Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Aloha, Hawaii: Friday, July 29, 2011

As we approached Honolulu, the sunrise created a color rich horizon of reds, oranges, and deep blues that changed and brightened as we got closer. When we arrived in Hawaii, we were greeted with a rainbow! How could this possibly be a bad sign?!

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!

We proceeded to a tour of Honolulu and went up to Nu’uanu Pali, a lookout that offers a view of the valley, the golf course, the water, the site of a number of movies (Mighty Joe Young, included!) and…Gilligan’s Island! The theme song from that show has followed us throughout our trip so it was particularly fun that we could see the place where it was filmed. Ken even knows all of the words to the song, BTW! In reality, it is actually called Coconut Island. The view was beautiful, it was incredibly windy and we found lots of wild chickens and baby chicks living there, as well.

Tomorrow is our free day in Waikiki and then...the luau!

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