Somewhere, there is a picture of my late huzband Joel and I, with a broad chested, tattooed gentleman from the Pacific island nation of Tonga, that was taken at the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu. The travel agent who booked our tour to the islands sold us really hard on taking the VIP package at the cultural center, and it proved to be one of the highlights of our trip and worth every penny of the hundred or hundred and fifty bucks a piece we paid for it. Located about an hour’s drive from the main tourist area at Wakiki beach, the cultural center presents exhibits from seven different Pacific island cultures. All of the performers in each of the seven areas is a native of the area depicted, and all of the staff come from Pacific island nations.
As VIP’s we were assigned our own personal tour guide, a very sweet gay boy from Malaysia whose only job that day was to show us around the huge park. Without ever making us feel rushed, he repeatedly whisked us into a show or demonstration that was just about to start. We spent zero time waiting in lines, rather it seemed as though as soon as we took our seats each performance almost immediately began. We got to meet many of the performers (including that gentleman from Tonga whom we had our picture taken with). And everyone we met was just as kind and friendly as you could ever hope for the people you meet to be. At dusk, our guide escorted us to the dining hall and brought us not cocktails but papaya juice and urged us to help ourselves to the buffet. The food was rather like Pacific islands meet Mormon jello. Which was perhaps apt, since the center is run by the Mormon church and all of the young performers and staff are students at the adjacent campus of Brigham Young University. What really struck me is that while I am well aware that the Mormons do not and probably never will approve of my sexuality, they nonetheless hired a gay kid to work in the center and the person who assigned him to us apparently realized he would be a great fit for us. They may not approve of me, but they sure did treat me like a VIP.
I don’t know that I will ever get to visit Hawaii again, let alone manage to visit Tonga and the other islands that have been on my bucket list since that wonderful day at the Polynesian Cultural Center. But I will always carry with me my memories of that special place and those special people, who truly showed me the meaning of the Hawaiian word Aloha. If you ever get a chance to go to Hawaii, do make an effort to visit the PCC. It is truly one of the signature experiences of Hawaii. My sincerest thanks to Detlev Artelt whose suggestion of the words “beach, sunshine and cocktail” led me to this glorious trip down memory lane today.
It seems to me that I often catch a cold when the seasons change. Certainly, our seasons here in the Northwest are very different from those I experienced growing up in New Orleans and very different again from those I experienced in the years I lived in the Boston area. And Spring, it seems is at times the most teasing and mercurial of seasons. Although we have had some warm, sunny weather this week it cold and rainy and feels more than a little like winter, even though we are only a few days from May.
Between my cold and the wet, chilly weather I have not bagged any more cans in the last few days. I did go out on the patio to look around. But while the rain has rfor the moment at least stopped, everything is soaking wet out there and with the chill (and me already suffering a chest cold) I did not even try to go out and bag cans. Ron told me tonight he is going to try to insist going forward that we all bag cans as we accumulate them. (Indeed, if the thousands and thousands of cans already on the patio were already bagged, I would simply start loading them into the car and hauling them to the recycling center.) It is a good idea, and I hope we will implement it going forward. But I also know it will take a great deal of work to bag up all the cans we have already accumulated.
I have been re-reading James Michener’s novel Hawaii. Traveling along with the missionaries from Boston on their long journey from Boston to Maui, by boat all the way down around the tip of South America. It’s a wonderful story, and one I’ve read many times. As I myself am sitting here waiting for spring, the part of the story where the tiny frigate must try and try again to make the arduous passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific seemed striking and quite apt to me. Here’s hoping that the sun will soon come out so that I can get my cans bagged and taken in and we can enjoy having some money in the last week of the month.
So you may have noticed that I have not been faithful about the daily #Trust30 assignments. Honestly, one of them just did ot speak to me, and I just didn’t have time for another. But this one–which was actually for yesterday does speak to me:
Travel by Chris Guillebeau
If we live truly, we shall see truly. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Not everyone wants to travel the world, but most people can identify at least one place in the world they’d like to visit before they die. Where is that place for you, and what will you do to make sure you get there?
There are of course a huge number of places on my list of places I’d love to see before I die. A remarkably large number of them are islands in the Pacific ocean. In October 2001, my late spouse and I took a long-planned and saved-for trip to Hawaii. I got laid off from my job with Earthlink shortly after 9/11, and there was at times a dream-like quality that I’ve come to realize is actually common to many trips to the remarkably beautiful Hawaiian islands. Most visitors fall in love with Hawaii. Those whose travel agents book them a VIP tour at the Polynesian Cultural Center– about a two hour drive from Wakikii Beach, may develop a serious longing to see a number of other islands in the Pacific.Somewhere I have a photograph of Joel and me, each under an arm of a big man from the island nation Tonga. He has tatoos all over both of his huge arms and his handsome smile and beaming goodwill remind me of just one of the remarkable people whom meeting set me off on a journey of reading about and developing a someday travel list that includes Tonga, the Maori New Zealand, Rarotonga, Easter Island, Tahiti, Bora Bora and also the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. It is not one great trip I dream of, but rather years of being able to travel to these remote and far away islands, which have come to call to me. Honestly, I don’t know if I will ever have the coincidence of time, money and health to get to even a fraction of the places on my islands in the Pacific list. But it’s nice to have big dreams.