Peregrine flight

Saturday, January 16, 2010

There and back again - the final chronicles of our journey west to the Sandwich Islands.

We are safely nestled, warm and comfortable in our domestic warren after the long voyage across the mighty Pacific.

As is typical for such whirlwind endeavors, we are exhausted and in great need of a restorative vacation from the vacation.

We flew all night, landing in Ciudad de Los Angeles at the second bell of the morning watch. (Roughly five o'clock - ed.)

It strains all credulity that man can actually travel in these strange metal birds, but I must tell you that our world has changed indeed, my friend.

You can be guaranteed several occurrences on these Blakeian treks across the great oceans. The lad or lassie sitting directly behind you will surely commemorate the occasion with a memorable game of "let's kick the gentleman's seat" or "lets see how many times we can put the tray up or down." Any attempts to remonstrate the offending perpetrator is sure to meet with a look of bitter ire from the scoundrel's adoring parents.

Either my girth has exponentially grown or the chairs on these flying vessels have been greatly reduced in size, it seemed that every wayward passenger chose the occasion to pass my berth with a vigorous bump on my shoulder and a squeeze on the top of the seat cushion. This hearty greeting was usually performed just as I was starting to drift off into sleep, so the night was broken up into a fitful bout of exhausting starts and stops. The water closets should be attended to at the earliest possible opportunity on these excursions, as they quickly become filthy cesspools owing to the queasy stomachs of our poor fellow travelers.

I shan't belabor you with the assorted ills and affronts - my own blood uncle Norman, full brother to my own blessed mother, recently told her that my writings were both repetitive and full of complaints. In gratitude for my kindly uncle's attempt to quash my own lack of courtesy and appreciation I would like to now recount the steps we took when we last left our faithful readers.

Every day is miserable for the depressed, but a lighthearted man has a continual feast.
-- Proverbs 15:15  

My dear Leslie and I were greatly fatigued by the arduous nature of our first several days on the Island and chose to rest and reinvigorate our earthly vessels on the third day.

Did I mention to you that the island of Hawaii, the largest and oldest of its siblings in the Sandwich archipelago, is actually comprised of seven volcanos, five visible, two resting under the ocean floor? The oldest, Kohala, is long in deep slumber. The youngest, Lothi, has only been erupting since 1996. It is scheduled to rise up from the ocean floor and join its fellow Kilauea on dry earth some 100,000 years in the future.

We started the third day journeying north to the petroglyph laden beach of Puako. I enquired of a local man Mako how one could be sure that ancient man was indeed the artist and not some "hippie" with a chisel and he said that the peace symbols were usually a dead giveaway. Leslie met a hawaiian man on the shoreline who gave her puka shells to add to her collection.

We then drove to the town of Kawaiikae, an olde sugar town, and had a scone and a steaming mug of good kona coffee.

We stopped at the Mauna Kea, the neighboring inn, and watched the many humpback whales cavort off its beach.  After a pleasant interlude watching the mighty cetaceans romp, we journeyed to our own beach, Hapuna, and Leslie frolicked in the water like one of Poseidon's sea nymphs for hours. We napped and then took our supper at an interesting restaurant in Kailua, Genki. Genki is an industrialized sushi bar with a revolving shuttle of raw fish for uncommonly cheap prices. It has a hip, non pretentious attitude and we gorged ourselves to a gluttonous final state.

The native people are truly the nicest people I have ever encountered in any of my worldly travels. We have all had encounters with strangers who would feign sincerity and good cheer in order to separate you from a spare farthing or two.  The Hawaiians do not have that penchant for guile and deceit. I remember once meeting an islander who told me that when  Captain Cook first made his appearance on the volcanic chain, there was no word in the native tongue for steal. Only borrow. He said that they ultimately borrowed every single nail in the poor Captain's boat.  The people are like the natives of Oaxaca in Mexico I have previously observed. Happy, warm and sweet.

That night, returning to our hotel we saw a cute little spotted pig no more than a foot long in the fields. Apparently the wild variety had carnal relations with its domestic cousins. We saw boar, green lizards, turkey, mongoose, centipedes and a huge variety of bugs and birds. And of course whales, seemingly on every horizon line.

The next day, rested and replenished, we woke early to travel to the northwest most vantage on the peninsula, PololĂș. PololĂș is an untouched and magnificent valley that was the site of taro production long ago. The valley floor is reached by the steep, lush and sometimes painful descent of the Awini trail. The early native would use donkeys to export his taro out of the steep canyon.

We found a fruit husk that was a perfect globe and took some pictures of it on the beach, like some crazed early modernist.

Unfortunately every steep descent is matched with its ascending counterpart and we felt the fruits of our sloth and idleness upon our return. We drove back to Waimea on the high country road, 250, quite possibly my favorite space and view on the whole enchanted rock. Once there, we decided to motorcar to Kapoho Beach, Hilo side, for some excellent snorkeling. Kapoho is located next to the notoriously stoned town of Pahoa and it was not long before we smelled the sweet yet skunky smell of the hemp plant. The natives have a habit of rolling the noxious herb in thin paper and lighting it with a torch, and can be identified by the large billows of smoke that they expel from their lungs, like the spout of a humpback. It is said to have a mild narcotic effect that breeds indolence in its user.

Kapoho is a series of tidal pools and volcanic hot springs that are rich in sea life. Finding the right and sufficiently deep pool in which to observe the habitat is a series of trial and error, a fact that explains the multitude of cuts and abrasions I now sport on various parts of my body.  We returned on the very same saddle road, with its unique views and volcanic landscape.

That night we ate at Merrimans, a wildly popular but ultimately unfortunate choice of repast that I mentioned in my last missive.

Yesterday started off with a scrambled egg and portugese sausage seaweed roll, at some Los Angeles expatriates little charming shop, then a mad dash around the island, back to Waipio for a final successful look at the other great valley, swimming at the Mauna Kea, a visit to Puukohola Heiau, Kamehameha's residence and a view of the submerged white tip shark heiau in the bay.  

Eventually we ambled over to Kahaluu Beach park, where we saw some turtles lounging about. A toothless hawaiian, about my age, drinking an unspecified libation out of a brown paper bag, made inquiries about my wearing long pants, an oddity apparently in that part of the world. He asked where I was from and when I said San Diego, California, he appeared a trifle confused as if it was the far off steppes of Bhutan.

Ricardo, longtime friend, and habitant of the island chain had suggested that no trip would be complete without a stop at the Kainalihu's Aloha Theatre and cafe for a coffee and pastry. It was a gay film night and seemingly every transvestite on the island was there in all of their resplendent glory.

We dined at an italian restaurant which was excellent, and a nice break from the steady diet of fish that we had been enjoying. It is run by a mexican basque who had once lived in Alaska. Ne'ermind his geographical confusion, his pesto was excellent. Then a mad dash to the aerodrome, with a small dramatic passage on account of a lost pair of colored spectacles, a subject I need not broach here.

I leave with  newfound respect and admiration for the place and its inhabitants and hope to return in the future.

Aloha and Mahalo,

Robert Steven Sommers


Anonymous said...

Through laughter and quiet sighs of "yes", I realize that you have caught the spirit of this place in your words. Thanks.

island guy said...

Your SoCal driving abilities sound like they came in handy. The Humpbacks always seem like Grey whales with a turbocharger, great fun to watch, glad you got to enjoy them so much.

Hawai'ian transvestites aren't quite the beauties their Thai cousins often are, but still must have made for a nice change of people watching pace from your usual Fallbrook coffee haunts!

Emergefit said...

A nice account, and great pics!

Blue Heron said...

Yeah, our only recognizable drag queen is a fat married guy with four kids who coaches hockey.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to warn you of the lecherous tranny inhabiting those......... parts, goes by the name of Martin Luther Queen, but maybe he/she has moved on.

Little known fact......Original name of those magnificent isles was Roast Beef on Rye With Mayo and Mustard. Then it was shortened. Why?....I dunno. 'Tiny bubbles....'

Don Ho

Anonymous said...

if you like the ukelele woman
the ukelele woman likah you.....