I have spent the summer teaching summer school for all of June, a two-week total slob-hobo-in-my-own-home, followed by two weeks in Hawaii with my mom. The trip was to see my youngest brother stationed there, but things are always screwy with my brothers. We did see him….4 times…for a few hours. And this time, it wasn’t the military’s fault. Long story there.
While on this trip is also the first time I revealed to anyone who I didn’t have in-person contact with a massive change about my appearance. I drastically changed my hair, which required 2 cuts because the first stylist fucked it up so bad. SO bad. So I kept a low profile for several weeks. I didn’t share any photos of myself until this trip. I was asked – or should I say hinted but too scared to actually come out and ask – by one kid in summer school and one guy on this trip if I was a lesbian because it is short and part of my head is shaved. Seriously? We live in 2019. That is so ignorant.
I thoroughly enjoyed the trip (minus my moody brother who never spoke to me or wanted to do any activities with us while we were there). We had only 1 tour scheduled when we arrived. There was only 1 other person with us! We went to Pearl Harbor (super, super powerful – read about that here), the Dole Plantation (not enough time to do anything but browse the shop), and the Polynesian Cultural Center. We only saw part of one tribe there (out of the six), and I would go back there in a heartbeat! It was so interesting and different. You could easily spend 2 days there.
We laid low for a couple of days while researching and planning the rest of our trip. We took a circle tour of the island that had nearly 15 stops, which ended at the Dole Plantation. There was one woman making us late at EVERY single stop. She would not come back to the bus. It was getting very frustrating. One of the last stops was a quick snorkel at Turtle Beach (where I saw no turtles). It’s hard to believe, but this was the first time I had ever snorkeled. And I felt like I totally sucked at it. To my credit, the water was really shallow and the reef was right below me, so the idea that I COULD stand messed with me, even though I couldn’t. Because the reef! The water was also really murky, so I gave up.
We went to the Honolulu Zoo and the Waikiki Aquarium. They were on the small side compared to what we have in Texas, and I saw many typical animals in their zoo that are native to Texas, so that didn’t WOW me right off the bat. The zoo day was very tiring, so we had to do the aquarium a different day. While we were there, the Hawaiian Ukelele Festival was happening between our hotel and the aquarium. It was a CRAZY day! Traffic all day, constant honking, flags being worn or displayed from passing vehicles, windows down with loud music blaring. We later learned that all of that was not for the Ukelele Festival, but part of a Hawaiian (the locals) protest.
We also went to a very small sea life park. It was free transportation to the other side of the island, and once each portion of the park was open and up and running, we liked it. They had several things shut down for construction, including the huge gift shop, so that was disappointing. BUT! They had 14 green sea turtles very accessible. All but three were 75-80 years old. The three younger ones were 21-25. I came back to their pool at least twice.
We figured out how to use the actual bus system, not the trollies (all but two that charge $25 a day!). Day bus pass? $5.50. We went to the ‘Iolani Palace, home of Hawaiian royalty and the Hawaiian capital until 1969. It has been restored. We went on an audio tour and had to wear special covers on our shoes. The history of the rulers is very interesting. We finally got down some of the biggest Hawaiian historical points with more explanation in the audio tour of the palace.
Our last full day in Hawaii, we went on a catamaran sail to swim with green sea turtles out in the Pacific Ocean. It was the most exhilarating thing and checked off the number one thing on my mental bucket list. My life is now complete! As soon as I swam off from the ladder, there was a boy in front of me and a turtle surfaced right in front of him. I could reach over his shoulder and touch its head, but that’s a federal offense. After that, I was just in heaven. I will never, ever forget that for the rest of my life – and I did it with my mom. And I had no problems whatsoever snorkeling out in the ocean.
The flights were long. Even though I slept continually waiting for our airport shuttle, on the 8-hour flight back to Texas, and in the Houston airport during our layover and then multiple delays, I struggled the day after we came back. I couldn’t seem to get out of bed, but I eventually had to to be at school to plan an event with my principals.
I loved Hawaii – except for the prices. A cheeseburger was $15! Just a cheeseburger and fries. Not even a beverage. That part of Hawaii is a huge deterrent, but if I were to ever somehow miraculously go back, I would do so many catamaran turtle snorkels and go back to the Polynesian Cultural Center and do the entire thing, all the shows and components of each tribe.