I am creative, I like to write, I draw and paint a little.
Your eyes are closed and so is the guidebook laying on your lap. You're thirty-thousand feet above the Pacific thinking about what the book says, that to a Hawaiian the word "aloha" means affection, that to a tourist it means hello or goodbye. This corruption, one created by haoles and other devils, is, however, a bounty. Now, when entering your favorite cafe in, say, Toledo and the waiter spots you and quickly places a coffee in the usual spot, you know the word needed to cover this situation. "Aloha!" In this case it's a combination of hello and affection.
You're off the plane and make it to the cab stand. Warmth buffets your bones, salt-fragrant breezes combine with the vista of a blue-skied Honolulu to tell you you're here. Into a cab, "Waikiki!" you say. There you find a perfect beach with a long strip of hotels and tourism. The waves aren't much. The swimwear is much. Much skimpy.
You drop your bags eight stories up, the drapes are aside, the sliders open, and strains of a Hawaiian love song drift up from a busker in the street while topless in a lava-lava a wahine, a Hawaiian girl, soaked and steaming from a shower, takes your hands in hers, she clutches them between her breasts and she says, "Aloha!"
You're married, so you tell the wahine that and ask her about rental cars. She says her name is Lana and it means still waters. "Dream of me, dream of Hawaii," she says.
You wonder if Lana was a dream as you turn onto Kalakaua, a main drag. The last thing you remember is her saying, "You'll always have palapala kono, an invitation." You drive in the rental car around Diamond Head to some damned bay or another. A wrong turn and you're in devastatingly dense jungle scenery on a mountainside going over the pass and back down into Honolulu. Finding Kalakaua again is a trick, seeing the same homes along the curves of Diamond Head a second time is a delight. And then you're back to some damned bay.
Along the northeast shore you're driving within the folds of the island where paths lead into a jungle, into a roadless paradise of Polynesian antiquity. You're seeing verdant vegetation and dark earth. You're seeing coconut palms, overhanging fruit, overwhelming fragrance, humongous fronds, twisting vines, multitudes of flowers, bananas, avocadoes, wiliwili, and machetes. You take a path into the jungle and meet a man next to his hut who recognizes you as a tourist. He asks, "Would you like a drink?" You say, "Please!" He introduces himself as Pono, which he says means righteous, and places a machete between his teeth and shinnies up a coconut palm. Down comes a drink. He hacks off the top and a bit off the bottom, puts in a straw and treats you affectionately as he abuses the haoles and Japanese for their shifty ways. Pono gives you the Hawaiian name Kaimi, the seeker. Then he kisses you on the cheek, says, "Skip Hono, you must see Hilo," and gets you one for the road.
You find the vaunted North Shore: surfers, a piece of surf called "the pipeline," and television cameras.
You take a left turn into the hilly interior, fields of crop, who knows what the exotic-looking stuff is and you think how strange it is to be in a convertible in what is probably a sugar cane field and have a road map from the rental car place and have an aircon-cooled coconut with its bottom hacked off so it can safely sit on the floorboards with its straw.
You've now circumnavigated Oahu and you're back in Hono at Pearl Harbor talking to an old man. "Called by Americans the day of infamy, it was a bizarre sneak attack by a small nation run by smaller minds. And it wasn't just Pearl Harbor--the Japanese attacked Hong Kong, Singapore and a few other places on that long weekend. This is after hitting China hard for a decade. Busy. Busy. Busy. Now it seems like they own Hawaii," he says. He's a very wrinkled and bald man but he has retained his Japanese characteristics. You ask his name. "Fusao," he says, "it means wise man." Strange, you think, he's angrier than Pono.
Soon, you're back to the hotel, Big Island tomorrow.
Every shade of blue and green, all the light and medium blues and greens anyway, can be seen looking down from a Hawaiian Airlines window. You see the coral, the reefs, you imagine boldly-colored schools of friendly but skittish fish that flit this way and that through the warm waters of the tropical Pacific.
Past a few islands and billions of coconuts and pineapples and into a heart-stopping screech into Kona. The strip isn't that short, it's not like Pohnpei where the pilot lays on the reverse thrust while twenty feet in the air, but the pilot coming into Kona has been smoking some Maui Wowie and screws up and has to lay on the reverse thrust while twenty feet in the air. He lands with the brakes on and you launch into the seat in front of you. Welcome to Big Island.
Kona-side is dry, windblown lava; Hilo-side is lush and wet. And the center of Big Island is a volcano. It's all sort of like Oahu, but more so. Kona-side, a strip from out of nowhere, is a coastline chosen for the tourist, a place that has a local bringing you pizza although it all makes little sense to him. Hilo-side is rain forest, many buildings in town hidden by overgrowth, the suburbs mere paths into the jungle. Natives are relaxed and you don't see them often. Pono is right--Hilo, a superb backwater of the Pacific, has become the flower of your vacation. And you dream of Lana, of still waters, of Hawaii.
28% My cheekbones.
11% My fly is down.
France was too French, so I headed for Holland. Koffee house after koffee house beckoned as I drove across the Dutch landscape. Upon arrival in Amsterdam one shop caught my eye. Soon I was inside at a table near the bar. I might have noticed the unusual decor except that it was late and my sleepy eyes couldn’t focus.
A waitress, she seemed strangely diffident, said ya ya when I ordered koffee. The words on the menu floated around, familiar yet foreign. It turns out that the shop was aromatic, and with more than java. It was a sweet smell, and as it came to me what it was, the words on the menu wound into crisp focus. "Super Skunk-$15; Northern Lights-$20; Nepalese Temple Ball-$25."
It was too late for me. I was already gone from sniffing the aroma and I proceeded to inhale dinner. Afterward I stepped out of the koffee house and into the canal.
This is an Amsterdam travel tip: Do not fall into the canal. I would still be swimming if it were not for the nearby Red-Light District. Things turned out fine as beautiful women were instantly on the spot with towels and blankets. The towel-off cost 50 guilders each half hour but it was very professional.
I decided to drive to England where they don't talk funny. I had a lovely drive through Normandy which is the part of France you're in when you make a wrong turn at Calais. Finally I entered the Channel Tunnel. It may be a great engineering success but the ride is pretty rough... it's like you're driving on railroad tracks. In about thirty minutes I was in merry old England and things were fine. I emerged from the tunnel and found a crowd had gathered madly waving and yelling "...a fine tunnel, she is! A fine tunnel.”
Later some chaps at a pub won all my cash, they wagered that the crowd at tunnel were probably screaming "She's a train tunnel, she is. A train tunnel!" So much for speaking English. Next year I stay home.