Living In America

May 4, 2009

On our day of arrival into Hawaii I was jolted up by the song “Living in America” blaring  over the intercom. It was 6:30 am so of course I was unhappy to be awake but, the song brought a smile to my face. At breakfast everyone was talking on their phones to family and friends for the first time in weeks (or even months). We were all sick of four dollar per minute phone calls. As we got off the boat students erupted with joy as they saw the familiar roads, cars, stores and foods of America.  People rushed into Starbucks like it was black friday at JC Penny. We were finally back in the States.

 

Hawaii was similar to home compared to the countries we had been in but was still very different from Iowa. The mountains created a dreamlike background for the skyscrapers of Honolulu. An ocean breeze protected us from the sun’s rays. We walked alongside the ocean and looked down on the crabs and bright schools of fish. The path was lined by white sands on one side and palm trees on the other.

honolulu

 

The people also did not look like those in Iowa. Most were in only their swimsuit and dark skinned. The best part was that they spoke English. It was a little disorientating. When I was trying to find the beach I felt like I should still speak in caveman like phrases “We need beach… sand and water…beach” like I had been doing for the past 4 months. Also, whenever I wanted to buy something I had to fight the urge to barter. Hawaii was expensive so I wish I could have negotiated.

 

After wandering around for a while we rode on the bus for an hour to get to Hanauma Bay. Hanauama Bay is a US National Marine Park as well as a National Monument. As we got out of the bus I could see why. Hundred foot tall cliffs formed a protective semicircle around the bay. The cliffs nestled a glowing beach lined with palm trees. In the water I could see the coral reef and the hundreds of tourists gathered to see it. Unfortunately a place this beautiful draws many tourists.

 

 

Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay

For many years while I was growing up I wanted to be a marine biologist so snorkeling is a thrill for me. We quickly rented our gear and flopped off into the bay. The water was as clear as swimming pool water and quite cold. We used our flippers to quickly push us as far away from the other tourists as possible. As we neared the center of the bay, far away from anyone else, we began to see lots of marine life.

 

This snorkeling trip was actually partially schoolwork for me because I had to write a paper on the different animals I saw. There were turquoise and yellow parrotfish, black and white boxfish, yellow stick shaped fish called Cornetfish, Anchilles Tangs and many others. The most exciting thing I saw was two Green Sea Turtles. They are an endangered species so it was a rare find. They were so slow I could see why they were endangered. They swam undisturbed while I hovered around close enough to grab onto their shell for about 25 minutes.

 

Afterwards my buddy Dylan was throwing a big luau at his house. A luau is just a Hawaiian party with a pig roast and local music. I was jealous of his house which is on a bluff looking over the ocean. There was a buffet of food as good as we’ve had in any country and a live band. He even had hula dancers! They pulled me and some of my friends up to the front and we learned how to hula dance. It’s surprisingly easy.

 

The next day I planned on going to Pearl Harbor but all my friends decided to go skydiving instead. I decided I could skydive back home so I laid around and relaxed for much of the afternoon. I ended up sending some postcards and walking around Honolulu in my last few hours.

 

Hawaii reminded me of how much I miss America. It made me nostalgic watching some classmates meet up with there family and friends. Before this trip I would have considered Hawaii an exotic place. Now it is the most similar place to home I’ve been in 4 months. After being gone so long it felt great to be back in America. Even the sight of Wal-Mart almost brought tears to my eyes. I miss living in America.

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