Gusto y sabor  

Experiencing a Famous and Beautiful Volcano

Visiting Hawaii and the So. Pacific, part 5

By Armando F Sanchez
Published on LatinoLA: April 23, 2014


Experiencing a Famous and Beautiful Volcano


Today we visited the main island of Hawaii. It's the largest of the islands. Being that it's April the weather was in the 70s and a bit windy. I was a bit surprised to see, as we were entering the port, that there was still snow at the top of the Mauna Kea mountain. If one looked carefully one could also see the domes that protects the telescopes on the mountain.

This island is in many ways relatively underpopulated. A large portion of the island is still an active volcano. We landed on the side that is the old port town of Hilo. On this side of the island there are no beach areas. It's mainly rocky and cliff areas.

This is the second time we visited Hilo. The last time was two years ago we came we rented a car from Enterprise. The rental shuttle buses come to the port like they do at airports. It's about a 5-minute trip from the port to their office. Many of the newcomers typically come to visit the Hawaii Volcanos National Park. It's about an hour drive and it's well worth to visit. You don't get into the crater, but you get close enough to see them.

On this trip we didn't reserve a rental car. We met and were picked up by our friends, Michael and Natheline Booker. They moved from Los Angeles to the island a year ago. Michael and I have known each other for more than 40 years. We both attended Salesian High School in East Los Angeles and we reconnected when he became a special education teacher at the school where I taught. The Bookers live on the opposite side of the island. That area is Kona and it's where the major resorts and beaches are located. It's an hour drive each way so we will have to visit Kona on another trip. Michael pointed out that the this is the island with the more "reasonable" real estate prices, but that they are seeing the prices climbing.

We started by visiting a macadamia nut factory. We also learned about how they grow and harvest coffee. Afterwards, we took a short drive on the perimeter of the island. Once you leave the town of Hilo, you quickly enter farms and small forest areas. Along the road one passes through multiple but quaint small towns. They are two or three blocks long. These towns are a reminder that Hawaii was primarily farm regions for sugar cane and pineapples. Many Chinese and Filipinos migrated here in years past to work on the harvests.

I want to thank my optometrist Dr. Ana Ananikian for recommending I get the anti-glare and top solarized glasses. The sky's are so clear and blue. When one is in the sunshine one feels the heat on the skin and one would have to be squinting without the glasses.

We could not drive and venture too far from Hilo since we were only going to be docked on the island for 8-hours. Time goes by fast when you are having fun. One has to take into account the driving time back and forth to the port because there is only one main road and traffic is usually slow moving. The motto around here, quite understandably, is "hang loose". One critical point to be able to increase the enjoyment of traveling is to be flexible with time schedules. The cruise ship arrival and departure schedules are for the most part are punctual, but everything else "might" be on time.

An important rule of thumb when traveling is to expect change and keep multiple options in mind. I once talked with a lady who was very upset with the cruise company because on the previous day, while visiting an island, it had RAINED all day. The ship brochure stated that it would be mostly sunny. She also mentioned that her husband, who was traveling with her, had not joined the tour because his ulcers was bothering him.

In my mind, I started to wonder when she was going to have her own ulcer and stress issues. Traveling will definitely test one's ability to be adaptive and one must go with the flow. Driving on the islands and just overall dealing with others requires patience and a smile. I can't overemphasize the importance of being open to options and alternatives when one creates a personal schedule. Yes, create a plan, but it's best if it's not written in cement.

There is one excursion which I would like to recommend and that we have not taken. It needs to be scheduled by those who are on the island for more than a day. I would have liked to have gone on a boat trip with Lava Ocean Tours. They take one to see the lava flows as it enters into the ocean. The boat trips are scheduled for either sun up or sun down. It has to be coordinated at a time when the lava is in fact actively flowing. Lava activity is not constant nor is it year round so it takes travel coordination. It would be great to come back when the volcano flow is active and it's also the whale season (peak time is February).

We thanked Michael and Natheline for taking the day to show us around and we hope to return to visit them in Kona in the near future.

Our next port of call was Honolulu on the island of Oahu.

About Armando F Sanchez:
Armando F Sanchez is an author and CEO of Armando F Sanchez Production. His organization produces global digital media programming.
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