...Continued from yesterday:
...we returned to the Hale Koa, the lobby of which was set up with the local crafts vendors who bring their wares to hotel two mornings a week.
We decided to meet up again in the lobby around noon,
…then walk into downtown Waikiki,
…and get lunch at an ABC Store.
...just about anything one might find oneself in need of.
On Tom's and my last visit to Waikiki in 2017 we discovered an ABC Store not far from the Hale Koa,
...that has a wonderful deli that sells all kinds of great lunch options,
And so it was to this ABC Store that we headed.
...then we walked back to a park next to the Hale Koa,
...of poke bowls.
To be continued...
...Continued from yesterday:
The following morning, Wednesday morning, we met just before sunrise in the lobby of the Hale Koa,
...before leaving at 6 am for a morning of snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, located on the east shore of Oahu and by reputation the best snorkeling beach on the island.
Fortunately for us the daily congestion had not yet taken over the streets of Waikiki,
...or the highways, and the trip to the east shore took us about half an hour.
Hanauma Bay is a state park with a $7.50-per-peron entrance fee; however since we arrived before 7 am we didn't have to pay the fee.
And so at 6:30 am we tromped down to the beach,
Our first view of Hanauma Bay in the early morning light.
We were treated to some breath-taking panoramas during our hike down into the deep basin of the beach,
...such as the coral reefs, visible beneath the water.
Hanauma Bay beach.
When we arrived at the beach we donned our masks and fins,
...and swam out to the coral reefs to join the other snorkelers who'd come to look at the variety of colorful tropical fish that inhabit the reefs.
Me, prior to my first attempt at snorkeling.
As for me, once I got up my courage to put on the gear, allow myself to be led out to the reef and give snorkeling a try, I lasted about five minutes. The sea was too cold, I don't know how to swim, I couldn't stand putting my face underwater even with a mask, I don't even like being in water, and being that close to live fish gave me the creeps, even the beautiful exotic fish swimming among the coral reefs.
So I paddled back to shore and handed my snorkeling gear over to Tom so that he could go mingle with the beautiful fish. I then took over sitting on the beach and watching our stuff and letting everybody else enjoy watching the fish, which was fine by me.
When we arrived at Hanauma Bay at 6:30 am there was already a fair number of people on the beach.
However by 8:30 am the beach was getting crowded,
…and by the time we left at 9:45 am the was a long, slow-moving line of people that stretched from the park entrance all the way down to the beach.
Then we packed up our snorkeling gear and headed out for the now crowded freeway back to Honolulu.
To be continued...
Ever since the first time Tom and I visited Honolulu in 2015 (See post from 4/3/2015, "Two Days In Honolulu") I dreamed of bringing all my children and grandchildren to Hawaii for a stay at the Hale Koa, the hotel located within Fort DeRussy, a U.S. Army post on Waikiki Beach, for use by active duty and retired service members and their families (see post fro 4/21/2017, "Aloha, Hale Koa).
This year such an alignment of the sun, moon, stars, and finances came to pass that Tom, I and our children were able to make the trip happen.
...and after nine hours over land and sea we arrived at the Honolulu airport at 8 pm Columbus, Ohio time,
...then drove out to Waikiki beach to Fort DeRussy and the Hale Koa,
And so now the Ohana was here at the Hale Koa.
Ohana is Hawaiian for family, and Hale Koa means House of the Warrior.
Tom's and my 4th floor room.
The lobby of the Hale Koa, a sort of indoor-outdoor space,
...looks down over a lovely tropical courtyard.
...that leads out to the grounds,
...through a botanical garden,
...with its splendid view of Diamond Head.
To be continued...
...Continued from 4/11/2019:
Today my daughter Claire arrived back home in Chicago from Duhok, Kurdistan, where she spent two weeks giving daily training seminars to the nurses from the Intensive Care and Coronary Care Units at the Azadi Teaching Hospital,
Claire could not say enough good about the nurses with whom she worked,
...who were dedicated practitioners and enthusiastic students,
...and who warmly welcomed her to their hospital with open arms.
In fact Claire found the Kurdish people in general to be very nice, friendly, and hospitable.
And then there was the food. The Kurdish food was, according to Claire, "wonderful," and always beautifully displayed and presented.
Claire's favorite Kurdish food - besides the sweets, of which she says she copiously partook - was the flat bread called naan, of which she also claims to have copiously partook.
It's probably true of all of our cultures that hospitality and food go hand in hand. In any case it was absolutely true in Dohuk.
Claire and the other MedGlobal volunteers were invited out to dinner most nights by members of the Ministry of Health.
Claire usually ate her lunch in a restaurant and afterwards the waiter would invariable set a complementary piece of cake or baklava or some other sweet in front of her. " I never said no to the sweets," said Claire.
One day in the hotel where she was staying the elevator broke down and the staff knocked on the door of each guest and gave everyone a slice of chocolate cake and a cold chocolate drink as a gift for having to walk up the steps.
A few days before she left Kurdistan, when I was Face-chatting with Claire about her classes for the nurses at the Azadi Hospital, she said, "Leaving behind education is the most sustainable thing we can do."
This is true. But it's perhaps just as true of taking an education with us when we leave.
The Mueller Report was released yesterday.
And in spite of the mountains of evidence and testimony by Donald Trump's subordinates that he repeatedly tried to coerce them into obstructing the special counsel's investigation, Donald Trump is innocent of any criminal obstruction,
Corrupt, disgusting, a flagrant abuse of power by a President and a toady Attorney General and a blow to our American system of justice, yes. But a complete surprise? Well, sadly, no.
Except maybe to Donald Trump, who, when he learned that Robert Mueller had been appointed Special Counsel in the Russia investigation, cried out, "Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I'm f**ked."
But the Mueller Report is finished and so far Donald Trump appears to be not at all f'd as he'd feared. In fact yesterday after the report was released - that is, as much as the report as escaped William Barr's Trump-protecting redactions - Trump professed to be having a good day,
Life seems to be ever full of happy surprises for Donald Trump.
I suppose the only slightly happy surprise in the Mueller Report for the rest of the country was that so many of Trump's toadstools, low as they were willing to go to carry out his will, ultimately refused to completely debase themselves for him.
...who, we learned from the report, had absolutely no problem completely debasing herself to please Donald Trump.
That is to say she lied, telling the press, not once, not twice, but numerous times, that she herself had heard directly from "countless FBI agents" that they'd lost confidence in their Director,
...and that they were "grateful and thankful" that Donald Trump had fired him.
Seriously, listen to her in this video,
...doubling down on what she'd said a day earlier when she contradicted statements made by members of the FBI that James Comey was highly respected, admired and liked by rank-and-file members of the agency.
Watch her insisting with wide-eyed sincerity that she'd heard from "a large number" of agents, glibly adding, "And that's just myself, and I don't even know that many people in the FBI."
Listen to how she doesn't just lie, but expands the lie, embroiders it. When asked how she heard from such a great number FBI agents unhappy with James Comey, she talks about having received "emails, text messages, absolutely."
But when questioned under oath by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Sarah Sanders admitted that she'd lied, or, as she called it, had a "slip of the tongue." She confessed that her statements to the press about having heard from disgruntled FBI agents regarding James Comey "were not founded on anything." She'd made the whole story up as she went along.
And though she knew better than to incriminate herself by lying under oath to the Special Counsel, she had no qualms about lying when there was no legal penalty for doing so, and by last night on the Sean Hannity Show she was once again telling the same lie as she'd told before about FBI agents praising Donald Trump for firing James Comey.
But here's the thing about Sarah Sanders' lie. It wasn't something she'd had to say to protect herself or even to protect Donald Trump. It was, and continues to be, in no way necessary to her self-preservation. Sarah Sanders' lie is an act of character assassination of another human being, which she did, and continues doing, to please and bolster Donald Trump.
Sarah Sanders has shown herself to be among the lowest, lying-est toadstools in Donald Trump's dark, dank, poisonous environment.
And she's definitely as accomplished and boldfaced a liar and character assassin as he is. In fact she's even better.
The day before yesterday I stood numbly watching the online live-stream video of Notre Dame in flames, my hand on the shoulder of my husband Tom, who sat sobbing.
Like so many millions around the globe, we love Paris.
I was a French major in college and spent my junior year in Paris studying French language and culture at the Institut Catholique de Paris. After college I spent three years working for the U.S. Army in Germany, during which time I returned to Paris more than half-a-dozen times, several of those times with Tom, who was an Army officer at that time stationed not far from where I worked.
How many times during those years did I stroll with friends or alone or later with Tom through the student quarter known as the Quartier Latin, along the Boulevard Saint-Michel, across the Pont Saint-Michel to the île de La Cité, then to the square across from Notre Dame?
I was nineteen years old when I first saw Notre Dame. It was the first of the great world cathedrals that I'd ever seen. I was truly wonder-struck.
At the time it seemed so amazing to me that one could walk into that magnificent cathedral for free and spend as much time as one wished caught up in the beauty and splendor of the place. Equally amazing was it to me that while I lived in Paris I could visit Notre Dame any time I felt like it.
Such were my thoughts as I watched Notre Dame burn, or at least in those moments when I could force myself to believe that what I was seeing was actually happening. And I was gripped with a great pang of regret that my children, none of whom have been to Paris, would never see it.
And I felt an almost surreal sensation of being at a momentous point in the continuing timeline of history: April 15, 2019, the day when Notre Dame Cathedral, an 800-year old man-made wonder of the world, was destroyed by fire, gone from the planet, never to be seen by future generations.
We've since learned, thankfully, that Notre Dame was not destroyed by the fire, and some of its greatest treasures were spared,
...and the rose windows.
And French President Emmanuel Macron has promised that France, with the help of the the world's most brilliant architects, would rebuild Notre Dame, hopefully within five years. As of today almost a billion dollars has been pledged to the rebuilding, most of it from the French people.
As President Macron said in his inspiring speech:
Notre Dame is our history, it's our literature, it's our imagery. It's the place where we live our greatest moments, from wars to pandemics to liberations. ... I'm telling you all tonight — we will rebuild this cathedral together. This is probably part of the French destiny.
Notre Dame has been called the sacred heart of Paris, the soul of France.
Which has set me to wondering: Here in the United States, among our many national monuments,
...and cause individual Americans to rush to finance the restoration of that which we'd lost, seeing its rebuilding as our national destiny?
But then maybe that's not a question that a country can answer in less than a thousand years.
...Continued from yesterday:
For the duration of her stay in Dohuk, Kurdistan, Claire will be giving daily training sessions for the nurses at the city's 200-bed public hospital, which is also a teaching hospital.
Last Tuesday, April 9, Claire had the day off as it was a Kurdish national holiday. Every April 9 the Kurds celebrate the anniversary of the liberation of Bagdad and the fall of Saddam Hussein.
Claire spent the holiday with some fellow MedGlobal volunteers seeing the countryside around the Dohuk area.
Claire also had off yesterday, Friday, as the work week is Saturday through Thursday, Friday being the Muslim holy day. Thus Friday is the weekend, as, she informed me, nobody works on the holy day.
When we spoke she was in a coffee shop in town with some MedGlobal volunteers with whom she'd spent the day.
They'd just returned from a trip Lalesh, a small mountain village about 50 miles from Dohuk.
Their destination was the Lalesh Temple, the holiest shrine in the Yazidi faith,
...to which all Yazidis are expected to make a pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime.
Claire said that within the vast temple grounds there were many buildings and thousands of barefoot people who'd made the pilgrimage to this holy site.
I love the significance of untying each other's knots.
One family invited Claire and her friends, obviously foreigners, over to their picnic. Though the family among them knew only a few words of English and Claire's group knew no Yazidi, the international language of friendliness, hospitality and generosity sufficed.
I asked Claire what there was to eat at the picnic and she told me that this family had a whole roasted goat. However, being a vegetarian, Claire ate the beans and rice which they had also brought.
Claire said everyone in the family was happy to meet some Americans.
And these Americans were happy to meet this family.
Claire left Chicago one week ago today and by the following evening she had arrived in Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan, where she was met by members of the MedGlobal team.
While waiting for a flight carrying another MedGlobal volunteer she and her escorts had a look around Erbil,
...and climbing a hill to the Erbil Citadel, which offered a panoramic view of the city.
From Erbil the MedGlobal escorts drove the new volunteers to their destination, the city of Dohuk, outside of which the refugee camps are located.
The following day, Saturday, the MedGlobal team was invited to a meeting with the Kurdish Ministers of Health (Claire is seated at the far left end of the table and is wearing the pink-striped jacket),
Claire told me that she's appeared on Kurdistani television twice so far.
Later in the day there was time for an exploratory stroll around Dohuk,
...including a beautiful market called The Bazaar, where one can find lots of fresh vegetables,
In fact, said Claire, there are so many lovingly displayed desserts in the shops of this town,
...that she declared Dohuk a Liszkay family's dream come true, referring to our hallmark love of sweets and desserts.
When I asked Claire if she felt safe in the city she assured me that Dohuk is a very safe place, likely in no small part due to the armed soldiers and check points stationed all over the town.
The following day, Sunday, the MedGlobal team headed out to the refugee camps.
The Dohuk camps have been in existence for several years; at the camp Claire visited the refugees had shipping container houses and houses made of concrete blocks covered with tarps which, Claire said, are much better than tents.
The medical clinics are already staffed with Kurdish health care providers, and the MedGlobal group and their Kurdish hosts came to the consensus that, along with helping with patient care, it would also be beneficial to determine what MedGlobal could do for the health care providers who are already working at the camps.
It turns out that what the Kurdish medical staff needs most to better carry out their healing mission are more supplies, more money, and more training.
To that end, Claire, who has Intensive Care experience, offered to use her time there to train nurses.
"I like to support nurses," she explained.
Subsequently it was decided that she could be of the most use not in the refugee camps but in the city hospital. So she was sent back to the hospital in town to give the nurses some training, teaching different lessons every day,
Claire's first and continuing lesson to her students, however, has been on her personal motto: "Nursing is a team sport."
And, having been in high school,
...Claire knows about team sports.
If you're looking for a scare, don't bother going to see "Us,"
...or any of the countless other spine-tinglers available on screens big and small to frighten the daylights out of us.
Rather have a look at the front page of yesterday's New York Times,
...where the story broke of a global outbreak of a deadly super fungus called Candida auris that's been killing hundreds of thousands of people every year while hospitals and researchers around the world have been scrambling to find a counteragent against it and keep its existence a secret from the public.
However since the revelation of its existence yesterday in the Times, the global scourge of Candida auris,
...has been picking up traction on news outlets and on social media.
In truth the story of C. auris has all the elements of a horror story. Except that this story is true.
An elderly man admitted to Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City was diagnosed with a mysterious infection. After 90 days in the hospital the man died, but what killed him did not. Tests showed that the C. auris fungus was everywhere in his room: the walls, the bed, the doors, the curtains, the phones, the sink, the whiteboard, the poles, the pump, the mattress, the bed rails, canister holes, the window shades, the ceiling. Special cleaning equipment was needed and ceiling and floor tiles had to be ripped out to eradicate it.
In the Royal Brompton Hospital in London there was an outbreak of a mysterious, seemingly invincible fungus identified as C. auris. From where or how the C. auris arrived no one knew, but it spread throughout the hosptial like wildfire, infecting 72 patients in the intensive care unit. An infectious disease expert was called in to help the hospital clean out the fungus. The infectious disease expert had hospital workers set up a specialized device to spray aerosolized hydrogen peroxide around a room infested with C. auris. They left the device going for a week. At the end of the week every microbe in the room had been killed. Except for the C. auris. It was still growing.
In a hospital in Valencia, Spain, 372 patients tested positive for C. auris on their bodies. Eighty-five of them developed bloodstream infections. Forty-one percent died within a month.
And while hospitals and governments have struggled to keep the existence of this insidious drug-resistant super-fungus under wraps it has been proliferating and spreading around the world.
So far C. auris has proven deadly mostly to the very young, the old, or the very sick. However the fear among epidemologists is that the fungus may begin sickening the healthy as well.
Where Candida auris came from has not yet been determined. "It is a creature from the black lagoon," said Dr. Tom Chiller of the CDC. "It bubbled up and now it is everywhere."
The belief, however, is that the C. auris outbreak is just another example of a drug-resistant germ borne of the medical and commercial over-use and misuse of antibiotics and antifungals. The current theory is that C. auris is resistant to antifungal treatments because of the ubiquitous commercial use of fungicides and pesticides on crops. Types of pesticides known as azoles are used on virtually every crop that's grown and have created such a hostile environment for fungi that the fungi are evolving and resistant strains are surviving, among them C. auris. And at this point the azoles used in crop sprays are essentially the same as are used in antifungal medicines. And the same that the C. auris is resistant to.
At this point the only defense against C. auris appears to be good-old-fashioned hand-washing,
...and be healthy. Be very healthy.
...is on her way to Kurdistan, the northern autonomous province of Iraq, to a refugee camp outside the city of Dohuk.
Last year Claire worked with MedGlobal in Bangladesh, running one of the health clinics in a camp for the Rohingya refugees from Myanmar.
Over the past several years there has been a great influx into Kurdistan of Syrians displaced by the war, Christian Iraqis targeted by ISIS,
...whose girls and women were routinely kidnapped by ISIS militants and cruelly enslaved (See post from 8/18/2015, "Question It!").
Observing the obligation of nations to grant asylum to refugees that has been considered international law and the law of humanity since ancient times, Kurdistan has set up a number of camps outside the city of Dohuk to accommodate these refugees and provide humanitarian aid,
...and it is in one of these camps that Claire will be providing healthcare with other MedGlobal workers for the next two weeks.
Prayers are always appreciated, for Claire, her fellow aid workers,
"Equal And Opposite Reactions"
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Kindle:
or in print:
The Book Loft
of German Village,
Or check it out at the Columbus Metropolitan Library
I am a traveler just visiting this planet and reporting various and sundry observations,
hopefully of interest to my fellow travelers.