Last week I went out on a limb. I went on a girls trip with two of my co-workers. We had never travelled together before. We hadn’t even hung out outside of work before. But they both seemed like nice, fun people, I’d never “done” Honolulu properly (I’d been there for a work training for 2 days, once.) and it was cold and rainy at home, so I figured, why not? It was a bit of a gamble, but I won the lottery this time. It was special getting to know my co-workers on a different, more personal level. I didn’t ask permission to tell their stories here and so I won’t, but suffice it to say that I am still shaking my head over the trauma that people can suffer in life and how these two have come out the other side, strong, functional, kind, joyful, and beautiful. These two ladies are a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. I tip my hat to you.
What draws people to the Hawaiian Islands? Lots of things: sun, warmth, the slower pace, the clear water, but also the colors. The vivid turquoise of the water, the fire engine red of a hibiscus, the layers of greens on the mountain sides. But I found when I turned my camera to black and white, I saw things differently and I really enjoyed it. Instead of being bowled over by color I saw contrasts and patterns that I wouldn’t have noticed other wise. Likewise, if I hadn’t had the opportunity to spend time with my co-workers outside the usual environment, our filters would have stayed put and I wouldn’t have gotten to see them in a new way.
Honolulu was different from any other island experience I’ve had. High rises, high-end shopping, noise, traffic, and hustle bustle are just a part of the package you have to accept. 1950’s kitch meets Japanese tourist. A line around the block to get into Marakame Udon. Unless you go for breakfast we discovered. Totally do it. Umbrella drinks meet Gucci. Embrace your inner shopaholic and pull out your credit card. Just go with the flow because there is a day and night flow of humanity up and down Kalakaua Avenue.
Sunset Magazine must have heard we were going because they conveniently had an article on where to eat in Honolulu this month. The hands down favorite, 5 stars all around, was Mahina and Suns elevated home cooking. They took typical Hawaiian foods and turned them into something moan inducing. Take for instance, poi. Normally tastes about like eating Elmer’s glue. But crispy fry it till it’s crunchy on the outside and delicately chewy on the inside, sprinkle micro scallions, smoked fish, and charred baby tomatoes all around, and well, you’ve got something I’d go back for seconds on. Dessert had us laughing out loud at how ridiculously, insanely good it was. A steaming hot square of butter and chocolate mochi topped with a scoop of black sesame gelato? A brilliant rift on chocolate and peanut butter. I warned the other girls they might lose a finger as we clashed spoons in our shared dish.
There was a lot of snoozing and reading on the beach, much eating, and cocktails every night. Lest we morph into three middle age corpulent manatees, we also made a point of doing some hiking. Lyon Arboretum was spectacular not only for the sheer scope of the place, but for the riot of plants (ever seen a pink banana before?), the views, and the secret water fall which we had all to ourselves. Diamond Head was a must do for the history and view of the city. Manoa Falls was like being lost in Jurassic Park. With 100 Japanese tourists. It was actually a nature lover’s dream. I walked so, so slow because the more I looked, the more I saw: soaring Monkey Pod trees, with their fantastic spread of canopy, to limbs so heavy with bromeliads it was a wonder they didn’t break under the weight, a hundred dangling vines, a plant that put its leaves out just like a spiral stair case, tiny colorful lichens, tangles of woody lianas, buttressed roots taller than I, drops of rain catching the sun light in a padding of moss. It was a balm to the city weary soul.
It was a trip of contrasts. Sharing past sadness and rolling with laughter in the present. Honking horns, high rises and the trill of a bird song in the lush jungle. Lazing on the beach then huffing and sweating up the 99 stairs to Diamond Head. Black and white photos in a land of startling color.