2013-12-23, 12:18 a.m.
Last full day.... Today instead of going down to the southern half of the island, we went the other way to Hanalei, right next door to where we are staying. After being there around an hour, Mom was all, "why weren't we here every day?" I was all, "Because all the holiday events were going down in Lihue or even farther away than that. If things had been going on here, we'd have been here."
Because Hanalei is indeed adorable. Lots of good shopping. Specifically, there's a yarn and music store and I had a good time in that--I found EVEN MORE HAWAIIAN CHRISTMAS albums and some yarn, hah. I also got some flower Christmas lights and a bit of jewelry and stuff like that.
In one store, I saw a Santa hat made of Hawaiian fabric and some kind of weird fuzzy stuff at the bottom. I complimented the owner on it and he was all, "Someone gave me that years ago, I had it on for ten minutes and it was too hot, so I just put it on a mannequin. People keep wanting to buy it." I did, too. Then he was all, "You could go to Vicky's Fabrics and get some fabric and make one...." and then I have been KICKING MYSELF for not having this idea two days ago when I was actually in that store, eyeing the Hawaiian Christmas fabric ($22/yard though) and unable to think of what to do with it. Now it's way too late to get it--we're leaving tomorrow morning and oh yeah, it's December 24 so no fabric store is probably gonna be open for crazy tourists getting a last minute idea. Grrrrrrrrrrrr.
I think I do want to make a Hawaiian ugly holiday sweater, though. I have gotten plenty of ideas around here taking pictures of decorations, lemme tell ya.
The area was extremely cute and we had a hard time dragging ourselves away. But we were all, "We should go to a beach, we're in Hawaii, we are kinda obligated to go sit on a beach." Except, um, we are not beach people. Or more specifically, I could be a "lounge on the beach" person if I was here alone or with different company, but Mom just can't stand sitting still like that, nor does she swim. And it is incredibly hard to keep her entertained while I do that because we both feel obligated to be Doing Something on vacation at all times until everything closes down. So actually sitting around on a beach? Hah, not actually happening. We did finally go walk around on Hanalei Bay picking up shells for like 20 minutes or something, but that was about it for the beach lounging. The water was a bit too cold for my tastes to go swim in it anyway, but I did get my feet wet a bit.
We went back to the condo-ish thing and got changed for the luau, which was held at Kilohana Plantation. Our driver, Mario, was a fun fellow and he gave the entire bus a rundown of where the hidden waterfalls are, where the famous people own property or used to (Mom is still pouting that Oprah isn't on Kauai), and where all of the movie filming is going down. We are apparently staying where a lot of The Descendants was filmed. I boycotted seeing it on the principle of "what, it's about people who hate Hawaii? Fuck them," but maybe I should see it for the visuals.
I also liked Mario's moving here story--he and his wife got married in 2000 and were planning a trip to Africa for their honeymoon in 2002, but 9/11 pretty much put an end to the trip they were planning (those areas were shut down to tourism, apparently), so they took a cruise from Tahiti to Hawaii instead. Mario said he basically hadn't even heard of Kauai before arriving, but he and the wife fell in love. Then they went back to Rochester, NY during a snowstorm and were all, "Why do we live here?" They devised a 5-year-plan to get rid of everything and pay off the kid's college tuition and ended up moving in 4.5 years. They moved with 8 boxes and no jobs, but found some pretty quickly back in 2006, so that worked out and they're happy. Again, I love stories like that. He said they used to offer a shirt around here he hasn't seen for awhile that had two sentences and a check mark--"Born Here" or "Got Here As Soon As I Could."
At Kilohana, they have a lovely tent-ish setup--enough to keep possible rain off but keep the temperature nice. I went in the stores and browsed the craft fair they had going on--got some woodcut snowflake Hawaiian ornaments, hah.
They give you all you can eat drinks and eats, so I had two mai tai's. (Sadly, was oddly undrunk off these--and I say that having NOT eaten food for hours before drinking, so I should have been a little wasted after most of drink #1. I suspect they watered it down a bit because nobody likes pukers on the bus going home.) They had a wide variety of food--fish, pork, chicken, macaroni salad, purple potatoes (seriously), pineapple, poi....They encouraged everyone to try it, but served it in tiny containers and clearly they didn't expect anyone to actually LIKE it. (One of the emcees asked how many people had tried it before and how many of those would eat it again. She got about 15 hands.) I tried everything, but the poi....tasted incredibly too salty to me. I said this to the driver afterwards and he and everyone else were all, "But it's usually tasteless, they use it on salted food." Um, then I have no idea then.
They had hula dancing going on during dinner, which I always enjoy. And then they put on their show--it's called Luau Kalamaku because they are pretty much putting on some kind of hula version of a ballet/musical. It has a plot! It's about the first people traveling from Tahiti to Hawaii, and one girl being upset at being left behind by both her boyfriend and her dad while they go in first to investigate the territory. She has a god-given vision that she'll reunite with her man and have the first baby there (named Kalamaku, "flaming torch"). Sure 'nuff, all goes well and that's what happens. The dancing was great, especially the fire dancing. Though that was when my memory card ran out.... I swear, I'll spend actual Christmas just downloading pics and burning my Christmas CD's.
It was a lovely night. I should be packing right now--I am sort of going through all of the pamphlets I picked up while here and saving some of them for collage. I am also watching the crappy weather reports for everywhere that isn't here.... DAMN, I'LL MISS WEARING FLOWERY DRESSES EVERY DAY. And you know what? I love humidity. I love my hair curling on its own recognizance and I love that "in the seventies" weather here is pretty much "still warm and running around in shorts" type weather. I love that I haven't had to wear a jacket or sweater whatsoever except in a five minute giant rainstorm. This is my climate, folks.
December in the islands is something I wish I could do every year. Or all the time. It's Christmassy, but not like, crazy atmosphere Christmassy. You can sort of forget the OMG CHRISTMAS TOMORROW stuff is going on, except for when the news has been on. It's just fun.
I'm going to enjoy one last night of fantasizing that I could actually move here. Tomorrow and definitely Christmas Day I will be feeling the reality hangover and thinking shit about how would I get a job and health insurance and I can never leave where I live in California...but tonight I keep daydreaming about how I'd like to write a book about living on each island for a few months apiece and doing all the tourist stuff (like say, going on ALL the chocolate tours) and interviewing people about their moving stories and updating a website and taking lessons in hula, ukulele and the Hawaiian language.... Oh, fantasies.