Today’s Lesson: You get what you pay for.
There is an image of Oahu I want to remember. I’m sitting on the lanai, outside of the spa, having been massaged to within an inch of my life, sipping orange-flavored water and looking out at an ocean and a sky so blue that if I saw those colors in a painting I would think, "Eh, tacky."
I am focusing on this memory, because there is another one that is a bit more prominent; of me, crammed in the back of an overcrowded bus with a vent pumping hot air at my sunburned legs and sweat rolling down my back, listening to one of the world’s truly obnoxious people hold forth on his favorite subject—himself—for the second hour. And that’s not what I want to think of when I think of Oahu.
Our plan was simple. Megan’s dream Hawaii activity was to go horseback riding on the beach, and the Turtle Bay Resort on the North shore of Oahu offered just that. They also had a spa that offered massages, and I like massages. (I like horseback riding too, but since I have one back home that I can ride for free, and rarely do, I have trouble justifying paying a lot of money to ride one somewhere else.) You may wonder if it is a good idea to get a massage the day after you have received a severe sunburn; I wondered this too. It turns out that the good people at the resort spa have a certain amount of experience with people with sunburns and, in fact, being pampered and rubbed with nice lotion is exactly what you want in that situation.
Afterwards, I had my nice time sitting out on the lanai and then we went to lunch at the (extremely overpriced) café on the beach. Then, in our charming innocence, we went to catch the bus back to Honolulu.
It seemed okay at first. Sure, there was a crazy guy talking to himself at the bus stop, but that just made it feel like home. And the guy who was waiting for the bus with us did make a remark about him (the crazy guy) being strung out on crystal meth, which seemed kind of insensitive (and, according to Megan, probably inaccurate). And the seat was kind of warm, but Megan had been complaining about how the bus ride out had been too cold, so maybe this was an improvement. It’s only two hours. How bad could it be?
Well, the guy—from Texas, living in Hawaii, does "a lot of different things"—had no intention of falling into the bus-ride personal space cocoon that the rest of us were going for; he wanted to chat. First with me and Megan then, after switching seats, with a kid from UC Davis who was spending his summer working in Honolulu. We learned a great deal about the guy, his life, his kids, his opinions, his very rudimentary sense of humor. We also learned some about the kid, mostly that he plays rugby and has been enjoying his summer. Meanwhile, more people were getting on the bus, and then more, and then more, until it was shoulder-to-shoulder, standing room only, no air moving except what people were breathing out.
There was also a teenaged couple sitting near us who were apparently squabbling the entire time they were on—about half the ride. I managed to totally fail to notice them, which is one time when my lack of social perceptiveness has been a definite blessing.
We finally made it back to Honolulu and all but fell out of the bus. Megan and I had planned to go on to Waikiki, just to see it, but it was getting late and we were already tired, hot and cranky. So we transferred to another bus, this time, blessedly air-conditioned, and retreated back to the ship and our unlimited soft-drink cards.
But really, what I want to remember is that chair and that view and that soft, warm air.
p.s. On the subject of value for your money, I’d just like to say a few words about the service on this ship. Specifically, the service in the dining rooms on this ship. Even more specifically, the fact that it can take up to an hour to get your entrée, and no one seems exactly sure of what they are doing. This is in contrast to the other cruises I have been on, where you practically have to pry the waiters off the back of your chair and your water glass never seems to dip by more than a centimeter before being refilled.
People aren’t working here because they want to be waiters (or whatever), they’re here because they want an extended Hawaiian vacation, and waiting tables is just what they have to do to get that. So the service is somewhat less than stellar.