Another Hobby Blog

Sunday, April 01, 2007

I Am Back! (Part 1)

And what a restorative month it was. :)

(This narrative will give you the clues for the contest. I'll post the contest guidelines themselves at the end of the narrative. Which, it turns out, I'll have to continue working on tomorrow. :)

Day 1 (March 1, 2007): Supposed to be leaving tomorrow. Not yet packed. Still can't even grasp the concept, really. Last year was so completely devastating that I'm not even capable of comprehending the IDEA of "3 weeks in paradise" much less packing for it. Found a bunny-sitter, thank heavens! (after my months-ahead planned bunnysitter had to cancel last-minute) -- a friend of a friend. It would have cost about 300.00 to board the bunny for the time we'll be gone, and there wasn't even room available at this late notice. Sherry the bunny-sitter is truly a welcome blessing. :) Thank you, Sherry! ...and only an hour-and-a-half drive in each direction, which beats the 4-hours-in-each-direction it would have taken to bring my bunny to Fran in Portland (thank you, Fran for being willing and able!!). .. but I could really use that extra 5 hours to finish packing, wash the sink full of dirty dishes, finish up laundry, etc, etc. I feel like a zombie.

Day 2: chewing gum and crossword puzzles, a book to read, and the knowledge that anything that didn't get done doesn't get done for another three weeks or more. I've done the best I can, it definitely wasn't as much as needed to be done, but it will have to do. That's been the mantra throughout this knee injury, and I've tried to fight against slipping into despair as the chores and projects I can't accomplish stack up, waiting for me to heal, getting in my way until then and draining my mood. ..and they'll all still be waiting for me when I get back. At least I got the dishes done. At least I got the laundry washed. The house will smell decent for our return.

Day 3: where is my driver's license? I had it for yesterday's flight. Now it's gone. We've run out of time to look for it. It's missing, we have another flight to catch, and I have no proof of who I am. ... and Keith will have to do all the driving until I can get a replacement. ... At the airport there are extra security screenings because the ID I have isn't current, isn't valid. Long lines. Knee to the rescue -- when I notice the pain, I show my brace and get moved forward, into the handicapped row instead. The screening still takes a long time, but now that I'm sitting, I don't mind.

More chewing gum and crossword puzzles and the same book to read. Ah, the luxury of leg space!! All those frequent flier miles my husband and I saved up from our dating years have cashed in for first-class accommodations on the long legs of the journey. My knee is grateful.

Arrival. Humid air, sunshine. A wait for baggage. I know I've over packed-- it always happens when I wait for the last minute. My preference is to pack 3 weeks ahead. That way I can add things as I remember them, and take things out as I realize I'm not going to need them. When I pack last-minute, there's always something I've forgotten and a lot that I've brought that I am not going to need.

A rental car--an SUV--an unrequested upgrade. Holds the luggage no problem. Lots of sunshine. Hard to believe we left Seattle in a snow storm. Here it's sunshine. Mostly sunshine. Intermittent pounding rain, 5 minute bursts of it, flooding the streets. But then sunshine again. And warm.

I swear I can feel the ground moving gently.. as if breathing with the pull of the tides.

As we're negotiating our way through the streets, I notice a fabric store. Take note of that for later!

Day 4: Jet lag works in our favor. Usually night-owls, unadjusted to the time-change we are waking with the rising sun, ahead of the heat of the day. We head for the flea-market first thing. Every sarong catches my eye. The sarong-sellers are glad I've come. Two full circuits of the flea market. It's quite a walk, actually. The longest sustained walk I've done since the injury. I'm quite surprised, really, that my knee doesn't hurt sooner. Or more. But by 11am the sun is beating down quite hot and my knee and back have given all they can. The sarongs don't matter any more. The hotel room bed matters.

On the way, though, we stop by the fabric store. Keith wants a pair of long slacks, loose and breezy. We didn't find what he wanted at the flea market, so he's promised me fabric if I'll make him his slacks. Fabric! :) How could I refuse?

Well *there's* my driver's license, though how it got there I'm not quite sure... oh well, at least I have it now and don't need to jump through hoops to replace it. And I get to drive the fun windy road I've been looking forward to! yay! Keith is relieved as well. He'd rather I do the driving, usually.

A long nap. An evening walk. A quick swim at sunset. Oh, how I've missed the gentle rocking of the tides! It's really much too cold in Seattle to swim in the sound, even in the height of the summer (though I admit I swam once in March.. or at least I dove under and came up gasping with the chill of it.) A walk down the beach in the warm evening air. A dinner that cost too much. A lazy walk back to the hotel again. My knee is liking the warm air. Despite the long walk that morning, it hardly bothers me at all tonight. Even on the shifting sand of the beach.

Day 5: Another flight-- more chewing gum, more crossword puzzles. The stewardess brings me a cup of hot tea, but we're descending for landing before it's cool enough to drink. Next time I'll get juice. Settle in to new lodgings-- this one a time-share condo that Keith's mother has for the week. How cool is that?! When we picked our dates of travel we had absolutely no clue that our time here would overlap. But it did!! and even better, the condo she ended up in has an extra room, so Keith and I can stay there too! Super cool. A walk to the beach, but the shore is rocky and the surf is a little rough. No swim this time, just a walk in the breaking waves, knee-height. Then a swim in the condo's pool. Too warm. They must keep the pool water at 85 or higher. It's like trying to swim in a hot tub. yuck. The ocean would be nicer if the surf weren't so choppy and the beach so rocky. The ocean temperature is about 75 degrees. Chill to the first touch, but warm if you're actively swimming.

Day 6: Drive halfway up the mountain to a beautiful botanical park for our vow renewal. We're finally taking our (long-delayed) honeymoon, and we wanted to do a vow-renewal to make it special. Keith's mom is there, and her friend Chris. It's super-fabulous. The reverend's husband takes pictures with my camera. The first 36 shots he takes the camera turns out not to be loaded. foo. The next roll of film works fine. The roll afterward jams--doesn't advance--no pictures on it. Note-- if you're going to hire a professional photographer, Let Them Use The Equipment They KNOW!! :) ... He's a sweetheart, though! He's sending pictures he took on his own digital camera. Didn't have to-- it was my own equipment that failed! .. but such a sweetie to do so for us!

After the ceremony, Keithr and I drive out to dinner and a show. The purple taro dinner rolls are delicious. .. and what can I say-- they're purple! how can I not love them? .. Also, I learn the basics of making sennit rope. :) Pretty cool, no?

Day 7: the long, windy drive. Bonine keeps us from getting sick. (That'd be windy- full of winding, not windy- full of wind, y'know.) Stunningly beautiful, of course (that's it's primary claim to fame, after all)--greenery, rocks, and waterfalls, and I shoot many rolls of film along the way. The weather's as perfect as I could imagine it-- a soft misty rain that's not so wet as to make the street slick. The cloud cover diffuses the sunshine, so I don't have to fight against a headache in dappled sunlight through the overhead canopy. Perfect driving weather. Other drivers at some of the stops are complaining about the misty rain, but what do they know? They don't know they're lucky. It's not a drenching rain, and it's not a blinding sun. Couldn't be better. Overall, not too many people on the drive. 5 or 6 cars in a cluster, max, and space between them if you time your stops right. Thread the needle over the one-lane bridges for forty miles or so, then arrive at a town with only two restaurants, one of them attached to the super-expensive resort hotel. The other books up far in advance, so the seasoned traveler knows to pick up snacks at the fruit stands along the way. Tonight's lodgings are the most expensive we'll stay in during the entire trip. They're in that expensive resort hotel. There are other options if you want to stay here for three nights or more, and I would have loved that, but we wanted to spend time with Keith's mother as well, so we only had one night in our budget out here, and there were two options-- prohibitively expensive and snooty resort, or Joe's cockroach plaza with a budget price so low, even the insects can afford to stay there! ;) ... since we 'bought' our airfare with flyer miles, we went ahead and splurged on the resort room.

Being pampered is one thing. Being fawned over quite another. So much constant attention from a well-meaning staff feels oppressive to me! We hid out in our rooms for the evening. It's a lovely set of rooms with hardwood floors and ceiling fans and comfy furniture, and it smells of expensive coffee and fresh flowers and starched cotton. But it's bigger than my first apartment. .. come to think of it, it's bigger than my second apartment too! And while that was a long time ago, I'm just not sure the luxury of a pampered night's sleep is where I want to be spending my money. Think of how many sarongs I could be buying! ;)

Day 8: White surf and black sand. A tumble of waterfalls and freshwater pools that spill at the end into the ocean. An empty lava tube with amazing geological formations. A thousand mosquito bites. (Even paradise has its price.)

At the end of the day, a twilight drive back on that same windy road of one-lane bridges.

Day 9: No luck with the whale-watching plans-- the sea is too rough, too choppy. The boat won't go out. Instead we have lunch at a pricey restaurant that serves good fish and watch the waves break out the window. While we're waiting for a table, I swim in the lagoon and try to take pictures of the fish.

In the evening I cut the fabric for Keithr's slacks.

As we pack for tomorrow's travel, we realize how much of what we brought with us is unnecessary. Unsuited for the climate, bulky, heavy, annoying to carry. We get a couple of boxes and some packing tape and send as much as we can home by mail.

I've quit counting mosquito bites. They're too numerous. I've also quit counting mongooses. Same reason.

Day 10: Another flight. More crossword puzzles (they keep the plane in the air, dontchaknow? ), more chewing gum. The pictures from the windy drive didn't turn out as beautiful as I had hoped. Overexposed a little, I think. It's been a long time since I've used my SLR, and I've forgotten how to get the best out of my camera. I take more pictures out the window as the plane comes in for its landing, hoping these rolls of film turn out better than the previous rolls.

A 4-hour drive to the room we've rented. Actually, it's a house that we've rented, through, and it turns out to be *MUCH* nicer than a hotel room would have been. At least as far as I am concerned! Thank you, Carrie, for the VRBO suggestion! It really paid off. Our drive wouldn't have been so long if we'd just flown into the right airport. .. but we thought our lodgings were on the west side, and they turned out to be on the east, so we had to drive all the way around to north or south (south on arrival, north on departure). Rainy day. Didn't swim. Did walk in the surf, though. Only one day so far that I didn't-- the day of our vow renewal. Too busy that day.

At some point it occurs to me how little pain my knee is giving me. Every once in awhile I ask too much of it, and it hurts enough to change my plans, but when I stop what I'm doing, the pain goes away. At rest, without moving it or poking at it, I don't notice any pain at all! It's a wonderful feeling after a year of constant pain, sometimes excruciating, sometimes almost ignorable.

Day 11: I've quit counting geckos. I'd quit counting tree-frogs too, if I could ever see one. But I sure do hear them. Fortunately, I find it a pleasant sound. We spend the day at home. It's very easy to think of it as home. I make a snack of my third pineapple. Or is it my fourth? I guess I've quit counting those as well. The day goes to doing laundry, napping, a walk around the neighborhood, and sewing Keithr's slacks. It dawns on me that there is a reason I adore my sewing machine-- it has been a very very long time since I have made an entire garment of any kind entirely by hand-sewing. Ah well, the process is rewarding enough in itself. I just hope he gets to wear them before the vacation is ended!

During my shower I get a nice shadow-play to watch. A gecko on the skylight is chasing bugs. So cool.

We walk across the street to the cliff's edge. The surf is pounding against the shore far below-- waves that crash hard against the rock, spraying up 20 feet or more as they break. It's hard to tell how high the spray reaches from this vantage point, looking down on it, but it's easy to know that I wouldn't want to be in that surf, dashed against the rocks.

Day 12: Since there isn't any real beach access in an easy walk from our front door, we drive a bit along the coast. We pass up a warm pool, naturally heated. I dip my foot in, but I'm not feeling like swimming. It reminds me of the super-heated swimming pool at the condo, and it's full of people. I'd rather not be crowded. Lunch at a local diner-- very good. Leftovers for the next few days' breakfasts, too.

I found another fabric store. Does my obsession never stop?

Day 13: Mowka in the morning, say hello to Pele. Active steam vents, drizzly rain. My knee isn't up for much hiking on the rough terrain. Makai in the afternoon. Honu on the sand!! Didn't swim-- surf too choppy, wasn't feeling inviting. Home again in the evening to our VRBO. More sewing. I've stopped counting the times I've pricked my finger.

Day 14: Back up the coast again, past the warm pool, up to a protected lagoon we've heard about. I enjoy the swim. The ocean water, as mentioned earlier, is warm even in the middle of March. At this lagoon, though, it meets with a fresh-water spring that's rather cold. The fresh water floats on top of the seawater, creating a fascinating experience. As I'm swimming at the top of the water, looking down at the fish and the rocks and the coral, I notice my forehead is cold, but my nose is warm! I've felt the opposite quite often in the swims of my youth-- cool ocean currents chill my nose, while the water at my forehead, energized by the sun, feels warm. It's very surprising to feel the reverse!

Honu in the water!! Only a brief glimpse, as he was headed back out to deeper water, and I was already farther from shore than prudence would recommend. I snap my underwater camera and hope the picture is good.

Another mail drop. Souvenirs are much lighter when the post office carries them for you. ;)

Day 15: That 4-hour drive is going to be really annoying today. We have an early flight, so we have to pack up and depart the building by 2:00 am. It's going to be a long day.

The plane lands. We have our bags again. We drop our bags off at the hotel, then drive out to dinner and a show. On the way, though, we stop by that first fabric store again. :) Our rental car this time is another unrequested upgrade. This time to a convertible. Too bad it's raining.

As for the dinner show, I'd been looking forward to it, but it turned out to be different than what I'd hoped for. It was a long day of walking around in a guided tour group. My knee ached, and I felt crowded. Sure, there were fun moments, but if I'd known what it would be like, I would have spent my day differently and saved my money for other things. The food's decent, though, and eventually the evening is over and we can go back to our hotel room.


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