America Through My Eyes

Hawaiian Islands – BIG ISLAND

Part 2

Telugu Original : Dr K.Geeta 

English Translation: V.Vijaya Kumar

          Although the flight landed at nine o’clock in Hawaii it was midnight to us in San Francisco, so the kids were sleepy and tired.  It took another half an hour to reach the car rental after waiting for the shuttle bus from the airport.  Another half hour in line there. Instead of the regular car booked earlier, we rented a jeep to travel the ghaty hill on the Big Island.  Since we want to drive an open-top jeep we have rented a convertible jeep to suit our needs.

          The first turn on the way from the airport to the hotels was greatly consoling. We rolled down the windows to get a warm breeze like in India. When we saw the neon lights on both sides of the streets we felt we had come to India, except that everything looked like the US system including the stop signs on the roads.

          Everyone was hungry.  Before going to the hotel, we decided to eat something and went to a pizza place after looking it up on the GPS but we turned back as it was already closed. We drove some distance, luckily we saw a pizza place that was ready to be closed in ten minutes.  We ordered a veg pizza and ate it hurriedly.

          “Kona Resort” which we had to reach from the airport is located in “Kona” city, half an hour away. The resort was just off the small road on the shore of the sea. It was a massive building, unlike all the surrounding buildings. The open parking lot was vast and was designed only to be opened with hotel tickets.

          A familiar aroma engulfed the nose when we hardly stepped in. I ran towards the flowers that were shining beautifully like stars on the trees in the night light. They are my favorite Deva Ganneru flowers. They were occupied every nook and corner. The children squatted on the luggage waiting for me to come back from my fantasy.  Until Satya came back from the counter, I was telling the children who were dozing into sleep how much I loved those flowers. It had become a customary habit to me to pluck flowers while coming and going and adorn them in our jeep. The Hawaiian women, a part of their culture, wear a flower in their ears. Who will stop me from imitating them?

          When I opened the balcony and stepped out, the sight of the beach startled me with surprise, and there was also a pleasant soft breeze.  It was a good experience to find such a beautiful room. Visakhapatnam Beach came to my mind suddenly. I remembered the warmth and beauty of the beach in January.

          The next day I got up from bed early and stepped onto the balcony looking at the beauty of the morning sea. I took out the plan of our paperwork for our scheduled island.  We were about halfway amid the west coast of the Big Island.

          When we checked the sights on the map we understood that almost every place we wanted to visit was on the East Coast. If we want to go there we should travel round the island either from the eastern side or northern side and come back again.

          The plan was to start north on the first day and reach the planetarium in the evening, visiting waterfalls on the way.  There wasn’t enough time that day to visit the nearby Volcanoes National Park. So we decided to come back to this shore the next day and to go via the southern way to avoid watching it a second time.

          We noted down all the important places of the private tours that show the entire island and prepared a timetable for three days.

          Waipio Bay was our next target. We left the lodgings at 9 am on the west coast and left for “Waipio Bay” on the east coast.

          Our beach resort area was located in the center of Kona town. From there, wherever we want to go, we have to go through the road on the hill.  We lifted off the top of our convertible jeep on the road where two vehicles can only pass. The road to the north seemed like Goa Road. While crossing the town, we observed plenty of beautiful trees and greenery intertwined with vines on the side of the road.

          After crossing the town, the road turned from the north to the east until it reached a hilltop with lots of ups and downs.  There was no town within an hour and a half distance.

          I felt uncomfortable whether it was because of the open-top jeep travel or the 55-mile speed in the stormy wind, so I insisted Satya do something. Satya stopped the jeep and fixed the top again as usual. The sun disappeared all of a sudden and it started raining like a torrential pouring.

          We felt, “Oh, it’s going to be a rainy day and we won’t be able to see anything.”  But there was not a single drop of rain for the next two miles. It rained again. It’s nice and warm and we enjoyed it no matter how long it rained. Sometimes it’s sunny, sometimes it’s raining.

          This strange experience continued for three days. We roamed like birds, got soaked in the rain and warmed up the next moment alternatively. We never ventured outside in the prickly cold rain showers in California. We carried coats that could withstand rain and cold wherever we went. We wore coats in the rain on the first day. But from the next day, we enjoyed the warmth of the rain which we were accustomed to in Indian weather without wearing coats.

          Banana and sugarcane plantations were seen in many places on the way. Varu and Siri don’t know about banana trees till now. Varu exclaimed looking at them, “Oh, are banana trees like this?” Then I started telling the details of all those trees we came across on our way. 

          I read somewhere that the Hawaiian Islands are famous for pineapple plantations. 

          I was looking keenly at the side of the road if they were found. I proposed Satya if the garden was found anywhere, we would stop. “Do you think is it our estate to stop anywhere and everywhere? I won’t!” He dismissed my proposal.  

          Those three days, I went around the island but I could not find a single pineapple tree anywhere.  “Not here, but on the island of Oahu,” said Satya.  The funny thing was when we were coming back on the third day we noticed among those flower beds outside our hotel plenty of pineapple plants embedded! A small pod was also seen sprouting between each plant looking very beautiful. We laughed at our search of the whole island blindly while they were right under our noses!

          We reached the other side of the island experiencing the unusual changes in the weather. We reached at about eleven o’clock at “Waipio Bay” adjacent to “Hanukkah Town”. It was a massive hill. We had to go down the hill to a park-like area to see the beautiful sea from above, the “Waipio Point.”

          There was also a great historical background connected to this place including its beautiful view of the seashore.

          That shore was called Hamakua Coast, where the first Maharaja of Hawaii, Kamehameha, had spent his entire childhood. The valley was once home to thousands of indigenous tribes. The visitors would be provided jeep and horse-riding tours to see the historical monuments and memories in the valley, visible about five miles below.  But we only had time to spend there for an hour. So we were confined to looking from above.

          It was learnt that only a hundred people live in that valley now.  As a living testimony of the history of that time, the Hilawai Falls, the highest in Hawaii, luxuriating in the valley as a green haven since then and till now, is fertilizing the landscape from a height of 1300 meters.

          We went down to the park area and while watching the coast, a gentle rain had started to pour down with intermittent drizzle. A rainbow had appeared magnificently like a bridge of seven colors between the sky and the earth from that corner of the valley to this corner. I felt elated and said to myself I shouldn’t have flinched even a moment to travel thousands of miles to see this beautiful spot!


(to be continued)

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