Thursday, November 09, 2006

Aloha! (Honolulu, Hawaii)

I'm back on Mu!
Since I was a little girl, I felt a strong connection to these islands. Maybe it was all that trans-Pacific movement as our family shuffled between California and Tokyo again and again. Maybe I am just a sucker for tiki torches. For someone who has never lived here, I sure do have a lot of memories associated with this place. I don't know how many people reading this remember the days when there weren't any non-stop flights between the West Coast and Asia. In the early days, I remember how we had a stopover not only in Hawaii, but on Wake Island! Who the hell goes to Wake now? (Actually, I would LOVE to!)

Memories of when I was the only child, staying in a Very Posh Hotel on JAL's tab (don't remember the details but our flight got canceled and we had to stay an extra day)…of when our family finally moved back to Japan and my brother's luggage went missing so we had to buy a whole lot of clothes for him (on JAL's tab again! LOL)…of being here with a guy I was dating at the time and staying with his ex-girlfriend (who was very cool, but how uncool was the whole thing!)…(The ex-girlfriend was in the Navy, training dolphins on the Kaneohe base. We played with the dolphins but she never was able to tell me the exact nature of the military training. It was probably not too far from my imagination.)… Memories of meeting Kealakekua Bob, a haole indigent who was sort of key to my life today…to the more recent one of bringing family here with us…

It's hard to shake the backpacker mode, even in Honolulu. You can take a city bus from the airport and it only costs $2. You can get a $40/night room (and if you are a single person traveling, there are cheap hostels here, too.) We had booked a cheapo-zeepo condo (the cheapest one we could find!) and spent the last couple of days in LA packing things like food and toilet paper into our backpacks. Big Dog remembered toilet paper being really expensive on the islands. Of course, we get here and find out otherwise, but too late now! At least it weighs next to nothing.

Because of all the extra stuff we were bringing (we even considered our fold-up bikes, but when United told us there would be an $80 surcharge for oversized baggage, we nixed that idea) we couldn't take the city bus and had to call a shuttle. Thanks to that move, we got to meet Frances. She was the driver of our shuttle and while we were stuck in the afternoon rush hour traffic, we talked up a storm. She's a mother of five and a former meth addict (more on the ice problem later) who works 2 jobs and still finds energy for volunteer work (drug counseling, polls, community service work!) An amazing woman. I felt our Hawaii stay was off to an auspicious start.

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