Just the facts ma’am (LP)

K’s family arrived last week.  We planned some activities in Oahu and a trip to Kauai.

Our first big adventure was a sunset sail on Island Dream Catamaran in Oahu.  We were the only ones on the boat.  We saw a double rainbow and a slow burning sunset.  I’ve never watched a sunset like that before.  Maybe the last time I saw something comparable was on the dock of West Peak Inn in Honduras.  I think sunsets are best enjoyed quietly.

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Two days later we set off for Kauai.  Checking in at the airport I stood behind a woman with beautiful flowers in her hair.  Her name was Martha and she was on her way to the Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo to watch her daughter dance.  I told her the flowers were pretty and asked if I could take her picture.  She said yes then reached into her bag and gave me one of my own (along with two bobby pins). I will always remember Martha for giving me flowers when I needed them.

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We arrived in Kauai and my first thought was that I loved it, that I could live there for part of the year.  Maybe even longer.  A lush warm island, it smells like wood and nuts.

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We stayed in Hanapepe in a doctor’s house.  He rented us half of his home, which was three floors and and five rooms with a living room. After we settled in we mistakenly headed for  Hanalei/Princeville thinking it was close enough to drive for dinner.  It took three hours.  We raced down the one dark highway hoping to reach the North Shore before all the restaurants closed (as we hadn’t eaten since breakfast).  Thankfully we found Postcards in Princeville.  We made it 15 minutes before their last seating.  The environment was leisurely.  The service warm.  The food delicious.  I was pretty sleepy at the time so I don’t really remember my meal except that it was Ahi and it had macadamia nuts. And I liked it.

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This first trip to Kauai was characterized, for me,  by the awesome people we met doing all the activities we did.

We booked the Waterfall Tour with Safari Helicopters.  At Safari Helicopter our orientation guide on the ground, Sherell had us laughing the whole time and made the periods of waiting zip by.

The tour was spectacular of course.  Sometimes I would slip into feeling like I was watching TV because the ride was so smooth and the view so overwhelmingly beautiful.  But at the end of the tour as we flew over the Napali Coast, the helicopter glided down into a valley surrounded by towering cliffs.  At one point all around us were waterfalls.  It was so beautiful I wanted to cry.  It was so beautiful that I decided not to take a picture.  But here’s one of the Napali Coast instead.

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Our lodging was on the south end of Kauai in Hanapepe as I said before.  If I could do it again,   I would probably stay closer to the North Shore.  Hanapepe is charming and small--billed as the biggest little town in Kauai.  On Friday nights they have an art night for the little galleries along one charming road.  They open their doors late and apparently serve wine etc.  We didn’t really get to explore Art Night. It seemed very nice and community based.  But it didn’t feel entirely welcoming.  We walked into a couple of galleries and then headed home.

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The doctor who rented us the house told me to make sure to have dinner at Hanapepe Cafe for the only night they serve dinner (the same night as Art Night).  I’m really glad that I experienced it because I don’t know that I’ll go back there when we return to Kauai. The restaurant itself was very comfortable and the food was delicious.  I had Ono in a lemon butter sauce with purple yams and grilled pineapple.

Later that night we went to The Point at Sheraton in Poipu to visit Sarah who was there coordinating their dance party. We didn’t stay long.  Just enough for one drink and some talk.  Albeit short, seeing Sarah gave me a big boost.

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The next day was breakfast at Kalaheo Cafe then the Wiki Wiki Zip line tour with Just Live.  It was a fantastic day.  Not only because I was able to face some serious fear of heights issues, but it was cathartic.  After the zip lines, we all attempted their rock climbing wall.  I made it to the top.  It was exhilarating.  What made it extra rewarding was the passionate support that the  instructors  provided.  Particularly Nikki who’s like a zip line angel–awesome energy.   Just Live’s focus is team building for youth.  You can tell by the way they handle everything that they’re probably very good with kids.  They’re reassuring, informative, kind, and most of all fun.

After the high of that experience we didn’t want to just go home.  We headed to Poipu Beach which we had only seen in the dark.  It wasn’t dark this time.  I think watching the sunset at Poipu was the most relaxing thing I experienced over those five days.

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The next morning K and I had alone time at Gaylord’s for breakfast.  Awesome buffet.  Loved it.  Very rejuvenating.

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It’s pretty incredible the things that we did in such a short period of time.  The very next day we went for a three hour ATV tour with Kipu Ranch.

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I loved driving the ATV.  At first it was really scary but that quickly dissipated.  Our guide Cody was very fun.  We saw peacocks and pigs on the trail.  And at one point a cow ran right in front of my ATV.  Our trip to Kauai consisted mostly of pre-packaged tours.  I normally steer away from packages.  I assumed the ATV tour would be a bunch of tourists riding around on a carefully tousled field with some rock obstacles created for us to drive over–and maybe that was the case.  If it was, I was definitely fooled.   We rode 13 miles down into a spectacular valley and up to an elevation of 11,000 feet.  Cody stopped along the way and shared the mythology of some of the awesome natural sights.  For me, the most powerful part of the whole day was reaching the end of the trail.  Cody had us walk up onto a little plateau and look out over the most beautiful beach cove, Kipu Kai.  No one was on it.  The only way to get to it was by taking the ATV tour or by boat.  From where we stood you could see the waves rhythmically reaching the shore but because we were so far away we couldn’t hear them.  It was like watching a living breathing giant.   I’d like to go back there again.

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Take a Pillbox

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We hiked up to the first ‘pillbox’ or bunker on Ka’iwa Ridge in Lanikai.  The trailhead is along a chain link fence right across from the Mid-Pacific Country Club.  The hike was about an hour and a half and pretty steep at the beginning and near the end.  I was huffing and puffing in parts but then it would ease up and it was very easy to enjoy the view.

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Afternoon in Hawaii Kai

The other weekend we met K’s friend Jeremy at the Koko Marina Center’s Starbucks. We were picking up K’s keyboard which he had loaned Jeremy and in return we got a gift bag of organic awesomeness:

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Here they are later in our house.  It was like a bottomless bag:

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I asked him where he did his grocery shopping and aside from Wholefoods he mentioned a place called Kale’s Natural Food.  He also told us about a website that was a great resource for home remedies. We spent 3 hours at that Starbucks which is a record for me since coming here.

This is currently my favorite thing from the batch.  It’s delicious with oatmeal and bananas for breakfast:

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Koko Marina Center is big-time compared to Kailua.  It’s very fancy and has lots of stores like Bubbie’s Ice Cream and a multiplex.  Part of the reason I wanted to check it out was because Laura from Lily Lotus had said that there was a good teacher at Hawaii Kai’s Bikram studio.

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We found the studio tucked away on the second floor but it was in session so we couldn’t go in.  I read online that it’s the only bikram place in Oahu that uses infrared heat.  It looks very quaint and clean from the outside.   At some point one morning I’ll drive over there and take a class.

Driving to Hawaii Kai you pass right through Waimanalo and its stunning beach.  I tried to get a picture when we were driving home but this is the best I could get:

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Hot!

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Well.  It took me a total of three hours but I walked to Kailua Shopping Center to take a yoga class at Bikram Yoga Kailua.  It wasn’t bad.  The sky is gray today so I can imagine that on a sunnier day the walk would be pleasant.  But I didn’t mind–the street wasn’t busy and I caught up on my Left, Right, and Center podcast.

In all my time doing yoga I’ve always steered clear of Bikram (hot) yoga.  I tend to overheat quickly and I thought the style would be bad for my knees.  Surprisingly, I felt stronger after class.  My knees felt less sore or tender.  I don’t know that that’s one of the benefits of Bikram.  For example, Iyengar yoga is meant to be more rehabilitative and good for the injured.  Bikram, like Ashtanga, always seemed similar in that their suited for people in tip top shape. Contrary to all of that, being hot made my joints more supple.  The class pace is slow and not very intense (except for the sweat pouring off you).  I liked it.  I signed up for the new student offer 30 days for $30.  That’s even better than Open Space!

The format for class is a little weird.  The room is small.  The teacher talks you through the class sometimes demonstrating if you’re having trouble.  But the weird thing is that she uses a headset–as in a microphone.  Like Madonna.  It was funny but it makes sense.  You shouldn’t be struggling to hear the teacher.  The other thing is that you face a full wall mirror the whole time.  I was wary at first but then I liked being able to make adjustments based on how I looked and not just how I felt.

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Last night Sarah and i took class at Manoa Yoga Center.  My picture makes it look like a prison complex but Manoa is so lovely.  A very picturesque residential area.  We took class with Ray, one of the owners.  He’s certainly the most experienced teacher I’ve had class with here in Hawaii.  I think we’ll go back again, mainly to take a more intermediate class.

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Sarah showed me Punahou School where she, Sean (and Obama!) went to highschool.  There’s a carnival coming up at the school organized by the junior class and staffed by students, alum, and parents.  It sounds so fun- food and rides in Manoa!

Lei munh ngaw, ngaw munh biin gaw?

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So little and yet so much happens here in Hawaii.  Last night we went to a ‘Januaries’ birthday party thrown by K’s coworkers/friends at La Mariana Sailing Club.  Touchingly they included me on the birthday cake.  I met Annie there who has been living in Kailua for 2 years with her husband who works with Ken.  She was breathtakingly warm and full of kindness.  It was really really nice.  She stopped us as we were leaving the party and we ended up talking for an hour standing at the exit.  It was a small relief to hear her stories of settling in Hawaii and leaving a life and career behind.  Two thoughts that I shared with her that I don’t feel anybody else can really understand :  how is it when there’s really not anything that you have to do that the day goes by so quickly anyway; and how do you answer the question ‘what do you DO all day?’  when it’s a combination of so much and so little.  I like Annie.  If nothing else she made me briefly feel like we weren’t alone.

Interestingly K mentioned to Annie that I’m doing yoga and the first three words out of her mouth were ‘ my friend Murti’.  –which was pretty shocking because of all the teachers I’ve tried so far in Hawaii (6), Murti is the only one who has made a big impact.  From what I gathered he used to do classes here in Kailua.  Annie said she would find out if he still did.

I’ve learned and keep being reminded that in Hawaii everyone is someone’s cousin so don’t talk stink.  Being from New York, my second language is stink.  But not usually for malicious reasons.  It’s just a habit of saying something’s weird if its weird or saying someone’s annoying if they’re annoying.  That generally doesn’t happen here.  People here either live by an Aloha spirit; generally don’t have malicious things to say about one another; OR they know better than to say something openly critical or judgmental about someone else.  This is opposite my personality but I’m pretty sure I haven’t really said anything bad about anyone since I’ve gotten here.  Except for Alvin at Servco.  I yelled my brains out at him when our battery died the day after we bought the car.  I do feel bad about that.

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Lunar New Year festivities started on Friday.  It was pretty neat–lots and lots of lions, very organized and not terribly crowded.  Ken said that the feeling could be called iit nao in Cantonese or festive crowded-ness.  Wing Tek had a special dinner and lion dance at his office.  We weren’t able to go.  But it was really nice to see them briefly and wish them Gung Hay Fat Choy!

There was a phenomenon that we encountered that I don’t think really would have happened in NY Chinatown:

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That is white people dressed in Chinese costume.  This person is not the only one we saw and certainly not the most intricate.  You can’t see in the picture but he has a fake queue hanging from his hat.  These people seemed oblivious to the fact that it might be weird…much less offensive.  K said it would be like white people walking around with an Afro for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.   I would’ve taken a picture of the weirdest example but I was too engrossed in shooting them dirty looks–which had no effect on them whatsoever. Ah, me.

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We picked up take out from a restaurant on Nuuanu called Little Village.  It was so crowded.  People waiting for at least an hour to be seated.  It seemed like a very nice place and most of the food we got was very good.  Much better than Mini Garden just a few feet away.  My favorite was the Taro Duck which I’m eating as leftovers two days later.

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A centipede ran over my foot the other day and didn’t bite me.  I’ve been told that it’s so painful if you do get bit that you have to stay in bed for three days!  We scooped it up in a bowl and let it go in the dirt.

Every week here I miss New York in a different way.  This past week spending so much time with Sarah was great– spending time with her transcends geography or circumstance.  I would like Sarah for a friend whatever city I met her in.  But in a way it makes me feel the loneliness a little more.

My friends Calvin and Deanne are coming in a few days.  It’ll be nice to see them.