One day while at work, a coworker acquaintance was talking to me in my office, and mentioned she was going to Hawai‘i.
She said, “You should come.”
I liked to travel and was always looking for a travel partner.
I casually responded with, “Sure.”
I immediately felt an ominous whoosh sweep over me.
I knew this coworker in light, general ways. Over the many years I “knew” her at work, she would stop by my office to mull over generic topics like the weather, how slowly the trains were running that day, or how she wished to meet someone.
She had lived in Hawai‘i many years earlier and had visited regularly ever since. She knew a lot about the best airlines, places to stay, where to go, car rentals, etc. I truly appreciated all of this first-hand knowledge, and was even a bit relieved at having a kind of personal tour guide.
Some of my close friends did try to politely inquire as to why I was going with someone I didn’t really seem that excited to travel with, but it didn’t phase me at the time. Like any dysfunctional and unhealthy relationship, I chose to see only the good things and shove the dark spots deep down; in this case I was focused on the trip itself and not so much my travel partner.
Once we landed in Hawai’i, the rigidity I knew was lurking below in her sprung to life. At the car rental lot, she had made sure to reserve us the most practical, family-friendly, gas-efficient Mazda sedan two single gals in their 30’s could want. As she drove us to our rental house, her hands were firmly planted at the 10 and 2 positions, she literally told me she refused to drive over the designated speed limit, no radio was allowed, and every move was straight out of a 1970s instructional driving safety video.
OK, so being safe is a good thing, right? Right, I get it. But add it on to the rest of these and behold my tale…
Her Friend’s Going to Join Us … For the Entire Trip
Driving along in our sweet ride on our first adventure of the trip, my travel partner turned into an apartment complex. When I asked what was in there, she said her friend would be joining us. She didn’t ask if I minded, and clearly set the tone that she would be making the calls on this trip. Fortunately the friend was very nice. However … the friend wound up joining us almost every single day of our trip, not once chipping in for gas as we picked her up, dropped her off, made coffee runs for her, and escorted her all around the island.
Let us Pray
I think religion is fantastic. I believe in my own ways and do not force my thoughts on anyone, nor do I want them forced on me.
The 3 of us went out to a nice restaurant for dinner one night. Once our meals were set in front of us, each girl grabbed one of my hands (again without asking), they bowed their heads down, and began a prayer that went on for what seemed like eternity. I sat there stunned (and slightly embarrassed, I’ll admit, since I did not grow up this way), and just stared at them as they clutched my hands in a prayer that made me very uncomfortable.
Silence is Golden – But Not When You’re on a 4-Hour Car Ride
Both of my travel partners also had a tendency to clam up and not say anything. I find sitting in silence very strange when with people and, more importantly, why sit in silence when you can chat and have fun? You’d think that with 3 people in a small space, there would be nonstop chatter. Nope. I can’t tell you how many dead silences I endured with them while driving, eating, you name it.
At one point the silence was so painful I decided to… wait for it…turn on the radio. Of all the songs in all the world to be playing at that exact moment, Dishwalla’s “Counting Blue Cars” was on. These lyrics permeated our silent car with my 2 super religious pals listening on:
Tell me all your thoughts on God.
‘Cause I would really like to meet her.
And ask her why we’re who we are.
Tell me all your thoughts on God.
‘Cause I am on my way to see her.
So tell me am I very far, am I very far now?
My travel companion was NOT OK with these lyrics and very nervously said, “We need to change this.”
Again without asking, she abruptly turned it to a classical music station instead. I’m not going to lie – I kind of loved that she was so angered by the song and that I could not have planned it better had I tried.
My view of Waikiki as the sun set and enjoyable, laid back people all around me.
Just Like a Child, If You Tell Me Not to Do Something, I’ll Want to Do it Even More
My travel partner kept going on and on about the “real” Hawai‘i and how Waikiki was “fake”. She told me that I would hate it so we wouldn’t even bother going there. She clearly knew me better than I knew myself!
One night, while she was at church, I had the car all to myself. I sped off like I’d just been set free from prison and went … straight to Waikiki. I loved it. There were tons of people around, lots of performers, shops to browse for souvenirs, many eyesore skyscraper hotels, and lovely palm trees. An Asian man made me the absolute worst “authentic” Greek food this Greek girl has ever had, but I savored it and had a great time. All by myself. In Waikiki. And I relished telling her all about it the next day.
Ha ha ha!! That’s Not an Accent Mark! Ha ha ha!
In case you haven’t been to Hawai‘i, there is a whole distinct language there. Words like “‘A‘ala”, “Kalaeoka‘ō‘io” and “Līhu‘e” are everywhere. How would you pronounce them? A little challenging maybe?
As a fairly intelligent woman who’s studied French and Greek for years, when I see a mark like “ō” or “‘” within a word, I know it’s altering the word in some way. Maybe the sound of the letter changes, or maybe this is the part of the word that gets emphasized. These are my best educated guesses, for I am a college-educated woman who majored in Communications and minored in common sense and life awareness.
One day as I drove and, yet again tried to find a way to engage my 2 silent companions in conversation, I figured asking them about this language would be a great talking point since they sold themselves as such experts (putting my Communications degree to work!). I had just seen a street sign with a tough, long name on it. I inquired about what the “accent” mark I had seen meant – was it where the emphasis went, and, also how should I pronounce that word? Not only did I not get an answer, I was semi mocked and given a pseudo-intellectual speech about the fact that it wasn’t an “accent” mark (har har, it was THE funniest thing she’d heard all year!) and it was, in fact, a “diacritical mark”. Oh, how we all laughed at that one! Oh wait, no we didn’t.
Sunny, 80 Every Day, Warm Breeze Blowing, Beachfront Property. Perfect for Staying Inside on the Couch!
When traveling with someone I always like to travel with the caveat that “it’s OK if you want to do this, and I want to do that. I won’t be offended.” But, I must say… when you’re in one of the worlds most PERFECT weather environments and you’re vacationing from a place that NEVER has weather even remotely like this, wouldn’t you go outside for a bit?
Nope, not my travel partner.
When we weren’t out sightseeing, she stayed inside our rental house and read on the couch. We had lounge chairs, a driveway, and a private beach about 50 feet away. Bring the book outside? I would take off and go walk the beach, talk to the local neighbors and call my friends on the East Coast while she sat on the couch.
Were all of my stories “horror” stories that were too awful to be true? No, not at all. But I had a stressful time with this person. She was always talking down to me, the couple of days I got to be by myself were relished beyond belief, and I couldn’t wait for the trip to end. I spent thousands of dollars on a trip with a person who didn’t add to the joy of the trip. That’s no way to spend a trip in paradise or anywhere else.
The moral of the story is to choose your travel partners wisely. A lot of time, money, and anticipations go into vacations so plan the best you can with the right travel partner for you. If you’re “iffy” about your options and aren’t sure, I truly advise that you go on your own or look to travel with like-minded people through travel groups. Make sure your trip ends wishing you had more time there instead of wishing your trip away!