Trip Start Jan 05, 2011
16Trip End Jan 05, 2012
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Sitting on my first plane listening to the soundtrack to Burlesque is, I feel, an excellent way to start my trip. It's ten in the morning, but since I'm on my way to hawaii, it's suddenly 8 again. So much extra time, I just don't know what to do with it. I could write about the long lines at the airport, or the horrors of auto correct typing. I could, intact, wax poetic about how I feel on this the day of my departure, but, honestly, It would be fiction. I can't say it's hit me yet. Ok, let me rephrase. I was doubtlessly sad saying goodbye to my parents this morning, and definitely feeling irritable towards airline security and excited about what's to come, but all those emotions seem very muted because, as I said, it just hasn't hit me yet. Perhaps tonight in the hostel it will, or maybe tomorrow morning when I wake up somewhere unfamiliar knowing I won't actually be there long enough for it to become comfortable, who knows, it might not hit me for days.
Until that day, I will content myself with enjoying this to the full extent of my ability. I know the routine of travel is going to get old pretty quick, so enjoying while I still do seems like a sound enough idea, and I must say that Hawaiian Air is amusing me to no end with it's creepy cheerfulness. It's just so....floral. There's music playing and all the flight attendants are grinning. They keep referring to Hawaii as paradise, which, when used conversationally is just fine, but when heard over an intercom just sounds phony. I keep expecting a hula dancer to walk down the aisle with a quartet of musicians in toe, or at least a sudden sneezing fit at the whole floweriness of it all.
What a self fulfilling prophecy that thought was, as I spent most of the week I had sneezing, until, that is, I got my hands on some allergy meds.
Hawaii. My first stop on this journey of a year, and what a long year it feels like with most of it stretching off before me. My one week here was full of ups and downs. The difficulties, I have found, are more about my own impotence in the face of ignorance and disrespect. Perhaps it's just my own moral code getting in the way.
My first impression was of the shuttle bus and Submarine, a young man living in Hawaii with whom I passed the time until the bus driver started talking. From then on talking ourselves was a lost cause, for BusDriverExtraordinaire had us doubled over laughing. Best 9 dollar bus ride of my life.
Finally, just when I was beginning to think my sides would split, I was dropped off at the door of my hostel. It was, well, rather shabby, but clean and mostly comfy, that is, until I was introduced to the Death Bed.
It was the fifth and odd one out in the room, a top bunk without it's bottom, incomplete. It also wobbled and shook and felt as if it would collapse under me. One night in it, and I was happy I was only staying at the most a week.
My dorm mates ended up being two girls from Finland, two young men from England and one from Chico, here to interview for a radiology internship at the hospital. After an afternoon of exploring on my own, I joined them in going out. This was my first mistake, for, although a pleasant evening ensued in a club that allowed 18+, getting into said club was a terrible experience. This is perhaps the ultimate proof that our country is screwed up, for, before I could walk in, I had to sign a waiver, give them my ID, get two giant x in sharpie, one on each of my hands, and had to pay twice the cover charge. That, dear reader, is what we call age discrimination.
We returned home by a reasonable hour and I fell right asleep on the Death Bed. I woke up alive, which is remarkable, I was convinced I would be eaten. At least, I told myself, my bed has character.
The morning after, I woke up early and went to the local shopping center, more specifically the food court, where I had my first poi and some quite excellent Mochi. I returned to the hostel and met up with Chico (as is my policy I do not mention names, but he had one of my favorite of all times), for a beach afternoon and dinner.
Dinner was on Shelly, Lee and Laurel, a delectable dish called Hawaiian Stew. It consisted of beautiful slow cooked beet, creamy potatoes, carrots, onion and spices in a clear broth. It takes a lot of talent to make the perfect stew, and I honestly never expected it in the place where we had dinner. It was called Ziggies, and was a local chain comparable in decor to a low key diner but with food much superior to burgers and fries (and their fries, as a side note, are also some of the best I've ever had). Total meal cost, $13. Picture attached.
Chico and I returned to the hostel with the intention of getting some games going. It was all fun and jovial for a while, everyone joined in and we ended up playing a dice game. We had no idea that the night would not end as it had begun.
The two Brits had invited two girls from Japan over to join us, both of with, but one in particular, went on to get exceedingly drunk. Since the Finnish girls and I were all pretty close to sober, and it was a nice night out, we prompted the others to come take a walk with us ( if nothing else to stop the drinking and to let everyone else sober up). The poor Japanese girls could hardly walk, and the Brits obviously had their eyes on them. But, we figured, as long as they were away from a bad, nothing would happen. How wrong we were. Chico and us three girls were walking up ahead when the four of them, trailing behind, disappeared. When we returned to the Hostel, we discovered them there, one pair in a bottom bunk behind drawn curtains and the other in the bathroom.
We were mortified. The poor girls were obviously far too drunk to give con cent, and none of us could really even figure out how old they were. When the boy from the bathroom came out finally, slightly smug, the poor girl was on the floor crying.
We were mortified, none of us had pegged these boys as people who would do something like this, if we had, we would have never left them alone at all. There are so many good people in the world, and I truly believe that the majority are, but that night reminded me that there are also bad ones, and not always where you expect to find them. The only thing that made the situation bearable was that I had people with me who felt just as terrible as I did.
But the next day they left, all three of them off to the Big Island, leaving me alone with two men with whom I did not feel the least bit comfortable. I dealt with it the only way I could think of, I just spent most of my time outside.
In those next few days intact, I was hardly ever at the Hostel except to sleep.
I visited the aquarium and the zoo, both of which were lovely, the aquarium particularly so as Pascal ( the stuffed red chameleon character of Pascal form the movie Tangled, who I am taking around the world with me to photograph, keep me company and of course to scare off people I don't like) made a new friend in a huge bulbous red fish who told me in a very proper and stuffy voice that he wanted to be called Mortimer. He is therefore called Mortimer.
I also visited the Iolani palace, the only royal palace on US soil, and I would like to thank the wonderful couple who payed my fare to further my education, and with whom I spent the afternoon. It was a profoundly moving place, where a proud dynasty ruled over a rich and beautiful culture that now only remains in the history books. In particular, the room of the last Hawaiian queen, who was imprisoned for months in her own palace after being falsely accused of a scheme to take back the country from the government that had deposed her, almost b roughy me to tears. It was empty but for a bed and a desk, and on display was the quilt she made, much if the fabric probably taken from her own dresses. It's beautiful, with pieces of the history of Hawaii and of her life. The love and sorrow embroidered into that quilt took my breath away.
I was still deep in thought as I took a bus back to the hostel that night and packed up. For my last two nights I decided to stay in another hostel, a little down the road. I was greatly relieved to leave both the death bed and the boys.
Of course, when I checked in, I found that by boy problems were far from over, since i was the only girl in the eight person dorm.
Luckily, a few of them decided that I was to be carefully taken care of, and made sure I was quite safe. First among my knights in shunting armor was Guitar Bill from Alaska, an old hippie with whom I got along quite splendidly. Good thing too, because I would need someone who's ethical views matched up with my own in the evening that would follow.
It all started with ArmyBoy, an Auzzie expat just come back from Iraq, getting a little tipsy. We thought nothing of it, as it seemed to be his usual state and was cheerful and friendly enough. But then he brought out a pack of fire crackers, the ones that fizz and make noise, and started ducking them off the balcony. Still, I didn't feel in any position to stop him, so I ignored him. But then he came in laughing, and shouted something about frightening the trannies.
Apparently there was a group of transvestites across the street and they had been the victims of his taunting and fire cracker throwing. At that point I felt like I had to say something, and I did.
His response was trying to explain to me how transvestites were an abomination towards god and that those people were some of the worst of criminals and just disgraceful, and that surely I had never met one or I would never defend one.
I of course argued back, saying that it was a choice like any other, and that if there is a god, and he is all knowing and all powerful, then people are born exactly the way they should be, including people who are gay and transgendered.
The argument went on until I just gave up. I wasn't going to change his mind, and I knew it. I wish I could have, because if there is one thing that really gets me angry is discrimination.
When i left the next morning, I was sad to leave Hawaii, more than I thought i would be, but not sad to leave the US.
It was a crazy and eventful first week, and, I think, a good indication of what's ahead of me. There will be good people and bad, judgements I agree with and ones I feel the need to fight against. There will, I am sure, be battles i choose not to engage in, but, I believe, even if the fight achieves nothing, sometimes it is still worth fighting. There will be little or no stability in my life for the next year, the only things I can be absolutely sure of are my own determination to do what good I can, when I can.