by Robert Hirschi
We’ve all heard the stories. People make the bold claim that Hawaii is paradise. A place where flower petals drift in the air and the temperature is always just right. Exaggerations I assumed. So when I was hired to go there as a photographer/videographer for 10 days I was expecting to see beautiful scenery but paradise? Eh. I’m too skeptical for that.
Before leaving I looked at a map. Those islands are pin dots in the middle of a vast, ominous ocean. I thought they were closer and bigger. How did anyone find those islands in the first place?
I googled some history so when I found myself in Oahu I had a rudimentary knowledge of where I was and what to expect. What I didn’t expect was for the “exaggerations” to be true.
The temperature was about 78 degrees all the time. Even at night. The neighborhood where I stayed, and the nearby beach, was home to thousands of flower trees. Flower petals really were adrift in the air, their fragrances intoxicating. Picture post card scenery. Every night it rained. Every morning the clouds hung low in the mountains like a fantasy painting. Generally, everyone seemed happy and healthy. Maybe Hawaii is paradise.
When I didn’t have to work, exploring the island beaches and mountains became a magnet. The tremendous pulse of the ocean, its deep aqua colors, creatures, fauna, sounds, smells and sights had me enthralled. And what diversity. There are areas where you can walk for hours alone except for the critters.
One day we happened across a ghost town. A long abandoned boys home that had been reclaimed by the jungle. An old decrepit piano still sits in the music room. A tree grows out of the floor next to it. A prison area in the back. All covered with wild graffiti. Awesome. Fresh coconuts and mangoes were in the trees there. Nobody around.
By contrast, Waikiki beach is a funpark teaming with people. A human zoo of happy, frolicking tourists, music, events, water and positive energy. I loved it there too.
I went to the area where they shot parts of Jurassic Park and hiked. This is the domain of the plants. Wow! It did feel like going back in time. Steep mountains and waterfalls. Giant versions of typical houseplants and plants unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.
While hiking there the jungle gave way to a dense bamboo forest. The wind picked up and the bamboo trunks knocked into each other making an eerie sound. My curiosity to see what was around the next bend left me struggling to get back to the car before the sun went down. I could explore those mountains for days. But I didn’t have days. I had work to do.
Locals, and others, have told me that the other islands are completely different from each other. Some say the other islands are more beautiful than Oahu. How can that be? Are they exaggerating? I was only on Oahu for 10 days and I fell in love with the place. I badly want to explore the other islands now.
As I write Hawaii is 3,000 miles away but I can still feel its magnetic pull.
Photos by Robert Hirschi
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