When Nature Strikes

Siku njema huonekana asubuhi, a Swahili saying, literally translated- a good day can be seen in the morning. Recent experience tells me the same is true for, well, strange days.
We were sleeping soundly, having spent the afternoon at Lydgate Beach, Kauai. It is a beautiful beach with a baby-friendly shallow section cordoned off, and a nearby deeper section for adults.

And so it passed that while we were in the midst of sunny dreams, a piercing crow shook us out our slumber. Now, I am no stranger to the wake up call of a rooster. I grew up in a small town, so I am quite familiar with nature’s feathered alarm clock.  However, I haven’t heard a rooster crow in over 10 years, and I certainly was not expecting to hear one at the ungodly hour of 4 am while vacationing in Hawaii.

A few year back while vacationing on Maui, I learned about the Chicken Gone Wild (CGW). Sounds like the Real Housewives Franchise, doesn’t it? Local lore has it that the CGW were previously domesticated, but, when nature struck in the form of a couple of hurricanes, the CGW fled their coops and have roamed free since. These chickens put the ‘road’ in Road Runner. Free range chicken ain’t got nothin’ on these CGW. Our tour guide informed us that due to the CGW’s toned muscles, the recipe for cooking them is simple. Find a rock, drop it in the pot with the CGW. When the rock is fully cooked and soft enough to chew, your CGW is ready. Bon Apetit!

Later that evening, we signed up for a gong yoga class. I was curious about the gong, and so my MIL, SIL and husband drove over to the local community center for the class. We were welcomed by our instructor Diane, a petite lady dressed in all white. She pointed us to our yoga mats on the floor and we walked into the room of approximately twenty participants. Diane explained that we would be meditating to the sound of crystal singing bowls and then she would play the gong. She informed us that Kundalini warriors played the gong to obtain clarity of mind before going to war.

Crystal singing bowls are hard to describe. They are very calming, and soon the darkened room was silent, each of us focusing on our breathing and calming our thoughts. As it turned out, some of us were more relaxed than others, so much so that a few of the participants fell soundly asleep and began to snore. The instructor calmly asked everyone to be considerate and keep the train-like snoring down, to enable everyone’s mind to achieve a zen like state.

Alas, there was to be no zen-ness in that room. As Diane played the gong, the snorer struck again, and soon the room was filled with his guttural snore. I looked over at my SIL Claire, and we shared a frustrated look, but, determined to find our inner zen, went back to meditating.

What happened next cannot really be put into words, but I will try. You see, we had expected the gong to provide clarity of mind. But clearly, one participant had reached the next level of enlightenment and achieved clarity of the digestive system. I was trying to calm my thoughts when I heard what sounded like a tear, or a rip. Actually maybe it sounded more like a series of pop pop pop sounds. Like the unshackled Chicken Gone Wild, this farticipant (so named by my FIL), moved by the ancient gong, let loose, and so here we were, trapped in a small room, with the Usain Bolt of farting, trying really hard to stay zen. I couldn’t hold my laughter in anymore. Tears streamed down my face as the instructor chose that moment to ask us if “anyone experienced something they didn’t expect”. While I was processing that, she added, ” Would anyone would like to feel like this for six days”. With the snorer on one side and the farticipant on the other, the timing of her marketing plug couldn’t have been worse. I chose not to pay to have a repeat of that experience. Thank you Mother Nature. Oooooooom.

Hangry travels

I had been looking forward to our Kauai trip for weeks, so much so that the week before we left, I changed my work email signature to a cheerful Mahalo!

On the morning of the flight, we woke up dark and early and headed to the San Jose International airport. We took a shuttle to our terminal and had just enough time left to grab a muffin and a bottle of water before we boarded our flight at 7.30 am.

In my culture, rubbing your eyes/ twitchy eyes indicate some kind of misfortune ahead. My eyes had been itchy since 2.am that morning, but I attributed it to allergies. I was sleep deprived and looking forward to some shut eye on the flight. Little did I know that my skepticism of superstition would cause me much misery.

The flight departed on time, and before long we were banking over the bay area. I love take off time, the weightless feeling during lift-off. I especially like it when a plane banks, it adds to the flying experience.

Two hours into our flight, a passenger suffered a medical emergency. I have to commend the ladies and gentlemen of Alaska Airlines for their prompt response to the emergency. They summoned a doctor and two nurses who happened to be on the flight to assist, and immediately made the decision to divert the flight to San Francisco Airport (SFO) where the patient would be quickly sent to an emergency hospital to receive medical care.

Two hours later, we landed at SFO and the patient was quickly evacuated. The pilot explained that because we had landed with an almost full tank of fuel, the airplane’s emergency landing system had to be inspected. The crew also had to replace the medical equipment, snacks, drinks and other amenities. This process took about four hours, and like most passengers, I assumed that a meal would be provided, since an extra six hours had been added to our flight time.

Our son got to make a few friends on the grounded plane. He is quite tall for his age, and we noticed that two of the other babies were equally tall for their respective ages. All the tall babies go to Kauai in April-May methinks.

Finally, we were ready for takeoff again, with the crew offering profuse thanks for our immense patience. Once we had reached cruising altitude, the flight attendants offered light snacks, and by light I mean light. There was a piece of chocolate, some crackers, a few nuts and a small drink. There was no mention of a complimentary meal for the passengers who were stuck on the plane at SFO and not allowed to off board to purchase our own meals.

On a typical day, I have breakfast at six, brunch at 9, lunch at noon…. you get the drift. I love to eat. Hunger + anger = Hanger. My son had his milk and snacks, and my husband, being the laid back guy he was, got by by eating some honey roasted peanuts and graham crackers we had brought with us. I needed something a bit more solid, and so we flagged the flight attendant to order a meal. She calmly told us that they were out of food, and would we like some crackers? I wanted to smack her with those crackers (hanger), but I politely declined to purchase crackers for $7. Daylight robbery I tell you.

We managed to subsist on the honey roasted peanuts and soda, and finally, after a long and painful flight, we landed in beautiful Kauai. My in-laws, who we were vacationing with, were kind enough to greet us with home-made sandwiches, which I munched down in record time. Hanger partially sated, it was time to get a car rental.

Everything in Kauai is on what I call “hakuna matata” time. It means no worries, take your time. No, really, take your sweet time. We got in line, and with four people ahead of us, I thought it would take 15 minutes maximum to collect our car. How wrong I was. One hour later, we were still waiting as we heard the typewriter like printing noises of the printer, and the admonitions of the Avis attendants trying to get passengers to upgrade their vehicle of choice and/or purchase insurance because “anything can happen”. What is this, Game of Thrones?

Our turn finally came and the lady at the counter tried to offer us a minivan, which I turned down immediately. She then offered us an upgrade, which we gladly took and were finally off on our way.

Kauai is a tropical paradise, it really is. The water is a deep blue, the weather tropical and the fruit great. Hakuna matata indeed.