Cultural Re-entry

Monday Aug 16, 2004

(Late Entry: Leaving)

N 21o 17.020’

W 157o 50.586’

Ala Kei Marina, Honolulu

“Although she feels as if in a play, she is anyway” – a line from the Beatles’ Penny Lane (I believe)

The first twenty four back in the US, the people seemed so familiar that I felt nearly compelled to greet everyone. On the way to one of my first stops, the ATM machine at the hotel towering over the marina, a Jewish looking man was walking down the ramp encouraging his adolescent daughter to take more lessons … if she wanted to. It could have been me talking to my son, Matthew.

Walking past the hotel pool with its fresh batch of pale tourist working on their sunburns, I couldn’t help but smile. At one of the patio table shaded by an umbrella, a professional looking Black man leaned intently over his laptop. I assumed he was in Hawaii for a business conference. “Looks like you’re working too hard,” I interjected. He looked up at me and the notebook under my arm and replied with a smile, “You too.” 

At Starbucks I couldn’t resist letting the pretty waitress know that this was the first Café Latte I’d had in five months. “Out of the country,” was my simple reply to her question.

I was stereo-typing at a furious rate, while at the same time looking at American culture with a refreshed view. Next to the beach were shower heads and water spigots that seemed near miraculous in contrast to the cisterns and lack of water on the dozens of islands we have visited. How long will the people of this growing city be able to leave the water running?

Meanwhile, Peter and I were ourselves part of the scene. We shared the tan and unkempt appearance of many of the permanent beach residents. Peter couldn’t convince people that he wasn’t  a surfer. At the dock office, Wayne, a middle aged native Hawaiian who works behind the counter gave me the “hang-loose” sign as I checked in. (For those of you who don’t have a 14 year old son to teach you, this is a gesture made by making a fist and extending the thumb and little finger of your right hand.) The next day Wayne flashed me a peace sign. (For those of you who don’t have middle aged parents or friends from the sixties to teach you, this is a “V” sign made with the first and second fingers). Maybe it’s time to get a hair cut.

By the second day, Peter and I were already sliding back into a routine possible only in America: laundry for  $1.25, eating at Subways, coffee and scones at Starbucks, inexpensive beer, shopping at the Mall, resupplying at Costco and West Marine, and taking long, hot freshwater showers. With the luxury of dock facilities and the city of Honolulu in the background, we decided to stay at the Ala Wai marina for the entire 12 days we would need to wait for our third crew member, Pete “Pedro” Hunter.

Those twelve days of waiting went quickly. We did some standard tourist activities, such as hiking Diamond Head crater and visiting the Arizona Memorial. The memorial was an emotional experience. As most of you know, the Arizona is a cruiser that was sunk during the attack on Pearl Harbor and is now a grave for the hundreds of servicemen who died on board. The ship lies just below the surface of the harbor with a memorial built above. As you stand in the memorial, looking down, small beads of oil from the tomb will periodically drift slowly upward and then burst on the surface, a poignant link with the past even after sixty years. 

Other than those few tourist activities, for the most part Peter and I just relaxed. We had some good food and drink; read; socialized with Dan, (a fellow yachtie and new friend from the marina); and prepared Lillian for her last leg to the west coast. Pete Hunter, Peter’s former college roommate, flew out on Monday, August 16 to join us. That same day, with Dan’s help, we threw off the dock lines and left Ala Wai Marina shortly after 5:00 pm.  Next stop, West Coast.

Dan (a single-handed sailor), Sam and Peter at the Ala Wai Marina

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