What Has Been Seen Cannot be Unseen
It was Good Friday, heralded by an overnight wave of rain and soupy humidity, but turned into a beautiful, sunny day. Most of today was also unplanned, so some of the group ran off for their final shopping sprees, one woman in our group went on a swimming with dolphins excursion (Not included on our shared itinerary), and Paul took some of our late arrivals back out to the Dole Plantation since they missed out on it earlier in the week. I looked for a few more odds and ends to bring back with me,* and did a self-guided tour of the Ala Wai Canal since the hotel was just a block or two from the northeast end of it. Walking along the canal was more or less peaceful as other tourists took pictures, runners/joggers passed by, etc. The only thing to ruin the morning was having to pass by an obese man on a bench sunning himself. Not that sunning yourself is offensive, I mean, who am I to dictate who can or cannot have their time in the sun? But he had stripped off his t-shirt and had a far-smaller-than-he-should-be-wearing pair of jean shorts laid across his lap. Thus, he was leaving it up to anyone’s imagination to decide if he was somehow undressed underneath the strategically-strewn jean shorts or if he had the skimpiest of banana hammocks on. Regardless, I was content to move on with my life without an answer to that particular mystery.
After a worthwhile lunch at an all-you-can-eat sushi bar (A few of us went), I packed and arranged my bags for tomorrow’s departure since I wasn’t sure how late we’d be arrive back from our luau.**
* A friend of mine was kind enough to check in on my place while I was away, so I owed her a few packages of Kona Coffee (Her request), and I went back to the International Market to buy a few prints from one of the stores I spotted earlier in the week.
** Since we arrived back at the hotel just after 10:00 PM and I had a 4:00 AM wake up call, this was a good decision.
Saying Good-Bye to Hawaii
Naturally, what visit to Hawaii is complete without a luau? While it may be true that luaus may rank right up there on the stereotype meter with ukulele music, hula skirts and Mai Tais, but like many things, they’re born from age-old tradition. And if it involves good food, alcohol and scantily-clad beautiful people dancing, who am I to question tradition? Paul managed to book us for what he considers one of the better luau events on Oahu at Paradise Cove. An army of us piled onto a tour bus for the 45 minute ride out to the resort (Which was beautiful in a cruise ship/Disneyland sort of way), and we were entertained by Richie, our bus guide and on-board stand-up comedian. Arriving at the resort’s luau setting, you’re greeted by some of the most beautiful people on Earth – the luau’s dancers (Male and female) – all of whom were magnificent to behold. Before the festivities, there were a number of events and demonstrations to attend and participate in, everything from learning how to make leis, spear throwing, net fishing, and even fake tattoos (I choose a tribal one drawn on my forearm that made me consider getting real tattoo number three). Navigating the crowds and paying attention to the events was a little hard considering the luau dancers were periodically walking by, causing everyone to develop serious neck strain.
On the Top: A traditional fishing boat and a mesmerizing lesson on properly tying your skirt.
On the Bottom: It was fun having a fake tattoo on my arm, but not sure I’d have the balls to that for real, and we were fascinated by the net fishing class…I’m really not sure why…
Finally, it was time for the start of the luau with the emu ceremony, which mainly involves two men (Who looked like they were sumo wrestlers who decided that juggling sumo wrestlers was more fun) walking out and pulling the roast pig (Emu) out of the underground fire pit. The smell of roasting pork was more than enough to make us run to the food line.
Dinner was announced and everyone ate their fill of traditional food – roasted pork, chicken and all the trimmings. Also, I finally tried poi, which many have told me is the very definition of a “love or hate” food. Thanks to my willingness to try anything once, I dug in and spooned out an ample helping of poi and it was the first thing I tried when I sat down. Based on some the negative reviews I’ve heard about it, the question I always wanted to ask is can poi be the worst thing I ever eat? I was in Berlin in 1990, just months after the Wall there fell and the then Eastern Block countries were opening up to the west. On my last night there, a group of us ate at a restaurant and were served what must’ve been the most depressing chicken dinner imaginable (And I’m being kind when I call it “chicken”). The “dessert” for that evening was some sort of unidentifiable, flavorless “fruit” encased in a clear, tasteless gel (Think Jell-O only without taste and much, much thicker). To date, it’s one of the few things I dared trying without really knowing what it was and spent the rest of the evening fighting my gag reflex from the disgusting memory of it. The dessert was vile beyond anything I can comprehend or remember to this day. Surprisingly, poi isn’t quite that bad, but I rank it as a not-too-distant second place by comparison.
As dinner wound up, the show began and we were treated to an hour of watching paragons of human physicality hula dance, march and prance on the stage. Men were entranced by gyrating hips in hula skirts and barely-there tops and women swooned over perfectly-conditioned men. The highlight was, of course, the fire knife dance, performed by a man who I want to come back as in my next life.
With our stomachs full and camera batteries drained, we piled onto the bus for the ride home and said our good byes in the hotel lobby (Most of us were leaving at different times the following day).
And no thanks to the anticipation of tomorrow’s travel itinerary, I didn’t sleep well that night either.