Thursday, February 5, 2015

Oahu: Hanauma Bay

Today's weather is more in line with my idea of Hawaii, although Molly pointed out that there is a part of Oahu that rains every morning without fail. Unthinkable! We went to Kaimuki for breakfast at Koko Head Cafe. Molly tried to teach me how to say Kaimuki without sounding like a tourist. Kai-mu-KEE, with emphasis on the second K. I couldn't hear the difference for the longest time.

I had udon for breakfast! Whaddya think about that?! Molly ordered one of their signature dishes Cornflakes French toast - toast fried in cereal, topped with bacon and ice cream. She said when the ice cream melted it tasted just like cereal in milk. I thought that was too much sweetness to break my fast. I prefer savory Japanese noodles with creepy bonito flakes.

 We headed towards Hanauma Bay to snorkel. I was a little apprehensive, given my last failed attempt in the waters of Cancun, Mexico. Justin had taken to the ocean like fish in water, I was like a fish out of water, desperately flopping around. I had had a major panic attack, turned around and headed back to the boat. The waters were too choppy, my mask kept slipping off... Getting me to snorkel this time would not be an easy feat, but I was determined to give it a second try.

 All visitors to Hanauma had to watch a compulsory 9 minute educational video. I thought that was pretty neat. You can't prevent one million visitors a year from stepping on sea life, but you can most certainly try to educate them and hope for the best. The walk down to the beach was spectacular in itself. The coastline was dotted with tourists, the ocean different shades of turquoise, azure blue. You could see the dark patches of reef against the white sandy seabed. It's so beautiful I almost feel confident about snorkeling again.

 We parked ourselves right by the lifeguard tower, for intangible security reasons. Molly and I stepped gingerly into the cold waters before affixing our masks and flippers. I had trouble getting my mask on comfortably much to the Molly's chagrin. She was, however, very patient as she waited for me to fuss over my hair, mask and flippers. I second guessed my ability to swim with flippers and decided against them. Once again, Molly patiently waited as I removed my flippers, trudged back to shore and return to the waters. We finally paddled away when I stopped almost immediately. I was breathing too hard, my lungs hurt, and why were the waters so cloudy?! I tried again, and again. Started and stopped. After my tenth try, I convinced Molly to go ahead without me. I was gasping for breath, I felt embarrassed about my panic attack, I just couldn't do it! It was Cancun all over again.

I watched Molly paddle away from the safety of my beach towel. She returned to tell me about the huge purple fishes, striped fishes, schools of fishes. I decided I would stick to watching documentaries. Twenty minutes later, I got up, put on my snorkel gear and decided to practice close to the shore. I will snorkel or at least die trying, dammit! With every swim, I ventured a little further away from shore. My breathing eased as I got used to breathing through my mouth, but whenever water got into my mask, or when the waves slapped me around too hard, I panicked and reached for the ground with my feet. I gave up, and decided this was all the snorkeling I was doing today.

 Finally Molly had a brainwave, we could try snorkeling on the other end of the bay where the reefs were much closer to the shore. Read: I didn't have to swim too far out! I don't know why we hadn't thought about it earlier, but this was when I got to see the purple fishes, yellow stripes fishes, schools of shiny fishes and even a weird sand-camouflaged creature. I was about to put my feet on the sand when something moved. I freaked out a little but remained calm enough to watch the flat sandy looking creature scuttle away.

 I was triumphant. I conquered my fear and did one more thing I never thought I would have been able to do. Justin would have been so proud of me. We were famished after ALL that snorkeling so we stopped by the 7-11 to try spam musubi, which was basically a giant sushi with a slab of spam on the top. It was probably delicious only because I was hungry, practically inhaled it. For dinner we went to Home Bar and Grill, which was a local sports bar. It was probably the brightest sports bar I've ever been to, and they had the Seahawks flag on the ceiling. Just was glad they didn't put up a sign that said "back to back Super Bowl champions". I saw a picture of a guy on Instagram with that tattooed on his arm. Unfortunate decision, poor man. This place has amazing tuna poke "Negri Toro", Parmesan truffle fries, seared Ahi Tuna and wings. Yes, that was what we had for dinner. I must have gained ten pounds since I landed on Hawaii.

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