It’s hard to form an accurate impression of Hawaii when you’re staying in a tourist enclave, commuting back and forth to work on a military base every day, and limited to one island of the several that compose the state’s totality.
It’s beautiful. I keep coming back to that fact, and there’s no denying it, despite Honolulu’s urban sprawl, a transportation network that hasn’t kept pace with the population, and an economy that’s been hit harder than average by the global downturn because it’s so dependent on tourists with pockets that aren’t as deep as they used to be. All that seems a little less relevant when contemplating a vivid rainbow suspended over cloud-shrouded mountains, or a brilliant orange sun sinking into an endless ocean, or the flowers blooming in riotous color everywhere you look.
It’s exotic–in landscape, demographics, and history. At the same time, it’s profoundly American. Behind the surfing and hula shows and pineapple and macadamia nuts is an incredibly diverse community of native Hawaiians and immigrants from all over the globe, trying to get by, living peacefully together, and struggling to balance preservation and prosperity, heritage and progress, beauty and practicality.
I like it. I hope I’ll have the chance to return soon–and bring my beautiful wife along next time. We were here together once before, and I remain convinced that Hawaii is best experienced in the company of someone you love.
Aloha, Hawaii. Mahalo.