... the tales of two sisters

Dana lives in Seattle, and Tracie lives in Germany. We are businesswomen, writers and humorists. We write about life, dating, and today's modern women.

Paradise & Poverty

Twenty five long years had passed since I vacationed in Honolulu.

However, it took twenty five short seconds for the familiar, laid back, hang-loose warmness to settle in.

Feeling the heat of the sun, I eagerly relaxed in to Aloha time.  Sipping Mai Tai’s filled with different rums and garnished with fragrant flowers and my favorite fruit, pineapple, I reminisced of my childhood frolicking on these beaches.

Although in recent years, I have spent time in Maui, Honolulu will always represent the Hawaiian spirit for me. My family visited Honolulu for many summers in my childhood.  My extended family is a melting pot, and I have a cousin, Pohaku with Hawaiian heritage.  I still recall the first time I got engulfed by the waves and the taste of salt water filling my mouth and my bikini bottoms drooping with sand as I headed back to our family camp.  We ate red hot dogs from the local food stand and watched the most glorious sun sets.  Through my teen-age years, my cousins and I would visit and go to Luaus.  In my twenties, I went for the Pro Bowl.  I got engaged to my children’s father at the Halekulani, the resort I chose for my daughter’s Senior Spring vacation.  

Like my father, I inherited the need to dig deep when on vacation.  I wanted to see how the “real” locals live and experience what life would be like on the daily living in “paradise.”  So, one morning, while my daughter and my girlfriends, Patti and Sheila went Scuba diving, I found myself alone on foot and I just started walking.  Away from the safe confines of of secured access, key mandated access to the ocean, and waiters at your beck and call. I wondered, and walked destination unknown.  I couldn’t help but ponder the privilege and the poverty.  Designer shops selling the finest labels, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Golden Goose next to mom and pop shops selling island treasures of puka shells and macadamia nut candies, while a homeless man passed by with a grocery cart filled with his worldly belongings.

As I walked, everywhere I turned, I saw signs of the struggle.  I witnessed a man expunge a Starbucks cup from a trash can and use the liquid to cool and “cleanse” his skin.  I walked upon houses that needed repair and beggars lined the sidewalks.  Although homelessness is said to be on the decline, there is still an estimated 4500 on these streets. I was so intent in my thoughts that I lost track of time, and when I happened upon a local, I asked for directions back to the hotel and she assured me it was a looooong distance.  Thanks to modern technology, I summoned an Lyft.  My  driver, a young local explained that between he and his wife they had to maintain 5 jobs to live there.  He shared the cost of living in Honolulu is prohibitive. Poverty and Paradise.

As part of the educational experience for my daughter, the next day, we toured Pearl Harbor. This somber remembrance of the surprise attack of the US on December 7, 1941, was a painful reminder never to forget the sacrifice these brave soldiers made.

We took a catamaran for an hour and a half where again, I inquired of our captain and first mate where they were from and what life was like living there.  The Captain to our surprise was from our neck of the woods, the Pacific Northwest Oregon Coast.  He said that as a youngster he always knew he would live in this sunshine state.  Although he wasn’t 35 years old, he already had a solid beer belly in the making.  He asked for us to tip generously as he joked it was their 401K retirement program.  Poverty in Paradise.

At Le Mer French restaurant, I tried to expose my daughter to the elements of fine cuisine.  A stool was placed by our side for resting our purses.  The drink concoctions all arrived with a rose wafting in the cubes.  I had to post the hilarious video and Taryn’s expression when the Ratatouille A la Mangue comme un Jardin, King Crabe Rafraichi au Vinaigre de Mangue was placed before her. ” I’mma need some pizza after this.”  

We dined at Tommy Bahamas and Merrimans.

 Everyone has a story and hearing of the people who hailed from all walks of life was fascinating.  I met a group of women from South Carolina who said it took them 10 hours to get there.  Another couple from Australia visiting for the first time to the states.  There were many tourist from Japan.  No matter how they got there or where they hailed from, we all benefited from the vitamin D and hang loose Hawaiian spirit.

Maholo and Aloha… Until next time Honolulu!