Friday, December 02, 2005

Sassy McSasserville

Clara, I’m sitting next to your daughter Nicole who is one of my salsa instructors and my future wife. Really. I proposed to her and everything… I’ll let her tell you the story.

Boy, was I pooped last night. Who goes to Hawaii for a day? Has that ever happened before? In trying to maximize the time there, I ended up sleeping some 13 hours last night, well, more like 12 if you count the time change. Again.

It is Dead Day on SAS, with all of the students studying for finals on the back deck on this glorious day. I took some time to do my end of year evaluations and paperwork, but now I’ll try to sit back, enjoy the ocean while try I catch up to the huge email backlog I’ve accumulated over the months.

Quick recap of Hawaii:

Went to a nice dinner at a pub with some staff members. There are definitely things about American culture that jump out after being gone for so long.

1. As Mandee put it, “Gosh, it’s nice to see fat people again.”
2. You just expect things to look nice and clean in the US. If Hawaii were in Asia, we would have said, “Gosh, Phnom Pehn is modern and clean.” Since it is in the US, you don’t think there’s anything special about it.
3. Walking into traffic doesn’t work – they won’t swerve to avoid you.
4. We are overly security conscious.
5. The American flag is one of the most beautiful in the world. We display it more than most countries do.
6. Americans are loud and shameless. Asians are not.
7. For the first time on this voyage, it is hard to pick out SASers from a crowd

(Our name for a place full of SASers: Sassy McSasserville. It just rolls off the tongue).

I have a lot more, but I forgot most on my 12 hour beauty sleep. I’ll have to remember it later.

After a nice dinner and hanging out with staff and students all night in Waikiki, including waddling in the ocean, Chris, Jason and I set out for the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor. There was a great movie presentation prior to taking a ferry to the memorial which answered a lot of the questions I never thought of asking prior to SAS, such as why would we have such a large military presence in Hawaii at the time anyway?

The memorial is over the sunken remnants of the USS Arizona in the water, and you can still see the oil blots coming out of the ship at an rate of about a quart a day. There’s something about the oil smell that gives the memorial an unique immediacy to the day of the attack.

Listed along the names of the dead are the “Attack survivors interred with their shipmates,” which means they are still burying people near the memorial, as recently as earlier this year.

As soon as I got back I met up with a bunch of student and headed to the North Shore for my first skydive since I became certified a while back. Since my USPA membership had expired, they wouldn’t let me jump solo (which would be really cheap), so I strapped on to a dive master and headed up.

I forgot how much I love to skydive. There’s nothing natural about it, yet it becomes so comfortable after you jump a couple of times. I also forgot how relaxing a tandem jump is, where in a normal jump you have to check your altimeter literally every second, you don’t have a worry in the world in a tandem jump. Just sit and enjoy the view.

My favorite part was waiting outside of the plane as it circled 180 degrees over the drop zone. Oh, to be able to do that every day. And the view of the island from above was magnificent, with waves as big and blue as advertised.

If there was a downside, it was that the jump was only from about 10,000 ft, with about a 30 second free-fall. All the jumps in Hollister are between 15,000 to 18,000 ft, with about a 90 second free-fall, which is so long as to almost be boring. Almost.

We went back to Waikiki to sit on the beach until sunset followed by a little night swimming. A suggestion for people in big groups in Hawaii – limos are cheaper than taxis. Keep that in mind.

I would have gone snorkeling, but we couldn’t take much off the ship because we didn’t go through customs and couldn’t take anything bigger than a camera with us. Oh, well. Hawaii is easy to come back to. As much as I loved it, I would have traded it for another day in any of the countries we went to. Except Mauritius.


vaughnster said...

mmmmmmmmmmm did someone say drop zone?!?!?!? so excited for your return :)

Anonymous said...

well well, so I see, hope you had a marvelous time. We are back home now and Nicole hasn't stopped telling us stories and showing 3500 pictures plus. The Salsa presentation for the Ball was super incredible, Good luck Clara