Well, we made it!! We are lounging our days away, in the hot sun on the Big Island of Hawai'i... a.k.a. PARADISE!!
I would love to post a few of the pictures that I have taken, but the internet here is TERRIBLE!! It's probaby just as relaxed as we are and works on Island Time -- so I can only imagine how long it would take to put just one picture on here, let alone two or more!
Our trip here was mostly uneventful: Dropping Inigo off at his friend's house the night before I left wasn't was traumatic as I imagined it. He was so excited to have a 'sleep over' that he gave me a half-hearted hug and ran off to parts unknown. (We don't do sleep overs in our family. We call them 'late nights' and everyone sleeps at their own house.) Saying goodbye to Buttercup that morning was a little harder. She didn't have someone to distract her and we both shed a few tears... :( Ah, I guess we're sentimental fools.
I met Max in SLC -- he spent the week in the Spokane area and flew down that morning -- and we made it to the plane with about 45 mins to spare. Perfect. Okay. Yes. I will admit that I did have to speed once in a while to make sure I was on time, but in the end it all worked out.
The flights were terriffic... until it was time to land on Oahu. The island has been socked in with vog -- no that's not a typo. Vog is volcanic fog created by the live volcano here on the Big Island. And it made landing our plane a little difficult. Because of it, the plane had to change its approach from how it normally lands. But then the satellites didn't read something different in the weather pattern and as we were getting ready to land, the pilot had to reconfigure something else. We were slowing down and descending, then all of a sudden we sped back up and gained more altitude. Then we started doing "S" curves and then we started going in a circle. I will admit, I got nervous!! I watch Lost. I know that planes can crash in the Pacific Ocean! :) And since we were sitting back in the "tail" portion, I wondered if we'd end up on the side of the island with the Others... kind of a scary thought! :)
Obviously, we made it and it all turned out okay, but Max's leg -- where I was gripping it -- might have some long-term damage.
I have an old highschool classmate that lives on Oahu, so I let her know ahead of time that we had 1.5 hour layover and we made arrangements to meet up at the airport. What fun that was! I haven't seen her in over 24 years, but it's like many old friends... you just reconnect instantly. She is doing great in her life and it was terriffic seeing her again and meeting her son. We only got to chat for about 30 minutes, but it was 30 minutes that was very well spent!!
We noticed right away, in the Oahu airport that the temperatures were drastically different from the temperatures we left behind. Florin was 6* when I left that morning and the town Max was at was in the low 30's. Now we were in the 70's with 90% humidity (@ 8 pm). Off came our sweaters, out came the sweat and **BOING** my normally completely flat hair started curling.
Ya gotta love it.
So our first full day was spent in Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Park, a.k.a. The Place of Refuge. There are so many wonderful, historical places here, especially on this island. Places that deserve respect and reverence because many lives were lost through battle or hardship. This was one of those places. The story is that if you had comitted an offense and someone wanted to take your life for it, you would run to The Place of Refuge and if you could get across the 10' high and 17' deep wall, you would be safe and would have sanctuary offered to you. Many of the great Hawaiian kings resided here, including King Kamehameha.
Not only did we enjoy the historical aspect of The Place of Refuge, but we were able to experience some truly Hawaiian moments here. First of all, we were able to watch a sleeping Monk Seal. They don't come on shore very often. As a matter of fact, the Park Ranger said that the last time one came on shore was over a year ago! So we were pretty excited to see this endangered creature -- then we saw our first Green Sea Turtle, which (i believe) are also on the endangered list. I got a great picture of it! I can't wait to post it!
We got off the trail a little and found some coconut trees ( can you hear me sing those last two words?) Yeah. Seriously. Coconut trees. I immediately thought of that Tom Hanks movie... where he's shipwrecked and talked to the bloody hand volleyball ... and I thought, well, I need to know how to identify and open one of these in case my plane crashes on the way home and I find myself a survivor on a deserted island. Many people in our group tried smashing the hull around the coconut to try to open it, but it was my brilliant "you should have been an engineer" husband who finally decided that - instead of putting the coconut on a log and hitting it with a rock - it would open easier if placed on the ground and a rather large rock was dropped (or hurled) on it.
Worked like a charm.
We got that coconut open and it was dry and empty inside. Do coconuts have seasons? Apparently. We opened a couple more before we hit the motherlode... a coconut that still had some flesh on the inside, although there was no milk. We broke it into parts and anxiously shared it amongst ourselves.
It was tough and chewy. The texture wasn't pleasant at all. But the flavor was great! It tasted just like coconut!
The rest of the day was spent lounging around. Max forgot to transfer his bathroom gear from his WA travel bag into his Hawai'i travel bag, so we had to find a drug store to buy him a toothbrush and some deoderant. We also went to a wonderful farmer's market. The prices were amazingly affordable and I was able to buy some pretty wonderful souviners. The fresh fruit was very affordable too. I bought a sweet Maui pineapple for only $3. Can't wait to eat it. It's less acidic, so I might be able to eat more of it than I normally do -- before my mouth bleeds. (It was my goal to come eat pineapple until my mouth bleeds.)
Oh! Lunch was spent at a very tasty 'Mom & Pop' diner overlooking the coastline. (For those of you who know what I'm talking about, it reminded me of Izzy's in Newport... only better.) We were joined by 3 curious gecco's who were very interested in our food. They were cute, but I was unwilling to let them get very close to me.
Tomorrow, Sunday, we're walking to a church that's near here for a 9:30 am service. I don't know what the denomination the church is, but I figure it will be a great experience. The people that invited us on this trip belong to Assembly of God and are very religious. It has been very refreshing being able to pray before eating and not feel awkward. Even though we don't share the same religion, we share the same love for God. It was their idea to go to church and I invited myself along. I'm really looking forward to it.
Then we'll practice snorkeling at a cute beach nearby and then (drumroll please....) THE LUAU!!! I'm pretty darned excited for this!
I know this has just been a travelogue and if you've read this far, you're a great friend and worth keeping!! I hope you don't mind if I keep updating and posting, I must keep track of the things we're doing and how this hair of mine is curling! It's a Hawaiian Miracle!!