Thursday, October 30, 2008

The First Research Trip

We were used to the fast paced life of our California cities, so getting comfortable with slow internet connections, spotty cell phone service and waiters chatting up the table next to ours, while we sat with empty water glasses and growling stomachs, took a couple days.

By day three papaya and banana yogurt breakfasts on the lanai of our condo wasn't a rushed affair, especially as we got to know the various birds hanging out in the garden. Our day usually consisted of me visiting hotels in the morning while mom worked, meeting for lunch and then having some sort of an afternoon adventure--a walk to a waterfall, a trip to Waimea Canyon, a visit to the botanical gardens. So when I asked my mom if she wanted to join me on a trip out to Polihale Beach, a little known tourist destination, yet one of the most stunning beaches in the state, she readily agreed.

Let me preface that with our rental car, we probably shouldn't have considered a trip to Kauai's outback. But we were troopers (and ignorant Californians--one pregnant and the other just happy to be in Hawaii again). We decided to pull over near a beach before making the trek to Polihale so I could take a picture. So mom drove our Cutlass into the sand where a number of 4 wheel drive trucks were parked. When I indicated that I wanted to go in another direction, she tried to reverse the car but the wheels were stuck in the sand.

At this point, the local dudes drinking beer by their trucks had started paying attention (read: pointing and laughing). I got out of the car, red faced and shamed, not sure what to do. With every attempt to get the tires free, my mother was getting the car stuck deeper in the sand.

I couldn't bear walking up to the locals to ask for help, since I know many locals disapprove of haoles (white folks) over-visiting their land. But my mom stuck her acrylic nailed hand with the giant diamond on it our the window and said, "Excuse me, can you help a poor LA lady?"

No less than ten bare-chested tan Hawaiian men strolled slowly over to the car. Split into equal camps--of supportive, "Well done ladies" and annoyed "Stupid haoles"--the guys started to plot how they could help. At first a couple started pushing the car while my mom reversed. After getting mouthfuls of sand, a guy grabbed a chain from his truck and strapped it on the wheel, pulled his truck over and clipped it on the back and swiftly towed the car our of the sand.

Mom and I cheered like knock-kneed school girls. Effusive in our praise, we promised cases of beer (which we later brought) and good karma to come their way. Of course as we drove away, we could still hear them laughing at us silly gals. But one thing is for sure, I have been in trouble in major US cities, waiting for someone to pull over and help and no one ever did. Yet Hawaiians get a bad wrap for being territorial (wouldn't you be?), but these dudes didn't think twice about getting sand up their noses, grease on their hands and a sore back to help tow two women they had never met before.

You'll be hard pressed not to find kinder, more giving people than those on Kauai--even if at first glance they aren't doing cartwheels when they first meet you.

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