The flight is over. Yeah! David and I stampeded out of the plane as fast as we could, along with the rest of the herd. Warm, very warm, and I was starting to sweat. I thought to myself, foolishly, of course: “I hope the temperatures here are not excessive! Looking back, I now know that feeling super warm was the shock of being cool in New York City for so long, and that we were walking fast. We were inside Honolulu International, but it felt open to the outside world. Open spaces! Yes, open areas through which the Pacific trade winds could flow unimpeded. And birds! Birds, birds, birds everywhere, filling the air with their wonderful songs, the lovely feathered ones that would be our constant companions through our stay in paradise.
After grabbing our suitcases, we went to find the greeting person from our tour company, who presented us with beautiful lei. Yay, Hawaii at last!
One of the airport’s porters, in charge of taking our suitcases to the bus that would take us to our hotel was talking with me and raving about the dining area of the hotel we were staying, the Pacific Beach. He mentioned this aquarium which was “really nice,” as he put it. He also said that the food there was so delicious that many locals, including himself, went there for lunch regularly. I was very glad to hear such a good recommendation from someone who sounded like he knew what he was talking about.
And boy, did he ever! The aquarium he said was “very nice” was three stories high, about a hundred feet in length, and heaven knows how large in diameter. It was filled with 280,000 gallons of water, and it starred three magnificent manta or sting rays, who commanded awe and respect as they gently and unhurriedly moved their “wings” while going about their underwater flight. The choreography of this spectacular aquarium was complete with abundant plant life and fish of various colors, all framing the presence of the riveting manta rays.
The food! The food! The food! Papaya to die for, served with skin and all, so I got to eat it as I did growing up in Puerto Rico, living in the house with the big beautiful backyard. We had a papaya tree, but it was not in the big beautiful backyard, it was actually in the side garden of the house. My father would watch the growth of the fruit and he would know exactly when to take it down from the tree, no easy task. He would cut the fruit and all we needed to do was to gently scrape off the seeds and chow down. Here at the Pacific Beach in Waikiki, Honolulu, I did not have to scrape the seeds, but I got to enjoy the skin. I will tell you, I would not have minded a bit if I had to scrape the seeds! Okay, so there were the papaya, the pineapple and other fruits. There were eggs deliciously prepared with vegetables, Portugese sausages, freshly squeezed fruit juices. I just wish they had not strained the juices, especially the guava. Lunch and dinner were no less delicious. There was the famous kalua pork, kalua chicken, salmon, mahi mahi, rice, vegetables. No wonder the residents and working people in the area went there to eat, as the porter told me back at the airport! It was heaven!