So Fall Travel in Hawaii has been so flipping busy. I think I mentioned this—the traffic is the worst I’ve ever been a part of, and I traveled in LA for a year.
Most of my first morning visits were 15-20 miles away, and I had to leave, on average, two hours early, and I was almost late one morning. I think it’s a combo of several things:
--they don’t have a lot of lanes here. The major freeways are like four lanes.
--the speed limit is 50 on those little freeways, so even when you’re the only person on the road, it feels like you’re stopped in traffic.
--everyone is a horrible driver. I feel like I can say that because my wonderful host Lindy said that too, and she’s from here. But really—no one merges. They just stop with their blinkers on. And people don’t signal to get in or out of lanes. And no one honks, and in my book, that’s not a good thing. I honked once, and people looked at me like I was a huge bitch. Maybe don’t stop on the freeway and I won’t honk.
--people are allowed to ride in the backs of trucks and aren’t required to wear helmets. I’m not sure about anyone else…but that makes me want to drive slower so I don’t kill anyone…or everyone.
Sidenote—it’s never encouraging to see a security guard and gate attendant running, with walkie talkies raised, to your gate in a panic. It makes me feel like we may all die on this flight. This could be my last blog…what do you think of that, America? So now, potentially FROM THE GRAVE…
So traffic is horrible. But the schools…the schools are so…I don’t even know how to describe them. In order to make any sense of them, I have to describe private schools outside of public schools entirely. So private schools. I went to 15ish this week. They are:
--BEAUTIFUL. No lie—some of these high schools may as well have been colleges, because their grounds, their buildings…everything about them is just amazing. I felt a little out of place at a couple, because it seemed like I was at a country club.
--really old. Seriously. Many of them were founded in the 1800s. One of them is the oldest school (SCHOOL—not just high school) West of the Mississippi. That’s right…the Ol’ Mississip.
--HUGE. Huge. So huge. I went to a school that’s 700 acres. That’s the size of a town. All of the Naz’s campus is 92 acres. I was lost at least four times just on their campus.
--super secure. I had to check in at a security gate everywhere I went, and they had my name on a list, pre-printed nametags, etc etc etc.
--challenging. I asked one student what class he was missing, and it was SAT/ACT prep. They have an in-the-day test prep course. That counts for credit. Unreal.
--really nice. Every place I went gave me a gift—usually a little package with mac nuts, other snacks, pens and post it notes, etc. One gave me a meat rub that she’s famous for (so she tells me—I imagine she’s famous for it among the PTA or something). Two places gave me flower leis. They all acted like I was doing them a favor for stopping by. Seriously? My CA schools sometimes don’t even have a counselor there to tell me where to go.
So all of that to say that if I ever have (someone else’s) kids, they’re going to private school in Hawaii. Swears.
Public schools, however, are a different story. Not even “a different story”—more like HI private schools are to HI public schools as finding $100 in a pocket of designer jeans that you didn’t know you had is to getting peed on by a homeless man. In the face. And he was never even wearing pants, so you have to watch it all happen to you.
The public schools I went to were:
--designed to look like prisons. I am not kidding a little bit. I drove past one school, despite my GPS bitching at me, because I thought it was a prison.
--despite above, not secure at all. No gates, no security guards…nothing. I didn’t even have to check in at one place—I just wandered around, and no one stopped me.
--dirty. There was just a lot of trash on the ground.
--not challenging. Or maybe too challenging? I’m not sure. I just know when I mentioned our minimum GPA to be considered (and it’s a 2.8—come on, America), almost every student I talked to said “…oh…like…that’s the lowest I can have…?” and basically ruled us out. Which is for the best, because they would’ve had to pay $50 for me to say “So the minimum is a 2.8……”
--poorly outfitted. Most of the career centers I was in had computers from the late 80s.
--uninformed. When I asked why students came to hear about Point Loma, only one of the twenty-something I spoke to said anything other than “I want to go to California.”
So the pisser of all of that is that I was getting so frustrated with these public school visits, because I’m pretty sure that I will be able to admit none of the students that I met with (if any even apply, which is unlikely), but those schools are default for the normal kid! Some of the private schools have scholarships (see Barack Obama), but most of the kids there who are getting these amazing educations are rich already. I don’t know how a real smartie could even do well in a public school setting there. And those are the kids I want to work with in my ideal dream world where you get paid to do whatever you love—those who don’t really have any way to understand the college process in the first place. It just sucks that these kids start off at such a disadvantage—most of them (at least the ones I spoke to) have GPAs too low to be considered at most good colleges. Where do you go from there?
I’ll tell you where…riding on freeways in the back of someone’s truck. BTW--I'm no longer in the airport. That was a while ago. I lived through the flight!
Do I need to get a flu shot? I never know.
So anyway. Oahu was cool enough, but I didn’t even get to step foot on the beach for a second. It rained a little almost every day, so it wasn’t super sunny. The real reason it was cool is because I got to stay with two of my favorite people in the world—the Furushos! They’re like a really fun, cool aunt and uncle, and I could live with them. They’re super mellow, Lindy is a really good cook and taught me how to make spam musubi (Google it, because you’ll just tell me I’m gross if I tell you what it is), they like David Sedaris and Glee and they laugh at all my stories. What more could you ask for? Having familiar faces to come back to every night made fall travel totally un-lonely and great. They also took me to a sweet farmer’s market in Chinatown on Vet’s Day where I saw more dead animals and exotic fruit than I’ve ever seen, and they didn’t even laugh at me when I touched it all. I don’t know…I’m a toucher. Weird, because I’m not a hugger.
Another potentially boring tangent—I LOVE the food here. I posted about 50 pics of it on Facebook already, which should be embarrassing, but isn’t because I love food more than about 99% of things in this world. But seriously—I asked my friend who’s from there for some local recs, and I planned my days to include the places she suggested in between high schools. I had the BEST pad thai I’ve ever had (I’m not going to lie—it sort of made me mad at every other Thai place I’ve ever eaten for lying to me), amazing Hawaiian food (poke ahi…please find me some), really good seafood, Indian food, noodles, and as much shave ice as I could fit in. I won’t go into detail, just because I just spent so much time going into detail on Facebook.
ANYWAY anyway, I left Oahu today for Kauai, and had free time, which was wild. I can’t even believe this place—it’s so unrealistically pretty. I basically had my ideal afternoon driving through super green, super beautiful roads listening to music and singing really, really loud in the car. It started raining about 10 minutes in, then pouring, then I had to pull off the road for a little while, then I kept going, then I saw all these waterfalls, then I took a couple pictures, then it was pouring again, then the bridge I was going toward was closed because it flooded, then I turned around and went to my hotel to check in. Tonight I walked on the beach in the rain for a little—my first step onto sand!—which was pretty, and then ate at this local saimin place, and it was amazing. I love noodles, I love soup, I LOVE noodle soup.
Is it weird that eating is sometimes my greatest joy on the road?
Also, I saw someone’s house get hit by lightning, light on fire, then get put out by the rain. That was wild.