One last Aloha.

The Hawaiian greeting Aloha can mean either hello or goodbye. This may be due to the fact that when you’re in the islands you don’t know whether you’re coming or going.

Something about Hawaii – the sound of the waves, perhaps, or the pungent fragrance of the plumeria and the constant whisper of the trade winds – is akin to being in a drug-induced state. Or maybe it’s the Mai Tais. Whatever it is, it gives me coconut brain. While I am now physically back in California, my mind is busy is doing the hula, so don’t ask me any important questions right now.

What I miss most of all: the continual sound of the waves. Take me back!

Under the category of important questions: “What did you do while you were there?” Uh. Ummm. Stammer. The correct answer to that would be not very much, I guess. Although, upon reflection, we did rise up off our pool loungers and go into Kailua-Kona town one Sunday where we attended services at the very first Christian church built in the Hawaiian islands. The current Moku’aikaua church (two earlier thatched structures built in the 1820’s were lost to fire) was completed in 1837 under the direction of missionary Asa Thurston. We stepped inside to find that almost two hundred years later, the church’s active congregation exudes a warm Aloha spirit.

Lava rock and coral-based mortar comprise the stone walls of the church. (polloplayer photo)

The pews (take a cushion if you go!) are made from rare koa wood.(image from gohawaii.about.com)

Some of the hymns were sung in Hawaiian during the service we attended, and members of the youth group performed a “praise hula”. The members of the non-denominational congregation are used to seeing lots of tourists in attendance and they make everyone feel very welcome.

After church, we wandered through a nearby Farmers Market. Very different wares than you’d find on the mainland!

A curtain of leis for sale

I’m going to guess that these are some of the famous Maui onions

I’d never seen Dragon Fruit before. This high-fiber, low-calorie fruit comes from a cactus called the Pitaya. Native to South America, it is now widely grown in East and Southeast Asian countries.

Dragon Fruit at the Farmers Market (polloplayer photo)

Back at our hotel the next morning, we found Dragon Fruit on the buffet menu. It’s just as exotic on the inside as it is on the outside.

It tasted like kiwi to me. (polloplayer photo)

Each Hawaiian island is a bit different from the others, and first-time visitors to the Big Island can be surprised by its “moonscape” appearance. The island of Hawaii is the youngest of the islands in the archipelago formerly known as the “Sandwich Islands” and is covered with lava rock. On the plus side, the weather on the Kona Coast tends to be warmer and drier than on the other islands.

This is what you see along the road from the Kona airport.

On the minus side, the omnipresent lava rock can make the beaches seem unfriendly.

Lava rock. Everywhere.

The best beach we’ve seen on the island is at the Mauna Kea, and it is one of the most spectacular beaches we’ve seen anywhere in Hawaii. Since we were traveling without other family members this trip (for the first time since our honeymoon almost thirty-three years ago!) we weren’t as concerned about the beach, so we stayed at the Four Seasons Hualalai, where the focus is on service. Consistently rated as the top resort in all of Hawaii, the Hualalai is a seductively understated resort. No high-rise here – the rooms are in two-story bungalows spread out along the resorts thirty-two oceanfront acres.

A low-key Aloha vibe in the rooms at the Four Seasons Hualalai (polloplayer photo)

The Hualalai feels uncrowded, although we were told that during peak times there is a two-and-a-half-page wait for chairs by the main pool. Maybe because of the smoothies and the mango-vodka popsicles:

The pool attendants deliver pineapple smoothies in the morning…

…and popsicles in the afternoon

There is a family pool on the property, but if I were bringing kids on the vacation (and yes, family, we will plan another Hawaii trip with you all soon…) I would choose a different resort and maybe a different island. Travel snafus on this trip – stranded overnight at LAX due to a canceled flight and then almost missing our connection in SF on the way back due to a delayed flight – have led us to decide that continuing problems with the UAL/Continental merger has made flying direct to Kona an iffy proposition at best.

Whenever, wherever, however, we will return, always, to Hawaii. Because Aloha never really means goodbye…

Thirty-three years and counting…

About polloplayer

Empty nester searching for meaning of life through the occasional chicken epiphany.
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5 Responses to One last Aloha.

  1. You two look like honeymooners! Inspirational! Pollo, you capture the feeling of Hawaii so well in these posts, it takes me on a mini vacation. Love the Hawaiian rule of “wake up. eat. do nothing.”

  2. Katherine says:

    Aloha! I love words that mean more than one thing. It helps me explain why I sometimes say the wrong thing – or DO i??!!

    Also enjoyable – words whose meaning have changed. Do you realize that until recently (all things being relative) the word sophisticated meant “false” or “corrupted”? Remember that the next time someone calls you sophisticated…. Be careful though – don’t tell them “that’s awful”, because that means it’s deserving of awe.

    Is it any wonder we can’t all understand each other?

    Aloha.

  3. dizzyguy says:

    CE here: We had a wonderful, wonderful time. The same way that there are 28 words for snow in Russian, there are 52 words in Hawaiian for “Another Mai Tai please”. And so now the precedent is set” Every 32 years we will go to Hawaii by ourselves. Aloha!!

  4. alexandra says:

    I love the last picture of the two of you! Looks blissful.

  5. pollo amigo says:

    This is a magical photo!
    Hope the next visit is sooner than 32 years!

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