In 26 days, we have yet to have a bad weather day. Hardly any rain when we didn’t want it, cooling winds most of the time, and lots of sun. Today, I was up again for the sunrise and sat on the couch for a good hour, all alone ready to watch it this time without any distractions. Unfortunately, the clouds didn’t cooperate and hid it away, then proceeded to pour rain down on us for a good part of the morning. We got out anyway though with our suits on and drove 3 miles to Ahalanui Pond.
I spoke with a friendly local and his partner last night at Uncle Robert’s who recommended we check it out. The skies cleared just as we arrived. It is a part man made, part natural warm pool, heated by the volcano and apparently a favorite among the locals. It was definitely warm, surrounded by a beautiful park! In fact, I would have found it incredibly relaxing to float around in it like I saw several locals doing, but to be honest, I got all weirded out wondering about the cleanliness of it. They say the high tide comes in and gives it a good washing, but I wasn’t sure that was enough when you consider that bacteria grows better in warm environments. Anyway, the four of us swam around a bit and enjoyed ourselves for a good 45 minutes or so until I saw one bather floating around, clearly very relaxed, giving himself what could only be described here on this G-rated blog as a gentle self massage. Time to go, kids!
We all immediately showered once we returned home and then decided we wanted a good lunch back up in Hilo. We dined at Cafe Pesto, a spot that we have frequented on every prior trip to this city. We then had fun walking around the shops and found just a few more things to stuff into our suitcases for the trip home.
One of my favorite things about this trip has been getting a chance to talk with lots of different locals, both Hawaiian and haoles (those of non-Hawaiian descent). I love learning about their backgrounds, how they got to the islands, and what they like/don’t like about living here. I have met a woman who moved here from Texas two months ago, a 6th generation Hawaiian (the captain of the boat that took us up the Na Pali Coast) and just about everyone in between. I have found all of them to be consistently friendly but especially sweet to Casey. As I am sure for other families of kids with Down Syndrome, our little Bird can be a conversation starter when out in public. Today was no exception. One local shop owner came up to me and said, “I just love your little girl.” I knew then that she had a good friend or family member with Down Syndrome. Turns out, she didn’t just have one, she had two. Her uncle just recently passed away at… 72 years old! (FYI, the average life span of a person with DS is about 55 these days.) That is certainly the oldest person with DS that I know of. This sweet lady also has a 12 year old niece with Down Syndrome. She couldn’t get enough of Casey and when she hugged my girl to say goodbye, I thought she might not let her go. This lady clearly understood, like most who have family members with Down Syndrome, the joys that come from raising a child with DS far outweigh the challenges.
After a quick stop to check out Onekahakaha Beach Park (our new friend thought that Casey would enjoy the shallow waters) we made the long drive back down to our little oasis on the water. Two miles before we hit our neighborhood we stopped at Cajun Paradise Farms for a smoothie. We had passed this farm a dozen times and had yet to visit it. We ran in, knowing that we only had 5 minutes before their sign said they would close, which clearly wasn’t necessary. They were the most laid back couple around and were happy to have us in their adorable little store. It turns out one of them was from Lousiana (very close to Lafayette) and they had both lived in Dallas before their move to the island. I am pretty sure that if we stayed we would have found friends in common.
We are slowly starting to get ourselves ready for our full immersion back to reality this weekend. Emails from school are already in the in-box, school supply lists are being distributed, and band camp duties are piling up. It all starts up again next week. I honestly thought I would be in tears at this point, knowing I would have to say goodbye to my little corner of the earth. But, after 26 days, I am almost ready to go home. I will admit that I miss Chloe, my extended family, my friends, yoga class, air conditioning, Target, and my cozy home. Plus, we have lots of exciting plans for the upcoming school year. For the first time in three years, we won’t have all the stresses that come from a child starting over at a new school. Dan will test for his driver’s license next week (please, pray for me) and I am looking into some new pursuits of my own. Cheerleading competitions, Friday night football games, cooler weather, my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary party, and hopefully one or two happy hours with my friends; there is a lot to look forward to.
But, I will be doing my best to bring home as much aloha as I possibly can.