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Sacrifices

At 3:10 a.m. last night a strange dream startled me awake. I noticed that the entry light in the hotel room was left on, so I got up to turn it off and stepped into a puddle of water. Water was dripping from the illuminated ceiling light onto the tile floor.

My laptop was sitting on the floor just a few feet from this event, being recharged at the only available plug in the room, and it was splashed with water, but fortunately only on the top. The keyboard and the rest of the case were dry. I rescued it and grabbed the ice bucket to catch the dripping water, and then called the hotel’s Front Desk.

By 3:30 or so the Mystery of the Dripping Light Fixture was solved: the central air conditioning unit’s drain had apparently failed and the ceiling above our entryway was flooded. We shut off the A/C, laid out some towels, and went back to bed.

That is, until 5 a.m. when Emma awoke us to announce that the front right bicuspid that had been bothering her for the past week had finally come out. Eleanor decided that the tooth fairy was already on her way home for the evening, and it was agreed that the tooth would have to wait for the next night.

So it wasn’t a highly restful night. At 8 a.m. we got up and began packing up the room to move to another room. Between packing, waiting for housekeeping to get another room ready, and unpacking, we lost most of the morning. I would like to say that the hotel was exemplary about this situation, but they weren’t. The Front Desk staff was unapologetic and we ended up in an identical room with no offer of an upgrade or any conciliatory action for the wasted morning.

But this is not highly surprising. The hotel is tired. Basic maintenance is done but the little signs of long-term decay are everywhere here. The beds are saggy, the drawers are malfunctioning, the carpets are overdue for replacement, the bathroom hot water tap doesn’t reliably shut off, the A/C thermostat doesn’t work, and a couple of fluorescent bulbs never would light fully. On the surface the hotel appears nice enough, with very nice landscaping and a spectacular setting with panoramic views, but at its core it is a grade B tourist hotel with decaying infrastructure.

[Followup 11-29-2007]: [On checkout Eleanor spoke to the new hotel manager about the problems we had.   He listened, was sympathetic, and spoke honestly about the problems the hotel has.   He’s been trying to turn the place around since he took over four months ago.   By way of apology he comp’d one of our meals and spent about fifteen minutes with Eleanor discussing what he plans to do to improve things.   We were reasonably impressed and hope that in the future the hotel will do better under his good leadership.]

This gave me occasion to compare disappointing places we’ve encountered with the Airstream to this experience. We’ve had some really bad campgrounds, but since we tow our “hotel room” around with us, at least we have control of our immediate surroundings, and since they are mobile we can easily move to a better location as needed. We also maintain our Airstream better than this hotel does its rooms.

Since we usually don’t spend much time in a hotel room, it’s not normally something we think about. Today would have been same if we had been able to get up and go out for the day as we were expecting. Only the fact that we were trapped here most of the morning has forced us to look at the room and the hotel more critically, and see the faults of the place.

oahu-dole-maz.jpgWith less than a full day to play with, we opted to do tourist things rather than go for a full day of snorkeling. On the way to the North Shore we stopped at the Dole Plantation and ran through the World’s Largest Maze to find eight secret stations. This was undoubtedly Emma’s favorite part of the day, although the pineapple sherbert was probably right up there.

The North Shore is a great part of Oahu. It’s known for big surf, especially in winter, but we found a couple of very nice sheltered snorkeling spots too. Right now a big surfing competition is going on, at least on days when the surf is high.

A right turn off the main road leads up a switchback road to the most intact heiau in Hawaii. It’s now a state monument, called Pu’u O Mahuka Heiau. The heiau is a historic and religious site, and you have to treat it with respect. Because the visible site at first appears to be just a bunch of lava rocks in a field, it takes a little imagination to appreciate what this site represents.

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Imagine in the 1800s, you are a British sailor who has landed at Oahu and is going ashore to find fresh water. You and your fellows are captured by the mu, who hauls you up to the stony heiau to face kahuna (high priest) Ka’opulupulu. As part of a ceremony designed to ensure success in war, you are sacrificed at the luakini altar.

Suddenly that pile of rocks is a lot more meaningful, isn’t it? And now, the minor discomforts of a less-than-wonderful hotel aren’t nearly as bothersome. I mean, hey, we’re not being killed here.

The rest of the day (roaming through town, checking out beaches, buying flavored shave ice) was fine, but I’ll always remember the heiau. To me, that’s Hawaii.

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2 Responses to “Sacrifices”

  1. Clarke Hockwald Says:

    Are you planning to visit the Polynesian Cultural Center (I think it’s still there)?

  2. Rich Says:

    That’s still up for debate. We have a lot of other things on our list. Even though the PCC was highly recommended by a few people, it may or may not fit into the plan.

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