Ken and I have been here several times over the years, with and without children. We have snorkeled, flown over volcanoes, watched flame eaters and graceful hula dancers, felt the velvet of leis, sipped wine as the sun sets, ridden pineapple trains, tasted poi, marveled at manta rays, green turtles and huge slithering eels and, finally, reluctantly waved good-bye as the plane lifted into the air on the way home to the deluge of daily life in “normal” land. But this time it is different—somehow the magic hasn’t worked its spell as much as in the past. I’m not sure if we have become more jaded. If familiarity has diluted the awe, or if the lure of a new adventure overwhelms everything else between now and then. I suspect it is a little of all but mostly the latter. Maybe it’s that being home in time for Casey to get a good night’s sleep means we can’t take those moonlight walks—with the quiet, melodious sounds of Hawaii drifting on the night air
I also know that there have been monumental changes in Hawaii since we first came twenty-five years ago—more people, more commercialism, more Hilo Hattie and ABC stores defining the landscape. Beaches that were once empty are now so crowded that fees are charged to use them. Strip malls are as ubiquitous and unsightly as on the mainland. Large hotel complexes obscure the waterfronts and traffic can be horrendous.
With all that said, there remain some special, beautiful and unspoiled places on the islands. North Shore on Oahu is such a place—here are some of the most exquisite sunsets in the world, beaches are still simple, vistas are lovely, surfers dot the landscape of the waves, simple houses intersperse with the tastefully understated houses of the affluent that quietly live along the shores. And---the shrimp wagons continue to do business as usual.
A drive around the “Big Island” (Hawaii) is as enchanting and gorgeous as always—amazing in its diversity—tropical forests, mile after mile of desolate black lava, the desert like area up Parker Ranch way, deep cliffs dropping off to the blue waters below, colorful flowers and foliage spilling over houses and walls, two fascinating National Parks—The Place of Refuge where Hawaiian Royalty lived and where asylum could be sought and absolution obtained if a kapu had been broken and the Volcano National Park where lava continues to flow, redefining mountains and shores. This is a young island not yet grown to maturity. It’s possible to stand on the lava shore line and watch as new lava travels into the sea, sending up great billows of steam, creating new land which in time will have soil and plants and sustain life—not in our lifetime!
Oops—it is now two days later and I must take back what I said about being jaded! There is an ocean storm and the waves are crashing and roaring down below us. The surges are so strong that windows and walls are rattling and the blankets of spray reach up 5 stories. From our terrace we watch huge waves that are pounding the lava formations below--just the sounds are powerfully awesome and exciting. Skies in the mountains are black with storms. Boats, scuba divers, outriggers are all safely on shore or carefully moored. The rawness and forces of unrestrained nature always, without exception, let us know how truly powerless and insignificant we are in the realms of nature. God has given us the gift of intellect and creative powers—but—nature reminds us that He has limited us and that, ultimately, we are never “in-charge.” His majesty and power are unmatchable and beyond our attainment.
So--I guess, after all, we will return—after Italy.
But, I think that we will choose Kauai and some of the unspoiled regions of Maui for that next time. Because--there is a paradise and, while we must wait to enter that promised land, we can find a taste of it in the 50th state--an ocean away from the mainland where aloha is a smile and the velvet sound of mahalo is as gentle as its meaning.