The 55

I suppose it was a bit of island-lag or Polynesian nostalgia that made me look up the price of kona-coffee-coated macadamia nuts online. Surely they couldn’t cost as much as the ones on offer at Honolulu airport just yesterday. Wrong. There they were at Amazon, sporting the same $18 price tag. That’s the thing about Hawaii. Rolling waves and languid air aren’t free. Actually, they are, but that’s another story.

As for this story, it is continuing in San Francisco where tomorrow’s high is forecast at 55°F. Fahrenheit should be outlawed. It is our problem, this outdated and provincially German measurement. The Germans don’t use it. Why should we?

More to the point, why shouldn’t we be on the north shore of Oahu sipping a silly drink made of rum and bananas and watching the sunset? When you consider that it took all of one’s available discipline to make it down to the pool in time to watch the sun’s descent, well, we deserve some credit. Speaking of credit, my own credit limit will have to be expanded the next time I spend any days in the islands.

The best things in life are free and the worst are enormously costly. This is the essence of Hawaii. The best meal that Jane and I had was in Waaana, a bus stop that features a 7:11 convenience store, gas station, a spectacular beach and Uncle Bobo’s Barbecue. For less than $10, Uncle Bobo will make you immensely happy at lunchtime. Bobo and his wife Keiko crank up a true smoky barbecue every morning. And by lunchtime various meats are ready to roll. Cash only. All seating outdoors. No view except for the rolling Pacific, some of the largest surf anywhere crashing just across the street. And not just any street but the Kamehameha Highway. Which actually is any street, but with a Hawaiian name. Hard to say how the Hawaiians get away with hoarding most of the world’s available vowels.

The route to Uncle Bobo’s couldn’t be simpler. Get on the 55 bus from your hotel at Turtle Bay and wait. Of course, you don’t have to wait. The 55 does that for you. There’s lots to wait for along the way. If the surf is even halfway decent, the bus waits for hundreds of people to scurry back and forth between their parked cars and the endless surfer show along the coast. And it must be said that the Hawaiians wait in the most natural and graceful way. They are not in a hurry. Everyone understands that tourists and surfers constitute approximately 90% of the local economy. Let them cross the road.

As for the road itself, Kam Highway is acquiring, ever acquiring, an authentic jungle look. Borderline undeveloped country look. Tropical rains and over-the-top waves simply pound this pavement into nothingness. The road needs to be resurfaced frequently. It isn’t. So all along the north shore one is treated to Hawaiian road crews at work. We spent about 20 minutes queuing to get through a 100-meter section of deteriorated road. As I say, Uncle Bobo’s is worth it. It was all worth it. And now it’s over. The world is no longer at body temperature, and the soundtrack isn’t the slightly arhythmic roar of Polynesian surf. But what is?

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