Monday and Sweet Marie’s is still closed, so we set off in search of something called Rainbeau Jo’s that had good reviews on Yelp. We followed the map and ended up at the end of a runway. We tried entering the address into our own map app and ended up looking at a space in the middle of a golf course. Luckily, our under-caffeinated brains were able to recall reading in the guide book that the GPS coordinates are usually off by a small amount. Went to the Rainbeau Jo’s website, discovered that it’s actually a food truck, and clicked the “where are we?” link. Ta-da! there it was, in an industrial park. And utterly, utterly charming, even with dump trucks and noise all around. Beau and Jo are adorable and make top-notch coffee. They gave us our breakfast sandwiches in cups (since we can’t have the bread) and it was delicious. They were full of good advice and good cheer. Go find them.
Snorkling was on the menu for today. We’d been told that Po’ipu was the place to go for still water snorkling and that there’d been a lot of sea turtles there lately. The hotel concierge suggested we just go the Marriott in Po’ipu and rent our equipment there. It was our first trip to the southern end of the island. We went through the “tree tunnel” on the way:
The terrain turned flatter, more agricultural looking. From what we’ve heard, there isn’t much large-scale farming going on, but it looks like this is where it would have happened. It’s drier here, but not as dry as the western side, which is more desert-y. We never made it over there to see Waimea Canyon. Apparently it’s stunning and not-to-be-missed but we did so much driving from Lihue to Princeville that we just couldn’t face more commuting. Next time.
I didn’t even take photos at Po’ipu but other people did! Here’s the beach:
You can see the reef at the top of the photo. There are beaches on either side where people were swimming and snorkling. We rented our stuff at the Marriott Waiohai and set up our chairs near their pool. We met a couple from South Dakota who are owners at the Aruba property next to the one Steve’s folks have. They were surprised that our hotel had sent us down here since cross-property use is forbidden in Aruba. Pleasantries exchanged, we headed down to the water.
It took me a minute to get the snorkling rhythm back. I’m not much of a swimmer, so I have to get the anxiety under control so I can breathe properly. An underwater camera is too much for me to add to my list. Luckily, there is an internet. These photos are all from Keoki Stender’s Marine Life Photography.
I saw a lot of these guys:
We saw a lot of these guys, too. The top bit flutters behind them quite fetchingly.
These guys reminded me of the cowfish in Aruba. I do so love the cowfish.
And then I’d spy one of these and just gasp.
I thought of them as Lilly Pulitzer fish, all hot pink and lime green and turquoise blue. Bonkers.
Steve, meanwhile, realized that he could swim under the water, too, and took to chasing the fish. With fins on, swimming with the very strong tide, he could nearly catch them. He said he felt like a dog in a chicken yard. I was happy to just remember how to breathe.
I grew tired first and headed back to lay in the chair and read. I was nearly dry when a Marriott guy came over and told me that my towel color suggested I was from a different Marriott and would have to leave. I told him that our hotel had sent us there, but he was unmoved. We were ready to go anyway and I’m disinclined to argue. But still, dumb policy Marriott. Just let folks be and deal with problems if they arise.
On the way back to OUR Marriott, we stopped at the farmer’s market beside the KMart (why didn’t my dad ever get stationed HERE? It’s rather nicer than Evansville, IN). There was abundant local fruit for very little money. I wanted it all. Except the durian. Blech.
Guavas, mangoes, passionfruit, pineapple, longanberries, bananas, starfruit, papaya…all locally grown, just trees in folks’ yards!
We got some things to eat ourselves and some to take to Kevin’s family since we’d decided to head up after the luau and stay the night to get up for an early hike the next day. We popped into the KMart to get some bugspray for the luau–mosquitoes, alas, like Hawaii, too. The front of the store held a Halloween display that felt so incongruous– bales of straw, piles of pumpkins–after we’d just been buying summery fruits. Along with the bug spray, we got some Maui Style potato chips that had a surfing onion and lots of surfer slang on the label. Turns out they’re just Frito Lay and taste like Funyuns. But hey, Funyuns!
We had just enough time to go back to the hotel and pack for our overnight up north before heading to the Smith Family Luau. The only luau name with a 4:1 consonant to vowel ratio! I’d said I wanted a luau as utterly unchanged from 1962 as I could find and I was not disappointed.
This was a Professional Operation. It’s a family business, in operation for over 50 years. The grounds are a botanical garden, so the setting is gorgeous. They herd you in, hand you a shell lei, get you on a tram, and off you go. The tram goes around the grounds while a guide dispassionately recites facts that sound like a Wikipedia page. Might be, I wasn’t really listening because:
Okay, it’s really coconuts and cane. But it totally looked like The Chicken Fields.
The time came to un-earth the pig. Kalua pork is cooked in an underground oven, and it needs buff young men in skirts to dig it out.
The crowd dispersed to the pavillion where we found endless mai tais (Mahalo!) and other beverages to keep us calm while the food was laid out. More orange-shirted family members entertained us.
And then the shofar called us to dinner!
We were surprised to find that the food was actually good. The kalua pork was outstanding, there was poke (yay!) made with salmon, and other good stuff. And yes, there was poi. We don’t get how anyone could work up an opinion at all about it, it was utterly tasteless. Apparently, it is sometimes sweetened or fermented, but this stuff was plain and not unlike cornstarch and water. We were told that it’s good to dip the pork in it to cut the saltiness of the meat. which, fine. We ate a LOT of food. Mostly kalua pig.
After the meal, we were herded down to an amphitheater not unlike what you got at Sea World in the 70s. Bleachers around pond that has a stage in the middle. Behind the stage was a set like a Polynesian Village. At Disneyland when it opened. I could tell this was gonna be good.
The show opened with a gout of flame shooting from the top of the set, volcano-like. A figure rose up and gestured grandly while the sound system played a script from an elementary school production. “I (arm wave) am the goddess PELE (other arm waves out)! The goddess of Fire (swoop down) and the Hawaiian people (both arms out)!” I was tapping my hands together in glee. The show was perfect, utterly without irony. Never smirky or self-aware. Not so much as a Jungle Cruise-type joke. Just roughly 6 young men and 6 young women doing the Dances of Many Lands.
The rough “plot” was that we’d be introduced to all the cultures that came to Hawaii to make it who it is. “Our cousins from Japan came to work in the sugar cane fields, bringing us their humble nature and artistic spirit.” And then four of the gals do a dance with fans while wearing kimonos. “Our friends from the Philippines came to harvest pineapples” and then, some how, for some reason, one of the guys is standing in a spotlight on the side of the stage, holding a rooster. The narrator says something about the Philippine love of cock fighting (but he says “coch”), and somehow ties this in to hypnotising chickens, which is a really shaky connection, and then this kid proceeds to stroke the rooster’s belly. Stroke, stroke, stroke…and the rooster pops up and shakes off. He flips him over. Stroke, stroke, stroke…and the rooster pops up. Finally, he just grins (the kid, not the rooster) and tucks the chicken under his arm and walks off. At first we thought, why not just use a stuffed rooster? We’re 50 ft away, who’d know? But you’d have to buy a stuffed one, real ones are literally underfoot. Anyway. Then the two girls that weren’t doing the Japanese dance come out with the boys and do some dancing over sticks thing that we all associate with the Philippines. I assume.
Mostly, there was some fast hip shaking
And some slow hip shaking
And then the big closer, the Samoan fire knife dance, which is why I came.
We opted not to hang around for photos with the cast making the shaka sign (that “hang loose” thumb and pinky out gesture) and did not purchase the 8×10 taken of us when we arrived, in which we were flanked by bare-tummied maidens making the shaka sign. Instead we headed up to Kevin’s house where we managed to stay up and chat over half a glass of wine before Kevin and I started nodding off. Maybe Hyun Joo and Steve stayed up to party, but I kind of doubt it. Old.