This being our fourth visit to Kauai, I feel as if I'm starting to understand the culture. It's not a lazy attitude, but they are very laid back. Unspoken rules I learned:
1. Everyone says hello to everyone. Smiles galore!
2. You never cut people off; you stop traffic behind you to let people through. And nobody gets offended (which is kind of like China, except there, everyone cuts everyone off!). You drive slow. There's no such thing as road rage. The fastest speed limit is 50.
3. People rise and sleep with the sun cycle. Seriously; everyone is out and about by 7AM (the sun rises around 5AM) and is at home in bed before 10PM (the sun sets by 7:30PM). Nightlife? Not here, compadre. If you want your nightlife, go to Honolulu.
4. People go out of their way to help each other. Nobody thinks you're stupid when you ask for directions (unlike some locals I met in England), and nobody assumes the worst.
5. Kauai's culture is interesting: You will have the poorest poor and the richest rich living side-by-side without complaint. Black tie and Beach Bum. Yuppie and Hippie. Everybody works; everybody plays. And everybody is nice to each other!
In my travels, I'm always shown how much people are alike. My testimony of the divinity of EVERY person resonates in every face I see, every person I meet. This trip was no different! I was reminded over and over at how much we are all the same. Cultures, ethnicities, genders, nationalities, socio-economic statuses --it doesn't matter. We're all the same. We're all children of God.
One day, after dropping off Brandon for his dive (scuba), my parents and I were driving back through Ha'ena to Hanalei to get my mom some snorkeling gear. It was pouring rain and just past a one-lane bridge, a woman was hitch-hiking. I pulled over and picked her up. Turns out she worked in Hanalei and her car had broken down (she lives in Ha'ena). She has lived on Kauai for 30 years and gave us some fantastic information about the north shore. There were other hitchhikers during our stay, but she ended up being the only one we picked up; some may think it's strange I stopped without hesitation, but it turned out to be a fantastic move! I'm pretty sure most hitchhikers on Kauai are pretty safe. They just need to get to the next town, man!
On one Sunday, we attended the Hanalei Branch. This small branch usually balloons to four times it's size --depending on the amount of visitors. We've been there when there's only been a few visitors, but this time, there were dozens. We picked a seat in the back of the small overflow/gym that happened to be next to an interesting man. He was wearing black shorts and a black T-shirt, had long hair and a goatee (which looked nice on him), tattoos, a huge backpack next to him, and he was deep in thought. During the opening song/prayer/Sacrament song, the man started weeping and couldn't stop. He apologized and I patted his back and told him it was just fine. During the Sacrament he kept asking us and some people behind us about the painting of Jesus that was on the wall next to us (it was this one). Brandon looked up the story of Mary and Martha on his iPhone and we let him read it. He asked more questions but was so grateful. I could smell the coffee and tobacco on his breath, and it was becoming more and more obvious that he was high (or just inebriated). He was so grateful to us for explaining the painting, and then just like that --boom! He left. I was sad he left; I could tell that even though he might have been high, he had been overcome by the Spirit. I could feel it. We actually saw him the next day eating lunch in Hanalei with some friends and he looked happy. I hope he is.
Bad Parts of the Trip:
*Hiking around Ke'e with my parents, convinced I could find the Heiau and not finding it, feeling dumb (because we were actually really close), and getting a million stickers in our clothes.
*Female problems for me (yeast infection, yo. Sorry if that's TMI. Luckily some medication and a blessing got rid of it).
*Coming home. Ha!
Highlights of our trip:
*Helicopter ride over the island
*Snorkeling in Tunnels and seeing 6 turtles
*Flying to Oahu and going to Pearl Harbor, the PCC (and seeing a missionary couple from our ward!), hiking Diamond Head, and hanging out on Waikiki.
*Hiking, hiking, hiking
*The Shrimp Shack and The Shrimp Station
*Swimming in Queen's Bath (for the first time! Every other time we've hiked to it, the surf has been to high).
*Hanging out with my parents
*Staying at the St. Regis our last two nights
*Massage at the Spa while Brandon played golf
*Napping on the beach
*Reading on the beach
*Sitting on the beach
*Playing on the beach
I could feel PMS starting towards the end of the trip. It was due and I could feel my demons trying to get the better of me. But for some reason, being in paradise, I felt stronger. I felt myself pushing them away; I felt myself refusing to give in. Perhaps this is why I now want to move our family to Kauai? This impulse of mine is to be where I'm physically and mentally the healthiest. Of course, I didn't have my children with me on the island and I'm very aware this could have more to do with my ability to relax than anything, but part of me would like to think that I could be very, very happy with my children on Kauai, you know?
So, I'm looking for a job for Brandon on Kauai. Okay, not really, but why not, eh? If anything, this has shown me that we need to go back more often. No more waiting 5 years until we go back to Hawaii. Brandon and I talked about it and we've decided we need to make it at least every other year, and we'll start taking kids with us (the older ones; age 8 seems like a good "rite of passage", right?). We are just so happy there --why not extend it? Keep it going? If we can't live there, the least we can do is make it our family's vacation destination.
I have a bazillion photos. I'll pick the best ones and show them to you next time. For now, just enjoy this one Brandon took with his phone. It's our last sunset on Kauai: