Found a Gold Ring
Waikiki beach, read so much about it, for so long, I am here now, thought Juggernaut stepping onto the beach. The fine white sand was soft to walk on but the water was cold, true it was January but in Hawaii, with air temperatures in 80’s, one would expect tolerable water temperature, not so. Nevertheless, he got into water; the bottom is littered with volcanic rocks of all sizes, some with sharp edges. He placed his steps carefully in the water to avoid stepping on sharp stones. In contrast to Jamaican beaches, Waikiki beach was a wash.
In the evening hours, Waikiki was like walking on the strip in Las Vegas; glittering shops, fantastic high-end malls, expensive restaurants and scores of gift stores. With over 80% of the visitors from the Far East, it was almost like visiting a country in Far East.
A walk to the Diamond Head State Monument was challenging. But once reached to the top, the view of Waikiki beach was spectacular. As a bonus, met with Mr. Balaji, a Bengali Babu employed with Parks and Recreation Department. Twice a week Mr. Balaji climbs to the top, a strenuous walk of over 45 minutes, a combination of rough road and steep steps through tunnels. Once reached, he sits there comfortably to greet the visitors that make to the top. Kind of roughing it out, just twice a week, he said. Not bad at all thought Juggernaut and took a photo op with him.
A visit to Boyodo-In Buddhist temple at Valley of Temples Memorial Park was a beautiful experience. Inside the Boyodo-In Temple is a nineteen-foot Lotus Buddha. It is the largest wooden Buddha carved in over 900 years and is covered in gold and lacquer. Beside the temple is a 5-foot, three-ton brass Peace Bell. The deep tone of the bell sounds a message of calm and peace. There are several ponds full of colorful fish and doves that can be fed from palm of a hand.
The most obvious site nobody will miss to visit was Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. After the visit, one can understand the anguish Americans felt when over 3000 sailors died suddenly without a chance to fight bravely with the enemy. A walk through submarine exhibit was also interesting.
A drive on Kalanianaole Highway on southeast coast of Oahu was an opportunity to see the best beaches and panoramic coast line. One can have an inexpensive lunch at one of the roadside café on Kalanianaole. A scenic drive reaches Pali Lookout to view beautiful valley from the top.
Staying at Hilo on Big Island was a true Hawaiian experience since majority of natives live in Hilo whereas Kuna coast caters mostly tourists with golf courses and shopping malls. Over 100 inches of rain at Hilo makes it a tropical rain forest environment. Tropical flower trees Hibiscus and bougainvilleas of all colors line the streets. Large Banyan trees are abundant around Liliuokalani Park; apparently Banyan tree was introduced into Hilo from India long time ago.
While walking in Liliuokalani Park adjacent to the hotel, Juggernaut met Mr. Dey. “Are you from India,” asked a distinguished looking man walking along with his wife and a humongous dog. “Yes, we are,” replied Juggernaut. After introductions and small talk, it was understood that Mr. Dey was originally from Bengal in India, after working over three decades with a battery making company in Boston, he came to Hilo to spend his rest of his life. “May be you can spare a long lasting lithium battery for my camcorder,” joked Juggernaut. “Well, I don’t have a battery with me now but I have over 60 patents in lithium battery technology, you know,” replied Mr. Dey. The couple after spending several years at Cape Cod after retirement came down to Hilo to join their daughter working for a medical facility. Juggernaut departed Mr. and Mrs. Dev with their dog and continued his walk in the park while his wife was photographing everything living and nonliving.
A visit to Volcanic National Park was a memorable experience particularly walking through lava tubes. The dark and damp lava tubes resemble more like an abandoned coal mine.
Eating Laulau, pork wrapped in Taro or leaves of colacasia steamed to perfection brought back memories of younger days when Juggernaut’s mother used tender leaves of colacasia to wrap a mixture of vegetables and steam cooked but that was a pure vegetarian dish. In Jamaica and Trinidad, the leaves of colacasia also called callaloo cooked with crab meat makes a delicious soup. It was a disappointment at the Hilo supermarkets to see the high prices for fresh fruits like Papaya though at local open market, fruits such as papaya, guava, pineapple, lychee, lilikoi or passion fruit were affordable. One fruit that taste like Indian Litchi is called Rambutan, with a red spikes on the cover and sweet translucent flesh inside.
At one of the gift stores, the sales clerk Rose was very inquisitive. She immediately recognized the ethnicity of Juggernaut and his family. Apparently her daughter’s roommate at the college on the mainland was an Indian American. Rose was originally from Philippine and lived in Key Largo, Florida working for the US Postal Service for over 15 years as a mail carrier, quitting the steady job, she came to Hilo with her unsteady husband to start a aquaculture business to grow exotic fishes. After losing all the life savings, now she was working for a minimum wage at the gift store. “Here the local people are prejudiced you know they don’t like foreigners.” “I have been applying for decent jobs for over two years and every time the local gets the job,” she said. “Have you applied with postal service since you worked so long for postal service?” Juggernaut was curious. “Sure I did, they kept me on waiting list for almost 2 years now,” she was really despondent. “Its good thing you kept your home in Key Largo,” “you can always go back’” Juggernaut gave some words of comfort. Rose was very kind and gave a deep discount to many items purchased at the store.
A drive from Hilo to west coast was a wonderful experience; from a rain forest on northeast side to arid land on west and southwest. It was a scenic route though single lane traffic requires more attention while driving. Driving on a single lane on a mountainous terrain in Jamaica for several years helped a lot to manage the driving on Hawaiian Islands.
While staying at Hilo was a great cultural experience, the beaches at Hilo were mostly rocky and devoid of fine wide sand beaches like the beaches on Kona side of the Big Island. Spencer Beach on the northwest side of the island was a fine beach with mostly locals and very few tourists. This beach was just few minutes’ drive from the PuUkohola Heiau National Historic site. This beach has more sandy area than other beaches on Hilo.
While the sand was fine and clean, the sea at Spencer beach was not calm. Wave after wave makes it difficult to relax peacefully in the water. At the bottom, there were volcanic rocks of all sizes and shapes, some sharp. Juggernaut tried to lay floating on the water, the technique he learned at Negrill beach in Jamaica several years ago, but the water at Negrill beach was calm and still unlike the unruly waves at Spencer beach. It was hard staying at one spot in the water without being hit and moved by wave currents. Using his hands, Juggernaut searched to get a grip on the rocks so that he can rest comfortably at one spot in the water. While his fingers were searching for rock crevices deep enough for a grip, he felt a small round object in a crevice, he removed his hand hurriedly fearing a small creature caught his finger only to find a gold ring. “I found a gold ring,” shouted Juggernaut. His wife, daughter and niece came running to see what it was. It was a gold ring alright, a man’s wedding gold band. A date 4-3-1940 was inscribed on it, perhaps the owner could have married on that day. It was a good find in the crevices of volcanic rocks on the Spencer beach on the Big Island. “May be you should put this information in Lost & Found section on Craig’s List, to find the owner of the ring,” suggested Manu, Juggernaut’s niece. “May be I will,” or “I may keep it as a souvenir,” replied Juggernaut. “He will make a project out of this,” said Dia, Juggernaut’s wife. “He will make a project of everything,” concluded Sam, Juggernaut’s daughter.