Honolulu Again – The Paper Boat

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My emotions are very confused now in my second day in Honolulu. I last visited in 2008 and wrote several posts while here. It feels very strange to return alone to a place which Eunie and I visited many times. It is a convenient stopping point in the mid-Pacific about half-way through the long trips back and forth between the mainland USA and Papua New Guinea. There are people here who have been friends for thirty years. It’s a very sad feeling to be here without her.

I have to learn to deal with these emotions; they will diminish, but never depart. Certain places, events, sounds and sights will always provoke melancholic nostalgia, such as this beginning of a Waikiki sunset:

The day began with a visit to my supporting church to get the car they had offered. Though the offer was generous, it did generate a considerable amount of anxiety. Driving in Madang is not much of a challenge if you have mastered the martial art of pothole dodging. Driving in Honolulu is another matter entirely. Though drivers here seem to me unusually placid and slow to anger, the sheer mass of traffic is daunting to a fellow from the bush. I did not want to have to burden someone with the task of picking me up and returning me to my friend’s apartment every time I needed to go to a meeting, but I certainly was not eager to take on city driving. I’ll have to do it when I get to Indiana. I’m satisfied to forestall it until then. So, I said thanks, but no thanks to the vehicle and departed in a friend’s car.

My first order of business was to purchase a bag of fruit. I have gained ten pounds since I left Madang, partly due to Val feeding me rather too well. I’m not as vain as I used to be; at sixty-seven it seems a little pointless. No matter how vain I am, I will never look as good as I did before. Life wears us down, eh? Anyway, I’ve decided to cut back on several food and beverage items of which I have indulged myself a little too freely on the grounds that “I’m on vacation.” While this is usually an excellent excuse, I am indulging myself right out of my wardrobe. My jeans all have a 79cm (31 inch) waist. At my normal weight, I fit easily into them and need a belt to remain secure – just a belt, no suspenders – I’ve always lived dangerously. Now I can barely get the buttons fastened and a belt is superfluous. I am far too frugal to buy new clothes; my jeans have a few good years left in them. So, I must stop putting it on around the middle. All those words were just to introduce this shot of a little farmer’s market that sets up shop three times a week just down the street from Fran’s apartment:

As usual, I was flabbergasted by the prices. I don’t see how people live in Hawaii. Three apples, a medium bag of grapes, six bananas and a little container of pineapple chunks cost me over twenty dollars. A small, one room apartment in Waikiki (very modest and no view except the noisy traffic in front) rents for $1,000 or more a month. For “more” read “much more”. I would soon starve if I had to live in Honolulu. Some of the other food items were pretty reasonable. I got a decent Mexican lunch for $7.00. The lobster tails (see the orange sign) were the only bargain at ten for $20.00. Go figure.

Which brings me to a subject which has long disturbed me about the city. I’ll begin by saying that I am completely ignorant of the social problems here and may be out of line. If so, I apologise. There seem to be an inordinate number of down-and-out souls in the streets. Possibly there are no more than would be found in any large city, but here they strike a sharp contrast with the glitz and gluttonous consumption of a city where one can rent a Ferrari for nine-hundred bucks a day. And this brings us, the long way around, to the paper boat.

As we passed near the fabulous grounds of Ft. DeRussy, the American military recreational centre, we noticed a fellow displaying a very strange little model boat. He claimed to have made it himself and asked twenty dollars for it. Though it was very interesting, I had no way to carry it on my travels. Fran decided to buy it. The man said it was made of magazine pages:

I had no reason to doubt this, but it seemed unlikely.

As you can clearly see, it is absolutely true. I can’t see how anyone can regularly create something so labour intensive and sell it for twenty dollars. There is something altogether different going on here.

Here is another shot showing that the logs are made of rolled-up paper:

Having had plenty of experience in Madang with street peddlers I wondered, as the money changed hands, what the fellow was going to do with it.  I was going to tell the end of the story here, but I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want to be disrespectful to the man or demean those who are in such dire straits. Let’s just say that it is sad. And count our blessings.

Not far down the street is the impressive statue of the last royal ruler of Hawaii, King David Kalakauma:

Called the Merrie Monarch, presumably because he was such a fun-loving guy, he wanted to consolidate many South Pacific Islands into a Polynesian Empire. This proved to be ill-fated. The history of his reign is interesting reading. The politics and power plays at work in Hawaii at that time were somewhat bizarre.

The evening scenery proved even more colourful. This strange object is a poi pounder:

I searched for a while for an interesting link to pass on to you. Strangely, there seem to be none. Use your imagination. I don’t think King Kong could manage to pound his poi with this one. The usable utensils are obviously much smaller. If you’ve got a few minutes, you might be amused by this video clip demonstrating that the traditionally male job of pounding poi is very hard work.

I’ll interject a photographic note about the shot above. The light was obviously very dim. I had to boost the ISO to 400 to give me a shutter speed of one second. I then braced the camera against a handrail and took three exposures to make sure I had one with no blur from camera movement. Though there is a lot of noise in the image, it is usable. The long shutter speed produced an interesting “silky water” effect in the fountain.

As the day got sleepy (jet lag setting in) we walked out to the west end of the beach for a good view of the setting sun:

I happened to catch a jet airliner heading for final approach at the airport.

On the walk back I got this shot of one of the best lit trees in town:

Aloha.

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8 Responses to “Honolulu Again – The Paper Boat”

  1. Ron Barrons Says:

    The ‘paper boat’ caught my attention as well as your thoughts on it. My mother used knit baby clothes and also Barbie outfits back in the sixties which she sold to American tourists. She did this while watching TV in the evenings.
    I am picturing the fellow with boat rolling newspapers while watching the Wheel of Fortune.

  2. Jill Weatherhead Says:

    Hi Jan,

    Have enjoyed your Australia trip and now also enjoying the Hawaii shots and stories (it is a place we have yet to visit).

    Glad your travel has gone OK so far.

    Praying for you as you share with your supporters, have some fun, and prepare for the rest of your trip!

    Jill

  3. MadDog Says:

    That’s an interesting thought, Ron, but I’d guess that this poor fellow doesn’t have a TV. It would be even sadder if he did and chose to watch Wheel of Fortune. Why do I hate that show so much?

  4. MadDog Says:

    Thanks, Jill. Last night I had to stand up in front of a big crowd and speak of recent events. It was every bit as hard as I thought it would be. I have to do it three more times tomorrow. I suspect it won’t be any easier. The only thing that kept me on my feet was that they gave me only three minutes.

    It’s a good thing that I am experiencing some distractions provided by my travel.

  5. kristy Says:

    Interesting boat! Beautifully handcrafted, it seems!
    Life is expensive in the islands, but it is also probably one of the easier places to be homeless. The weather does not change that much, no risk of freezing. Fruit grows on trees. I am not trying to belittle the plight of anyone who is homeless, just pointing out one reason you might see so many there.

  6. MadDog Says:

    Kristy, I had a chat with Fran today about the homeless people. It’s every bit as complicated as I expected it was. Most of them overnight in Ala Moana Park. There are showers on the beach there for those who care about hygiene. Fran says that many are suffering from mental problems of one kind or another. That just makes the whole situation even sadder. There is a criminal class mixed in with them, which makes the plight of the innocent worse, since they get painted with the “bad actor” brush, though they don’t deserve it. It’s a very thorny problem. I’ve had a desire to work with homeless people for years, because I have a special sympathy for them. I think to myself, “Except for the grace of God, that’s me.” These people are deserving of help. The problem is, how do you help them? Fran told me that the Hare Krishna people feed them every day. That shows a lot of compassion, if you ask me.

  7. Mari Ellingson Says:

    Aloha Jan,

    I really enjoyed this. I have a love for Hawaii for so long it is like a second home when I am there.

    Thanks for sharing your memories.

    Aloha,
    Mari

  8. MadDog Says:

    Thanks, Mari. It was a lot more fun to visit Hawaii when Eunie was with me. It’s still a beautiful place to visit. I have friends here, so I don’t have to stay in a hotel. That’s a big plus.