I experienced torrential "hello's" in 2014 - a "hello hurricane" if you will. But, appropriately, one of my favorite hellos this year was not a hello at all.
June is my favorite month, and June 2014 was exceptionally awesome because I spent 30% of it in Hawaii. My excitement pre-arrival, however, was tinged with apprehension, because even the famed and fabled isles seemed to seep "tourist trap" like the USS Arizona's perpetual oil leak.
My fears were unfounded, however. While most exotic destinations include a shoreline cityscape of glittering resorts towering above vacationers sunbathing with fruity drinks in their hands, the essence of Hawaii is buried in a strata of small coffee farms, sugar cane fields, wild chickens, green mountains, untouched jungles and hundreds of years of local surf culture.
While the entire trip was nothing short of sob-worthy when it ended, one particular day shined a little brighter than the rest. Kona, a small city on the "Big Island," was our third stop, after Maui and Hilo. The morning included a snorkeling trip with tattooed guides who encouraged us to swim as far - and as deep - as we wanted. Shaka on. One of the guides relayed a story about an octopus he'd found a week or so ago before, so, of course, my end-goal was to find an eight-legged terror of the earth hidden somewhere in the reefs (I failed). After letting my mermaid instincts swim free in the inlet, I ditched the fins and mask and dove off the side of the boat to float in the sun-warmed water next to my sisters sunbathing on inner tubes. With my weightlessness in the too-good-to-be-true blue water coupled with the late morning sun drenching my skin, my surroundings drained from my consciousness. I didn't care about lunch, grilling two decks up. I had no idea what activity was next on the itinerary. I was content just to "be."
Kona is the Hawaiian Santa Cruz, and I briefly considered running back to our snorkel guides and begging them to take me aboard their crew. But I reluctantly re-boarded the ship and snacked on some lychees while Fidge yelled at whatever team was playing in the World Cup that afternoon, hoping that, someday I'd be back to snorkel with an octopus before buying more indigenous fruit. This year, I said "aloha" to Hawaiian adventures - and adding some new ones to my bucket list as a result.