What surprises me most is that I barely notice going from place to place. It should be jarring to return to the U.S. after two months away, but right away I take for granted the grocery stores, the potable tap water, the traveling in cars (the white waitresses who aren't even European, the cats who have thick fur, the cleanliness of the beaches). There is also much else that is similar to the Philippines here, one aspect of which is the presence of the Filipinos themselves. The prices are purely American, though.
Another surprise: that Hawaii is as pleasant as it is. I thought it would just be an expensive version of the Philippines, but the weather is cooler (i.e. more bearable), the sand is soft and free of broken glass, and the topography is much more dramatic and impressive. On the other hand, you can't eat a whole tender rotisserie chicken for $4. Yesterday we met a woman who lives part time in Menlo Park and part time in Honolulu (her husband can work from home). What a life!
We're at a campsite now. Cold showers and no electricity for us. Camping seems to mean something else in Hawaii. All our neighbors have set up miniature cities here, complete with generators, hot showers, stereos, tarp tents, family-size tents, huge barbecue grills, electric lights, possibly television. I couldn't help but laugh when I walked by an encampment, sniffing steaks in the air, and then saw Chris sitting with a lonely, longing look among our peanut butter, bread, and bananas. We seemed such waifs, he and I, with our tragic little tent. A stranger casting a casual glance around the campground would guess that our site was empty. (It's not so different from when we used to walk back from Camiguin Action Geckos Resort to our basic little cottage, except that we can't even buy our way into luxury here--but, no, I'm being disloyal to our Seascape room, which was actually quite comfortable and quiet, and anyway we got to meet those French backpackers Chris liked so much.)
Strange to think that the first leg of our trip is already drawing to a close.
When you're young you can spend hours on end thinking about yourself, discovering. As you get older, you think you've found out everything there is to know. Your interests grow wider, maybe you become political, maybe you get absorbed in your job. Your self slips away from you. Suddenly you're traveling, and you realize it's been years since you've found out anything new about yourself. It feels a little bit like you've died and not even noticed.
So what do you do with that?
I look so happy to be hiking in Hawaii! Little did I know we were about to be devoured by mosquitoes.
This is the real jungle, man
Training for Vietnam
A little piece of Japan
River crossing, or river exploring?
How did it get so pointy?
This was a scary crossing. I swear I almost didn't make it.
Whew, other side
To eat or not to eat?