There were several things I learned on my recent trip to Hawai'i: (1) ocean water is supposed to be transparent, (2) do not, I repeat, DO NOT feed the animals (especially pigeons), and (3) my Aunt Renee looooooves shopping. I'll give a synopsis of each day in a few sentences.
Day 1 (Arrival): I had three more hours of the day than I thought I would because of the time difference, and thankfully I didn't get air sickness. Flushing the toilet on the plane is kind of scary (you might know what I'm talking about if you've been on a plane).
Day 2: Sunday morning means going to Mass at the local Catholic church. My aunt and I then went to a little museum to learn about Father Damien and his work with lepers in Kalaupapa. After that, HELLO WAIKIKI BEACH!
Day 3: We went on the Pearl Harbor tour in the USS Missouri (also called the Mighty Mo), where the peace agreements were signed to end World War II.
Day 4: 'Iolani Palace, the only royal palace in the U.S. used as an official residence by a reigning monarch (the last being Queen Lili'uokalani). After that the Foster Botanical Garden, which was absolutely breathtaking! More beach time afterward.
Day 5: Polynesian Cultural Center was a great source for learning about the traditions of Hawai'i, Tahiti, Tonga (whose pronunciation is still disputed between me and my aunt), Fiji, Samoa, and New Zealand. Plus, seeing half naked guys ALL day? Not a bad deal!
Day 6: Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay. I got water up my nose, but it was totally worth it.
Day 7: At the third oldest aquarium in the U.S., I tried identifying all the fish I saw while snorkeling. In the evening, I went to the hot tub while Aunt Renee went shopping.
Day 8 (Departure): I saw the largest Hawaiian T-shirt IN THE WORLD at Hilo Hattie's, where I impatiently waited for Aunt Renee to finish her last-minute perusing. We watched Jack the Giant Slayer for the first time on the airplane ride home. Ah, back to breathing smog.
One of the best parts was - oddly enough - the plane ride. Being on a par with the clouds, and eventually soaring so high above that they looked like puffy white islands on the ocean, made the sky seem so much more touchable, obtainable. It made be believe that those sky-high dreams I have are more within reach than I always thought. My head was literally in the clouds for a few precious moments, and that was okay. I have a little more hope now.
All in all, I had an amazing trip that I'm not likely to forget. I'm grateful for such a wonderful opportunity, especially if I never get to come again.