September 30, 2008
The jeweled necklace of Honolulu by night is disappearing as I write. Settled into a comfortable chair, feet propped on an ottoman, computer on my lap, I join a small group of insomniacs and late-nighters in the ship’s library.
The day’s last Internet users have stopped wrestling with the ship’s frustratingly slow satellite service and left the library. At 40¢/minute for 250 minutes or 55¢/minute for 100 minutes, the snail-pace service stopped tempting us when we overheard complaints.
A few of you heard from us today, albeit only clipped notes. Sandwiched between our independent excursion and embarkation time, we found a dockside coffee shop. For the price of two lattes we logged on and scrolled through some of the waiting e-mails.
To those of you who added comments to the blog, bless you and thanks for your patience. WordPress has a spam-blocking feature with comments, requiring each new posting address to be approved by the blog host. After the first post, anything else you write will appear right away.
In a few minutes, I’ll head up to the Crow’s Nest to watch the stars. To protect a couple species of endangered shore birds, we are sailing with most lights out and curtains closed. The birds are confused by ship lights and circle them until they fall exhausted onto the deck or into the sea. Only lights essential for safety are allowed, a boon for those of us who prefer dark skies to lighted decks.
Tomorrow we will awake near Hilo, but tonight the pleasure of Robin’s and my independent excursion – and the fun of reading your comments – is keeping me awake.
After three days at sea, the triangle of Diamond Head and tall towers of Honolulu’s waterfront brought several hundred passengers to the port side of the ship to watch the pilot guide us skillfully into harbour.
Once on shore we walked a few blocks to Alakalea Street to catch The Bus over the Pali pass to the rainy side of Oahu. The Bus is Oahu’s transit system. For $2 in exact change, The Bus will take riders all around the island.
We hopped onto the #55, thanks to advice from a garrulous native Hawaiian, seventh of eleven children. He was eleven when Pearl Harbor was bombed. He still remembers his mother’s response, which was to tell the children to get under their beds. Later he joined the Marines in San Diego. “I was homesick and cried for my mother,” he said, “but I learned to be a man.”
I asked if he were a Kanaka (full Hawaiian ancestry), but he said no. “I’m all scrambled,” he said.
Our destination was the Polynesian Cultural Center, run by Brigham Young University’s Hawaiian branch. Major island groups of the Pacific—Hawaii, Tonga, Tahiti—are all represented through traditional buildings, cultural presentations, participatory activities, and a keen sense of what appeals to visitors. The canoe pageant and Samoan demonstration
were my favourites, but we enjoyed them all – even those whose tourist-pleasing show-biz style had little cultural content.
It was nearing dark when we caught the bus back to Honolulu. We had planned to do a circle tour, but the ship warnings had imprinted the fear of missing the sailing onto my brain. Re-tracing our route was a shorter, safer choice.
Tomorrow we join one of the ship excursions to visit some of the many lava fields that show the power of the goddess Pele.
October 1, 2008
We’ve just been brought by tender to Lahaina on Maui. We’re in an Internet café where, for $6/hour, we’ll connect with the world beyond ships and sailing. I won’t try updating the blog with a report from our tour of beaches and lava fields. That will have to wait for the coming sea days, when I’ll be more willing to sit quietly, with the sea rolling by.