Hawaii '07 - My Family Travels

This summer my family and I went to Hawaii. My aunt and cousin live there, so we thought that it’d be a good time to finally go visit. Every trip is always an adventure for our family.

We’re Italian and that makes us extremley loud. There’s my mom, dad, and three girls: Stephanie, who is 14, Courtney, who is 11, and me, Renee, 17.

Having all of us in the same area for more than an hour… not good. Fast-forward to the day of the trip.

We all were so excited, we couldn’t sleep the night before. We were up the whole night, singing along to Hannah Montana on our Karaoke machine and driving our parents crazy. The next morning we drove to the airport.

This was the first ‘mini-adventure’ on our trip. We have a tiny Honda Accord. My suitcase alone is about the size of our entire trunk (what can I say, I’m 17!).

So we shoved about two suitcases in the trunk and then had to layer the rest on our laps for the entire 45 minute drive to RDU Airport. Thankfully, there was a minimal amount of fighting. When we finally arrived we went through check-in fairly quickly and boarded the plane.

I was sitting with my sister next to the window, and my parents and other sister were in the middle aisle row. Suddenly the plane started up. I look over at my parents and couldn’t help but laugh.

What I see is this: my mom has her huge neck pillow around her neck, my dad’s arm wrapped around her arm in a painful-looking fashion, huge earphones in her ears, a box of tissues on her lap, and is squeezing her face up into a look that is undoubtedly her ‘I’m-about-to-cry’ look. She then proceeds to look over at us and yell, ‘It’s ok girls! Everything will be alright! Just relax!’ and then burries her head in her hands to start crying. Let’s just say she has a little bit of flight anxiety.

Thankfully the flight went well, and we landed in beautiful Honolulu about 14 hours later. Our aunt greeted us with beautiful leis and whisked us off to her house. The next few days were spent lounging around on Lanikai beach right down the road from my aunt’s house. My cousin taught me how to surf and we snorkled and saw the most gorgeous fish.

One day, my aunt decided to take us to the Polynesian Cultural Center. We didn’t really know what it was all about, but decided to check it out anyways. We were blown away. The Polynesian Cultural Center is a cultural oasis tucked away on 42 acres on a corner of the island. It basically is a mini-replica of all the seven Polynesian islands: Hawaii, Aotearoa, Tahiti, Marquesas, Samoa, Fiji, and Tonga. As you go around the center, you travel into each of the seven villages. They’re all set up like the traditional villages of those native islands.

Each village also has activities and mini shows. In the village of Hawaii you get to learn and perform the hula, the traditional dance of Hawaii. In Aotearoa, you can get a fake face tattoo and learn the importance of them to the Aotearoa culture. In Tahiti, you get to learn a traditional hip-shaking dance that the people of Tahiti perform. The funniest thing about that village was watching my dad get up on stage and perform the fast, hip-shaking movements. ‘Wow’ is all I can say about that. He looked about as gracefull as a wild turkey. It wasn’t good.

Then, in Marquesas we got to experience a traditional pig hunt, and in Samoa we watched them climb 40-foot coconut trees with their bare feet! In the Fiji village we got to learn how to play traditional instruments, and in Tonga we learned how to throw spears. Lets just say that the whole day was quite an experience.

At the end of the day, after we got to tour each of the villages, there was a final performance at a huge ampitheatre in the cultural center. At this performance, each of the villages showed off what was important about their specific culture, whether it be a dance, a playing of their traditional instruments, or fire-eating. The Samoan’s were the best, with their performance with fire. The main guy actually put a huge torch of fire in his mouth while the other ones walked across beds of hot coals.

It was amazing. Each of the different cultures were so unique, and it was an awesome experience to be able to see all of them at one time like that. This trip to Hawaii was probably one of the best trips I’ve ever been on, and most of it was due to the experience I had at the Polynesian Cultural Center. I learned so much about how the way these different cultures live and why they have certain traditions.

It was amazing to me how much they value their culture and are so eager to educate and show people how they live. I had no idea that many of these polynesian islands even existed, and I learned so much from that day. The flight home was relatively uneventfull, except for my mom getting stopped at the security desk to have her bag checked because they thought her mango muffins might be something dangerous. That was funny.

When we got home it took days to unpack because of all the stuff we had brought home, and we must have spent almost $100 on developing pictures. It was all worth it though, because that trip was the most fun I have ever had, and I learned so much from that day at the Polynesian Cultural Center.

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