Thursday, August 4, 2011

Luau and Aloha - Saturday, July 30 … July 31st

Our final full day was spent in Honolulu with our group pursuing personal interests ranging from shopping to helicopters to recuperating/rejuvenating on the beach. It was an excellent day to unwind, perhaps even reach nirvana! - not terribly difficult in this Hawaiian Paradise, mind you - and prepare for our final flights home. Thanks for these photos from your helicopter tour, Jamie!

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.

While standing on line for our grease pencil tattoos, we met a very confident and well-spoken 6th grader. He was going to get a "tattoo" and then send a picture of it to his dad in Puerto Rico to try to "freak him out". He was so excited to be playing this little joke on his dad (with his mom's permission, we found out), to be enjoying all there was to offer at the luau, and to just be here and then the source of all his joy showed up - his mom. She was dressed in a beautifully beaded long white dress with a megawatt smile and twinkling eyes that matched her son's. There was no question where this young man got his looks and open personality and that he and his mom shared a very special bond. He introduced us and then casually told us that his mom had just gotten married, hence the white dress that I thought looked suspiciously matrimonial! Her new husband was there and so, of course, Mater had to get in on the action and photos were taken. Their wedding photographer took photos as well so there is a good chance that Mater will end up in a wedding album to boot! More happiness to add to this beautiful evening!

On our way into Paradise Cove, we had pictures taken as a group or individually. There was a young Marine from Alabama right behind us in line and we spontaneously adopted him for the night as he readily joined in our group photo therefore becoming our “cousin”. Everyone in Hawaii is a cousin, if not by blood but my the mere fact that they live in Hawaii, or at least Waikiki, or are simply mahini, or tourists. Our new relative, Matt, managed to go onstage, thoroughly in line with his personality! He was outgoing and friendly with the gift of southern gab and a willingness to share that immediately endeared him to us. He loved being a part of our “family” enjoying the camaraderie and uniqueness of being the African American cousin to our lily white Caucasian group! He was the perfect new friend to make on our journey through the South Pacific.

The luau food was appetizing and plentiful, we were all happy with our photos and, all in all, we enjoyed another flawless evening. It was a meaningful way to end our journey together, accompanied with unfettered laughter and camaraderie and created more memories of our shared adventure.

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.

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