Friday, March 08, 2013

A confession, Hawaii—and my daughter

To those who read this regularly, an apology. When I said I was taking a break, I didn’t tell the full story. Two years ago, my two oldest children took me on a wonderful trip to Scotland. Last week, my youngest daughter took me for a week in Hawaii (we landed at five a.m. this morning!). All the kids know I’m an uncertain traveler at best. I’ve gotten much calmer about flying, but I am anxious in airports, on escalators, going through security, etc. They manage a nice balance of taking care of me without letting me become dependant—which I try not to do but sometimes I am overwhelmed and reach out for a steadying arm.

Jordan is a travel agent and, by extension, a professional traveler. She knows the ins and outs of airports, security check-in, off-site parking, car rental, all that rigmarole that confuses me utterly. We had a seamless trip with four plane boardings, a rented car, off-site parking at the DFW airport. I was mightily impressed by her knowledge of everything from what to tip to what to look for in a hotel and by the way she uses that old saying my mom taught me (and I suppose her): you catch more flies with a teaspoon of sugar than a cup or vinegar. Jordan charms her way through life. And as she said to me once after the two of us took a one-day necessary trip to Houston and back, “It’s a good thing we like each other.”

Scotland was always my dream destination; Hawaii never entered my consideration. We went because dear but distant friends of fifty years (gulp!) have a condo on Kauai and invited us, so we spent four nights there and three on Maui so Jordan could explore some sites for future clients and familiarize herself with the islands. And we had quite an education.

I suppose you see a place in context of what you know. Jordan said Hawaii with its lush shores and sometimes bare mountains reminded her of northern California; small communities nestled in the foothills of some of those mountains spoke to me of Colorado. I was attracted to the simple design of houses on South Kauai and then realized they reminded me of the Craftsman architecture about which I write. I suppose in reality they reflect the simple taste of the missionaries who “civilized” the islands.

But Hawaii truly is a unique paradise as it’s billed. The people are warm and friendly and when they say “Aloha” or Mahalo,” they mean it. They are conscious of their environment—you don’t see trash along highways at all; wide bike lanes provide safety for riders; people often pull off the road to park, even camp, at small strips of beach; hotels and other public buildings are open air—no doors or windows in lobbies, etc. (I almost wished it would rain hard so I could see how they cope). Hawaiians are, however, conscious of their privacy, and a lot of houses I would like to have seen were hidden by the privacy of a concrete block wall (erected since a bad hurricane) or thick foliage.

Flowers everywhere, and trees I’d never seen—one I can’t name in which the leaves branched out from the trunk in horizontal planes. The wiliwili or twisted tree is an indigenous and endangered flowering tree now the subject of a strong conservation effort. And firs and pines abound, along of course with the ubiquitous palm trees. Yes, we got leis—some authentic ones from our friends (below) that I can’t describe and at the hotel on Maui, the orchid leis.

The langugae baffled both of us. I am never comfortable speaking a foreign language though I can muddle through reading French and Spanish, but Hawaiian is beyond me. It's that dipthong that isn't quite what it seems--Li'hue is Le-hooey (rhymes with phooey), Ka'annapoli has just that slight hesitation between the two letters "a." And the spelling of many of them is difficult though Poipu beach comes out sounding much like it's spelled. I still don't know the name of the airport city in Maui.

The things I liked best: chocolate covered macadamia nuts, wonderfully sweet fruit, the abundance of fresh fish—some such as ono which I’d never heard of, the constantly changing landscape, and of course the ocean. Okay, it did remind me of Lake Michigan, but the ocean had whales! Big difference.

If you can bear with me in the next couple of days I’ll sketch our adventures in Kauai and Maui. It was a wonderful adventure but, as always, I’m glad to be home and to be greeted by an exuberantly enthusiastic dog—nice to be missed.


Lourdes Venard said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it. Maui is our special place -- we gone back over and over and never tire!

Judy Alter said...

I can see why, Lourdes. Now that I'm back in Texas I miss that ocean and the breezes (which really can cause a bad hair day!).