The day before we left was an unreal, suspended in aspic, last forever kind of day. Like a long overdue pregnancy, I desperately wanted what was going to happen to happen, but knew that the getting there would be arduous. The hours before we were due to leave for the airport stretched in front of us, heavy with nervous expectation and the potential for something to go wrong.
But nothing went wrong. We got on the plane. We embarked on the adventure we’d been dreaming of for three years. I should have been elated, as the weight of the previous weeks of effort rolled off my shoulders. Instead doubts began to worm their insidious way into my exhausted brain. Why exactly were we doing this? Had we really made the right decision? Was it all a huge mistake?
Those first few days in California were surreal. Jet lag induced sleep deprivation, unfamiliar blazing sunshine and the relentless perkiness of the Disney experience all combined to make me anxious and uncertain. Disneyland was exciting and magical, but why on earth had we dragged our children half way around the world? We could have just gone to Paris and saved ourselves a lot of trouble.
As the days passed, we got more sleep, and the doubts started to evaporate in the warmth of the Hawaiian sun. We enjoyed lazy hours on beautiful sandy beaches, ate pineapple just miles from where it was grown and watched surfers crashing into the waves on long palm fringed shores. The children described their days using words like ‘fantastic’ and ‘awesome’ and we started to feel that we were doing something good.
Today we visited Pu’uhonua o Honaunau, an ancient sacred Hawaiian site. A place of refuge. Encircled by a monumental black wall, thatched buildings and wooden statues of gods sit beneath immense coconut palms on the white sand. We wandered around the site, watching a loin cloth clad man carving a new statue beneath a noni tree, and admiring rippled patterns in the lava flow. And then we saw it. A green sea turtle, or Honu in Hawaiian, basking on the beach right in front of us. A real live turtle, so close we could have touched it. We stood in silence and watched it until it lumbered into the sea and swam away. It was truly amazing.
I’m glad we came.