Post 10 — The Family Goes Even Wester

We rented a car and drove around Hawaii. Up mountain roads with palm trees and the water was any shade of blue from sky to royal to bright navy. It is horribly commercial and any relation to Michener-like descriptions are few and far between. Everybody was either old and wealthy-looking or young, tan and looking for action. The thing that struck us was that it was so quiet at the beach. Very few children. Later on when we were riding around we hit some stretches of beautiful big beach where the poor people go. They were a little noisier. There are many O­­­rientals. Some look like they haven’t got a dime and others looked like James Shigeta and Nancy Kwan on location. As a whole, the mixtures come up with very attractive people. That little bit of information may not be new but it’s kind of interesting coming from one who is there instead of the National Geographic.


Hawaii had been exotic and dreamy, but the family was getting anxious to see what the real destination would be like. The longest part of the trip turned out to be the last twenty-four hours. The baggage handlers in Honolulu were negotiating a new contract and the flight to Samoa had been delayed three times. The previous night had been mostly sleepless as the family tried to find places to stretch out at the airport, where the few available couches were covered in complaining tourists wearing shirts that they would be embarrassed to be seen in as soon as they got back to Ohio. The Broquet children were crabby and their parents exhausted as they all pined for the end of the journey, which had been accompanied by six awkward and bent umbrellas (200 inches of rain per year!). The plane finally left, nine hours later.

The Pan Am jet slowed and came to a complete stop. There was no explosion. No ball of flame with burning troll eyeballs bouncing in the aisles and mangled sisters floating in the sea. Apparently the landing was just another day at work for the pilot who managed to find an island that was 7 miles across at its’ widest point, sitting just off the equator in the middle of the world’s largest ocean. The thrill of the South Seas adventure paled somewhat by the insignificance of the total land mass.

The stewardess nodded and waved goodbye as the family began to disembark, grimacing slightly as Karen went by. She had been a lot friendlier before the vomiting incident. The older girls followed behind their parents, lugging their bags.

Larry paused at the top of the stairs that led down from the jet to the runway and surveyed his future. Although it was hard to see very far because of the fine mist that could have been rain or fog or both, there was still an overwhelming presence of nature. The mountain they had just flown over loomed behind the plane, and a thick gray mass of clouds moved down its’ side as the heavier rain advanced. The sound of crashing waves indicated that the ocean was very close. So was the air, which wrapped around his face like a soaked, salty towel.  Jean joined him on the platform, sucked in a deep, wet breath and said, “I hope to God they sell deodorant here.”

It was hard to see what anything looked like because the fog seemed to have swallowed up the island. “Are we sure this is Samoa?” Kathy asked. “Maybe we went too far and ended up in New Zealand.”

The children started down the stairs behind their parents, their mouths open like panting dogs. The humidity was astonishing. Karen reached out and swiped a hand through the air, as if she could grab a fistful of the stuff. Mixed within the swirling dampness was a cocktail of heady scents that paid tribute to the fact that they were no longer in the midwest. The briny taste of sea and a loamy whiff of composting vegetation from the jungle floated on the thick air, combined with just a hint of raw sewage and a top note that might have been a tuna cannery. Every sense jangled and prickled as they tried to absorb what life would be like living in a place where nature clearly would not be ignored.

We arrived at a landing strip that borders the ocean and when you first approach it looks like you are going straight into the water. And guess what, it was raining. The humidity is like wow, but there is generally a breeze. I thought I’d freeze last night. It is the oddest feeling, one minute you are dying of the humid closeness then a breeze, 40 miles per hour comes up and you feel fine. (Larry is in the only completely air-conditioned building on the island)  


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2 Comments to “Post 10 — The Family Goes Even Wester”

  1. I remember vividly arriving and thinking that it was like walking into a steamy bathroom. As I recall the humidity was like that most of the time!


  2. the smell of low tide!


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