Around the world travel, Backpacking, Bucket List, Hawaii, long term travel, Oahu, Travel

Aloha, Couchsurfing and First Impressions

With only 2 months to hit the road with, I realized that my South America jaunt was going to have to wait, so I went back to the drawing board and started to think about where I could travel for a shorter period of time that was closer to home, warm and maybe not so draining as the third world destinations I seem to be frequenting as of late. Hawaii came to mind… a place I had always viewed as “too close to home” in past years, a place I viewed as “America,” “expensive” and “touristy.” But lately, it had been creeping up on my list of places to visit in the world. I had seen other travellers’ photos, heard stories of remote waterfalls, pristine beaches and friendly people. I wanted some warmth and some ease instead of the “roughing it” i’d become accustomed to, so I decided to spend my Spring thawing out on the Hawaiian Islands.

I managed to get a reasonably priced flight from Atlanta to Honolulu via Phoenix on US Airways and, after a solid day of traveling, arrived to the rainbow state. Ironically enough, after grabbing my bag and getting into a cab, a rainbow appeared in the sky… I took this as a good sign and tried to make conversation with my Taiwanese cab driver. I’d never seen a full rainbow so low in the sky, so I was pretty impressed. He wasn’t and said to me sarcastically, “you know this is why we’re called the rainbow state, right?” OK- i’ll try to keep my naivete to a minimum (but it was beautiful).
I had heard Hawaii was expensive, so I had set up my couchsurfing account before leaving Atlanta, and I had managed to set up a place to stay for the first 4 nights in Honolulu. I had also heard that it was best to get out of this touristy area as quick as possible, but with a free place to stay and 6 weeks to see the islands, I figured I should spend a few days here.
Ludmila, a Brazilian girl now living in Honolulu, was my host, and I was welcomed in typical Brazilian fashion- with very warm hospitality. Instead of arriving at a strangers’ house, I was greeted with a hug and made to feel at home at once. After getting settled in and cleaned up, Ludmila took me for a tour of Honolulu and Waikiki. We watched the sunset over the beach and saw the moon creep up over Diamond Head. Everyone was squeezing in their end of day workout- whether that was a run in Ala Moana, an ocean swim, a surf session, or paddle-boarding.
We drove through Waikiki and for a moment I felt like I was in Southern California, what with all the Gucci, Prada and Tiffany’s and high-rise hotels, but soon we passed through that and found ourselves surrounded by Hawaiian and Japanese restaurants- we made our way to a Japanese Grill for dinner, and Ludmila got adventurous with chicken hearts while I stuck with Terriyaki. I was beginning to fight time difference here, but I knew I was losing. The free couch was calling my name. We headed home and Ludmila whipped up some Capirhaina’s for us and her other roommate Coby (a former couchsurfer). We toasted to my first night in Hawaii, and strangely enough, I felt very much at home.
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