My husband was a pretty clever individual. Remember that “ultimatum” that I needed to go to Vegas, Hawaii and on a cruise before starting a family? Well, Vegas was covered. So this little genius decided for Christmas to book me a Hawaiian cruise—two in one shot. He got me there—again! It was to be a week-long cruise around all of the Islands. It was so exciting to plan all the different excursions we would go on; it was such a dream come true.
But like with everything else in our lives during that time, it really was too good to be true.
One week before we were to set sail, the cruise ship company went bankrupt. Even though we had
purchased insurance, there were no refunds. Bankruptcy was not covered. The very last voyage was the one before ours; if only they had held out one more week! But they didn’t. You can imagine my devastation and anger. We had invested a lot of money into this trip, and we were completely screwed. We still had our flights out there, but no cruise. A cruise that covered our overnight stays and our meals. And all we had left was a budget for excursions and souvenirs.
I frantically looked for cheap hotels in Waikiki where we could stay for the week. We were saddened, wondering what on earth we could actually do besides sit on the beach with such a low budget. I really didn’t even want to go at this point, but we had already planned the first night in a nice hotel (before the cruise departed) and a stopover in Disneyland in California on the way back, so we decided that we could just figure out the in between and make the best of it.
What appeared to be a “tragedy vacation” actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The hotel we stayed at was not the best, but it was clean, friendly and quiet. As we explored our area, we came across this little outside grill, where we were introduced to chi chis (pina coladas with vodka instead of rum), teriyaki chicken and a wonderful artist who sang and played his guitar acoustically, who we really enjoyed. It actually became our night spot for most of the week, as we completely fell in love with “our
The rest of the week, we had managed to save up enough money to do some exploration of the island. We went on a cultural bus tour to see some interesting sites, such as the Dole plantation, learned about the history of the volcanoes and people, and each received our own cocoai beaded necklaces. We also enjoyed an authentic luau. It was definitely not the experience I expected it to be. We thought we would love the food, but seeing and then eating the smoked piggy and tasting the acclaimed purple poi didn’t really live up to our culinary expectations.
But at least the chi chis were flowing!
We did get to see some traditional hula dancing and get a lesson in it, which was pretty cool. But mostly, it was just about being together, the rest of the world and worries away from us, and enjoying the beautiful, calm surroundings. You can’t be in Hawaii and not feel blissful; even when your whole vacation world was turned upside down.
We had both agreed that had we actually went on the cruise, we would have been exhausted and not really enjoyed what the big island—or any of the islands—had to offer. We’d have a booked up itinerary of seeing this and that, and honestly, the trip we ended up having was so much more connecting by being forced to enjoy the simpler places and activities—and each other. It was the honeymoon we never had, and we were closer than ever after that trip.
This was the trip that taught me that planning is not everything; and that in every disaster, there is a blessing and a lesson.
It was probably the universe’s first profound teaching of surrender for me, since I was fighting it so hard with anger. But once I just allowed this experience in, it ended up being an extremely memorable and special time.
Of course, on the way back, we did our stopover for two days in LA for some Disneyland and California Adventure action. It was such a different vibe than in Florida, and we both really enjoyed it so much more. Relaxed and happy, we navigated through both parks at a slower pace, taking it all in instead of the usual rush to see everything. There was just something about that place that made me smile—and it was more than it being Disney-related. I had no idea then that my first taste, and love, of California would soon completely capture my heart, soul and attention a few years down the road.
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