Hello from Hawaii – Honolulu, Hawaii

Hello from Hawaii
Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii

January 6th, 2005, we walked off the plane and into a picture postcard. As the two of us had a three seat row to ourselves, we were able spread out in the empty middle seat, enjoy two movies, decent food (really), free mai tais, chocolates, and warm cookies – all in coach class!

I feel intimidated by the task of describing the scenery without incorporating clichés. To say that the greenery is lush, the sky magnificent, and the clouds billowing mountains seems unjust (not to mention too purple). The classic, “paradise” views surround; some areas so breathtaking oxygen could be required. The oceans require a new vocabulary of blue to describe. The foliage, sky, cloud, cityscape, etc. are all clear, saturated colors. Or, maybe it’s just that I’ve finally had time to clean my glasses. My favorite is the clouded mountains. Seldom have I ever scene of more misty natural wonder. Dense greens rising into gentle white veils. What is happening behind the curtain?

After collecting luggage, we drove around Waikiki/Honolulu a bit. Many Christmas decorations were still up, including Santa and his eight not-so-tiny reined dolphins. “On Finnious, On Flipper, On Mahi, and Mahi…” Shells and starfish hung on some trees, while hibiscus decorated others. A mantra seems required to keep perspective: “This is January, this is January”, and must be repeated frequently in the 78-90 degree weather.

Walking around downtown Waikiki, it’s easy to fall into the trance of old glamour and the Aloha spirit. Live and let live. It’s too beautiful here to get too worked up about environmental and societal issues. Certainly they are here and many people are working on them. In the meantime, the new and old hotels, tiki torches and music are fun and beautiful in their own way. People are typically friendly and you can find pretty much anything you need at the ABC store – including warm spam sushi. ABC’s are elaborate convenience stores every 200 feet or so along the strip.

We dined that first night at a recommended restaurant where you grill your own dinner. It was difficult standing just above the beach grilling good quality beef over a huge grill near the varied salad bar, watching the sunset, but somehow, we managed. When I called home to talk to a friend and shared how beautiful it is here, my friend joked, “That’s great. I’m glad you are having a good time, and…I hate you.”

We spent Friday and part of Saturday visiting various beaches and enjoying just driving around. We cruised past Shrimp Shacks (selling shrimp, not small homes for crustaceans), contemplated movie making at Eternity Beach (where the famous love scene in “From Here to Eternity” was filmed), and watched “The Blowhole”. Funny to be part of a crowd of humans all standing around watching water feed itself up through a hole in a rock, but what the heck, it works for Old Faithful!

After Friday’s lunch/breakfast of the “best burgers on the island”, we stopped at the Bonzai Pipeline to watch the sportsmen and women. One surfer rode long waves almost the whole way in, then, feet on the shore and board under his arm, he paused to look back. Perhaps thanking the ocean or Great Kahuna for a good ride. Nearby, a boogie boarder read the waves so that as he swam out, the wave broke on either side of him, but left him safe passage. I never before appreciated the smooth, sharp grace of someone riding a wave, cutting down the front of a curl, spinning on the slide, twisting in the air and landing on the board, then, finally riding over the top just before the whole wave crashes.

Saturday, we swapped ’til we dropped at the flea market, sampling shaved ice, tasty baked and fried breads, sipping from a fresh coconut, and becoming dazed by the t-shirt, magnet, and Hawaiian print fabric stands every 16 steps. Unfortunately, the “Hula Bread” did not dance, but was soft and sweet. Take me to your French Toast!

In some stores and restaurants along Waikiki, huge fish tanks house massive soaring manta rays, brilliant (or at least clever) yellow swimming triangles, and all sorts of shapes, shades, and colors of marine life. Live, free shows enhance the sidewalks and parks as well. Sunday night, we danced to live rock and roll at Duke’s (a local bar and grill), while the sun settled its pinks and purples through pure white clouds, distant gray rain shafts, and over blue/green ocean and sacred rocks. At twilight, men ran down the sidewalk with flame lighting tiki torches and miraculously lighting only sidewalk illumination. Glowing spheres danced high acrobatics in the hands of a juggler.

Held over in paradise (our plane is two hours late), I tried to finish up this narrative. The trip was to celebrate family landmarks – an uncle who just moved to Hawaii at the end of 2004, fulfilling a 20+ year goal and the 100th anniversary of the birth of a favorite grandfather. Home now and soon off to work and reality, I hold onto the best parts of the adventure. Hearing family stories and celebrating relatives reinvigorated connections and heart. My uncle is also a world-class punster. While I am merely an apprentice, he and I traded puns and quips from morning through night, causing my mother to complain that her sides were splitting from so much laughter. Fortunately, we also kept her in stitches!