I stepped out onto the ground at the airport on the Big Island. It was exactly how I imagined it. Tribal, made only of palm trees and other Polynesian plant life. It was the smallest airport I’d ever set foot on. Just as my feet hit the ground I heard the stereotypical “Aloha” and smelled the freshly cut floral lei that’s placed around my neck.
Life on Kona is unlike life anywhere else. Something about the way you can see the ocean every way you turn, the way there’s a soft charcoal cloud above Mauna Loa on any given day, yet it doesn’t seem to alarm anyone, the steady hum of surfer slang that fills my ears just as the salted sea fills their noses. At night, I would fall asleep to the breaking waves tumbling to and from the shore. Each morning the sunrays would calmly flood in through the windows, and a refreshingly salty air filled every crevice.
â–º honorable mention 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
We ventured around the island. We drove along a winding coastal road when my parents collectively decided to pull over. Just randomly amongst a heaping pile of lava rocks, we stepped onto the stony uneven ground and meandered around the bluffs to an almost cut out area. In my line of sight was a dusty black ridge lined with volcanic rocks of all sizes. I could hear the sleepy, muffled sound of waves crashing a distance below me. As I took in my surroundings a swell surged up and struck the volcanic cliff head on causing the sea spray to float up. The brackish mist speckled onto my face, my neck, my arms and legs counterbalancing the warm humid air around me; the sea as an affectionate friend beckoning me to take a closer look at something magnificent.
I took small steps toward the edge of the bluff, and waited for the next wave to leap into the jagged oceanfront. I suddenly felt the hard, plastic rectangle in my pocket and chose this moment to pull out my digital camera. I waited patiently for the next spray to arise. I reviewed the shot I’d just taken and I’d known it was good. The bluff looked dark and mysterious next to the serenity of the clear aqua waters, and the spray was just in sight as tiny white spots nestled in and above the lava rock. And though my parents and sister applauded my excellent timing skills, I wasn’t satisfied. Don’t ask me how, but I could feel the next white-capped wave approaching the bluff. I inhaled peacefully and clicked the button without even looking away from the scene before my eyes and down at the camera to make sure everything was in frame. I knew this would be the one. It was perfect. It was breathtaking. It was everything I was feeling at that moment captured forever. It was everything a photograph should be. The rays of the sun shining from the top left corner and the curves of the island off in the distance; the blue green water rolling along and the breaking wave mid-crash not only solidified my appreciation, passion, and gratitude for the gift of photography. It solidified the fact that my mind, soul, and heart were finally at home. I was never going to allow myself to forget that feeling, so I handed my mother the camera and insisted that she hold it for safe-keeping. I slowly slid my feet out of my flip flops, first my left and then my right, I peeled off the grey-white tank top misted with marine water. And I jumped.
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