I have been doing a lot of flying recently. I left Boston a little before 7:00am EST (GMT -5) on Wednesday and traveled about six and a half hours to Orange County, getting in at 11am Pacific (GMT -8), starving because the JetBlue snacks were not much substitute for, well, lunch. On Thursday the girls and I went to Yamashiro for dinner and Les Miserables for entertainment with Linda and Ercil, then spent the night in an LA hotel so that we could be up nice and early for our flight to Hawaii. Well, early is relative, and while we had time for a leisurely breakfast, a slow airport shuttle put us about twenty minutes behind where we wanted to be one one of the busier travel days of the year, and several long lines later we were the last ones on the flight. Another five hours of flying aboard a big old 767, this time with a (pretty terrible) lunch, and tada, we were in Maui (GMT -10) and my circadians were so far off track that recovery would take days.
Some may (well, have) joked that I don’t deal with time change well, but I beg to differ. The problem is two changes in the same number of days, and lots of waking up very early, pre-sunrise, to sit in big metal tubes for hours at a time with no physical activity, very little entertainment, and not much that passes for food. Add in the post-finals cooldown and you’ve got a recipe for lots and lots of sleeping. So that happened.
Friday morning in Maui and the weather was beautiful, in the high 70s and sunny and clear. Weather.com said it would be that way, but I didn’t believe it, so I checked the NOAA, which suggested scattered showers, more in line with what I had been hearing, but so far no showers have come along.
When we showed up at the Sheraton I had a strange feeling of deja vu, and insisted we had been here before. A little exploration later and everyone agreed, by sheer dumb luck we ended up back at the same hotel Discovery Toys went to for their (1998?) incentive trip. That time I sat in the room being bored, but this time I’m trying to enjoy myself a bit more. Still, there is only so much beach I can take. The problem I have is that I like water, but I don’t like salt water, and I don’t like chlorinated water. I also don’t have much love for lying in the hot sun for hours at a time, and while I find sand fun, getting it all over everything is slightly less so. And since Maui is, at this point in its existance, pretty much a tourist island, most of what there is to do consists of sand and salt water, and any remnants of real culture and uniqueness have been sandblasted away by McDonalds and the Gap, or are at least hidden enough that tourists (oh wait, I guess that’s me) won’t find and disturb them.
In my journalism class this (last?) semester one of the things we talked about was the part of Daniel Boorstin’s The Image that talked about tourism and the loss of place associated with it. As tourism becomes more obtaininable for more people, a few things happen. First, the sheer increase in population and money at a given location means that the natural beauty and wonder is going to be replaced by things that cater to tourists. Second, what tourists want, Boorstin claims, is what they see on TV — a sterile, fantasy world rather then the harsh realities they may encounter. Thus the paradox of Disney’s California Adventure theme park, a version of California, located in California, that can give you all of the “wonders” of California in one clean, shiny, happy place, in just a few hours of your time.
Savvy travelers who are looking for authenticity will pick up guide books that tell them about secret gems, but there are the same guide books that every other “savvy” traveler will pick up, and so the gems also end up being silly tourist traps. The best part of our cruise to Mexico is when we took a Jeep tour and our tour guide took us to an out of the way family restauran above their house, which overlooked a stream and a waterfall. It was the most authentic Mexican experience we had, and almost everything else about the trip was meant to cater to tourists. I don’t know how to duplicate that kind of experience here in Hawaii.
Anyway, so far we have spent some time at the aforementioned beach and pool, and visited the nearby Westin with its (fun but not highly impressive) waterslides. Today we went snorkeling for an hour, but when I try to snorkel I inevitably end up almost asphyxiating, so my snorkel tube stayed pretty much unused and I just stuck with trusty mouth breathing. Tomorrow morning, I get to (supposedly) learn how to surf, so we’ll see how that goes. We start at the ungodly hour of 9:00am, which to me sounds perfectly reasonable since I’m consistantly waking up around four. Which, I might add, is a perfectly good time to wake up — in EST!
Anyway, there is no internet access here so I’ll put this and whatever other blog entries I write up in a batch when I get back. In the unlikely event that anyone gets this far in reading them all, hi!