Stop 26: Oahu Island, Hawaii
After a lengthy day of travelling and an ancient partially-deaf taxi driver who pushed our patience to the limit driving at 20mph for 70 minutes to our destination of Laie along Oahu's North Shore (and charging us £80 for the privilege too) we were over the moon to arrive in paradise. Our home for the week was with Scotsman Fraser and ex-New Yorker Janice, at their beautiful beachside home. Our apartment was 40 steps from the secluded beach, with an open air bathroom, shower and kitchen - more private than it sounds, but letting us enjoy the sound of the ocean at all times. Heaven! Our lovely hosts greeted their travel-weary guests with Cosmopolitan cocktails and a home cooked meal, an unexpected treat before we called it a night, excited for the week ahead.
Our first day saw us enjoying a day at the beach in the brilliant sunshine, which held out for the next couple of days. However midway through our stay, we were unlucky enough to experience 3 days of tropical storms, rendering it virtually impossible for us to do anything apart from eat and drink. We braved the rain to visit a nearby food market, with wagons selling fresh shrimp, barbecued corn on the cob, and topped off with frozen yoghurts. We wandered round the market eating our body weight in delicious Hawaiian delicacies and stocking up on holiday presents for our families.
Staying on a tropical island has its perils, and Friday night saw the Pickwells visited by not one but two foreign creatures - the first a 'terrifying' flying cockroach (which we named Chuck II obviously) who quickly met a pesticide-fuelled death, the second slightly more unusual.... A crab, obviously straying a little too far from the beach at the end of our garden. Kevin the crab caused us a little more consternation in terms of how to deal with him - we feared if we left him to his own devices, he'd end up in bed with us (and we all remember Helen's reaction to the original Chuck trying to behave in so forward a manner in Miami...) and so in the end the only thing for it was to capture poor Kevin in a colander, and escort him back to the beach. Naturally to two rum-filled girls, there is nothing scarier than a harmless crab, and so there was of course much shrieking, jumping back from the colander, panicking and general uproar until we hurriedly dumped Kevin back on the beach. What on earth did we have to fear from a harmless crab?! Potentially Nat saying crabs were like spiders in armour was NOT the most sensible thing to say to arachnophobic Helen......
On Memorial Sunday we attempted to go and watch the polo - a popular Hawaiian event - with our hostess Janice, but sadly after ten minutes it was rained off. Instead we accompanied her to a gathering of friends at her sister's home, where despite the drizzly weather we learnt to paddle board (we were surprisingly good at it...) and then took out a kayak. We were amazed to see four turtles feeding in the shallows just off of the shore, and swam out to get a closer look - an amazing experience. Our three days of tropical storms drove us to drink, seeing us consume two litres of Sailor Jerry's finest rum in three nights.... Conclusion: Rain makes us alcoholics.
Finally by Monday Hawaii showed us a little sunshine, however still with a good amount of tropical rain thrown in. Determined beach bums that we are though, we battled on around showers. Tuesday dawned bright and clear - the first perfect day since our arrival, and our last full day in paradise. With a deserted beach at our disposal, and reckless in our desire to top up our tans, we threw caution and our bikini tops to the wind and settled down to a final beach day. However to our horror, we soon noticed a guy making his way over to us.... Cue frantic repositioning of abandoned bikini top for Helen, but Nat was not quite quick enough and so had the embarrassment of hiding behind her hastily grabbed beach bag - for the next hour it turned out - while our new friend Jeremie chatted away to us (literally, the ONE time we chance topless sunbathing in 3 months!!!) We were highly amused to find out later that Jeremie was actually a Mormon, a very confident one at that to come across to chat to two scantily clad ladies... Soon all bikinis back in place and humiliation fading, along with Jeremie's housemate Xander we all headed along the coast to a local favourite Kuhuku Grill for a feast of coconut and macadamia shrimp, followed by shaved ice - the weirdest concoction we've ever tasted! Basically a scoop of ice cream, followed by a gigantic snowball of shaved ice, covered in condensed milk, and just in case this didn't already contain enough badness/E numbers, covered with three different flavoured syrups. Needless to say we were high as kites afterwards.
After this feast we hopped on the bus into Honolulu, in order to pick up a hire car so that we could avoid the soul destruction of another $140 airport taxi ride at 20mph the next morning. After this chore and completing our final packing session (cue lots of hysterical shrieking, wailing, moaning, outbursts of "NO, WE'RE NOT GOING HOME" and crying which lengthened this task considerably), thoroughly bummed out, we decided NOT to go to bed for 3 hours before our early flight, but instead to let Jeremie and Xander take us on a midnight magical mystery tour. The boys drove us North to Turtle Bay Resort (where the film Forgetting Sarah Marshall was filmed) and we had a breezy stroll along the beach in complete darkness apart from the stars, before jumping in the (closed) hot tub for a forbidden dip. Sadly, it was then time to head home to get ready for our 4.30am airport departure, and we waved our new friends goodbye. Of course it was only at THIS point that tiredness finally kicked in, and we looked longingly at our comfy bed - suddenly the plan of not going to bed the night before spending 25 hours on 3 different planes back to the UK (for Nat anyway!) didn't seem one of our brightest.....
Hawaii for us in a nut shell - paradise beaches; tropical storms; paddle boarding; shrimp trucks; rum; confident Mormons, and the perfect place to end our trip.
Next stop - a parting of the ways for the Pickwells - cue massive separation anxiety! Nat began the painful task of journeying back to the U.K without her partner in crime, while Helen stayed on in L.A to max her 90-day USA visitation allowance to enjoy a few more days of partying and sunshine with friends from home.