What I Did on My 50th Birthday
Waking up again in Oahu, I met my son for brunch at the Sheraton Waikiki. I was there last about 14 years ago with my young children and my aging parents, and for the first time about 39 years ago with my parents on a business trip. I remember the dining room because between the large glass panels that separate the outside from the inside, there is nothing… only space. No screen doors. House sparrows come and go, and there are no flies. It made such an impact on me when I was young, that concept of bringing the outside inside and the absolute freedom of having no bug or weather problem, that I’d always remembered that room but didn’t realize where on the several islands we visited it was until yesterday. The buffet caters to international tastes, so there is a Japanese area with miso soup, seaweed, tofu, pickled cucumber and plums, and many other goodies. There is a salad area, a cheese area, an area with assorted breads and freshly made pastries, the hot foods sections, fresh fruit and yogurts, and cereals. Throughout all this is the taste of the isles: fresh pineapple and papaya (it doesn’t taste as incredible anywhere else in the world), coconut syrup for the taro flour french toast, loco moco (egg on Spam on rice covered with brown gravy), guava juice, passionfruit pastries. There is no way to just eat a little, and no way to eat everything you’d like to.
Afterwards we walked along the beach back to the Moana, then drove out to the Manoa Falls rainforest, not far away. As soon as we got out of the car it began to pour. We purchased cheap rainjackets and mosquito wipes (don’t come to Hawaii without mosquito repellant!) and took the long, slippery, muddy and breathtakingly gorgeous hike up to the falls and back. The Manoa Arboretum is above and we walked around their pathways enjoying the incredible flowers. There are side trails up to the falls, and many pathways around the arboretum that we didn’t have time to hike. My son had to work at 5, so very muddy, we headed back towards town. We stopped at a Chinese restaurant and ate, then after leaving my son, I returned to my hotel. I was lucky enough to speak to my daughter for a long time, reply to many wonderful well-wishers on Facebook and a few emails as well. Then I dressed in one of my new Hawaiian dresses and walked with the crowds up and down the street, watching street performers doing magic tricks, balancing basketballs, pretending to be silver or gold statues, and playing electric violin to the radio. It was just the kind of day I’d hoped for. I spent it with one of my children doing something fun and adventurous, had great food, great exercise and a new start on life as I begin my next 50. Saturday, the 22nd I fly home.