The morning, as most, started out early- 5am or so. For some reason Shaika Spot and Sami Bey like to start their day at this time. Their day starts with waking me up and luring me to their food bowls. Then it is play time- on the bed. It can't be anywhere else (well, it can but it seems that the bed is the funnest play time). Why? Because they have (half-asleep) me as a prop... They manage to make forts out of my abandoned pillows and ammunition out of anything they see fit (my glasses, a pen, my iPhone, various articles of clothing strewn about, the curtains, etc). Sami Bey especially likes to mess around with the curtains. He knows I hate this... What he didn't know this morning was that I added a new ingredient to my artillery- apple cider vinegar to my spray water bottle!
In time, I woke up again an hour later. The kitties were right there waiting for me... Forced with no other alternative, I made some coffee and crawled back in bed again and reached for... my iPad. I was happy to see up front that my friends back home in Hawaii were posting about the upcoming Merrie Monarch Festival Hula. Upcoming meaning in 1 hour! Hawaii is a 13-hour time difference behind Bahrain so I decided that it was fortuitous that the kitties woke me up so early on this morning.
Filled with coffee and current events, I made it to the living room and flipped on the air con switch (7am ya'll) and plopped down at my Mac Book Pro (Yes, I keep it all in the family where Apple products are concerned). I brought up the live streaming website and within 1 minute I was watching the Merrie Monarch! Now this hula festival is special to me. Not just from spending most all of my life in Hawaii, but that I actually was at the Merrie Monarch festival for a few years in a row when I was temporarily living on the Big Island going to university at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.
I remember the hanging about in the parking lot- a super party in itself for the loads of islanders and tourists alike that weren't fortunate enough to get tickets to attend. Inside the auditorium one's olfactory senses were overwhelmed. The air is simply infused with goodness from flowers, ferns and such other earthly delights (which is also somewhat of a natural disaster as well. In terms of the forests are plundered by all the hula halau right before the Merrie Monarch so everybody can make their lei (flower garlands or wreaths) that they wear during the competition, as well as vendors are selling to the audience, etc).
Also there are many Hawaiian and Polynesian handicrafts to buy there. All sorts of lava lava (pareo or sarongs to wear around your hips), lauhala hats, scents, jewelery, etc. Of course delicious food and drink await with smells of laulau and pohole salad luring you over to the stalls to check it all out during the downtime. Sensory overload is delightful. You just give into it, sit in your seat (bring a pillow ALWAYS) and enjoy the day.
Hula halau (dance troups) from all around the islands are invited to the competition. There are different styles of hula, as well as male and female halau. It is 3 days of hula happiness. The energy is infectious!
Back to this morning, there I was at my computer and BAM I'm watching the Miss Hula Kahiko (traditional style hula) competition. The hula kahiko is my favorite because of the movements and pace, as well as the oli (chanting) of the kumu hula (teacher) and halau (students of teacher competing). It is, of course, a competition, but I think more so, in terms of importance, it is a cultural celebration. It is family. Hawaiians are people who stay close to the earth- their earth. The islands are their eco-system and they, for the most part, remain steadfast to their ancestral lands- of what little they have left after all the lands were partitioned off to their colonizers...
By the time the hula kahiko ended, the hula auhana started (another style of hula performed by single dancers to a slower rhythm where na wahine (women) wear form-fitting muumuus. It is very elegant, but not generally a favorite of mine. A friend came over right then as we had made plans the day before to find another beach on the island. We both always lament over hardly ever laying our eyes on the sea here (and it's a small island), so we were on a mission. After watching all the hula and seeing all the lovely Polynesians, I was just in the mood to celebrate the water over in this side of the world... It would be a day to step in the Arabian Sea- which somehow connects to the Pacific Ocean in the greater scheme of things. It would be a day to bond with the water and make me feel that much closer to home. It would be a day to believe I was on a tropical isle... Could this day actually exist for me? I was willing to find out.
So off we went in my car with my GPS (seriously, I need a GPS to find the damn ocean?) to look for Al Bandar Beach Resort. My friend was thinking about joining so we wanted to scout out the location. Pictures showed that there was indeed a 'beach.' We came. We saw. We left unimpressed. I decided to pull rank at that moment and decide our immediate future. Off we went to Amwaj Island where I found a decent public beach last week with Shamika visiting from NYC. We rocked up to the rockstar parking spot (the shade from the edge of an luxury condo building's wall). We walked out to 'my spot' (I have a 'spot' now!) and plopped down onto the sand. I laid down my lava lava (no need for towels for this island girl) and BAM off came the clothes. Hello bikini!
Moments later we were frolicking around in the sea. Swimming goggles strapped to our heads, off we went towards the other side of the... lagoon I guess. It's a pretty big area, yet too small for boats or jet skis fortunately. A girl on her SUP passed us up and waved. Damn it feels good, I thought to myself as I was floating on my back staring up into the blue-ish sky (it's never a totally BLUE sky here it seems). Thoughts of baking in the sun woke me from my floating daze so I returned to shore to do just that! As I was getting out, 4 buff, tattooed dudes were entering the water equipped with inner tubes and a floating raft for their cooler full of BEER of course! I briefly chatted them up- for BEER of course... and they went about on their merry way floating- downstream unfortunately. I thought they should have started out upstream (before they started drinking their BEER), but oh well, they will figure it out. I say this because there was a decent current. Whatever. They are big boys. They can hitchhike when they can't figure out how to 'float' back upstream! We were at the beach for nearly 3 hours and never saw them again, and I don't think there was that much beach to float around in so... at least they had a raft carrying a cooler to BEER to amuse them...
After enjoying every sun-soaked moment in the sun, we decided that we were beached-out. I got us back and then headed back to my apart-villa thingy and what did I do? I made nachos and drank BEER! What a celebration indeed. I celebrated the shit out of today in the best way possible! Because I'm nursing a little "why does my left calcaneous feel a little bit wonky" psyudo-injury (fingers crossed), I already knew I wasn't going to be running in the evening so there was that...
To summarize the day, it was awesome. I have my little slice of Hawaii here with this strange little stretch of beach. It's free. There's no chaise lounges. No appeal for tourists or tourist dollars in the near vicinity. No food being served, etc. Just a beach. An entertain yourself kinda beach. It feels down to earth. Nothing glitzy. No one was on the beach hardly except a few other beach lovers. My kinda beach. Bonus- no gawkers.
It's midnight. I'm not editing. Later-