I received a phone call from my brother recently, extending an invitation to join him and his bride of thirty-seven years, for a visit to Maui… in the middle of November. Pausing briefly as I contemplated basking in warm sunshine in the middle of a wet November, I gladly accepted his gracious invitation, and with it dreams of relaxing in warm tropical breezes. Soon thereafter, my oldest daughter, Elizabeth, and I were on a plane flying over the Great Pacific.
The island is lush and lovely, the weather sublime, and the freedom to wander about in a swimsuit and flip-flops was a delightful experience. Traditional Oregon beachwear was somewhat conspicuous in the presence of Hawaiian sunshine and the relaxed lifestyle that permeates their culture. Regardless of size, shape, or age, adults everywhere were free to play in the water like carefree children. Whether on the beach, or walking around town–swimsuits with the occasional cover-ups, sun hats, towels, and flip-flops were the predominant fashion wherever we went. It was wonderful!
Hawaiian natives are beautiful, gracious in their manner, and their language is buttery smooth when it falls upon listening ears. I loved it all, but my brain simply could not get around all the vowels when reading the signs. The easy ones I remembered: Luau, Hana, Wailea… But my tongue completely tied itself in a knot when trying to recall Haleakala, Molokini, Ka’anapali, Lahaina, Kapalua…
Vowels abound in Hawaii, and for those who enjoy conquering new languages, it is a feast for the brain. Everywhere I turned, there were new words to decipher and with repeated practice, lovely sounds finally came off my tongue, as I began to imagine stringing the melodic syllables together. The warm breezes and water I expected; the profusion of vowels was an unexpected memory I will always cherish.
I never did see the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a… but perhaps next time.