Monday, November 16, 2009

Aloha and Mahalo


Wow, Sometimes it's great to be unemployed. I have the freedom to come and go as I please.  A few weeks ago, my roommate/friend, Hanna, asked if I would like to go to Hawaii with her.  She was going with some friends and they backed out.  Who is going to say no to a cheap trip to Hawaii? I'm poor- not stupid.

We were going to leave the 5th, but it turned out better to leave the 4th. Sweet! Extra day in paradise!  The flight was looooong and boring. It was too early in the day for me to be able to sleep so I sat there the whole time and didn't move. At least I was next to someone nice, but not overly chatty.  It was wonderful to arrive in Honolulu and be slapped right away with the humidity. I knew then that I was going to enjoy myself no matter what. It had just snowed a foot in Colorado a few days before and I was only too happy to leave winter behind.

The first thing I bought was a flower for my hair.  I wore it every day after that.  The first night we were there we just wandered Kalakaua Ave.  Waikiki is far too touristy for my taste.  I would recommend to anyone going- to avoid Waikiki like the plauge.  Oahu is nice, but steer clear of that part.  I felt like I was in just another random (although hot and humid) American city.  Stores like Prada, Gucci, Fendi and Hermes lined the streets.  Stores I couldn't shop at even if I did have money.  The only thing I can wear is their scents!  I did enjoy going into Tiffany's and Cartier though... I do love me some sparkely diamonds. Mmm...

The next day Hanna and I went to Waikiki beach.  The section where we were was really calm.  The surf was way far out so by the time it got to shore it was small, managable waves.  We just sat on the edge of the water and looked for shells.  Not much to be found there. The largest one we found was still smaller than a dime.  We built the coolest sandcastle EVER and got the sunburns from hell.  Later that day Hanna's friend, Ryan joined us.  Again, we just wandered Kalakaua. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate shopping?

As fate would have it, my good college buddy, Jona and her husband figure were also in Honolulu for the weekend.  Since Hanna had made no real plans, we decided to join Jona at the Zoo that friday. It was so fun to spend time with her. I don't get to see her often... hopefully more often now that she has moved back to Idaho from Seattle.  Anyway, the zoo was fun.  I took lots of amazing pictures of critters and flowers.  That night we met Jona and her man at the beach where she persuaded me to go out further into the water than I have ever gone before. It was scary, but I'm glad I did it. Like I said before though, it was calm water, but I dont like water I can't touch the bottom of.

Sadly, that night I lost my camera.  I was taking pictures of the mediocre sunset and somewhere between the beach and the hotel my camera fell out of my pocket.  It was my own fault, really.  I should have taken better care. I didn't care about the pictures so much, and the camera itself probably wasn't worth a ton- but it was my parents gift to me for graduation so I was pretty sad to lose it.  I ran back to the beach but it was too dark. A man with a metal detector helped me for a while but even he couldn't find it. I think it was picked up. I hope whoever took it makes lots of good memories with it- and doens't let thier guilty consience tear at thier soul.  We went to dinner that night with J & J and mourned my lost camera.  But luckily, Jona is amazing and she brought TWO cameras with her on the trip so she let me use her old one for the rest of my time there.  Thanks a jillion kabillion Dearest Jona!

Saturday we went to the Aquarium with J & J.  I saw some critters I had never even heard of.  One in particular, the Leafy Sea Dragon- was the coolest thing I've ever seen.

I'm afraid this picture doesn't do it justice. It was yellow with purple fins... it was the craziest thing ever.

One thing I did get go see was the Humuhumunukunukuapua'a.  I practiced saying that for three days before I went so that I could use it in a conversation.

I was so proud when I finally got to use it.

After the aquarium, we parted ways with J & J.  They had thier own fun things to do.  We were supposed to meet up again, but it wasn't in the stars.  sigh...

That afternoon we caught the free bus to Hilo Hatties.  It's a big Hawaiian store full of everything souvenir-y you could ever want.  Including a size 400X Hawaiian shirt.

I think it holds a record of some sort.  Sadly the picture doens't really capture how big it is. I should have put a person in the picture to compare

The next day we caught a bus and went to the Aloha Stadium.  They have an outdoor swap meet there every Sunday.  They sold all kinds of crap. Some of it authentic...

and some not so much.

There was a guy there carving the tiki gods, and his mother or grandmother weaving baskets, hats, etc from palm leaves. She said she's been doing it 50 years.  It was amazing.

I wish I'd had money and justification to buy something like this.

Also that day we went to Pearl Harbor.  Hanna didn't want to- but I did and no one had any other suggestions.  It was either that or go back and wander up and down Kalakaua (and we all know how I feel about that street)

I learned a lot. They have a video that talks about the Day that Will Live in Infamy, then they take you out to the Arizona Memorial.

Looking at the wall of the fallen, I cried. I thought of all the mothers, sisters, daughters, who lost husbands, fathers and brothers that day.  I don't know how I would handle that.  I'm all for supporting our troops and fighting for freedom and keeping that freedom, but I'm secretly glad that my father and brothers never served. I would be a nervous wreck the whole time they're gone. 

I cried even more when the guide explained that many of the survivors have chosen to be  burried at sea with their shipmates.  When they die, they are creamated and then at a ceremony at the memorial, they are taken down by divers and placed in the hull of the ship. I think that's beautiful. From what I understand there is one remaining survivor.  One just died last month and will be burried there in March.

Monday we rented a car and drove up to the north shore.  The waves there were amazing!  We had heard that the waves on the North Shore were more than 20 feet high.  That was not the case, at least when we got there.  But they were definitley bigger than the piddly waves at Waikiki.  So we changed and played in them.

 Even the sand was different.  At Waikiki, it was typical sand.  At Sunset beach, it was smoother, softer, it was wierd. I'd never seen sand like it before. 

We played in the waves, and burried Ryan in the sand (he's a good sport)

and then I took lots of sunset photos. I was trying to get the perfect one, and now I have so many I can't delete them.


The next day we drove back up toward the North Shore but we stopped at the Dole Plantation.  It was fun.   They have the world's largest maze so we tried our hand at it. I think it took us 44 minutes to get through.  I just kind of followed.  Too many Chiefs, and all... you know. (btw- borrowed the pic from the Dole site... I *wish* I could have gotten an aerial view of it)

Then we shopped in thier store and ate a delicious Dole Whip. It was heavenly.

We headed after that up to La'ie to the Polynesian Culteral Center.

I took so many pictures here that it would be crazy to put them on my blog- so go to my FB page and you'll find them there (eventually).  We took the Ambassedor package, which included a guided tour, dinner and the big show, HA at the end.  Note to anyone thinking of going- get the ambassedor package- but plan on going two days.  The tour was awesome, but we didn't have time to do anything else.  They have little activites and stuff for you to do at each of the "islands" and we didn't have time to do any of it.  We didn't even make it to all of the islands.  We passed throgh Tihiti only getting a sample of cocoanut bread and the recipe (awesome bread, by the way).

With our package we had a choice of either a luau dinner or a fancy dinner with stake and shrimp.  Who would go to the PCC and get a stake dinner instead of a luau dinner? Crazy.

I got my first official Lei and they pulled the pig out of the ground.

I don't think we actually ate it though, there were a *lot* of people there and there is no way that litlte piggie would feed us all- at an all you can eat buffet.  The luau dancing was amazing,

as was the food.

Yes, the roll is purple. It's Taro bread, very sweet and super yummy.  The purplish blob toward the back is Taro salad.  I guess Taro is like a sweet potato.  It was like a very VERY sweet potato salad. Kind of weird- but I tried it.  In the little cup is Poi.  Not gross- but not tastey.  I even ate it with my fingers to make it authentic.  The pulled pork was amazing as was the teryaki chicken and fresh pineapple.

The main evening show, HA, was amazing. it had a beautiful messege of family (yes, I cried). The dancing was phenominal- even the little kid who coudlnt have been more than 7. (sorry about the fuzziness. No Flash Photography, and all)

  At the end, some fire dancers came out as well as a guy who is a fire and knife dancer. We'd seem him earlier in the day doing a presentation in the Samoan village.

  He's little, but solid as a rock and I would not want to meet up with him in a dark alley with him mad at me.

The PCC is a must see for anyone going to Hawaii.

Wednesday was to be our last day so we kept the car a little longer to do some other things.  We drove to the south east side of the island to Blow Hole and Hanauma Bay. 

We drove to Diamond Head but it was too late for us to drive it, let alone climb it. (darn it all)

That night we headed back to the airport. It was sad. I really didn't want to go.  We dropped Ryan off becuaes his flight was before ours.  We took our car (I named her Lilo) back to the rental place and got the shuttle.  Hanna got her ticket no problem, but for some reason, I was not registering.  We had to talk to the manager and somehow my reservatoin got cancelled.  The way Hanna's buddy passes work has recently changed. It used to be all electronic, but now a person has to approve it (I know, going the wrong way, huh?) and the office was closed. There was nothing we could do but try to find somewhere to stay.

On the wall at the airport they have adds for companies who help you find cheap hotels. We didn't need much, we only needed a place to sleep.  So I called.  They gave me a name and an address and told me when I got there that if they didn't ahve record of the reservation to look on the fax machine... anyway, so we get there an hour later (we had to go all the way back to Waikiki) and they have no record of us- nor any vacancies. Ummm... I guess the company we booked through didn't confirm the reservation, they just sent us over. So the guy called a sister hotel across the street to see if they had anything.  They took us in (poor pathetic travelers that we were).  It was a few more dollars than the other place would have been, but OH MY GOSH it was nice!  Compared to the place we'd been staying all week- this place was awesome.

We were on a corner so we had three balconies, we had two huge beds (we'd had a room all week with three twin beds, so it was nice to be able to roll over without fear of falling off), and a full kitchen.  It was heavenly.

On our "bonus day" we did a little shopping (yay) and wandered through the beach front hotels.  Some had animals- flamingos, penguins, turtles, and all had amazing flowers. I'm afraid I got a little carried away with flower pictures. I have a thing for Hibiscus and now I'm rather in love wtih Plumeria and Orchids. But there were some crazy-A plants that i've never seen before- even in pictures.

We said goodbye to Waikiki that night and headed back to the hotel to wait for our shuttle.  We still had time, but we were so tired.  Next door to the hotel was a nail place so I suggested pedicures. It felt so nice.

We went to the airport that night and got on the  flight without a hitch. The flight back was uneventful. It's alays hard to sleep on a flight, but I managed most of the time. I mean, it was not a restful flight by any means, but enough to make time go by a lot faster.

It was so lovely to be in Hawaii. I can't wait to go again.  Maybe I'll move there. I would never have to worry about shoveling snow- which is exactly what I came home to (frown).  Sometimes, when I sleep, I can still feel the ebb and flow of the ocean against my skin and it lulls me to sleep. So while I'm stuck in the winter of Colorado, I'll dream of eternal summer in Hawaii.


Amy said...

Oh WOW! Wow-ee, wow, wow, wow. Those photos of sunsets are spectacular. And so are the flower photos. And now I want to go to the PCC SO BAD. I am going to have to buckle down and plan a trip to Hawaii. It sounds like you had such a great time!

Wendy said...

HEather, I am so glad you got to do that. You are fortunate to have that experience under your belt. It looks awesome and fun and warm and pretty and and and... You'll remember it always, I'm sure.