Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Return

As I am re-acclimatizing to Santa Fe life and the art world in general I want to mention some thoughts of returning home.  Many of us travel and it is the one case where you can go home again!  Some travel to the other side of the world, others cross a continent and some just drive an hour from the beach.  In all cases it requires some adjustment.

Our trip home from Hawaii was, in travel time, just about 10 hours but it was a red eye which is not pleasant for anyone.  There is, of course, the need for an early arrival at the airport which in Kauai was quite unpleasant.  There are separate inspections for security and two more for agriculture.  Since we were flying to the mainland we were told to be at the airport 2 hours ahead of the 10:00 p.m. flight.  The airport was stifling with no air-conditioning or fans, and, as this is a family vacation spot, there were overtired, screaming children. There was no notice of our flight as other flights appeared on the board. Suddenly a loud speaker announcement came that our flight was at the other end of the terminal and we rushed to arrive at a mob of people with no organization what so ever.  Of course, there is the layover time between the two flights needed for our journey.  Since we had been up for 14 hours before the flight by the time we were done we had been up for 29 hours.

Scene at Lihue Airport in Kauai

A short nap was required on arrival home.  Because you need to readjust to local time, you cannot sleep too long.  The following day, having slept all night and then some, there is a good chance that re-adjustment will remain elusive as it did for me.

As you begin to retrieve your “land legs” you start to focus and find, in direct correlation to how long you have been away, a small or large mountain of mail. It gets somewhat reduced by the number of catalogs and solicitations you discard.  Business mail isn’t overwhelming since that comes by email these days but there are always bills to pay and matters that need straightening out such as a lost credit card and incorrect charges to be rectified.  Then there are appointments to be made that you may have thought about for 10 days but were not going to make on your holiday, and emails that may or may not have been read but not acted upon … which reminds me …

As I am writing this I see an email from an old friend referring to my second Hawaii Missive.  He writes, “You say you went back to reality?  That was unwise.  How long before you can get out of there and back to Santa Fe?”   I received another email that said, “Santa Fe must seem dry and dull after Kauai!”.  

Let me try to reply to both at the same time We have been having quite a bit of rain since our return breaking Santa Fe’s awful drought.  As for being dull, we live in such an arts mecca, --it is never dull!  A few days after we returned from our trip we went to the fabulous outdoor Santa Fe Opera where we saw Leonard Bernstein’s, “Candide”.  I won’t try to give a revue but let me say I quite disagreed with the local critic who panned both the opera and Mr. Bernstein who had written some very melodious music.  We seem to want our opera to be heavy and serious, with music difficult to hum.  This, on the contrary,  was the definition of a comic opera with wonderful singers.

Alek Shrader and Brenda Rae in Candide at Santa Fe Opera.
Photo by Ken Howard

The following day our new mayor, Alan Webber, who has taken both praise and abuse in our local paper, invited us to a pot luck garden party he gave as a thank you for all those who had worked on his campaign.  Penelope had made phone calls, canvassed and carried a poster at the gates of a polling place on election day and I had arranged a meet and greet for the prospective mayor.  There must have been around a hundred people who had all contributed to the Mayor’s success.  The pot luck food was wonderful with people binging fried chicken, roast beef, turkey, meat balls, corn muffins and a myriad of salads.  Additional catering was done by Youth Works, a local not-for-profit that helps younger folk who are trying for their GED’s with academic coaching and vocational training. An award-winning chef known as Chef Carmen and his wife Penny Rodriguez, who had owned their own catering company, head the Youth Works catering program.   So, with the latter as guides the young people baked delicious deserts and acted as wait staff for the mayor’s event.  They also participated in the car shuttle to and from a nearby church to his home.

Mayor Alan Webber on the right

Everyone had opportunities for their one on one with “His Honor” and he gave a brief speech, jokingly taking credit for the recent rains.  Needless to say, after he was finished the heavens opened and there was a wonderful downpour!  As an added bonus we were all urged to take home left overs, so further samples from the buffet rounded out our dinner.

In reply again, to my first emailer, we have re-found Santa Fe!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

A Dream Realized (Part Two)

I cannot explain the foreignness of the island of Kauai. We are staying in a condo on a resort property but  those who do not come from the mainland and are native, who can trace their Hawaiian heritage back speak English fluently but with a heavy accent. Besides the official Hawaiian Polynesian language, there is the widely spoken Pidgin, a  patois mixing the Portuguese, Japanese and Chinese of laborers brought in to work the sugar plantations.  On tours we were always given the Hawaiian names but  I couldn’t spell them and you probably could not pronounce them!     The clouds and rain and jungle surroundings are certainly a far cry from the arid climate of New Mexico.  Kauai’s average yearly rainfall is 400 inches while in Santa Fe it is just over 14 inches!  Then there are sights that I would say were uncommon anywhere: where else would you see two men chasing a pig down a main road and then leaping after it into the jungle? That was what we saw on one of our car journeys around the island.

This is definitely an outdoor paradise. The beaches are the main attraction but they are still not crowded. The resorts, of course, have multiple pools. In the water there is no end to the sports you can do. Kayaking seems to be at the top of most peoples’ list after swimming. Of course, there is great hiking through the rain forest, though it can get rather muddy. The ground is so fertile that golf courses abound, and they do not appear to be crowded either.

Being more the passive sort and not participating in the hiking, the kayaking and zip lining that our son and his fiancée, and even Penelope did, I was looking forward to the helicopter tour around the island.  I have been in a private helicopter before going from Manhattan to the estate of a client on Long Island … this was slightly different!  We had opted for the helicopter with no doors since the four of us would not have to share our adventure with anyone else.  We were given life preservers because part of the flight was over water and earphones, so we could hear the pilot’s tour over the gale force winds that occur when you are flying with no doors or windows.  We were securely buckled into our seats, but I still felt I was slipping off the seat which had no give to it.  I thought it might just be me but we all felt the need to hold on sometimes with both hands!  Our pilot also enjoyed heading directly for the mountain and then going up at a precipitous angle to give us an extra thrill, which was totally unnecessary!  The big plus to this adventure was the incredible views we had.  I have never seen a rainbow beneath me.  Clouds yes, in the alps, but not a rainbow over the water and beach.  We saw the mountains literally inside and out as we flew into the the canyons and volcano crater and out again.  We were not surprised to learn that a James Bond movie was filmed in Hawaii but on another Island.  However, Pierce Brosnan, a former James Bond, has a home here.  Lots of major films have been done on the island such as Jurassic World, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and South Pacific.  In fact, if you want you can take a tour of the Kauai movie sites.

Another highlight for me was a short river cruise on the Wailua river with the goal of seeing the famous Fern Grotto It is a naturally-formed lava cave at the base of Mauna Kapu, (forbidden mountain), named for the ferns that grow down from the the grotto walls. It has become known as a wedding location and thousands of couples have decided to get married here.

Returning down river the captain gave us some history of where we were while outbound we had entertainment of song and dance by a talented native family.  Here are three snippets of song and dance.

No visit to Hawaii would be complete without a rum tasting since Mai Tai’s and Pina Coladas are l Hawaii’s signature drinks and are served everywhere.  I used to love rum but now my palate has become more atuned to  tequila! Before lunch at Gaylords, a former sugar cane plantation, we went to their rum tasting. The Koloa rum that that is actually made right there, we all agreed was the best on the Island. We learned about the sweet and drier rums and why the former should just float on top of the latter for a proper Mai Tai.  It  The tasting ended with a coffee rum which would be fabulous over ice cream as a desert for company!

All good things must come to an end and so it did for us with a red-eye flight back to reality.

Hunter Saying Goodbye to the Sea

The Sunset

Sunday, July 1, 2018

A Dream Realized (Part One)

My business always took me to Europe, so, vacations were usually in Switzerland which I loved, and I was not much of a beach person… too much sand!  Things changed when we had children and they had an institution called spring vacation.  Then we started to explore the Caribbean. After the kids grew up because of my wife’s work and mine we rarely took this kind of vacation.

I had always heard of people going to Hawaii for holiday but from New York it seemed terribly far away while the Caribbean was a relatively short trip.  Then when we started to live in the Southwest and it seemed everyone and their neighbor had been to Hawaii. Now, at the age of 73 my wife and son, Hunter, planned a “surprise“ trip for me and Hunter’s fiancée, Mallory, to the island of Kauai. 

Truth be known, I wasn’t even sure exactly where Hawaii was, other than somewhere in the South Pacific. So, a few days before we left I looked at the globe in my office and it sank in that actually it is in the Central Pacific. Geographically it has nothing to do with the United States but it was made a U.S. territory in 1898.  A referendum in 1959, where more that 93% of the voters opted for statehood, and it became the 50th state. The huge book by James Michener called “Hawaii” (that I am listening to on my I-phone) was published in that year.

There are 8 or 9 islands that make up Hawaii, depending who is counting since one of them seems to be extremely small.  Volcanic activity created the islands and the minerals in the lava and ash combine with a wet climate make a lush paradise.  We are not staying on the main island, where the volcano has been erupting recently, but on Kauai, where they actually had almost 50 inches of rain in a single 24-hour period this past April.  Yes, you read correctly, truly incredible and parts of the island are still closed for repairs.  There is so much jungle all around us we are aware that the habitable parts of the island have been carved out of the rain forest.

Though I know there are others, the only wild animals we have seen so far are fowl.  Roosters, hens and a Hawaiian goose, an endangered species known locally as the Nene Goose.

With so many beaches this is obviously a children’s paradise.  Never seen so many little ones running around the many condominiums rented out to house them!  Our accommodations have a picture postcard view of Hanalei Bay.

I am sure no trip to Hawaii would be complete without a Luau so we booked one.  We did not have a great deal of hope for one that billed itself as, “We Put the Wow in Luau” but miraculously it lived up to that.  When our bus arrived we were greeted by a Hawaiian drummer.

There was a huge edifice which was built like an open tent seating over a thousand people at a great many tables.  Before we sat down we visited a small craft fair outside where I bought a great souvenir, a fountain pen made of Koa wood, unique in the mountains of Hawaii.

Then there was a hula demonstration and lesson for the younger folk and others!  During the meal of pulled pork and all the fixings various dances were performed by the professionals. After pork and all the plates were cleared, we were treated to a one-hour production on the early history of Hawaii, told mainly through dance.  It was extremely well produced and performed by a company made up entirely of native Hawaiians.  Naturally the most impressive fire dancers were left for the grand finale!

We have only been here three days including our arrival day.  There is definitely another Missive left in this trip. ‘Till next week….