Thursday, July 16, 2009

Welcome to Hawaii

So it might have been obvious that yesterday's post was written in advance of my flight out to Hawaii. At the moment, internet access is not much of a problem, so I can share how my flight to and arrival in Honolulu actually went.

Packing to move overseas is not an easy task. Being a great procrastinator, I was packing until 2:20 am yesterday. I had to wake up at 3:45 am in order to leave the house at 4:15 am in order to catch my flight at 6 am. The upside of getting so little sleep was that, having brushed my teeth just before bed, I didn't feel obligated to brush my teeth again when I woke up. My mother and younger brother were also flying out at the same time. They, however, had gotten very nice flights months in advance. I bought my ticket really late because it took me forever to decide which date I wanted to come out here; I would have liked to come earlier in July, but I kept having projects to work on back at my old lab. So of the nine times that I have flown out to Hawaii, this was the first time that I had two layovers. Ugh.

My three flights were, in order, roughly 3 hours, 2 hours, and 6 hours long. This was difficult because it was during the first flights that I would have liked to get some solid sleep, but it was difficult to do so because they were short. Plus I was a bit dehydrated (planes are so dry), so I had to compromise between the need to sleep and the need to wake up to take water when they came down the aisle.

My first layover was uneventful, and I spent most of it trying to sleep across rows of chairs with annoying armrests while news reports of Sotomayor's hearing droned on in the background. My second flight landed in Phoenix. I have been to the Phoenix airport at least twice before, but I have never landed in the part of the airport that I landed in yesterday. I think this terminal must be in a different dimension than the rest of the airport. My final flight to Honolulu was on a different airline than my first two flights, so the gate listing for my Honolulu flight wasn't even on the list that was up in this terminal. I had no idea where I was going, and I couldn't even figure out how to get out of the terminal. I wandered up and down the length of the terminal twice before running into another girl who was just as confused as I was. As it happened, she was looking for the same flight to Honolulu that I was, so we decided to stick together. Apparently having two confused girls standing in the hallway attracted enough attention that a guy who worked at the airport asked us if he could help us, so we asked for directions--this other girl's ticket at least listed a gate number, so she could give some clue of where she was trying to go.

Here's what we had to do to get to this gate: Follow the signs out toward baggage claim and ground transportation (heading out of security to baggage claim and ground transportation seemed to me like we were leaving the airport altogether, so I would not have guessed that's what we were supposed to do). Head down the escalator, go all the way to the end of the baggage claim area, head out the doors, cross the street halfway, and wait 10 minutes for the special shuttle to come and take us to the terminal we're looking for (which, by the way, is not discernible by the gate number but must be divined through the airline). Get on the elevator, go up to level three, and voila! We've made it to the right terminal. Of course, our flight wasn't actually listed on their departures list for some reason, so we had to go through security and just hope that our flight really did exist and we'd be able to find it once we got to the gate. In short, the airport is big and confusing and really not well sign posted. At least a sign in the first terminal saying "To other terminals ->" or whatever would have helped.

So now it was lunchtime, and still having considerable time left in our layover, this girl and I set out to find some food. When I noticed her addressing me as "person", I decided it was time to tell her my name and learn hers: Amber. Amber was a bit chatty. She was also only 15 years old. I had pegged her as 18 at first, though as I talked to her she did seem younger. She had guessed I was 16 or 17; it was her utter surprise when I told her I was going to grad school that spurred us to reveal our ages. Anyway, Amber told me all about how she was visiting her sister and brother-in-law and baby niece, and she showed me pictures of them on her camera. She also showed me a baby picture of herself on her camera, which I thought was odd (she's not THAT young), but she said she'd taken a picture of a baby picture of herself, so that made sense. She then showed me pictures of her perfect boyfriend, with whom she will be celebrating their seven-month anniversary together tomorrow. She told me how much she misses him, and how much he misses her. She had already been away for two weeks visiting other relatives in Tennessee, and now she was going to be away for a month in Hawaii! She just wanted to go home and tackle him and cover him with kisses. They're really close; he calls her mother "Mom", and his mother calls her pet names like "Sweet pea". Her mom is really supportive of their relationship. They're practically engaged, she said, except that she wouldn't get married until she's 18. Not that she hasn't started planning the wedding. Her favorite color is purple, so her bridesmaids will be wearing stylish lavender dresses. She will be wearing a stylish white dress, of course, with a little bit of slink, a little bit of swirl, a little bit of lace, but not too much of anything. And it might have a dash of purple on it to go with the theme. She had the flowers picked out--fresia and lavender and some other things I can't remember. Delightful girl. Needless to say, I did not get a nap in Phoenix.

Amber and I were not seated near each other on the flight to Honolulu (phew!). Instead, I was coincidentally sitting next to two girls about my age, one who was about to start grad school at UH-Hilo and another who was visiting friends at UH-Hilo. This was an old-fashioned plane with a row of poorly color balanced TVs lining the aisle, and we had only one movie rather than a choice of many movies and TV shows which I had become accustomed to on my recent flights. So against my better judgment, I watched the movie 17 Again. I do not recommend it, though there is a character I had to like because he's a consummate dork, geek, and nerd who spends his millions on various fantasy/sci-fi memorabilia, which make amusing props in various scenes. Also (spoiler alert!), in the end he wins over the girl when they realize that they both speak Elvish.

When I finally landed in Honolulu, my excitement was completely tempered by feeling really crappy. I had developed a headache towards the end of my flight, and landing seemed to make it worse--it sort of morphed into an overall crappy feeling, rather than just in my head. And I was terribly jetlagged, and working on barely any sleep. I met my mom and brother at my grandparents' apartment, where my mom gave me some aspirin and some juice to hydrate myself. I promptly threw up in my grandparents' toilet. Just a little bit--I'd estimate it was just about a tablespoon of the juice I'd just drunk, though a little of it did come out my nose which was unpleasant (sorry--consider this a TMI Thursday post!). As I was throwing up the lilikoi juice, I was just hoping it wouldn't turn me off of lilikoi juice in the future. Oy. Welcome to Hawaii.

Dinner seemed entirely unappealing to me, so when we got to my mom's aunt and uncle's house where we are staying, I promptly took a shower and went to sleep. The shower felt great, and the fresh cool breeze as I was falling asleep was luscious.

I feel much better this morning. After my annoying trip and rocky arrival, I am finally feeling happy to be here. It still hasn't sunk in that I'm going to be living here. Yes, I arrived with seven bags of luggage (my mom and brother nicely carried extra check-ins and carry-ons for me), but I'm still staying at my great aunt and uncle's as I have before. Once I get an apartment and start working, that's when things will start feeling different. Below is a view from a window at my great aunt and uncle's house. Welcome to Hawaii.


Anonymous said...

I think I would go insane if I had to fly that much! I'm bad enough with the 2.5hour flight back to the UK!!
Look forward to seeing more pictures!

Sebastian said...

That was rather reminiscent of my trip from Seattle back to London! But I didn't have a cute girl to keep me entertained.

But I'm awful at napping anyway (I'm yet to fall asleep on any form of public transport, and I can't recall the last time I fell asleep in a car...) I always end up striking up banal conversations as you can always find out SOMETHING interesting (for me at least; but I am a bit of an omnivorously inquisitive type...)

Anyway, welcome to Hawaii :)

Eleni said...

Pink - It has occurred to me that now anytime I want to leave O'ahu, I will have to take an airplane. Or a kayak (see Google's directions). Not sure I'm happy about that. I will try to take some pictures, but I really haven't gone anywhere interesting yet! I'll have to get to the beach some time, and when I get an apartment/house I will definitely have pictures of that.

Seb - Conversations on planes can be very interesting. It's one of those rare occasions where we get to talk to random strangers that we never would have run into elsewhere and we probably will never see again.