I just recently returned from a great trip to Hawaii. Well, my trips to Hawaii have always been great because they are…in Hawaii. But this one was truly special.
Having always had unique and interesting experiences in the islands, there was always something new to marvel at and reminisce fondly about upon my return, but never before have I had a downright local, love and food kind of good time.
During what was expected to be a brief visit to some friends of ours in Kailua, (we made the drive from Haleiwa with some stops along the way), we were informed that they were later going to a party given by some friends in Waimanalo. We immediately turned down the invitation. After all, isn’t that considered crashing a party? Our friends informed us that this was not the way it was in Hawaii. Friends are welcome, and friends of friends are welcome. Everybody is welcome. After much persuasion, and seeing the opportunity to prolong the visit with our friends, we reluctantly accepted.
The drive from Kailua to Waimanalo was fraught with the worry of a mainlander. How dare we show up at someone’s party just like that?
Upon arrival, we marveled at the surroundings, mountain in the back and beach across the street. The most modest of homes was set up on a large piece of land. Cars of friends and family were strewn about in the front yard, and laughter and conversation emanated from the backyard.
Armed with a Ted’s Pie, we approached the home. We could hear Hawaiian music coming from the covered driveway. Approaching us was the hostess. A large Hawaiian lady with skin so beautiful and a smile so warm that, although I felt uncomfortable as hell being there, she at once made us feel not only welcome but as if she were expecting us.
We were greeted with hugs and kisses by the beautiful woman, and were introduced to everyone else who seemed genuinely happy to see and meet us.
The party itself was a wonderful experience. Seeing how the local people on the island live and celebrate and just get together was very memorable.
Our visit was brief. We had to get back to Haleiwa and the skies were opening up. Our babies were sleepy and it was getting dark.
Such protest at our departure we have never heard. And the food that was “forcibly” packed up for us….a ton of fresh fish, burgers, sushi rice from an old family recipe, octopus, cookies….was just unbelievable. Upon our leaving, we were hugged and kissed and wished well.
I suppose this story doesn’t seem that remarkable.
And I now see that sometimes the limits of a writer are confined by words and are only an attempt at conveyance …sometimes only the actual experience can offer the trueness of feeling.
There was welcoming and love from perfect strangers. There was no mistaking the fact that it was genuine. I felt that if I had made the decision to stay on, they would surely have made up a little space for me and let me move into their home. I felt that if I ever needed anything while on the island, I could go to them and they would know what to do and take care of us. And that they would want to do this.
I guess what I am trying to say is that I finally got to experience a bit of the real Hawaii. Real Hawaiian hospitality with real Hawaiian people.
I have traveled extensively in my life and can honestly say that these people are among the kindest and most generous in the world. So many of us could learn from them.
They exude love like no other people I have ever met.