Monday, December 27, 2010

The winter wonderland of Hawaii

We like to think of it as our second home. Our two-bedroom condo in the E-Coli Village in Wailea, Maui. Okay, we don’t own it, and if we show up any other time than the three weeks we book it we’ll be shot on sight, but still, it’s ours alone.  The above picture is one I took from our balcony. 

Hawaii is my sanctuary, my oasis. The beauty and serenity are unmatched, and as dismal as the state of the world is, somehow it’s not nearly as bleak when reported by newscasters in Aloha shirts. Once again the Levine family ventured to the land where the volcanoes meet the cabanas.

There’s no better way to relax on Maui the first night than by learning you might have Hepatitis A. I came across a story online warning anybody who ordered a sandwich at Jerry’s Deli in Westwood on specific days that they were in danger of contracting this acute infectious disease. Apparently, the nimrod who made the sandwiches was infected and possibly passed it along. (As if the chopped liver sandwiches alone couldn’t kill ya.) My wife was one of the unlucky sandwich orderers. Customers were urged to get a Hepatitis A vaccine or a Gamma Globulin shot in the next two days. Good luck on Maui.

Remember the nurse’s office in your elementary school? She had some band-aids and a bottle of baby aspirin. Well that’s the equivalent of a full-service Maui hospital. Debby called around for Gamma Globulin or a vaccine. She might as well have been asking for Plutonium. The clinics were all in shopping malls. One doctor’s office address was an apartment number.

We finally found a place next to a nail salon. Debby got the shot. It cost $350, and Jerry’s is refusing to reimburse because they “didn’t know the employee had Hepatitis at the time so they’re not liable”. Oh really??? I don’t think it will require Erin Brockovich to win that case in court.

The latest Twitter trend is to Tweet where you are every five seconds. So for those who don’t follow me on Twitter, here are some entries:

@Maui airport – waiting for shuttle van to Alamo Rental Cars. 1:40 PM

@Maui airport – still waiting for shuttle van. 2:40 PM

@Alamo – waiting in long line to get my car. 3:30 PM

@Alamo – Finally get the keys. 4:05 PM

@ Alamo – In car. Chasing Alamo employees around the lot, trying to run them down. Sure, NOW they move fast. 4:10 PM

Forget the Alamo. They’re the Goldman Sachs of rental car companies.

How to get a better table at Mama’s Fish House: Have the hostess spill a glass of water on your wife. Better table, free t-shirt, and round of drinks! Too bad it wasn’t wine. Those appetizers looked really yummy!

There’s a “backpack bandit” who has robbed four local banks at gunpoint. Four? Where the fuck is HAWAII 5-0? What are you idiots doing? Stop trading barbs and joy riding in your product-placement Chevy and protect us for godsakes! Jack Lord is spinning in either his grave or the wax museum; I forget where he is now.

Obama isn’t even popular in Hawaii anymore.

There’s more Reggae music being played in Hawaii than Hawaiian music. To save face they call it “Jawaiian”. And the closer we got to the holidays the more we heard “Chriswaiian” music.

Two sure signs that the world is coming to an end: The Roy’s in Kihei is being replaced by a Ruby Tuesday’s. And a tour bus was spotted at the Kahului Walmart.

At one point we had my son Matt, his fiancĂ©e Kim, and my daughter Annie joining us at the same time. Five people, all trying to recharge their Kindles, eReaders, iPads, iPods, iPhones, laptops, and cameras at once – there were not enough outlets. My wife and I had to move out to the Grand Wailea.

Now that Hilton owns the Grand Wailea, they’re cutting corners and foolishly assuming guests don’t notice. They recently eliminated all mini-bars and fired the twenty long-time employees who serviced them. I guess the twelve dollars profit on every Toblerone bar just wasn’t enough for them.

We were given a gorgeous room overlooking the parking lot, a trash dumpster, and the back end of another hotel… excuse me, I mean, a “mountain view”. You say, “How did we get so lucky?” We’re Hilton Honors members.

Our room safe didn’t work so we called Security. They said they’d send someone up in five minutes. It took twenty. Now, it’s one thing if Room Service is a little tardy but Security? And it’s not like we can call the Hawaii 5-0 guys. They’re still investigating Pearl Harbor (although I understand they almost have a suspect).

Grand Wailea security officers must all be former Alamo customer representatives.

Actual Hawaiian headline: Kids Smoke Nutmeg For Cheap High. Hey, gasoline costs $3.95 a gallon. Pretty soon stoners won’t even be able to afford spices.

Black Friday sale at the shops at the Kapalua!! Mark Ups slashed to only 60%!!!

Here’s the kind of shit you do in Hawaii: watch giant sea turtles bob in the water on the beach. For twenty minutes. Hey, don’t laugh. It was still far more entertaining than the NBC Fall line-up.

Some nights we had meteor showers. I wonder how many tourists waited around for rainbows.

Went to Mama’s Fish House again. Told Debby that if they gave us a bad table she had to “take one for the team”. The problem was finding a nice evening dress that’s also water-resistant.

Nothing deters my love for Hawaii, even the two minor earthquakes we experienced. But that was just the islands’ way of saying, “Don’t be homesick”.

When there’s a big earthquake (and it’s highly unlikely – there’s only one active volcano in the area), you do have eight full minutes to get to higher ground before the tsunami hits. On the other hand, Hawaii papayas are really sweet!

The Honolulu Marathon was held again. 25,000 runners all yelling, “On your left!” I did not participate this year because a) I wasn’t in Honolulu, b) I’m not from Kenya, and c) unlike the other Hollywood types on the isles, I don’t have a housekeeper or nanny to run for me.

Most of the wet weather we got came during our last few days. I thought it was the influx of tourists that angered Hina Kuluua, the Hawaiian Mistress of Rain. Nope. She just found out that Rain is not going to leave his wife for her.

Cell phone service was also out for a day. I guess, Wendy Williams, the Goddess of Incessant Talking, was also out of sorts.

Flew home on the redeye. Usually I never fly First Class unless a network or studio is paying for it. So I haven’t flown First Class in years. But Debby and I decided to use miles and upgrade, hoping to maybe get some sleep. So we boarded first and sat patiently as the Coach passengers filed past us to their seats. Now this I’ve never experienced before – random people just taking shots at us. “Oooh, it’s the First Class people.” “Look who the lucky ones are.” “Got enough room in those seats?” What the hell?! Since when did travelers turn hostile towards First Class passengers? And this was in Maui after a vacation. What happens in Detroit? Does the guy from 42A just enter the plane and arbitrarily slug the man in 3B?

By the way, the seats weren’t that big, there were no footrests, the meal was a cold cup of corn chowder with six grapes, and we didn’t sleep. Is it really worth staging another Russian Revolution over American Airlines’ supposed premiere service?

So now we’re home, just in time for the holidays and monsoons. Verbal abuse and earthquakes aside, we had a fabulous time. Oh sure, my wife’s skin is a little red, but hey, at least it’s not yellow.

Hau'oli Makahiki Hou -- which either means Happy New Year or pass the nutmeg.


Jon J said...

Next time, hit Mama's about 3:30 in the afternoon after a thrilling trip back from Hana. You can have any table you want.

Alamo Rent A Car said...

I'm sorry about your wait, Ken. Please email me at care[at] with your 9-digit rental agreement number so this can be handled further.

When emailing please list reference # 101227-001618 in the subject line.

- Elizabeth with Alamo Rent A Car

Max Clarke said...

"Sure, NOW they move fast" Very funny.

Could never give up California for Hawaii, but I know the feeling. Lived in Puerto Rico off and on for a few years. While parts of the experience were like being the Ugly American, most of it was like a visit to Paradise.

Ian said...

It looks like you might have embarrassed Alamo into taking some positive action - good for them and good for you too.

Don't expect the same from Jerry's deli, however. I stopped eating there years ago. It's the one restaurant where I've had to send things back to the kitchen repeatedly. I'm very easy to please... just don't serve me something inedible. It's Art's Deli on my side of the hill for me, and Canter's on your side. Yum!

$350 for your wife's vaccination sounds outrageous, though.

bevo said...

Unless the employer picks up the tab, I will never return Hawaii. Been there once; no need to go again.

Rory L. Aronsky said...

@ Alamo – In car. Chasing Alamo employees around the lot, trying to run them down. Sure, NOW they move fast. 4:10 PM

Still having trouble breathing, still gasping. This is outstanding!

hanuman16 said...

Think I'll stay here in snowy new york state and tan from the glare from the crystalline snow....

John said...

Ken, you'll have hit the trifecta if you also get apologetic blog comments from the Hilton Corp. and American Airlines.

By Ken Levine said...

I'd settle for Jerry's paying for the shot.

Greg said...

To tell the truth, I wish ALL hotel chains would eliminate the infamous in-room mini bar.

Debby G said...

I love Maui so much. We stayed at the Kea Lani in Wailea on our honeymoon and then 18 years later, which was a few months ago. It seems much less crowded than the Grand Wailea, and the service and swimming pools were great.

Though getting an ocean view room at the Kea Lani means that you can picture the ocean in your mind if you're really creative or on hallucinogenics.

I wrote the first two drafts of a novel while waiting for my Alamo car.