Monthly Archives: June 2014

So far…

Okay, so my last few posts have been RIDICULOUSLY wordy. Sorry. As I said in my last post, at this point we have been in this hotel room for 54 days…Now, I’m sure you are wondering “What?! you’re in HI! Go kayaking, swimming, mountain climbing…!” But see, here’s the thing. All of that costs $$$. We are NOT on vacation, and until we get reimbursed for the PCS, every expense piles up. Every 10 days, another $1100 goes on our CC for the room. When you can’t bake, you spend a lot on microwave food. Blech. Or restaurants. Or pizza. (The only place that delivers to the island is Dominoes, FYI) All of these are pretty pricey options. Since our hotel room has a kitchenette, you only actually get HALF of your per diem– so for us, that’s $60 a day for food. It sounds like a lot, and on the mainland it would be. But here? Not so much. A trip to Teddys Bigger Burger (think 5 Guys) for 2 of us (2 fountain drinks, 2 burgers, 2 fries) = $26.95 Chili’s (mango tea, strawberry lemonade (no alcohol!), 2 Mexi-bowl salads and some guac = $43.51 (I have a stack of reciepts here that I’m looking at). So if we get $60 a day to eat– just by going to Chili’s and a burger joint- we’ve already gone over budget into the land of un-reimbursed spending. My advice? If you are on Ford Island? Head over to the Mini-NEX (I know – I warned against that earlier but this is the exception!) over across from the Air field and museum. Inside is a Subway. Go to Subway. It’s healthy, it’s (comparatively) cheaper and healthier as options go.  And it will keep you within budget. This will become important.

Now- as to activity time. Part of this is me. I feel guilty leaving my poor dogs in the hotel room for extended periods of time. I also dislike the idea of driving to a beach, looking for parking, cooking in the sun, and then riding all the way back to the lodge soggy or sandy or burnt. Ugh.. I’m actually just waiting until we are in our house. The reason for this? We signed the lease for a cute little house 9 houses up from the beach!! Yup! We are going to be living within walking distance to a beach! Which means: no parking issues, no staying any longer than you feel like it, no sitting in traffic coming and going… I can simply grab my towel, sunscreen, waterbottle and book and walk down the street. Best of all?? (Because, yeah, it gets better!!!) ‘Our’ beach is dog-friendly!! Say whaaaat?! YES. You read right. We scored a beach bungalow with a dog-friendly beach. THIS is why we have been in the hotel so long. We decided it was worth the wait.

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Originally, we had looked at a townhouse in the same area. Well, we went to actually LOOK at it (the day we were going to sign the lease!) and it wasn’t sitting well with me. The house was great, and spacious by Hawaiian standards–but it was in a cul de sac that felt REALLY crowded to me (multiple car households?), and the fenced in yard (reason we chose the place!) was 110% burrs. Yeah. The same burrs that chased us out of the hotel dog-park.  It was unusable. So, on a whim, we went back to the leasing office and I asked the agent “Okay, it looks great,buuuuut…. do you by ANY chance at all have one of the single houses available for us to see?”  (When you have dogs- shared walls are less than ideal. If we took the townhouse, we were going to share a wall, but thought the yard made it worthwhile. Upon sight, we decided it wasn’t.) He just so happened to know of a house coming up… The lady was in her driveway (she was moving out that day!). He gave us the keys to a similar property (same floorplan, but attached unit) so we could ‘see’ the inside. We loved the layout… SO we scouted out the location that was going to be available: close to dog park, close to beach, close to office… Went back to the office and signed for that house. Only catch? It was going to need renovating… and wouldnt’ be available until June…  We decided it was worth the wait. So here we sit. Still inthe hotel. But we move into the Beach Bungalow on Saturday!!! Only catch– household goods, although already on island (here since April) can’tbe delivered until June 20. FFS…  So we will be camping in our house for 2 weeks. Near the beach. I think we’ll struggle through it somehow… 😉

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Polynesian Cultural Center

Oh Poly Cult. I am so conflicted on you. I love you. I hate you. I …

We went to the Polynesian Cultural Center and it was beautiful!!! It really is! We booked our tickets through MWR (do it- much cheaper!) and checked the pups into overnight boarding at the vets (since we knew we wouldn’t be back before late). The drive from here to there was beautiful. The layout of the center is beautiful, lots of tropical trees, flowers, a windy ‘river’ with boats, and it’s divvied up into several small Polynesian villages. Each village tells the story of typical life in a variety of different Polynesian islands. Example: Maori culture, Samoan, Tongan, Hawaiian, Fiji, Tahiti. You get to explore and learn about each culture through their storytelling (‘talkstory’), re-enactments, art, song, dance, architecture, life skills, etc. Each culture is presented by people FROM those cultures, so it’s a great way of learning! I would suggest however, skip the tour– I felt like we missed stuff. If you Self-guide your way through, you can spend more/less time as you see fit. For me? I was less interested in the dance and more interested in the Tapa making (visual arts)–which means, I of course drifted away from my group (dancing) to go check out the Tapa. 😉 Not necessarily an advisable tactic, but for what you pay, you should see what interests you! Next time– definitely self-guiding. Anyhow, as I was saying, I LOVED the layout, loved the presentations of the various cultures, loved the whole learning experience and really enjoyed the big show (HA: Breath of Life) at the end. Pay the extra and see the show– it is SO worth it! 🙂

Poly Cult Center 20140503_113101 20140503_132906 20140503_132940 100_3458 100_3483 100_3488 100_3487 100_3481 100_3480 100_3479 100_3478 100_3477 100_3482 100_3473 100_3471 100_3470 100_3469 100_3468 100_3467 100_3466 100_3447 100_3446 100_3486 100_3557 100_3516 100_3509 100_3500 100_3496 100_3493 100_3490 100_3489 100_3517 100_3561 100_3592 100_3591 100_3593 100_3582 100_3581 100_3580 100_3579 100_3583 100_3570 100_3569 100_3565 100_3564 100_3562 See what I mean? It’s beautiful!!

Now my problems with it…  The weird practice of selling $5 ice-cream before every performance. Seriously- it was like a commercial. They (performers) would wait 15 minutes for these people to shill the ice cream before anything would begin. It was like commercials. Nobody expects commercials when going to a museum (which, technically, this would fall under the category of Living Museum..). It was weird and annoying. Set up your stands and we’ll buy it -when we see it- if we want it. Enough already. 😛

 

Second- and this is purely personal. The Poly Cult Ctr is run by a religious group. A strange (unexpected) arrangement– but okay… How it works, is the employees of the center are all hired from their respective islands, and work in exchange for an education (fully funded!) at a well-known university here in HI. I DO think that’s a pretty good deal; a work study in exchange for your education? Cool. My concern however, is awkward to phrase, so bear with me. It has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the particular faith in this situation. You can sub ANY faith in that spot, the reasons for my discomfort are the same.

Historically speaking, almost every culture has been either wiped out or assimilated to the point of near non-existence by religious groups. Missionaries, although well-intentioned, in their effort to ‘save the souls’ of  indigenous people, succeeded in almost entirely erasing their very cultures by eroding or negating their native belief systems. In most indigenous cultures their art, their artifacts, their rituals are all centered around their belief system. Their native faiths. When missionaries visited these peoples and ‘gave them G-d’– they lost that which made them uniquely and culturally THEM. (*please note this is not directed at any particular faith’s missionaries)

Now, in the US, when we assimilated (nearly annihilated)  the Native population– it was systematic. It began with the missionaries, moved on to the taking of land and relegation to reservations, and moved into the ‘education phase.’ The education phase, was when the tribes children were taken and sent to boarding schools. These schools forbade the use of their languages, cut their hair (it was too native), dressed them like pioneer children, forced them to speak English, forced them to learn their christian prayers and not speak of their native life. It basically was designed to re-program the kids. To erase their cultural identity.

Now how does this relate…

Well, my concern is– when these students (high school age) are taken from their islands and accepted into BYU (with the promise of a free education!) what level of religious indoctrination is involved? For the duration of their time at school and employment at the PCC, they are expected to abide by the host organizations faith–including all restrictions. Upon completion of their education, the kids are then sent back to their islands. There is a never-ending stream of students from these islands, willing to take their place, due to the lure of free education in ‘America’ (Hawaii). But when the kids go home- how does that affect their culture? Are Maori kids returning to New Zealand with newly established religious views? Are all these island participants coming to work here and returning ‘washed’ of their indigenous faiths? I’m probably not explaining myself very well, but maybe you can understand my concern? My thought process? Imagine, if every generation of indigenous graduating high school seniors, went off to college and returned having converted to Judaism. How long would it take, before that cultures belief system was left behind and they (as a culture) shifted toward a Jewish belief system? Coconut shell Shabbat sets, Seashell shofars…?

As you can see, I am conflicted. I love Poly Cult, I hate Poly Cult. But I did enjoy my visit and would absolutely recommend it to anyone if you visit the island. Just don’t overthink it like I do. It’s a lot easier to enjoy a good time when you don’t think of tomorrow, right? :-/

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E Komo Mai Hawaii!

E Komo mai Hawaii! (welcome to Hawaii!)

And if you want to really say it right, pronounce Hawaii correctly– “Hah-vy-ee” 😉

WOW. Wow. wow. This place…

So I flew here on Hawaiian Airlines, which was a wonderful experience. Despite the toddler in the row behind me who scream-cried the ENTIRE 6 hours (oh mylanta was that a long flight made longer…) the flight  was actually very calming. From the minute you get on, you hear the Hawaiian music playing softly, the flight attendants wear aloha shirts (‘Hawaiian shirts are actually called Aloha shirts– who knew?), the little tv screens at every seat were playing a loop of beautiful sunsets, swaying palm trees, hula dancers, etc. All in all- very pleasant. HA is one of the only airlines left that still provides a complimentary meal, with wine and SILVERWARE. Not plastic spork. Silverware. FYI. 😉 Here are a few pics from my first sight of Hawaii from the air…

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(Left to right) Those are the Ko’Olina Lagoons on the Leeward side, 2 shots looking leeward, and a shot of cities-because why didn’t I expect such crowding??

20140414_161143 This is actually the entrance to Pearl Harbor. The beach on left, is Iroquois Point– where we will be living!

When I arrived, I was greeted with a magenta orchid lei (Confession: I arranged for that in advance when I booked my flight! It cost $20 but after the last few months of holy hell pcs-cancer- cross country driving- I totally felt like I deserved to be greeted as if on vacation! DO IT! Spring for it! It sets the pace for a new beginning!!) Now, when you accept a lei, there is actually a whole protocol for this… You bow your head and they (the giver– you NEVER put one on yourself!) drapes it around your head and over your shoulders. SO it doesn’t (initially) hang like a necklace, it drapes evenly front and back. Eventually it will end up hanging like a necklace (as you can see), but when giving a lei– it always goes on evenly. 😉  Now, this being my first time in Hawaii, first time getting lei’d (haha, see what I did there?) and being alone, I got even MORE Cheesy and started taking selfies. Yup. I was that chick.

20140414_135208 20140414_135202 Shameless. Just, Shameless.

Just got lei'd at the airport...OMG I"M REALLY HERE!!!

Just got lei’d at the airport…OMG I”M REALLY HERE!!!

2 Funny things about landing in Hawaii– you have to fill out a Customs Declaration (as if arriving in a foreign country) and the restroom signs. See for yourself…

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I didn’t get a shot of the mens room sign. That just would’ve been awkward…

Sea Monkeys sponsor met me at the airport, so as soon as my stuff was loaded in his car– we were off to the car lot! He offered to take me to lunch, but honestly– I just wanted to get the MonkeyMobile (“Toaster”) so I could check that off my to-do list. So we went to Sand Island and I busted out my big mamma-jamma PCS binder with all the necessary paperwork in it and got his car. (side note: they were impressed by my organization/binder. Booyah.)

Once I signed for his car, inspected it and all, they gave me directions for registering it- but honestly, I ignored it. I got the car (and every other damn thing!) to the island, HE can take care of SOMETHING. (and he did–both cars.) From there, I followed the sponsor to the base so I could fill the Toaster (remember: it ships nearly empty!) and while at the gas station (a mini-NEX) I figured I would grab a few things to eat in the hotel, since it had a mini-fridge. This was easier said than done… recall, it was almost Pesach. Passover. No leavened grains. DOH. (actually, no dough…) I bought some grapes ($9.99 a lb!! WTF?!), salad, tuna, water… and Sam Adams. I figured Pesach didn’t begin until sundown, and dammit–I earned a beer. Or 2. Or 3. Afterwards, I  followed the sponsor to the lodge to check out out our new temporary home.   ****Side note: since then, I have learned: do NOT buy your food at the Nex Minimarts.. highway robbery. Seriously. I’m still shaking my damn head over those $10 grapes…

Now, Navy Lodge. Actually really nice! It’s out on Ford Island, and recall– I booked it back in January (so, 4 mos in advance!) since we have 2 pups with us. They put us up on the 3rd floor, all the way at the end (which is great, because we only have one other room on our balcony + housekeeping. Our balcony is closed off at one end (going into the hotel), so I’ve been able to let the pups run on the balcony (when nobody is home next door). 😉

The pups didn’t arrive until the next morning, delivered by Island Pet Movers in style…! (seriously- check this out!) 20140415_085742 20140415_085813 20140415_085810 20140415_085807 20140415_090023 Needless to say, they were happy to be back with their mama and adjusted to the hotel room very quickly…20140415_093745 20140415_093733 20140415_103705 20140415_095218 20140415_095216 20140415_095153 20140415_093828

 

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I won’t lie though– early morning potty breaks are a PITA, running down 3 flights of stairs…(there is an elevator, but the stairs are closer and don’t involve me high-tailing it through the lobby in my pjs’ with 2 cross-legged spaniels!) The lodge does have ample dog walking space, including one fenced in dog park that my pups LOVED!!! We stopped using it though, due to the barbaric burrs in that park.

20140422_161406 There are about a gajillion burrs on each stem. Now, imagine picking THOSE out of your poor dogs toes and belly-fuzz!

They look like tiny anemone and stick in between toes and in fur badly. 😦

20140415_092007 20140415_091958 20140415_092321 OH!! And another thing!! RED DIRT! It stains EVERYTHING!  Miss Puppy (Sophie) who is usually my prissy pup– rolled in it and managed to stain her BLACK hair. Guess who got a bath that night..? Hint: THIS girl…20140415_092017

Use the dog-park (unfenced) that’s back beside the pool instead. No burrs. Or- if you are like my picky pups– they prefer to go under the plumeria trees near the playground. Just bring your baggies!! There are a lot of dog owners here, and I’ve noticed several don’t pick up after their dogs. Gross. Be responsible. (And if you DO catch one of them– offer them a baggie. It should give them a hint.)

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20140417_064402 20140417_064219  20140417_06452620140416_190559 Happy puppies at the park. They didn’t even want to run around, they were so content to just sit and enjoy the breeze!

Our room (Sea Monkey, me, +2 pups) consists of a bedroom, bathroom, kitchenette (like a little galley kitchen: fridge, microwave, cooktop—NO OVEN), and a second room that combines living room with office/dining space. It has a couch, table and chairs, and desk. Originally, we were going to be in the lodge for 2-3 weeks. We had to extend… At the time I am writing this, it has been 54 days. 54 DAYS. We leave on Saturday, thank goodness! It’s been a really wonderful place to stay, but we are itchy to get in our house!!! If you book at the Navy Lodge on Ford Island– just an FYI– it has 2 tvs, a dvd player, the kitchen is stocked with mixing bowls, colander, cutting board, silverware/dishes/cups for 4 and a mini coffeepot that takes pods. Housekeeping provides them. (It’s kona coffee though, so get 3 a day! 😉 )

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Here you can see the living room/dining room/office, the pass through kitchenette (note fridge size!), the our room & the bath. The couch is also a pull out bed, FYI if you have kids. The 2 pics of outside are from the bedroom window– Pearl Harbor and an old bunker!

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Yeah… these are from our room. Seriously

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The colorful ones are sunset– the silvery ones are sunrise! …Because, when you have two pups that need to go out, you sometimes see the sunrise…

So yeah… Welcome to Hawaii. E Komo Mai… 🙂  I think we’re gonna like it here…

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