After so long away from the US it was certainly nice to conduct transactions in our own language but we were immediately met with a confounding tangle of senseless bureaucracy.
We had heard (from everyone )that cruising the Hawaiian islands was not without its drawbacks.
Lots of wind and weather, not a ton of great anchorages that are open to cruising boats, and you have to pay to anchor everywhere...
but these things seemed sort of reasonable to us, considering how little is left of this natural paradise and how many people would likely sail over here form the rainy cold North West of America and just STAY, if they could.
The perks of seeing Hawaii ( off the usual Tourista path of hotels and all-inclusives) is to see the volcanos, surf, scuba dive AND easily get whatever brand of yogurt or anything else your hear desires just by going to SAFEWAY...
so worth it.
We decided before coming here that we would try and have as unique experience as we could and if there were some hassles-well, we could handle it.
Since 911, Radio Bay has become a closed Port, meaning, you cannot freely come and go, you have to clear security every time you want to leave or enter the premises.
It used to be, you would call the office and a security guard would escort you to and from your boat.
(this small service was apparently voted down in some vigorous employee grievance meeting)
Apparently, the guards got tired of having to answer the phone all the time and walk -or ride in their little cart-from the guard gate to the boats and back.
The guard on duty, when we arrived, was very sweet and she greeted us with Aloha smiles, "Honey-Girl", an exceptionally grande, Hawaiian gal, explained to us that while we still had to pay 27.00 to check in and 10.50 for everyday we were here-they would no longer let us walk through the facility to enter or to leave.
We would have to take our dingy over to the public park and hike out to the road that way.
'But be careful, Ya..." said she, "there are a lot of ice heads hangin' around and people have had their stuff stolen".
("Ice" is some kind of crack cocaine and apparently there is a terrible epidemic of it here on the islands).
So, we pay the security fee but we have no security and if i can get out through the park, I assume people can get IN through the park-so what makes this a "secure port" then?
"Is there water?" I ask, happy to pay anything for the pleasure of not lugging gallons aboard or searching out a passing squall to get my deck fill.
'I think so", said Honey Girl. "most of the time there is"...
"what about shore power hook ups?" we ask.
Not keeping account of every amp of power we use and source from wind, water turbine or solar will be a novelty.
"Uh..." Honey girl looks around, trying to remember something.
" Some of them work." she says, hopefully.
"they are coin operated, 25 cents for fifteen minutes"...
We will have to get some quarters.
" Do you take cash or credit?" all we want now is to take a shower and go buy something cold to drink.
"Sorry..." Honey's giant head crumples into an adorable pout.
"You have to catch a bus downtown an' get a money order for the exact amount because, like, people who work here were stealing the cash, Ya."
She sounded super sad about this last bit.
The same people who's job it is to enforce the SECURITY of this port ( meaning, YOU, Honey girl) wouldn't walk the cruisers out the gate anymore and they are also stealing the cash they are entrusted to collect and rather than find new, more reliable employees, who are perhaps better suited to this sort of law enfacement-the Department of Transportation decided to make it practically impossible for the few visiting cruisers who dare to visit these islands to stay here?
Yet anybody in the world can come to Hawaii simply by winning a radio contest or sending in a bunch of cereal box-tops or whatever.
The biggest irony of all of this, was as this was being explained to the four of us (who had risked life and limb to get here and who's current plan is to sail the islands, observing the flora and fauna while teaching our young children about Hawaii's historical and cultural significance), that we cannot go anywhere without first rowing ashore and then hiking through a sometimes sketchy park ( which is also locked at night after 8pm) ...
a mega-cruise ship is docked and literally excreting HUNDREDS of passengers out of its bowels. They ooze out of the gates, with maps in hand and floppy head coverings and safe, sock-encased, feet stuffed into sturdy sandals and not one of them had to stop to talk to a security guard.
I think when traveling it is best to take the Zen approach and move like water around the obstacle in your path.
We thanked Honey Girl, asked her where the best joint in town was to grab a burger ( something she was clearly an authority on) and rowed to the park ( we opted to leave our outboard engine on Pura Vida so that it wouldn't unessisarly tempt any drug users) and went to catch the bus downtown to get our money order.
Our "path-of-least.." theory proved right once again because we were immediately rewarded with good Karma.
As soon as we landed in the park ( and hid our dingy in the bushes) I noticed a woman, lying on grass with her pit bull mix.
I eyed her suspiciously, wondering if all "ice-heads" rolled around in the park and waved at strangers.
She was waving and smiling at us quite a lot, actually.
Once we had stashed our dingy and sorted out where the path that lead out of the park, was, we saw her again, this time loading her dog into its cage in the back of her pick up.
"Hi you guys!" She said, with a big smile.
"need a ride into town?"
Town is about two miles away and we had pretty intense sea legs and not much sleep and pretty minimal food in our systems so a ride was exactly what we needed.
Aloha spirit smoothed over the annoying rules and regs and our new friend "Anne" gave us a quick guided tour of Hilo, complete with local history and where to get the best Poke ( traditional raw tuna dish), where the best deals are, who to talk to to get a pass to anchor of the town, etc. etc..
She also vetoed Honey girl's ( or us it Huny Girl?) bid for best burger and dropped us off at a place called "Cronies", that just so happened to have the Sunday football game on ( go Seahawks!) and incredibly awesome milkshakes and french fries.
There is nothing more fun than that first meal after a long crossing.
Even though everyone was just blind tired, we stuffed our faces and grinned at each other and felt flooded with gratitude and pride in our little accomplishment and even though it was a silly hassle and expense to be tied up to the dock for a few days while we cleaned the boat and got ourselves sorted out-it was also a little slice of heaven in its own way.
Giant coin operated laundry machines in town, water that comes out of a hose ( sometimes), internet ( a mile and a half from the boat)...
after months without, we were ready for some of the perks of modern civilization.
On the way back to the boat , in the shadow of a massive cruise ship, two Eagle rays were quietly trying to get it on between our boat and the coast Gaurd cutter parked next to us.
I smiled, thinking about all the times we spent underwater with these guys and their bigger cousins in the Marquesas and Toau.
Even though we are back in the "real world" ( a definition i find more of an oxymoron than ever), our hearts and minds have been for ever altered by what we experienced on this adventure.
I think we return to our world and actually SEE the layers all around us.
The clouds overhead have so many more meanings now.
So, our laundry could fill eight body bags and the boat smells like nothing you can imagine and we had more money in our bank accounts when we were twenty...
We get how "crossed wind rules" work, notice the frog eggs where we used to see only mud,
our venture into new languages and cultures have made us all more comfortable talking to people,
cruising helped us to accept things as they come, living with less made us realize what we have,
and our adopted, Polynesian "families " taught us nerdy, bunch of white folks how to sing without self consciousness...
and this is living Pura Vida.
|ready for shore!|
|Our weird new world|
|The 2600 mile milkshake|
Means that no matter what your current situation is, life for someone else can always be less fortunate than your own. So you need to consider that maybe...just maybe, your situation isn't all that bad and that no matter how little or how much you have in life, we are all here together and life is short...so start liv