The plane lands, I get off, and make my way to customs. Somehow I'm the head of the pack – breezing off the plane before all others. Perhaps they stopped to use washrooms in the airport hallways, but whatever the case is, aisle 30 newly opens before me, and I am the first through.
“Hello, how you doing,” the customs officer asks me.
I tell him I'm doing great, and when he sees all the countries I've been to, I wait for the usual question of what I was doing there, why I'd been to so many. Instead he looks up and asks, “were you hosteling?”
Sweet lord. A customs agent who knows about hostels? And one who talks about his days, wondering what the prices are like now. One who seemed to have travelled in his own time? With surprising ease I am stamped into the country, without a date telling me what I get to make sure I was good and gone from behind their boarders.
As I walk out into the terminal I can't help but question – did I really just enter America, or was it a trap?
I ask a girl holding an airport shuttle sign where to go for the shuttle. She rolls her eyes at me, blows a bubble, and points across the street to an area with no discernible markings. The disdain in her eyes that I could be so stupid as to need to ask is clear. I am, indeed, back in America. I love it.
On the shuttle I make my way to the hostel, and am let out right in front. This June twenty eighth seems much more interesting, than yesterday's June twenty eighth.
Into the hostel I go, ready to check in – knowing I'm early, but perhaps something can be done? No. Nothing can be done. At ten o'clock I have paid, been assigned a room much nicer than the one I paid for (as the one I was supposed to be in had been double booked) and then told to come back at four. At four I could finally see inside. Could finally shower. Could finally nap.
Strangely I am not well rested after the Baby on Board flight. Once more I think of how children should be thrown in soundproofed sections at the back. With six hour to kill, and a brand new environment surrounding me, I head off to explore.
I make my way down Seaside Ave. Well, actually I make my way up. Which isn't north, and it's not south. Nor is it east and west. Here, in the greater area of Honolulu directions take on a different spin. There is Mountains, Ocean, and two others. And, of course, they're pronounced in the Hawaiian language. I can't find my informative brochure that lists the words, as that's for the best. I would end up seeming like the tourists who say Aloha to everyone. It's fine for the locals, but it's best you just stick to English if you travel here.
My first point of interest was to be the beach. Walking down the road to the ocean, I hit Kalakaua Ave. Here there was a shopping centre which would offer me food. As I refused to pay Jet Star fifteen dollars for breakfast on the flight, I was a tad hungry. Downstairs I found a Subway which had a breakfast sandwich combo for 2.50. I ordered the sandwich, and was about to be charged 3.49 for it. I said, no no, I want the combo. Ahh – she replied – grabbing me a 21oz soda cup. With this added to my purchase the price decreased by 99 cents. I tell you, it's strange things these fast food restaurants do. And apparently, after Australia, it's world wide.
With belly slightly fuller than it was, I once more head off in search of the beach. A sign points the way through the stores to the waters edge. As I break through I think one of a few things – first, there are a lot of people here. Second, there are a lot of tourists here. Third, it is really – really – hot.
And it was really hot. Having spent the last month in winter, I was not prepared for the wall of heat which I had just stepped out into. With no shade over the sand the sweat began to drip – in no way helped by the fact that I was wearing my day pack, filled with two novels, camera, and netbook.
As I made my way down the beached I watched people standing on surf boards canoe paddling out into the water, reminding me of the poling expedition in Africa. Kids splashed around, girls sun bathed, and guys – they watched their girl sunbathe. There was a whole lot of nothing going on, and I continued to press on down the beach. Each step, I became drowsier and drowsier. Then, from nowhere, there was a grassy park, with trees providing the perfect shade. I sat down, then laid down, then I started to read. Next thing I knew I was waking up.
Only ten minutes had passed, but it was enough to make me feel as if I could carry on with the day. After some more reading, no longer needing to imagine the crystal blue waters and the sailing ships described in my book, I set off again. I had reached the Hilton near Ala Moana Blvd. This was the extreme left side of my Waikiki map. Surely there would be no better option for me than to walk to the extreme right, taking in all that which this town has to offer. Time passes, and while I'm sure I mus have seen some interesting things, I don't register a thing, in my newly arrive haze, until I reach Tommy's Burgers on Kapahulu Ave.
There I am met with a giant refillable cup of soda, and a huge delicious burger. It does take time for the burger to be made from scratch, and by the time my giant circle night club pager ring vibrates, I'm ready to eat my fist, but then – then it is a most magical sandwich of ground chuck.
At this point the world becomes a brighter place to live in, and the walk back to the center of the map, where my hostel is doesn't seem so terrible. I pop into the Apple store on the way back. How could I resist?
Playing around with the new facetime feature on the G4 iPhone, I hear a man beside me talk about how he just got a girl pregnant. Is he talking to me? He is worried about how her mom will react, and what will come from it. Why do I need to know this? Wait – he's not talking to me, he's talking on the iPhone. If he can make a call, can I?
1, 905, and then seven little numbers. All of a sudden I'm dialing long distance back to Canada, and I realize that I can make as many free long distance calls as I want from here. Sadly – I have no numbers on me. And those I once had have been lost for a second time. One call goes through, and I am just shocked that I can do such a thing. It doesn't last long, as I can barely string together three of four words – while I may have food in my belly, exhaustion is still threatening. If this was The Sims, I would have fallen down in the middle of the store, with Zs coming from above my head.
Retaining dignity, I walk back to the hostel, thinking about how poorly planned my flight out was (I leave July 4th – I bet a big blow out on the beach of Waikiki with fireworks lighting up the sky just like in The Sandlot, my favourite fictional memory of all time, would be stupid and boring anyway, right? Who wants to see that.)
I get into my room, eye my bed, and am out cold.
Two hours later, I wake up, a girl rummaging through her clothes. And then in walks her boyfriend, who you would swear was Jack Black, with a shaved head. Once he starts talking, the mannerisms and the voice also completely match. I say nothing though, as I'm sure I'm either wrong, or he gets it all the time.
As we talk about what there is to do on this Island, it comes out that people often call him Jack. I feel vindicated. For the next few hours, I listen to terrible things said that I could quite picture said celebrity saying and doing. Really, it as he matching of the mannerisms that creeped me out the most.
Deciding not to be an anti-social hosteller this run, we all go out for food at the “International Foodcourt” down the street. Inside there are dancers performing to traditional Hawaiian music, or so I am assured. That the girl gyrating her hips and dancing on stage is a white America only slightly destroys my cultural experience. Still – I am glad to have seen something like this, in the quest of good Greek food, rather than having to have seen something like this by going to see something like this.
Touristic experience? Check.
After dinner we all hang out, with a new girl from the bunk above me, and talk about the great art of Spear fishing (complete with spear gun in case demonstrations are needed – not at all terrifying) and the magical wonderland that is working at Tiffanie's (Fun Fact (“Fun Fact!”): Many people in California will talk to a local employee and get all the details, discussing for weeks, a piece – only to then screw them out of commission by heading to Oregon, where there is no sales tax, and buying it there.
I'm not saying I wouldn't do the same thing – but you'd think since Tiffanie's takes down the customers name when they're being helped, and when they buy, they'd have something hooked up to get at least a partial commission to where it belongs.
The convenience store next door is dangerously close, and dangerously well stocked. At three in the morning, we all proceed to pass out.
The girl above me, dreaming about the midnight showing of the new Twilight movie she'll be seeing tomorrow.
Thus ends June 28th. Again.
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