The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. - Marcel Proust
W, groaning: Ugh
J: What’s that bird?
W: Which one?
J: That one.
W (still very sleepy): Huh?
J: The one that sounds like a marimba.
W (trying to get her brain to move a little faster): A marimba? Huh?
J: There, that one.
W: Oh, that one. It sounds like a marimba? Guess so. I think it’s a dove.
J: A dove?
You can have heard stories all your life, gotten endless lists of recommendations of things to do, and yet the experience of going somewhere new turns out to be something much different from what you might have expected. Or, you take someone to someplace really familiar to you, that your guest has never seen before. You’re forced to see all of the little details anew, all the tidbits of information and history that make your impression of this place very unique and personal. We’d had trips like this over the summer - Glacier National Park, a place I’d never seen. The trip over New Year’s was a bit of a reversal; for me a trip home, for J his first to Hawaii.
When you grow up seeing the words, one forgets that the Hawaiian language is nothing like anything you might have see in Southern California (say ‘Kalaniana’ole’ three times fast), that the skies are so vibrant blue, that the land is lush, the air heavy and humid. You forget that the waves at the North Shore can be huge, but if the conditions are choppy, you won’t be seeing any surfers out on those waves. Oh yeah, brainfart.
“You can hike into Diamond Head?” J was surprised. Yup. “Aren’t you afraid of volcanic fumes that might be out-gassing?” Um, nope. “Do we have to hike from the ocean?” No, there’s a parking lot inside the crater; you’ll see. Things you don’t ever think about; you realize that it’s a very different experience, trying to take it all in for the first time.
And more, things you knew all along but had forgotten:
How yummy pass-o-guava juice is and how onolicious the take-out from Kin-Wah Chop Suey is. How reassuring it is to know that there are L&L Drive Inns almost wherever you go. How windy the Pali is (did you have pork in the car? Ooo, chicken skin). How nice the sunset over Waikiki is. The feeling of the early morning and evening breezes. How long the wait is to take the ferry over to the Arizona Memorial, and that you should have just come early, but you could easily pass the time to wait going through the other exhibits, all the same.
We passed on joining the rest of the crowd in the middle of Waikiki, choosing instead to enjoy the walks along the Kapiolani Park/Zoo end, less crowded and so relaxing. We got these amazing coffee shakes at Teddy’s Bigger Burger across from the Zoo, but J experienced new cuisine as well - - Malasadas (and he’ll know to keep an eye out for the red and white striped trucks) and andagi and Wendee’s favorite, futomaki sushi. He says all were good. Does life get any better than that? We got to see Bellows and Kualoa, two stops that many visitors miss. And J got to experience a traditional Hawaii New Year’s Eve, yes, with noisy, smoky fireworks and sparklers. This is a trip to Hawaii that most visitors couldn’t imagine, and yet, I couldn’t imagine Hawaii as anything else.
It was a quick trip. J had just started to get some of the place names straight in his mind, able to pronounce them without pausing with uncertainty. We miss the morning breezes. You know we’ll have to go back. After all, we went through Haleiwa twice without stopping for shave ice. You, like J, might say, “Shave ice? You mean snow cones? What’s the big deal? It’s like … snow with syrup. I’ve done that before.” Ah ha. You think you know, but Hawaiian shave ice, well, that’s a whole ‘nuther story…