(My sister will probably enjoy this post this most out of my readers…so I dedicate it to her)
I love Hawaii.
My paternal grandfather grew up in Oahu. He had a giant picture of his home island prominently displayed on the wall in his El Cerrito house. When he grew old, he fantasized he was in Hawaii (a little of the old senility). He forgot all about my grandma, remembering her only as a good friend of his.
Today, when I was walking, I was rubbing this silky Hawaiian lotion into my arms, commenting on its awesomeness, when all of a sudden a bird took a dump on my arm and I almost rubbed bird poop all over myself.
My dad always talks about how when he came to visit Hawaii as a kid, he got tropical fever, suffered through a giant storm, and got stung by a jellyfish. He’s not a big fan…
I’ve been to Hawaii three times now. The first was for my Honeymoon, (it was around $1000 for the 8 day hotel stay and two plane tickets combined).
We had a blast, explored the hell out of Waikiki, and didn’t think too much about anything, just walked a lot. We visited the north shore once.
The second time we came, we kind of realized how much of a trap Waikiki is, and spent the majority of our time swimming, snorkeling and exploring up on the North shore with my friend Cami, who, because she lived here, acted as our tour guide.
It’s been about seven or eight years since I’ve been back, and this time I am bound to the south shore, due to having three days of kettlebell activities based around a gym in Honolulu.
I tell you, being on a budget here is very hard. Most gurus who tell you to relax about money and to picture abundance don’t seem to have lived on a tight budget. Actually, most people seem to live with that “buy now, pay later,” philosophy. It’s so hard to break it. And Waikiki is a place set up to take your money. Something like, “I’ll just go to the store and buy a slice of pineapple” isn’t as easy as it sounds.
The roads and crosswalks are very confusing here, too. If you go the wrong way, you end up going in circles and circles and circles. Even the tourist guide book lament the roads “built by dummies.”
The level of consumption here in Waikiki is on par with Las Vegas. Most food is shipped in. Even the native products, pineapple and coffee, aren’t originally native to Hawaii—they were introduced in 1813 by Don Francisco de Paula y Marin.
Two movies come to mind: Wall-E and Rango.
Hawaii has a long and interesting history, from the first Polynesian settlers on.
Thinking of all the plastic and paper being used at every restaurant, towels being washed in hotels, toilets being flushed, makes me cringe. Tonight, when I told the lady at the store I didn’t need a plastic bag, she acknowledged me, but then forgot, and started again to put my stuff in a plastic bag, and I had to ask her again not to give me a bag. The next lady I said no bag to asked me, “Are you sure?”
Yes. Sure, sure, sure I don’t need to see another plastic bag littering the highway or floating in a giant pile in the middle of the ocean.
Here, you have to assert a lot. I’m beginning to realize I’m a bit of a pushover, afraid of hurting people’s feelings. No, I don’t want the entire spa pedicure, I want the simple pedicure (oops, we gave you the spa pedicure, double the charge, sorry!) And there are so many stores, it’s hard to see the palm trees.
It makes me sad, the consumption. There’s a part of me that wants to run towards the lush green hills behind the beach, start walking until I hit the north shore. My friends get annoyed with me because I babble on about other nicer spots. (Shut up, Kyrsten, STFU is what I keep hearing).
My sister said on my last post that she wishes she could see the Hawaii my grandfather knew. I’m assuming that many of these hotels, condos and shops were built up post World War II, during the 50s, when people were so tired of struggling and fighting and scrimping that consumption and abundance of material goods seemed like the answer. (I am so tired of all those years I ate beans, gimme some spam and white bread!)
Hawaii is like the Spam capitol of the US. 1.3 million people live here, and 7 million cans are sold per year. 6 cans per person worth of spam. Even McDonald’s sells Spam and eggs.
From Flak Magazine: “After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor to start World War II, supplies such as meat grew scarce in Hawaii. Minnesota-based Hormel Foods saw a market and introduced Spam to Hawaii as a meat that didn’t spoil. It stuck. “Because of limited land space and no shipping, their love of Spam grew and is still one of their most popular foods,” said one Hormel spokesman to a Milwaukee paper.”
Go Spam. The product I found in the back of the cupboard growing up, when there was nothing else to eat. The thing I could only take two bites of before getting salty, greasy sick, is Hawaii’s favorite food. Slathered in soy sauce, pan fried, it’s what’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Speaking of soy sauce, everything in Hawaii seems to be covered in soy sauce.
And this elusive coconut with a straw I keep looking for…point the way!
Today, I am going to visit the Ala Moana mall, the shopping center I’ve grown to use daily by default, it being the closest to the hotel I am staying at (for free, thanks to awesomeness), and get some crazy Japanese sweet potato based foods my sister would adore, as well as some bubble tea and some thai iced tea and some freaking mochi. Hawaii is big on Japanese food, being a major Japanese tourist attraction as well as an American one, so I feel kind of at home in the Japanese restaurants and stores (except for the soy sauce thing, as it has wheat in it) due to my sister always introducing me to every facet of Japanese culture growing up (I think she’s really Japanese).
So, basically, I’ve definitely enjoying the sun and what palm trees and beach I’ve seen, but I long for the Hawaii of everyone’s dreams, the Hawaii away from the endless strip malls, consumption and waste, where it doesn’t cost money for “ocean view,” where the beaches aren’t divided hotels, where I can find ahi tuna sandwich and shrimp trucks and coconut pies (even though I can’t eat the pie or the bread parts).
Oh, by the way, I met an interesting traveling surfer from Maui named Charlie on the way over, had a little bit of tooth decay that was a bit wafty, but he was very nice, said if I’m ever in town to stop into a place called “Wings,” in a city whose name I cannot recall, something like Peeai. We talked a lot about the American dream as we were flying into the airport, while I looked at the tropical parts of Hawaii broken up by buildings and reservoirs and suburbs, and how it’s so wasteful, how things need to change. Brigham Young University, located on the north shore of Oahu, used to just dump all of their trash and waste products into the ocean—up until the 70s.
What kills me is that I feel sometimes like I am the only one who cares about plastic bags and too much flushing of toilets and all of these things. My problem is this: we live on a beautiful, wild crazy planet. Why don’t more of us care about keeping it around for much longer than we will at the production rate were are trying to maintain? We’re smart people, can’t we think of another way? Why do you keep asking me to ignore our own blatant disregard for humanity?
The reason I write is because I notice these things, and I care. It twists me up inside. I don’t choose to live frugally most of the time only because I have to. It’s also a lifestyle choice based on the part of me that is tired of endless production.
And I know that a lot of these islands, like Jamaica and Hawaii, depend on the tourist economy for so much. I’m not knocking that, I just wish there was a better, greener way.
My frugal, street-kid style is something people like to comment on, constantly. Yesterday, my coaches coach pointed to a car he said reminded him of me:
Juliet said my purse looks like a “street kid” purse.
Once a street kid, always a street kid, I guess. I get a kick out of reducing my footprint on the world, what can I say? I’m still a bit of an anti-everything existentialist anarchist gutter punk.
Finally watched Young Adult last night, too. It was awesome. Go Diablo Cody. You are brilliant. Now I’m going to have to read your memoir, too. (Joe Clifford wrote a review of the movie a while back. Usually, I only see something if a friend has already screened it for me, I’m picky).
Ok. Off to compete this afternoon with sunburnt arms. Made weight, so it’s 102 reps with the 35 pound bell I’m aiming for…now I’m fighting a cold I caught from Charlie coughing next to me on the plane and battling nerves. I asked Sarah, my roommate here at the hotel and fellow KB competitor, why I get so anxious before a competition and she said, “Because you care.”