An Otaku Goes to Paradise Part 2

Part 8:

What is the Best Treatment for Rope Burns?

Anxiety’s Physical Manifestation

I was looking forward to rafting. I was so looking forward to rafting. This was not what I had in mind. We woke up again at the near crack of dawn for another boating adventure. I was thinking this would be a lot like our first marine cruise on a large boat and slow speeds towards popular snorkeling destinations. That is not what we got.

This was a tiny pontoon boat with two captains that were clearly taking out some deep-seated hatred of the sea by nearly drowning tourists and getting their kicks off on those who thought they were adrenaline junkies until they set foot onto this tiny craft and raced down choppy seas at around 30 nautical miles. It was a smaller vessel and a smaller group, so the captain really let us do what we wanted. “You wanna see whales and turtles? Let’s see whales and turtles!” “You want to go faster? SURE. LET’S GO FASTER!” none of these things are exciting or beautiful when you’re clinging on for dear life. The thrashing ride was way longer than expected and we stopped at the backside of the volcanic crater we visited earlier. But this was different. “Oh you know…it’s about 220 or so feet deep.” that statement should never be said so calmly.

I didn’t realize exactly how clenched up and scared I was until I did tempt fate and my fears and coaxed my terrified frame into the swirling abysmal cavern of sea death. My hands hurt as soon as I hit the salt water. I looked up to find that I had rope burns from holding onto the pontoon supports for so long and so hard.  I didn’t think I was scared or that it was so obvious but I looked green the entire boat ride and didn’t hit the water again despite being able to see whales (which apparently is super rare) and sea turtles (which is less rare but still super cool) I just didn’t have the desire to swim in that kind of ocean again.  I was more in love with the feral chickens running around the island than the whales and I have to understand that maybe that’s just kinda how I am.

Not everyone has these awe-inspiring moments when it comes to nature and that’s okay. Just as I was starting to feel like a mega loser, it came to my attention that EVERYONE felt sick after the captain’s choice of LARPing Speed Racer on the high seas; even the captain was a little ill after that. Still, my heart felt a little heavy that I let my anxiety get the best of me. But the seas were high and the surf was rough. Most people SHOULD be afraid of water 220 or so feet deep and turtles are kinda jerks. My rope burns will heal and it stands as a decent reminder that yes, anxiety can be limiting but it is there biologically for a reason. There are some things you’re meant to be afraid of, and that’s okay. And now I get to sport cool hand bandages.

Part 9:

In Decadence We Trust

You Can’t Have a Pineapple Based Economy

I had saved for this trip but my aunt did receive a stipend since this was an incentive trip. That fact alone brought out something very interesting in me: when confronted with really any sum of money I deal with it in a rather distinct way. I horde.

I am like the Dragon in Grendel. I rather save that money, make wise spending choices and on a whole keep my expenditures low to maximize the sum. But that’s just me. I’m the type of girl that will talk herself out of buying absolutely needed items just to save a buck so there’s no real healthy medium between the at times excess of my family and my tendency to save. Our last day’s excursion was to a local outlet mall and while I had already done far more shopping than I think I have in my adult life, shop was what we were supposed to do. Spending in any quantity began to feel like a battle for the sake of mementos. I was willing to give up steak for Spam, cocktails for cola and souvenirs for seashells (which I had to buy because our beach was so synthetic). Each receipt was a wound, a battle scar and it was starting to feel like our combined excess was keeping this island afloat.

The purchases I’m most proud of are the ones that supported local artists. A black and white pearl ring and a sea glass and geode bowl. That’s what I’m proud of. Oh and the obscene amount of postcards ( I scrapbook, don’t judge me.) The highlight of the shopping day was FINALLY getting a Dole Whipped, which is a delightful fro yo of pineapple and sweet Polynesian secrets. Best part of the day. Oh and the garlic Mahi Mahi from a local shop, served with two scoops of rice and one scoop of macaroni salad. Gotta love the military history of the island. Our bus ride back to the resort told us a lot about the current economy of the island. It was nice to hear.

Hawaii’s not a place mainlanders talk about. Apparently their governor kinda sucks, there’s actually a ton of social-political issues going that stems from a long standing battle between natives that want to protect the land and others that want to…not protect it?  And their economy is based on pineapple harvesting, hospitality and sugar. You can’t have a pineapple-based economy. The night ended with traditional Hula dancing which was amazing! I was so happy to see the stories of the people danced out. The legend of Pele (which I was happy to have known prior.) and some of the other legends of the gods, goddesses and the travels of the early people from Mother Tahiti to Hawaii. That was the highlight of the trip. Culture, finally.

Part 10:

The Long Flight Home

Closing Remarks

Wow. What can I say about Maui? It’s a beautiful place with awesome people and fantastic food. It’s almost too perfect. I think that’s why I was so eager to return. I was in a very synthetic part of Maui. Bleached beaches, perfect everything, Underground passages to keep lawns manicured and pools flowing. I want to visit a real city the next time I visit. I want to be on the other side of Hana. I want to see people, culture and rocky shores. I don’t need perfect beaches, perfect people or perfect bodies. The history of Hawaii isn’t perfect and the people know that.

There’s real issues, real people and plenty more to discover. So as I flew back home I kept the list of places I WANTED to visit and stowed it away. Culture will have to wait until I return. In the meantime I learned that the Polynesian culture wasn’t so much unlike my own. Ohana, a word that means “Family” often refers to members that aren’t blood much like Southerners have to this day. The people respect the land, their ancestors and the future of these islands. Many people I visited were impressed that I knew at least more than one language. That I knew Japanese culture better than my own and knew about local ingredients more than the others I was travelling with. What was hilarious was how little I felt like I knew about Hawaii. That fact hasn’t changed and I still want to know more. Mahalo, Hawai’i. Thank you for letting me invade your beaches for a few days. When I come back, it will be for real then.

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