As you might expect, it has been a very busy couple of days. The swells have been very high, so there's been no snorkeling, but that hasn't kept us off the beach. In fact, on Christmas Eve, everyone but Mom (more on that in a second) trooped out to Hapuna Beach, apparently rated as one of the top 10 beaches in America. ( Editor's Note: how do I get a job rating beaches? It sounds like a rough job, but I'm pretty sure I can handle it.) Hapuna Beach is beautiful and roughly 10,000 other people agreed with us on the afternoon of Christmas Eve. The surf was really high, so being the geniuses that they are, Adam and Karen decided to give their guardian angels a workout. Normally body surfing in high surf is dangerous on par with, say, jumping out of an airplane, but when you add a large rock formation in the middle of the surf, that upgrades the danger factor. I'd put it in the neighborhood of say, cliff-diving in shark-infested waters to swim with seals. Our rocket scientists got sucked nearly into the rocks by a very wicked cross current and just as it was beginning to look really dire for them, the lifeguard reached them and told them how to get out of their pickle. Whew. They survived another brush with death.
About Mom: she'd been complaining since our arrival about having a urinary tract infection. Would she see a doctor? Not until she was up all night and running a fever. Julie took her in to a clinic in Kona on Christmas Eve morning and she even has the extra special bonus kidney infection too! Merry Christmas to you, Mom!
While Julie was being a good Samaritan, Rob and Adam were golfing, which left Alena and me to our own devices. And, what do we do when left to our own devices? We go shopping, of course. I wanted to make a Hilo Hatties run, so off we went on a trinket acquisition mission. Trinkets acquired, we considered mission a success, and set off in search of sustenance. Being the inveterate explorers we are, we decided to go native and eat at the L and L Hawaiian Barbecue. The place was packed with locals, so we figured we were safe. Somewhere out there are about 20 locals laughing their asses off at fooling the tourists. The food was vile, foul, loathsome, disgusting and just plain awful. Alena ordered shrimp curry and when it came, it was 4 deep-fried shrimp floating forlornly in a puddle of thick, vaguely curry colored goo. Included with the shrimp were a half of a potato and a carrot slice. I had ordered the mixed barbecue. When I opened my Styrofoam take-away box, I found a glop of macaroni salad, a scoop of rice, and meat. On top, was a rancid fat-encrusted flanken, pretending to be Korean kalbi beef. The next layer was a fatty ¼" thin slice of beef (?), and at the bottom of this sad pile was something that could have been chicken but I could not identify what part it might have once been. Topping all this was a brown sauce. No clue what it was supposed to be.
Fortunately, dinner was a big improvement. Julie and Karen did marinated pork chops on the grille. Everything is grilled because none of the four condos really has a kitchen up to the task of cooking for 10.
Christmas morning dawned windy and sunny. The Wolotira chidren have a Christmas morning ritual that they have been practicing since Adam was old enough to understand what Christmas is. He gets up and tries to sneak a peek at the loot, is shooed back into the bedroom and told he can't come out until Alena gets up, which results in him bouncing on her bed and yelling, "Alena, it's time to get up. Santa is here." She then tells him to go away (this part has become more mature in content as she has grown older). This year was no exception to the ritual, and eventually everyone was up and examining loot. Christmas breakfast was at Mom's place, a committee effort. Another ritual is the Christmas Day Beach Frolic (when in an area where that activity is feasible) and that ritual was also observed, then it was time for the last, and best, ritual of all: the Ritual of the Roasting of the Prime Rib. That, the family has decided by acclamation, can only be performed by the High Priest of the Barbecue, Rob, Optimus Prime Rib.
We decided to look at waterfalls today, so Julie, Karen and Mom took off at some early hour to head to the east side of the island. Because of the way the trade winds blow, the eastern side of the island is very moist, lush and tropical, while the side we are staying on is very dry and not very verdant. We met Max, Tina and Briggs at Akaka Falls, a truly spectacular falls that can only be reached through one of the most gorgeous short walks you can imagine. Beautiful tropical vegetation surrounds you: flowers, . palms, banana trees, name it.
The guide book that seems to be the book that every visitor has, The Big Island Revealed, recommended "What's Shakin" for fruit smoothies and lunch. Rob and I had delicious chicken tamales and the kids had fish wraps. We are still talking about that lunch and it's been two hours. How we can go from the culinary felony of the L and L to the sublime deliciousness of What's Shakin' I don't know, but there it is. After lunch, we spent a little more than an hour walking around the Hawaii Botanical Garden—more tropical paradise-ness. Wonderful.
A few words about Big Island radio. There is a station out of Hilo that has a repeater on the Kona side, so we have been listening to it. It's a great rock and roll hits station and we have enjoyed listening to it. Once we got to the Hilo side, we couldn't pick it up, but we could pick up some weird station playing old show tunes, and other random songs. Ever heard Julius Ceasar sung as a comic opera? Yeah, neither had we. Our other aural choice was an all-Hawaiian station playing a lot of ukulele music. Not sure why the folks on that side haven't resorted to the old religion and sacrificed a few folks to the music gods to change things, but they might consider it.
We're now headed back to the condo to find out what everyone else did, take in some pool time, and maybe I will get all the parts together and upload pictures.