Winterwonderland Hawaii: a pleasant surprise in Pearl Harbor/ leaving Hawaii

December, 27th,
My Birthday began at 6:30am when Christina’s phone went of and we started our last day together on Oahu. For breakfast we demolished the remains of our peanut butter and added some jam we had from yesterday’s breakfast. Afterwards, we once again packed up everything, put the important things like passports, money and electronic devices in my backpack and headed towards the busstop.

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The way up there is pretty long and when Popo, an elderly man from Samoa asked us if we wanted to get a ride with him, we weren’t too upset about it. Thanks to him, it only took us 15 minutes to get back to the main street. We waited another 20 minutes and the bus to bring us to Pearl Harbor arrived. With line 20 we drove all the way to the Pearl Harbor Visitor’s center. Here you have to stop and lock away all bags. The only thing one is allowed to take onto the grounds are water, a wallet and a camera without a bag. There is a counter where you can hand in your bags… for 3 dollar a piece… right away there was a large sign that said that today, there was no admission to the USS Arizona Memorial, which is the heart piece of Pearl Harbor. Getting to the USS Arizona Memorial is for free, but there is only a limited number of tickets per day to get there. It is simply a regulation mechanism. A few days earlier, we had been warned, that we would not be able to go out there, as the tickets that are available online usually are booked out 3 months in advance. At the Visitor’s Center, only a hand full of tickets are available in the morning and the queues tend to be very long… long before the VC opens at 7am.

We had decided to go anyways. Well, as it was my birthday, I just walked up to one gentleman and asked if there was a small chance they still had two tickets in reserve for a birthday girl that just so happens to study American Studies. After showing him my ID and talking to him for a while – he described Albuquerque as the worst city he ever lived – he handed me two tickets for the next time slot and wished me a happy birthday. Of course we were very excited and tried very hard not to giggle.

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We still had 20 minutes to kill so we visited a museum. Then it was time to head into a small theater where they showed a short film about the history of Pearl Harbor. To be honest… the movie was very patriotic and almost bordering on propaganda…. (This is not meant to offend anyone. It is merely an observation from someone raised in a country in which the slightest form of patriotism and patriotic propaganda is watched critically and judged harshly) I’m going to stop writing my opinion about this movie just about now… I could write a 10 page critical essay about it though.

Anyways, back to the topic, we left the theater and had to go on a boat…  my boat anxiety was not too bad at that time but would get worse soon. With a fairly small boat, we were brought to the memorial that lays like a white shoe box in the harbor.

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All in all the memorial, almost feels like an Egyptian temple. Well, as mentioned before, very american and very patriotic. Unfortunately, I soon remembered that this neat white shoe box rests on a gigantic sunken ship.

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Once I looked into the clear water and could the ship in detail, I felt sick and anxious. I handed Cristina the camera and told her to take as many pictures as she wished to. I spent the next 15 minutes reading signs and looking everywhere but to the water. As soon as we were asked to line up, I rushed in line and waited to get out of the shoe box. When we were in the small boat, driving away from the wreck I began feeling better. It is a memorial to remain calm and think of what happened, but I just had to get off of it.

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We walked around for a little longer and took the bus back to the campground. This time, it took us much longer because we had to walk the entire way from the main street to the campground. Back at the tent, we changed into swimwear and jumped into the water to make the best of the little time we had left in the sun. Time was well spent with tanning, reading and watching tiny white crabs run over the sand.

One last time, we had to take down the tent and called a Lyft to the airport. The drive was that uneventful, that I did not remember the name of the driver, when I made notes for this post three hours later.
When you leave the state of Hawaii, your luggage had to go through a large scanner, that looks for fruit. Otherwise I would have brought some of the amazing produce. The taste and sheer size of the mangos and avocados was mind-blowing.

After I check in, Christina and I unpacked the tent one last time to fold it as neatly as possible. Then I headed to Starbucks. Many chains like Dunkin Donuts give you a free coffee on your birthday. Needing a drink, I was hoping that Starbucks had the same policy. Unfortunately, they did not, unless I had one of their member cards, but a friendly family behind me in line bought me a muffin. That was very nice… I know what I will have for breakfast on the plane.
We spent the last time we had together with writing post cards and catting. Then the hunt for a mailbox started. It is common knowledge, that airports are really good at hiding the post boxes and no exception in Honolulu. A friendly security man explained us how I could find one after passing the TSA check. So it was time to say goodbye after two weeks and I had to head through the check. In comparison to the last flight, it went very quick and easy – to no one’s surprise, because I had my passport back. At this time I was very tired and to be honest very annoyed when I was approached by a security man on the other side of the check. I do not know how many times I had been picked for a random search in the last year. However, when I turned around I realized, it was the same security man from 15 minutes earlier. He had come to the other side of the check to show me the mailbox. I really appreciated it as it was well hidden. I thanked him many times and went to change. A t-shirt and shorts are not quite the proper attire for a nine hour flight. With some time in spare, I charged my phone and soon boarded my flight. The gentleman in the seat next to me was anything but a gentleman. In fact, he flopped down, took possession of the armrest in a way that his elbow reached half way into my seat and later, he even started pulling on my blanket. I’m not quite sure if he was doing it on purpose but when I tried to reclaim it, some kind of tug-o-war ensued… Don’t pull away my cozy blanket I brought from my own home.

As unusual as it is for me, I indeed fell asleep on the plane only waking up over Arizona and Cleveland. Once I realized the plane was already over Cleveland, I stayed awake, asked the flight attendance for coffee and orange juice and worked on some blog entries. The plane was a rather new one and I could track the planes movement on the small screen in the headrest of the person in front of me. Thanks for smashing my knee caps 0.25 seconds after take off btw.

During the flight I was tempted to take the phone off flight mode to find out the current situation Steffi, Torsten and Pascal were in. They were on their way from Germany to New York to meet up with me. As expected there had been cancelled flights and difficulties to get them to New York. In fact, their flight got cancelled and they were forced to take a train to Switzerland to make their connection… FUN TIMES.

So not knowing if and when my friends would arrive in New York, I landed in Newark with new troubles ahead… But you will find these in the blog for December 28th… and I promise it will not take me another four month to publish that one 🙂

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