Daily Archives: 2015-02-21

Diving in Honolulu, Hawaii

I was up and ready to go well before Go time. We ate up our breakfast and got off the ship for the long walk to the harbor. It wasn’t a pretty walk but we made it fun. We walked along the sidewalk bordering the busy road, and passed a lot of nondescript buildings. We walked over a bridge where there was a homeless person sleeping cuddled up to the abutment for shade. I wondered what kind of dreams he was having with nothing but the background sound of traffic. Then I realized that of all the places to be homeless, Hawaii probably wasn’t a bad choice.

We were walking past a bunch of car dealerships when I noticed a man with a bunch of giant balloons. Another man was tying the balloons to the cars for sale in the lot. In that moment, I have never wanted a balloon so bad in my life. These were not just any balloons but the heavy duty extra big, extra round ones that are pretty much indestructible. The kind of balloon that tricks you into thinking you are just a bit lighter, that it just may lift you right off the ground. Michael caught me gazing longingly at the balloon bouquet. I was surprised to hear little Carmella remarking sadly that she wished she had a balloon like that. The were putting balloons on cars, and maybe they would like to put a balloon on a Car-mella. “Just ask!” Michael encouraged me. Well, I did and guess what!? After they got over their initial shock of a grown woman asking with a childlike sparkle in her eyes, the men gladly told me to pick any color I liked. I picked the only red balloon in the bunch. I thanked them profusely and I think they could see that, for me, it meant more to me than a bit of plastic covered helium on a string. I promised to tell everyone where I got it from, and that they should go buy their car from the nice people at Cutter Chevrolet. I left them smiling from ear to ear as I skipped away with my happy balloon bobbing behind me.

The rest of the walk I don’t really remember, it went by so fast. Time flies when you have a red balloon. We got to the harbor and hooked up with our dive shop. I was relieved to find that they were just as personable as they had been in all our prior planning communications. I had dug around for a few weeks, trying to locate a shop with integrity and that special friendliness that only really good dive shops have. They are generally the smaller, less commercial operations and this time, we hit it right on. Hawaiian Diving Adventures uses a boat that was specially made just for diving and their crew is top-notch. It was the first time I had a female divemaster, and Erika was awesome. She was super chill and competent with a sweet, cheerful demeanor. Though she is very beautiful, she obviously has a good head on those tanned shoulders. I felt really taken care of and in very capable hands. Sometimes if you don’t click with your divemaster, it can make for a stressful or uncomfortable experience. I think with diving, trust is paramount and I felt it came effortlessly with Erika and the rest of the crew.

There were only 6 of us diving so we were a very small group which made it easier to be more efficient. One of our fellow divers was from Vancouver and was getting certified today. The rest of us went down with Erika and explored the ocean floor. It was a magical dive with an abundance of colorful tropical fish, including a large school of neon yellow angel fish. It felt just like a Disney movie when one of the curious little fish broke away from the pack to come stare me directly in the face. It was slightly abrupt and surprising but cute nonetheless. I wasn’t really sure what he wanted, when I realized he just wanted to explore me, as I wanted to explore him.

My favorite part of this first dive were the dozen or so sea turtles that we encountered. I was enamored by the heavy-shelled creatures gliding effortlessly past me despite the temperamental current. I saw mommas and smaller babies and territorial daddies all thriving in their underwater home. There were a couple behemoths that were half the size of a small car. I wondered how old they were? And I wondered what they thought of us…

Near the end of the dive, I became extremely cold. Erika had left the three of us so she could assist the pair that were having equalizing problems. I was really impressed that she was able to recognize our experience and let us stay down together rather that cutting our dive short. I made shivering motions to Michael and he gripped my hand tighter. He pulled out his regulator mouthpiece and held his breath waiting for me to return his kiss. I think we have almost perfected underwater kissing. I gripped onto him and let him tow me along rather than expending more energy.

Once above water, I couldn’t seem to warm up. Though I was sitting in the direct sun, I was still shivery. We sped off to another dive site. I actually contemplated not going on the second dive. I was wearing a full wet suit but the wind of the moving boat kept me from warming up. Finally, I told Michael that I would try but if I got much colder, I was going to cut my dive short. This dive was much easier and surprisingly warmer. Even though we went almost twice the depth, the water was still. There was no current so it was like cutting through butter with a warm knife. I was able to warm up considerably and focus once again on the beauty of the ocean. We swam over the coral reef discovering adorable nudibranch, cheeky trumpet fishes, yellow tangs, shy moray eels, and even a sleepy white-tipped shark that was taking a nap under the reef shelf.

Perhaps the most memorable part of that second dive was when Michael had gone off to search out something and came back with a present for me. During most of our dives, we hold hands the entire time. But every now and then, we separate. We take turns discovering some new and interesting hidden jewel then if it’s impressive enough, we call the other over to share. This time I was skimming around the sea floor looking at shells and playfully chasing fish when suddenly Michael grabbed at my hand. He slipped an extraordinarily shiny ring my finger. It fit on my ring finger perfectly. I always dive without jewelry because I know how easy it is to moop (matter-out-of-place) in this very foreign environment. I guess not everyone is so sea-savvy. Michael had found a lost stunning jewel-laden ring in the bottom of the sea, and it looked like it was made for me. He seized the moment, swung around in front of me and got on his knee with one hand on his heart and other hand holding mine. He was proposing to me underwater. How romantic! I nodded giddily in confirmation and we shared another ocean kiss. Best. Dive. Ever.

After diving we had worked up quite the appetite, and I went from peckish to ravenous in a matter of minutes. I needed food STAT. We headed for the nearby Ala Moana Mall and hit the food court. We circled the restaurants and finally settled on a healthy grill. We gobbled it up like we were starving shipwreck survivors. Fed and content, we perused the mall. We watched a cultural show on the stage where dozens of women were performing traditional dance. These lovely older ladies were moving with unparalleled grace and quiet confidence.  It made me proud to be a woman in that moment.

We moved on from the mall after drawing a happy face on my balloon with a marker borrowed from the coffee shop. We headed towards waikiki beach to watch the sunset. On the way, I was drawn to some drumming going on in the distance. I followed my ears and we discovered a Chinese New Years celebration on the street. There were two magnificent red dragons gobbling up the money filled red envelopes and wads of cash people offered in their outstretched hands. I was completely taken with the amount of emotion and comedy these dragons were able to express. It was endearing to watch the children interact with the symbols of luck parading around the square. Some were shy, some were a little scared but most were excited and thrilled to be able to feed the dragon. The well-trained dragon dancers coupled with the loud beating of the drums put the energy levels through the roof.

We continued on to the beach just in time for the sunset. I still had my red balloon tied to my wrist and it accidentally bumped into a few passers-by. Everytime I turned to apologize, I got a huge grin from the person who had been “ballooned”. We sat on the beach and waited when I decided how perfect it would be to be able to share a Hawaiian sunset with my mom and dad. I know Hawaii is at the top of my Mom’s bucket list, so it seemed like a nice gift. They were happy to hear from us and we got to share that last few minutes of a perfect day.

The sky got dark fast, and my feet were more sore than I cared to admit, so we ordered an Uber cab. Our lady driver was very animated and full of energy. She was thrilled to hear we were on a cruise and had experience on the exact Disney ship she was going on in a few months. We learned all about her family and how it is to live in Hawaii. Hawaiians are such a sharing people.

We made it to the dining room and had a fabulous view of the city lights. It was such a great day, we even treated ourselves to dessert. Sticky date pudding and warm chocolate lava cake were too hard to resist so we allowed our sweet teeth a couple bites. We hurried off to the Hawaiian cultural drum show where we watched traditional dancing from not only Hawaii, but Samoa and even the Maoris of New Zealand. An exuberant young boy stole the show with his killer moves and brave face. The only time he showed his age was at the end of a dance. When the audience would burst into applause, he would suddenly become shy and run off the stage. So Cute.

We went straight to bed since our early morning would be even earlier to meet our shuttle to the Wild Dolphin swim.

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