Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Honeymoon, Part III

Day three, Wednesday, we had breakfast down in Kailua at a place called Huggo's On the Rocks (you can see this place on the Travel Channel show called, "Bridget's Sexiest Beaches" in the episode about Hawaii. Sue me, after we returned I found the show and Netflix and enjoyed seeing she went to some of the places we'd gone.) Breakfast was a croissant sandwich for Julia and (my favorite) bagel and lox with capers. Over breakfast we decided to rent some snorkeling gear and then find a good beach to actually do some snorkeling since I'd never been and it'd been a long time for Julia.

Almost right next door to Huggo's was a small building that housed a smoothie shop and Snorkel Bob's Snorkel Shop. And how can you resist a name like that? So, we ducked in, looked around and waited for the clerk to help us. She grabbed some swim fins, body boards to make the swimming easier, masks with snorkels attached, and a small bottle of de-fogger for the masks. Then she asked us if we wanted to book a luau or a full-fledged snorkeling trip. Julia and I looked at each other, asked the prices and then bought both. So, we walked into this place planning to spend maybe $40 and instead spent about ten times that amount. That's salesmanship! Okay, actually, it was because we'd planned to do those things anyway and had no clue that Snorkel Bob's could supply all that fun. And the prices were actually pretty good from what we'd heard and seen around town. So, now we had a luau to attend later in the day and the snorkeling trip on Friday to look forward to.

The clerk also happened to mention that my facial hair will likely make the mask leak, so we hopped back in the convertible Mustang and made a trip back to the house so I could shave. I came out looking all soft and boyish. Julia claims to not have a preference -- although she doesn't like how spikey the hair gets sometimes.

Anyway, based on the clerk's recommendation we made a quick drive north of the city to Honokohau Beach. It was a very short walk from parking to the beach and we were surprised to see we basically had the beach to ourselves. The only other people in the area were two moms and their four little kids. We walked along the beach, which curved out toward the water a bit, set our things down on the beautiful salt-and-pepper sand, and then walked into the water to de-fog our maskes and put them on. Julia was standing about three feet to my left when she put her mask on, looked under water and came up screaming in surprise and pointing. I quickly finished putting my mask on and looked in the water and not a foot from me was a three-foot-diameter sea turtle that we must have interrupted either resting or hunting. He looked at us then turned and started swimming along the beach. I followed for a bit, just to get a good look at him, but I didn't want to bother him too much so I turned back to swim with Julia.

The rest of our snorkeling that day wasn't all that exciting. We saw some fish, including a puffer, some stripey fish, and some small white fish jump out of the water near us -- possibly because the turtle was hunting them. Julia also saw three squid quickly swimming from us, but I missed them. Knowing what I know now, we probalby weren't out far enough to see anything good, but it was a good first attempt and we had a great time. We were there for two or three hours and I didn't know it at the time, but I badly burned my back, so I was feeling a bit charred for the next couple of days.

Swimming always makes me tired in a really pleasant way and we hadn't had lunch yet, so I was dragging a little. We found lunch at the Kona Market, which is a large building with a collection of stands selling various touristy things and a comfortable little food court. The stalls didn't excite us, but the food was good -- especially the ice cream Julia had and the smoothie I had.

After lunch it was time to nap! But first I talked to the owner of the house and mentioned the hot water wasn't hot and she said she must not have turned on the heater, so she did and then we had hot water for the rest of our stay. Woohoo! So, anyway, we read and napped and then got dressed for the luau.

The luau was held at a hotel down on the main drag, so parking was easy, and we walked right in. They had an option whereby you could pay and extra $5 per person to get "preferred seating" which we did, so we had seats right up front, about eight feet from the stage. Considering the overall cost of the tickets and extra $5 was the right choice for such good seats and the chance to get our food first.

The "show" included calling everyone over to watch them pull the roast pig out of the ground where it had cooked in a pit heated by rocks, called an imu (eemu). Then we sat down again and while the staff pulled the pig apart and made it look presentable, the host told us about the history of the luau (literally "celebration") and about some of the foods we were going to eat. Things like lomi lomi, poi (not as bad as you've heard, but strictly speaking not good either), and the pua'a kālua (literally "pig cooked in an underground oven"), plus a few other things like salad, breads, and deserts. When enough time passed, they started calling tables to walk over to the buffet and get their food -- starting with our table!

After the food, which was enjoyable and quite filling, the sun had pretty much set behind the stage and the show started. Thoughout dinner the three-person band had been playing and now they continued, but the host went on stage to introduce the show which would feature a group of dancers who'd be performing various traditional dances from Hawaii and other Polynesian islands. They were all pretty impressive, but what Julia and I thought was most amazing (and really made the show) was that the dancers all seemed really into it. They were having a good time and it didn't feel like they were "just performing another show" which I would have totally understood since they do this show three times a week. Anyway, it was great. There was hula, and fiery swords, and a section where they brought up a bunch of guys from the audience to show them how to dance, and even a portion where they called all the newleweds up for the wedding dance. Julia and I were one of six or eight couples (I forget which) who were there for their honeymoon. Fun.

After about two or three hours the luau wrapped up and we went home to discover just how bad our sunburns were. Bad. So sleep was a little rough, but we pulled through.

More in the next post!


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