Thursday, March 5, 2015
Thursday, August 4, 2011
After checking our baggage, we bid our farewells to David,our excellent Honolulu guide, and proceeded to the gate for our early flight in the hopes of making our LAX connection in time. FYI, American Airlines does not serve any food whatsoever on their flights, including those of extended duration. So, we fortified ourselves with bagels and boarded the plane. Branden, another veteran friend from the waiting area, told us he has never left Honolulu on time...so we waited. Naturally, Branden and Mater became fast friends!
I, for one, take from my wanderings the gratification of exploring new places and discovering bits and pieces of the human spirit (including my own) that was previously unfamiliar while having made some new friends along the way. These are memories that have become part of who I am along with friends who have enriched my life. No worries, no regrets, hakuna matata, kaore he aha ki a au, 'A'ole pilikia.
Welcome home, my friends.
We had an awesome luau on Paradise Cove for our last dinner together. Paradise Cove is an area of almost 100 acres that includes beaches, canoes, Hawaiian crafts, live performances, shops, and temporary tattoos painted on by scantily clad Samoan men (this line went on forever...mostly women, mind you!). After more than an hour or so of taking advantage of all there was to offer, we were seated for dinner with the main performance by the Paradise Cove dancers backed up by a Hawaiian musical group that played typical Hawaiian instruments and sang. It’s pretty impressive what these young people can do with their bodies, conjuring up some fond memories for some of us! They did dances from Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, New Zealand, and, of course, Hawaii. It was fast moving and, often times, told a story that was all based on traditional ceremonies and ancient history. Audience participation enhanced the experience for us all , as audience members got on stage to learn a traditional dance and interact with the performers.
We returned to the hotel @11:00 PM to get a few hours sleep before meeting in the lobby at 4:45 AM four our 5:00 AM airport departure. While we are satiated with our travels and happily exhausted, it will be good to get home to our families and familiar routines.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
So, we are in yet another Paradise here in the Waikiki Beach area of Honolulu. We are in the Ka’a’awa Valley where towering palm trees, turquoise skies, and crystal waters provide the background for the last days of our wanderings together.
The Hawaiian language has only 12 letters in their alphabet: the vowels “a, e, i, o, u“ all pronounced as they are in Spanish and their consonants, “h, k, l, m, n, p, and w”. There is also an 'okina, a glottal stop in pronunciation that helps to differentiate words. You pronounce all the letters individually, barring some exceptions, and it is all sounds very melodious and singable. “Aloha” can be used as a hello, a departure, or simply a greeting. “Alo” means “face to face” and “ha” is “breath of life”. So much of this culture is about connections with others, through their language, their actions and their general approach to life, something we have found throughout this journey. While Hawaii is a part of the continental US, it is the most isolated island in the world with a decidedly different philosophy than the east coast of the continent. Not better - not worse - but definitely different. It is so gratifying to get to know more of our own country and our countrymen…and women!
We were met at the airport by David, our Honolulu guide and proceeded to our hotel where Jane and Ken finally got to play golf on the most difficult course in the United States, Ko'olau Golf Club. Talk to Jane and Ken about their games! ...and that 's Gilligan's Island just right of the top center nearest to the coast...a 3 hour tour!
The weather was questionable but ultimately cooperated (as it has done throughout our trip!) as the rest of us went to Pearl Harbor. Here we found displays on the history and chronicles of the attack which depict the events through the eyes of both the Japanese and the Americans. There was a movie about the series of events leading up to the attack and it was a very sobering moment to be reminded so graphically of the horrific surprise that met our soldiers on that December morning not so long ago. From the film, we were ferried out to the memorial to the SSS Arizona. It was here we could honor the list of names of the victims of this pivotal event in WWII. It was here we could smell the oil that still leaks from the wreck swirling in oily rainbows among brightly colored fish and slow, innocent sea turtles. It was here we saw veterans of all ages honoring their comrades. With our flag waving above us, it was a sobering visit.
I met Daniel and his friend from Michigan who were there to find the name of a friend’s father. They were veterans, as well. I struck up a conversation, took a photo of them with Mater (of course!) and they asked me to photograph the name of their friend, as well. I happily took the pictures and promised to send them to Daniel's email. (I did just that!)
While at Arizona Memorial I saw a young man with two prosthetic legs wandering around the monument alone. I knew he had to be a veteran, as well. He confirmed that he was a veteran and offered that he had lost his legs in Afghanistan. I thanked him for his service and sacrifice and he happily agreed to a picture with Mater. This is one of Mater’s favorite pictures!