Friday morning, we headed for Hilo. Our first stop there was Two Ladies Kitchen, where we tried some mochi. These chewy, elastic confections seemed to me a cross between dumplings and fondant. I’m glad I tried them, but they’re not something I’d be likely to seek out again.
It was time to see some waterfalls, including the aptly named Rainbow Falls (we did, indeed see rainbows). On approaching Pe’epe’e Falls and Boiling Pots, we were rocketed back to adolescence, gigglesnorting at the street sign that, without the ‘okinas, read “Peepee Falls St.”
Next on our agenda was to purchase beach towels and snorkeling gear. We’d been advised that doing so would be cheaper and more convenient than renting, even if it meant going to Wal-Mart. There, we stood momentarily paralyzed by the options. Snorkeling accouterments occupied a full aisle and then some, and we discerned few obvious ways to narrow down our choices. Eeny meeny miny moe… And I had thought that selecting a beach towel was going to be the more difficult decision! Four years ago when I was in Honolulu, I could swear there was an ABC store every 20 yards, each of which stocked at least 6 dozen types of Hello Kitty beach towels, along with myriad other motifs. The Hilo Wal-Mart had but a single Hello Kitty beach towel! Then again, it made my choice easy. Yes, I’m a 40-year-old childfree woman, and I am unapologetic about my fondness for Hello Kitty.
Snorkels, towels, and a few other items in hand, we entered what did not seem to be a particularly long line, but by the time we got to the front of it, I’m pretty sure my hair had grown about an inch. When I went to pay for my purchase, my credit card was denied. I tried a second time. No dice. I shrugged and used my debit card, figuring that my bank was being cautious. It’s not that my traveling to Hawai’i should have raised any eyebrows, but I can understand how my shopping at Wal-Mart would be cause for red flags.
Onward we went to seek lunch at the Hilo Bay Café, which, according to our guidebook was in the same strip mall as the Wal-Mart. Turns out, it had moved to a much nicer, more scenic location that we had actually passed earlier during one of the many times we got confused as we navigated Hilo and had to turn around. Service was on the slow side, but lunch, which included two blueberry-jalapeño margaritas, was delicious.
We then set off for the Kapoho Tide Pools to put our newly acquired gear to use. During the drive there, I called my credit card company to deal with that situation and was placed on hold for 15 minutes, during which time an automated voice repeatedly assured me that I am a valued customer. When, at last, I made contact with a real live person, I accidentally disconnected the call as I tried to switch my phone off of speaker mode.
Sorry, had to get that out of my system. I called again, was placed on hold again, was assured I am a valued customer again and again. Another 15 minutes or so, I connected with and did not hang up on a real person. “Hi, I want to use my credit card, and you won’t let me,” I said. A few minutes later, when I realized that there actually had been some fraudulent charges on my card, I felt slightly bad for beginning the call that way, but I don’t think I was capable of not being snarky at that point. What happened next may have been mere coincidence or karmic retribution for my snark. Just as I was in the process of discussing the best course of action with the phone representative, my call dropped.
DAMN IT TO FLURKING HELL!
This was just about the time we arrived at the tide pools. I had no cell service there, so all I could do was tell myself I’d get it all worked out later and go snorkeling. We parked and walked the quarter mile to the pools. On the way, we passed a cat lounging in the grass next to a sign for Winston Churchill Real Estate. Naturally, we decided that the cat’s name must be Winston Churchill.
The tide pools were beautiful, but actually getting into them was tricky, as the water and lava rocks made for a perilous combination of slippery and jagged. The mixing of salt and fresh water resulted in suboptimal clarity at times; nevertheless, the snorkeling was enjoyable, albeit brief. The daylight was waning, and the last thing we wanted to do was navigate the treacherous rocks in low light.
Later, back at the condo, the boys grilled dinner while I, once again, called the credit card company, this time from a land line to assure there would be no call droppage. Much to my dismay, several minutes into my holding and hearing that I am a valued customer, the cordless phone (the only one in the condo) began to beep, alerting me to a low battery. “You were sitting in the base all day. You better not die on me!” I growled at the phone. Mercifully, the phone hung in there.
When I was allowed to speak to a person, she arranged to have the new card shipped to me at the next place we would be staying, and I thought things were cleared up. However, just as we were ostensibly wrapping up the call, she said, “Okay, you should have that card on Monday or Tuesday at the latest.” Considering we were leaving for home on Tuesday, that was not going to work. Instead, she arranged for our present card to work only in Hawai’i for point-of-sale transactions and to have the new card shipped home. Wonderful.
“So the card will be delivered to your home on Monday, and someone may need to sign for it.”
Ugh. No. We would still be in Hawai’i then. Had she been paying attention? She then arranged an extra slow delivery method for the new card. When the call concluded, at long last, all I could do was cross my fingers and hope that this was all over, also, eat dinner and drink wine.