors in Chicago.

This event is being hosted by living donors for living donors with the support of Transplant Village, supporters of Northwestern Medicine’s Comprehensive Transplant Center. You do not need to be an organ donor to attend, all organ donation enthusiasts are welcome!

Transplant Village strives to connect the transplant community, and as such, is pleased that the following organizations will be represented at our event!

American Association of Kidney Patients

American Liver Foundation

American Living Organ Donor Fund

COTA

Eversight Illinois

Gift of Hope

Gifts of Gratitude: Kidney and Transplant Jewelry

Living Kidney Donor Network

National Kidney Foundation of IL

National Kidney Registry

Northwestern Medicine

Organ Transplant Support Inc.

IL Secretary of State | Life Goes On

Team IL/Transplant Life Illinois

Transplant Games of America- IL

Transplant Support Group of Northern Illinois

First of its kind.

Ayo Curacao

Kura Hulanda Museum

Houses painted in colors washed with my blood; fragments of heart under the icy sun of mid day.

Charles Carrere

 

Little did we know that yesterday was one of four Curacao holidays, “Carnival Monday”.  Streets were empty and everything, everything was closed.  So this morning we hightailed over to the Kura Hulanda Slave Trade museum.

 

From the origin of man to West African empires…..
…… Through the middle passage to the Americas

Museum Kurá Hulanda is an anthropological museum that focuses on the predominant cultures of Curacao. It offers a world-class chronicle of the Origin of Man, the African slave trade, West African Empires, Pre-Colombian gold, Mesopotamian relics and Antillean art.

 

What a shocking experience.  My exposure to the horrors of slavery are through the lens of an American experience.  What happened on our soil.  I was un-informed about slave trade which the Dutch used to profit from 500,000 human beings.

 

The Entrance courtyard

 

A Time Line of the Middle Passage

 

 

Once through the courtyard were a compound of buildings housing the exhibits.  The buildings themselves, artifacts.

Slave prison of Maison D’esclavage of Goree Island, Dakar

 

Bruha (witches) hut used to take care of whipped and sick slaves

 

As we were departing, we were stopped by one of the employees, Yflen Florentina, she asked if we had seen certain items, some of which we had not.  She grabbed us and took us on a whirlwind walk, talking all the time and providing incredible narrative that brought pieces of the collection into stark and vivid reality.

 

 

Here she holds a brand used to identify a human being as the property of a “master”.

 

 

Venice was a slave trading hub and the origin of the “Blackamoors

 

The hold of a slave ship.

 

”. . . Mr. Ebbers was indeed peculiarly tyrannical, tormenting a boy of about fourteen, called Cadety, . . . by alternately flogging him for one month, then keeping him  laid down flat on his back with his feet in the stocks for another than making him wear a pot-hook around his neck, to prevent him from escaping or sleeping . .”

 

According to Yflen, the Catholic church derived profit from the trade as well by insisting owners pay the church to grant priesthood to one slave who would then baptize the “savages” into the church.  Here the robes of a slave priest.

 

These manacles were used to chain one arm to the opposite foot.  Inscription reads –

“I come from the niggeryard of yesterday leaping from the oppressor’s hate and the scorn of myself.”

Martin Carter

And it keeps on going (click to enlarge)

 

 

Curacao Carnival

What can you say except “a picture is worth a thousand words”.

Strongly encourage you click on photos to see full pixels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Walk Through Willemstad

After a long morning sipping coffee, we headed out to walk Willemstad.  First a stroll through our neighborhood, Otrabanda, and the many blocks of restored Dutch Colonial homes.  Otrabanda, the harbor, and, Punda the neighborhood across the harbor, are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Here are some restored Otrabanda  homes.  As always, click on pics to enlarge.

 

A Pair in Gray and Ink Blue

 

Italian Influence, Once a Composers Home

 

 

Some in the Midst of Revival

 

 

 

 

 

Or Keeping Out an Eagle Eye

 

 

Full of Filigree

 

 

Coral, Ink Blue, Goldenrod

 

 

Then others, the result of an Art Project, “Rasta Car Wash”

 

 

 

From Otrabanda we cross the harbor on the Queen Emma pontoon bridge to Punda.  The bridge swings open and closed on a hinge positioned on the Otrabanda shore, powered from a motor on the Punda side.  The bridge house flys a blue flag for a “full open” of the bridge which takes 30 minutes and allows tankers and large ships to enter, and orange, a “half open”, for small pilot boats.  Here is the flag pole next to the captain’s bridge house.   Blue up, orange down and vice-versa.

 

 

 

Here is a view from Punda of a “full open” bridge awaiting passage of a container ship.

 

 

 

After the ship slips through, the bridge slowly pivots back.

 

 

Once in place, the flexible but firm locking mechanism is testament to Dutch engineering.

 

 

Punda is home to the famed line of Dutch buildings, a picture on every Curacao website.

 

 

 

 

Even the Dutch architectural appendage to move furniture in and out of buildings is present in Curacao.

 

 

Punda is lined with small streets, home to mostly junky shops and the occasional high-end diamond store.

 

 

There are also small surprises like this clock with exposed bells.

 

 

Closer to shore, government buildings line the streets.  Here the Politie, just an extra “I” from being “Polite”.  And the multi-party Parliament building.

 

 

 

We found a great seaside spot for lunch and watched this tanker make its way into harbor.

 

 

An after lunch walk through Punda with vivid Curacao fabrics.

 

 

We wound down our day hoping to see the Mikve Israel Synagogue, the oldest operating in the Western Hemisphere.  Unfortunately, vacation mode made us lose track of days and we didn’t realize it was Saturday and they were closed.  It’s on the list for Monday.

 

 

 

Tomorrow is Carnival, who knows what we’ll see.

 

 

Alarm Clock

If we practice finding beauty today, we’ll find twice as much beauty tomorrow. If we work on forgiveness today, tomorrow we may be free of resentments.

I am working on forgiving the rooster who stopped by very early, announced his presence, and then strutted off, the cock of the walk.

 

 

Piercing the Willemstad Labyrinth

Welcome to Willemstad,  that is if you can locate your accommodations.  Equipped with Google Maps and the best of intention, we still ended up at a structure bearing the word demencia in its name.  I quickly understood their services when I asked for directions and had to be buzzed through a locked entrance.  Willemstad is old, very old.  Our neighborhood, Otrabanda is considered the “newer” section having been established in 1707, filled with winding streets many no more than a one-way alley.  Living quarters are small, with decaying exteriors but still bearing color washes of the Caribbean.  Everyone lives behind a wall.

 

 

 

 

Narrow streets filled with Afro-Dutch locals give way to crumbling buildings sidled next to restored structures.

 

 

 

 

I took a walk to the local market to pick up coffee and happened upon the Queen Emma pontoon bridge swinging open.

 

 

Our quarters are deep in the hood with an enclosed courtyard sporting some lush tropical flora and fauna.

 

We have a few days here and will share our explorations of the World Heritage sights.

Terra Firma/Terra Mare

 

This post is a day late but hopefully not a dollar short.  We were without electricity for a good portion of the morning and afternoon yesterday.  The internet link went down but never came back on even though the electric found its way to our home.  Ying/Yang of being in a beautiful, remote location.

 

Yesterday, the major activity was a walk on terra firma to the dive shop for a snorkeling excursion terra mare.

The dive shop was your typical, thatched roof sandy hut with a few license plates posted for good measure.

 

 

The kind helpful folks on duty provided the goggles and fins and demonstrated that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

 

 

Then after the ever so important “roll-call” (done at the end of each dive to ensure no one left behind), we were off to the boat..

The two-hour excursion took us to three different dive sites.  One, the Blue Room accessible only by diving under the cliff edge and into a domed cave carved out of the bluff.

 

 

The next stop was a shipwreck with its propeller still in place, quickly being homesteaded by brain coral.

 

The last stop was in a shallow bay, home to several fishing boats.  After their morning catch, the fisherman clean their bounty in the bay and toss the resulting chum overboard gladly eaten by a group (family?) of sea turtles.  By nature, the turtles are vegetarian and do not act as predators but when a meal is prepared and served up like delivery from GrubHub, they happily partake.  Two of them seemed to befriend me and we floated together synching in rhythm, up and down, surfacing for a turtle gulp of air.  We swam together for about 15 minutes, just turtles and me.  At one point their backs were close enough to touch, so close I could see detail of their exquisite shell markings.  My emotions swirled as we swam, effortless and buoyant, so grateful they agreed to share their habitat with humans.  I think it must be the same feeling one has seeing the lion or elephant on the Serengeti – but in the Mare, the sea turtle.

 

To top all of this, we had a friend fly in proving that a bird in the kitchen may have a better snack than the bird in the hand.

 

 

The Pot at the End of the Rainbow

 

First is the faith of a pot that is turned upside down. This pot can’t receive anything that is poured into it.

Second, we have the pot with holes in it. This one will be able to gather whatever is poured into it, but only temporarily.

Third is the pot that is right side up. It collects and retains all that it receives.

–Buddhist Teaching

Good Morning

 

Good morning, or as they say in Papiamento, “Bon dia”.  I wake every morning and the first thought of the day is gratefulness.  My touchstone is a simple bracelet that says, “Liver Transplant, July 20, 2017, Call 312-695-8900”.  Those few words encapsulate what I am grateful for.  A donor who did not go gentle into that good night, the date I was transformed from  certain death to life, and a telephone number where those on the other end of the line are most likely creating another miracle at this moment.   Much to be grateful for.  And here I am relishing the gift of beauty, nature, peace, and friendship.   To me this is “icing on the cake” grateful.