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Every Life is a Story
    A place to share my own family stories

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Murder on Waikiki

When I'm on vacation, I tune out the rest of the world. I don't check my e-mail, I don't watch the news. I'm there to vacation, and that's all that matters. The day after we arrived in Hawaii, we had nothing planned until that evening. This was the day we were going to enjoy the beach, do some shopping, explore the area restaurants, and just have a good time. We slept in until six in the morning, which was ten in the morning Utah time, so I felt like we were doing well. The hotel was comfortable, and we were right across the street from the beach.

My husband says he heard the sirens. I may have been vaguely aware of them, but in truth I don't remember. I remember just enjoying the leisurely morning, and looking forward to breakfast. We made it to the beach around nine o'clock, and were surprised to see the yellow Caution tape set up around the beach, right along the back patio of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. There was a video camera set up, a uniformed police officer, and two women in business attire standing around with parasols to protect them from the sun. Because of the sand, they had taken their shoes off, and I remember thinking it was odd seeing someone in a pencil skirt and business jacket and bare feet. Their job seemed to be to keep tourists from walking along the cordoned off area of the beach. Time after time, they directed people around a different direction. We wondered what had happened, but didn't want to bother the people working.

We decided to set the towels up near the caution tape, a few feet away. The area was less crowded, and it was easy to keep an eye on the girls to make sure they didn't try to go into areas they weren't supposed to go. We stayed on the beach for a few hours, then left to go get lunch. The yellow tape was gone when we went back in the afternoon, and that was the end of it.

We didn't think anything more about the incident until we were on the shuttle riding to the airport. One of the men riding in the shuttle was talking about how he was from New Mexico, and so he had friends and family members calling to make sure that it wasn't anyone from his family who was killed. Killed? We asked, and sure enough, that first morning we were in Hawaii, the body of a young woman from New Mexico was found stabbed on Waikiki beach. That explained the sirens, the police tape, all of it. We had remained blissfully ignorant of everything.

We talked with the people in the van about other details of the murder, and looked things up later after we got home. It turns out, they weren't able to move the body until the investigation had been finished so they posted policemen on the beach, and cordoned off the area, then moved the body closer to the motel and concealed it so none of the tourists would know it was there.

It was apparently lying there hidden about twenty feet from where we were sitting on the beach that day.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Going to Hawaii

For our tenth wedding anniversary my husband and I got a big refund when we refinanced our house. It was a surprise windfall, and as we looked at the check wondering what we should do with the money, we decided to make our upcoming anniversary something special. We went to Hawaii, just the two of us, leaving Grandma to watch our little girls. It was a wonderful time, but everything we did, we said, “Oh, we have to bring the girls to see this!” When we got back from our trip, we told the girls that we wanted to take them next time. When their swimming was good enough that we could feel safe about letting them swim in the ocean, we would save our money and go.

They kept their end of the bargain and became decent swimmers about three years ago. When that happened, we said, “Okay, it’s time to start saving our money.” We got to the end of that first year, and we had saved a total of….$200. Not good enough. The second year, we got serious. I put up a glass jar with a Hawaii sign on it, and told the family that any loose change we got needed to go into the jar. We went over our budget, opened a new savings account, and set aside money every month. We had a yard sale and put all of the money toward our trip. Everyone worked toward our goal, and last spring we went over our finances and realized that after all that time…we had enough. It was time to go. Last week, we all packed our bags and we went to Hawaii!

We had a wonderful time! End of story! I know, any good story has some sort of conflict, or something for the characters to have to struggle with to make it interesting, but the truth is, I have nothing else to report other than it was a REALLY good time! We’re back, we’re sunburned, and exhausted, but we did everything we set out to do, and made it a memorable experience we will always treasure. We also got most of our Christmas shopping done! Our struggle was in working to get there, and it was worth all the effort. The end.

Well, not the end. Let me share with you some of the cool things we were able to do.

The Magic of Polynesia

We arrived in Hawaii at 2 in the afternoon. This was 7 o’clock Utah time, so we had already had a full day by the time we got there. We took the time to get checked in, rest a little in the hotel, grab some dinner, and we were off. Our hotel hosts the Magic of Polynesia show, and we thought it would be something cool to attend, especially with the kids. I had never been to a quality magic show before. My experience was always with local magicians who performed at birthday parties and school assemblies. It was really fun seeing John Hirokawa work his magic. He had me gasping with delight. We were completely exhausted by the time the show started, and my youngest fell asleep during the preshow where an Elvis impersonator sang for the audience. Once the magic show started, however, we all forgot about how tired we were. We left with a smile on our faces.

The Ghost Tour

One of our favorite activities in October is to attend the Salt Lake City Ghost tour, so when we saw that there was a ghost tour, we decided that we needed to hear stories about haunted Hawaii. We were not disappointed. The Hawaiian culture has scary stories vastly different from our Salt Lake stories. It ranged from stories of the goddess Pele to strange faceless beings that would lure people to their deaths. We got to tour some amazing locations in Hawaii- all at night in the dark! Without a flashlight! I’m going to have to write in more detail about the stories in another post, but there were some definite creep out moments. My youngest was terrified of one story, and we had to take her back to the van. I got a serious case of the shivers at one location.

The stories were absolutely worth it. Our tour guides were not professional storytellers like the Salt Lake tour. One was a Kahuna- a Hawaiian version of a medicine man, and he knew how to put on a good show. He used chants, and the power of suggestion to point out shadows that weren’t necessarily there, or to ask people if anyone was feeling hot, or cold, or nauseous. Pretty soon, people were agreeing that yes, they really did see that black shadow on the hill, or really felt unusually warm on one side. It was all in good fun, but not necessarily what I wanted in my experience. I just wanted to soak up the stories, and let them stand for themselves to give me the shivers. However, there were some things that I did see. I’ll save that for another story.

The Polynesian Cultural Center

We attended this on our first trip to Hawaii. It was a highlight of our trip, and it didn’t disappoint this time either. I love learning about people and cultures, and this was a wonderful opportunity. We took advantage of it. It’s always a very full day to go, but we tried to fit in everything we could. We learned to use Poi balls and play stick games in New Zealand. My husband was chosen as a volunteer to beat on the drums in Tonga. My youngest drank coconut milk in Samoa. After we visited the different villages, we went to one of the luaus there and ate raw beef, poi and chicken long rice- which looks like big fat clear worms. The evening show was a new one. They tied all of the island cultures together in a story that was very moving, and had everyone on their feet at the end.

Hanauma Bay

This was our favorite thing to do when we came for our tenth anniversary. This was the activity we most especially wanted the girls to see. Hanauma Bay is a coral reef, and nature preserve. It has all kinds of tropical fish swimming there, and people come to go snorkeling. We got snorkeling gear, and went out in the bay to look for fish. My oldest caught sight of a tropical fish first. She’s my moody teenager. She likes to wear black and her favorite words are “Yeah, whatever.” She got her face mask adjusted and took her first look in the water, and suddenly we could hear her squeal through the snorkel hose, “A fish! It’s a fish!” It was like she had become a bouncy and cheerful little girl all over again, just like when she was six. My youngest was just as thrilled. You could hear her exclamations of delight from the shoreline.

Those were the highlights. There was also shopping in the International Marketplace, hanging out on Waikiki beach, sampling island cuisine, enjoying the busy Waikiki streets (a thrill for my Japanese anime loving teen who couldn’t get over the strong Japanese presence on the island). The time went by fast, and now we’re home, and struggling to catch up with ordinary life again.

Now we need to decide what to save for next!

"To be a person
is to have a story to tell."

- Isak Dinesen  

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