Friday, August 12, 2011
We are in Hawaii! This is the first time we've left the continent since we got back from our Big Adventure in 2008, and even though we're technically still in the United States of America, it sure feels like we're on vacation.
Things are really different now. Where once there were two, there are now three. Where we used to throw our two rucksacks on our backs, we now drag three gigantic suitcases through the airport. Where we used to relax on flights, books and headphones in hand, we struggle awkwardly up and down the aisles, holding tiny hands as tiny feet stride back and forth for hours. We cram into airplane lavatories and struggle with a rickety change table, diaper bag, squirming baby, and dirty diaper, all at once. Ben hardly slept at all, the whole trip... so we didn't either. By the time we landed at Kona International Airport on Hawaii (The Big Island, which is also called Hawaii), we had been awake for over 18 hours, or more if you take into account the fact we only slept two hours the night before we left. Ben was giddy with fatigue and wouldn't sleep, but bouncedbouncedbouncedbounced from the second we left Toronto until we landed in Kona. (Okay, I lie. He slept for an hour. One. Hour.)
The good thing about extreme fatigue is that it allowed us to fall into bed pretty much the second we arrived at our temporary home, just after 6:00. This is key, because Ben was awake and ready to go at 4:00 am the next morning. Thanks to our early bedtime, we were ready to go... nowhere. Nothing was open and we hadn't eaten dinner the night before, so we had a late night/early morning snack of energy bars and M&M's. By 7:00 we could venture out for breakfast and supplies.
How do I describe Hawaii? This island, called "The Big Island", is (duh) the biggest of all of the Hawaiian islands. It's the only one that is still growing, as the volcano known as Kilauea continues to erupt, spilling lava down the countryside into the Pacific ocean. It's sparsely populated, and it's spectacular. Hawaii's volcanic history means the landscape scales from sandy beach to towering mountains in just a few miles. Bougainvillea, hibiscus, and plumeria line the streets and grow in parking lots and front yards. We're eating local white pineapples -- the sweetest pineapples I've ever eaten, local mangoes, local bananas, local papayas from the farmer's market. I'm in Kona coffee heaven, and macadamia nuts, though not falling from the trees, are certainly abundant.
This side of the island, the Kona side, the west side, is hot and sunny and dry, with black sand beaches, white sand beaches, green sand beaches, and lava rocks. The green turtles certainly love it! The east coast is wet and lush and full of gigantic trees and vines and plants with leaves the size of elephant ears. In the middle it's all grassy plans and undulating rolling hills, perfect for the grazing cattle residing there. And did I mention the live active volcano at the southern end?
The food is good, the landscape is amazing, and Ben is having a fabulous time. The first half hour his first time at the beach he sobbed and clung to us in fear; after a few minutes of quiet observation in his Daddy's arms, and he was splashing happily in the surf.
As I mentioned earlier, traveling with a little one is certainly a different experience for us. Massive quantities of luggage aside, it takes us much longer to do anything. We haven't been able to get out the door in less than two hours from wake-up on any day. We tend to eat "at home", and earlier than we might have otherwise. We spend our evenings in front of the television instead of out drinking in the local culture... and we're usually in bed before midnight.
That being said, watching our boy step hesitatingly onto sand for the first time, and seeing him grin, is better than any other adventures we could have planned.