Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Bob Buss

Full Moon over Waikiki

Auckland-Tokyo/Narita-Honolulu. Actually it's not as bad as it sounds. Or perhaps we have learned how to do this sort of thing: plenty of fluids, move around, have things to read or do (we mostly watched movies on one leg; slept on the other; I loved "Burn After Reading," watched it twice, made Vicki watch it). Despite the 11 hour trip to Tokyo, 3 hour layover, and then 6 hours to Honolulu, Auckland and Honolulu are only 4 hours apart, so we felt less jet-jagged than simply a bit fatigued. Then the adenalin kicks in. (Oh, we decided not to spend the few days originally scheduled in Japan; already been there, done that; very expensive).

The flight to Tokyo was of special interest to this life-long WWII (the Big One) history buff. (I have actually read all of Samuel Eliot Morison's "History of US Naval Operations in WWII"; and some more too). We flew past the Coral Sea, all of northern New Guinea in the distance, the Solomon Islands (Vicki's dad was wounded at Guadalcanal in August, 1942), Bougainville, Rabaul off the left, Truk to the right, Guam and some of the Marianas. My exuberance was curbed appropriately insofar as we were nearly the only non-Japanese aboard. But it was great to see, even from 38,000 feet.

The immigration officer at Honolulu noted our long absence and offered us a kind and sincere welcome back. It is good to be back in more ways than I can count.

Vicki had found us a pretty nice $67 Waikiki hotel. She has a talent for this and, despite complaints, enjoys these little--some not so little--victories. How lucky am I? While she R&Rd, I had lunch with friend and former colleague Bob Buss, director of the Hawaii Humanities Council. It was good to talk to someone who was not a stranger, to get some real insight about the islands, and even to engage in a little "shoptalkqua." The HCH does some great things in a very special place. Things are moving along in the public humanities, as always, some of which I still miss very much (especially the people), and some not (alas, also people). Bob still climbs Diamond Head every morning.

I took the bus back to the hotel. A local cabbie had taken me for a ride on the way out. The meter is no guarantee of honesty. We have ridden cabs in all seven of the nations we have visited, but were never ripped-off to this extent. Most cabbies we have encountered are relatively honest, or at least not overly greedy (and some we have extravagantly tipped for their honesty). It is a difficult way to make a living, with a very narrow profit margin. It was at least refreshing to get reliable and intelligble directions, and assistance, from the bus drivers, and in English, too (as the fella says).

Tomorrow we fly to the Big Island for 8 days of sight-seeing, hiking, maybe snorkeling, etc., in a rental car, budget accommodations, even tent-camping (we have lugged our mountain tent around half the world and finally are going to use it!). Tonight (Monday), after a BBQ dinner and stroll in Waikiki we are checking email, and, of course, re-sorting and re-packing. More later.

1 comment:

mel ulm said...

Welcome back to the USA-I agree with your observation about long flights being less onerous when you learn how to do them-