Feeling depressed on the last day of a vacation is not uncommon. But this was the first time I actually felt tears welling up as I loaded my bags into the cursed Sebring then walked to the office to check out. I don’t know why my emotions were running so strong. Perhaps it was the thought of leaving so much undone, or returning to the tedium of everyday life. Whatever it was, I played out my last few hours on the Big Island in a state of mourning, begrudgingly following the necessary departure routine.
My plane left early in the afternoon, so I didn’t have time to travel very far. After a subpar breakfast at the restaurant at the King Kamehameha Hotel that left me more than a little unsatisfied, I strolled the grounds near Ahuena Heiau, located incongruously near all the hustle and bustle of the tourism of the Kona waterfront. The grounds of the hotel are in dire need of updating. Considering the place has such prime real estate and a significant historical landmark, the proprietors have really let it go. The interior looks as if it hasn’t been refurbished since Esquivel’s heyday, and I almost expected to hear his “space-age bachelor pad music” piped through the faux wood corridors. Even the air seemed stagnant and old, the strong whiff of retirement home permeating every corner. It was a depressing place to spend my final day.
With less than a half hour before I’d have to hit the road, I ventured into town for a quick peek at the Mokuaikaua Church, listed as the first Christian church of the Hawaiian islands. Quaint as it was, it was less than remarkable, and much less picturesque than either of the smaller churches I’d visited over the previous week. A few snaps there, then it was time to hit the road — with a quick pitstop at Ba-Le to pick up my beloved lemongrass tofu baguette for the plane ride.After a brief disagreement with the Dollar clerk regarding the problems I’d experienced with the Sebring From Hell, I found myself at the end of an interminable and unmoving line at the Kona airport. I’ve been through airport chaos, including during holiday season, but the inefficiency was just deplorable. How many times did I have to have my bags scanned? Why did it take the skycap 20 minutes to serve the one person ahead of me? Why were only two counter clerks around to check the three plane loads of passengers who were hoping against hope that they wouldn’t miss their planes? Note to Kona airport managers: Hawaii is not a developing nation. Get your act together. You don’t want your economy-fueling tourists having this melee be their last memory of an otherwise relaxing vacation.
Even with all the inconvenience, it was far preferable to being in a cube. That was when I realized the cause of the tears welling behind my eyes.
Day 1: Escape From Cube Life
Day 2: Manta Heaven
Day 3: Paddling to My Death
Day 4: The Southernmost Gaffe in the United States
Day 5: Somewhere Over Polulu
Day 6: Grounded in Hilo
Day 7: To Fly or Not to Fly
Day 8: Don’t Make Me Go!