Friday, October 28, 2011


What strikes you, As soon as you exit the plane at Lihue airport, is a strong sense of deja vu.
Actually, no. Deja vu is not the correct expression in this case, because, one could argue, it would be obvious that you feel you already saw a place ("deja vu") if you have already been there (and I have already been several times at the airport of Lihue).
It is rather some states of mind that you feel inside, in your lungs, in your stomach. You feel it, but you can't realize what it exactly is.
I believe that this feeling is evoked mainly by smell. Of cinnamon and ginger, but, above all, of very ripe fruits. A sweet smell, a little sticky (maybe even for the high rate of humidity). Not unpleasant at all, but very strong. It also hints of peat and fat undergrowth. The island smells very different from where i live. It almost seems to recognize something ancestral and primitive, which belongs to my genetics, but without any cultural tie, in this sense deja vu. Like it is for a lion roar: it would scare anyone, even those who had not ever heard its sound.

Kealia bay
You perceives something different also about hearing. Not the usual reverb of some sand between heels and fake-marble floors, typical in the airports, with artificial aseptic and metallic voices in the background. Here the speakers spread sugary Hawaiian melodies, the announcements always begin with aloha and end with mahalo. Everything comes a little muffled to the ears (maybe also for the warmth and moist of the air, after the air conditioning there was in the aircraft). This feeling is even increased when you exit the airport, and there is constant noise of the surf on the beaches or the waves crashing on the cliffs.

People are extraordinarily, almost irritatingly calm and quiet. With haoles (as i look - and i am) they are all very friendly. With the locals (like R) they start to speak strict pidgin seeking - and usually finding - common friends or relatives they share.
The cars move slowly and the traffic rage simply does not exist. The flow of events is not managed by clocks but instead by the availability of time of whoever is involved. Almost one wonders how it is possible that society respect schedulings designed on absolute time (eg public transport timetables).
This time we landed at night, but I like to arrive to Kaua'i during the day, because all of the sudden it offers, from the highway, some dramatic views of the mountains, similar in shape to the Dolomites, but colored with different shades of green (in the tropics vegetation is able to invade every available space). From a distance they look almost surreal, the colors a little blunt by humidity.

The best tasting food is the tropical fruit. I stuffed my face with papayas - who has never been to the tropics can not understand: the papayas we have in Italy taste like plastic, while over there they are sweet and buttery. Mangos, avocados, pineapples, star-fruits, bananas of every size and flavor, coconuts, typical macadamia nuts, lemons, limes, pomelos, passion fruits. At Kaua'i you can find wholesome and tasty goods at the farm markets (markets where fruit and vegetables are sold directly by the producers.)
And then there's the fresh fish, which is also sold in form of poke (raw fish salad dressed with sauces, spices and seaweeds, to eat with chopsticks).
Wine is unusual, but the beer flows is like rivers...
To food a specific post will be dedicated. After all, the reason (or the excuse) of our holiday over there was the participation to the typical luau, at the family reunion.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I'm back, after a short vacation in Hawai'i. I'm still trying to absorb the 12 hours jetleg.
I'll try to describe the beautiful holidays in the next posts, but first let's start with the bad things.

Milan Linate Airport, check-in.
Do you have the ESTA? Miss Antipathy with the British Airways symbol pinned to her jacket asks.
What the hell is an ESTA? you would ask.
What the hell is an ESTA? I ask Miss Antipathy with the British Airways pinned on her jacket.
The ESTA is a kind of entry visa for the United States, to be filled online prior to departure. I will find out later that these are the same questions that once had to be filled out on a paper form on board the aircraft, such as "are you a terrorist?", "are you carrying any explosive?", "Have you ever had to deal with episodes of delinquency? "," do you have any pending with justice? ", in short, some rhetorical questions that require a negative answers (I don't think a terrorist or a criminal has any ethical problem about the sincerity in his answers).
No, I do not have the ESTA.
So, you can not leave.
How do you make that ESTA?
You go to and stuffed the form with all these data. Total time about one minute. Then instantly you are allowed to enter the U.S.
Piece of cake.
Yes, if only you have an Internet access, of course, otherwise where can I write the address On a postcard?
Now, you say, it is a breeze to find an internet connection within an airport!
At Linate it is not. There is a coin-operated Internet Point, but it does not work. Maybe there is a free WiFi access i can reach with my PDA. There is not. I wonder if the CheckIn desks have internet connection, i scrap the idea: Miss Antipathy with the British Airways symbol be pinned on her jacket wouldn't be so much unpleasant not to help me!
Demoralized I decide to go to another lady (this time very nice!) at the British Airways ticket desk, to move my flight to the next day. The nice lady asks me if I can not connect to the Internet to fill that damn ESTA. Eh, no, unfortunately i can not from here. Not even at the tiket desk they have any internet connection. The only option looks to change the date. Six hundred euros and a day of holiday lost.

Okay, the day after we arrive at the airport and this time at the check in there is a man: Mr. Antipathy, with the British Airways symbol pinned on his jacket. He stares our passports. He watches the printing of the flight reservation. He looks at me, but I'm not going to be caught unawares. Yes, I have the ESTA. He checks dubious on his terminal (mmmh... they don't have an internet access, but they can check online if i have that damn ESTA!). At the end he can't do other than admit. He puts a sticky tape with a barcode on our luggage and gives us the boarding passes. Have a nice flight, he smiles. We're on vacation!
Twenty-six hours later we finally reach the destination airport in Lihue. Baggage Claim. There are bags and suitcases of every shape and color, but not one black and orange sport bag. The luggage was lost somewhere in the world.
We go to the baggage office, Sorry, we'll deliver your baggage tomorrow. That makes you wonder where is all that safety program. You have to go through at least a couple of hand baggage and personal screening (remove shoes, belts, watches and pass in a magic door) for each airport. You also have to re-check baggage (ours was already lost in LosAngeles): even if the luggage is aimed at final destination, you must recognize it and take responsibility for its content. Every now and then a metallic voice recommends not to leave any baggage unattended, or it will be instantaneously destroyed.
Nevertheless at the end you are in one place and your luggage in another, thousands and thousands miles away. So much for safety!

The bag then will arrive three days after us (of course we go to WalMart to buy the bare necessities). But that won't ruin our holiday. It's a warm tropical night, the air is moist and spicy and a soft ukulele music sounds in our ears.

Monday, October 10, 2011