My flight home from Australia to Toronto had many a lovely stops along the way. I started in Sydney and landed 10 days for beach relaxation in Fiji. My next stop was the lovely island of Oahu in Hawaii. My first experience with “North American culture” was more of a shock than I expected. It was so odd to walk into a Walmart in Honolulu and see fast food chains that I was so familiar with but had not experienced in over two years. The obesity rates were alarming compared to the thinny minny’s in Seoul.
My hosts, Amie and Jenny Kamthamala made my stay in Oahu remarkable. My arrival was a bit precarious as my flight from Fiji to Honolulu was faced with a fierce storm forcing us to take an emergency landing in Samoa. I arrived in Honolulu a few hours late, and after some serious searching was able to find Jenny who was gracious enough to pick me up. On our drive home the car broke down and we spent the next few hours on the side of the road waiting for the car to get fixed.
Hawaii is such a tourist trap I am so glad I was able to stay with locals who could show me their favorite beaches and restaurants. One day we all hopped in a car and drove around the perimeter of the island which was such a remarkable jam packed day full of site seeing. Jenny and I also visited one of her friends who had a birthday on a bunch of pontoon and motor boats out in the middle of the ocean at a shallow sand bar. American kids these days with their binge drinking and floating keg parties! It was a riot! I visited the top tourist attraction on the island, The Polynesian Culture Centre which is run by the Mormon Church. I visited the temple on site and all of the “nuns” assumed I was a Mormon tourist. They ran to get me a Book of Mormon when I told them I wasn’t a mormon. They were so eager to “change my life.” They put on the hard sell tactics and asked me to sign up with a local temple in Toronto. I advised, “my husband and I would be most pleased.” After they realized I was gay they snatched the book out of my hands and told me I should leave. Hella Awkward.
Near the end of my stay I visited the Pearl Harbor Monument which was a somber experience. Everyone watches a film before visiting the memorial. I found it seriously odd that the video showed the traumas of the Japanese bombing but made no reference to the retaliation and devastation that occurred in Hiroshima and Nagasaki (missing links?) My last two days I just totally vegged out on the beach, people watching, staring at surfers and mulling about how my life would be changing.