Changes on Oahu – Is this still my home island?

It feels incredible to be back on Oahu. I love it, I love this island. It has changed though. I would be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that. In Kailua, I was virtually the only person who was stopping to let people cross the street…in Lanikai I stopped so a mom with a stroller could … Continue reading “Changes on Oahu – Is this still my home island?”

It feels incredible to be back on Oahu. I love it, I love this island. It has changed though. I would be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that. In Kailua, I was virtually the only person who was stopping to let people cross the street…in Lanikai I stopped so a mom with a stroller could cross and the lady behind me gave me a loud mainland kind of honk! Another mom with three little keiki whom she was trying to herd gave me a grateful look when I stopped and motioned for her to go safely…the look felt like she was surprised. I’m sure that the aloha spirit still exists here, but it has a much tougher environment to live in than it did even ten years ago. The apartments I looked at yesterday were all incredibly cramped without much in the way of amenities. One had no air conditioning (and a $100 fine for drips from the window), another had no windows in the living room, another had no yard or outdoor space – and each of them were more than the salary I’ve been offered will cover. The landlords were asking for three times the rent as a minimum income…I can’t show that. I will be able to earn it, but I can’t demonstrate it because much of my income will and does come from writing, book sales, and more. A move here means a move to a very serious rat race and not much chance to improve my family’s finances in the near future. I want the job, but I’m not sure that Oahu is where we are meant to be. A woman across from the hotel is screaming like bloody murder at 6 am. Lots of people looking, but not sure if anyone is helping. I will go down and see. Police arrived…so no need for me to go down now. I hope she is alright.

I took an early morning walk through Waikiki. The homeless and the wretched. They are truly hard to ignore and ultimately, really, should not be ignored – but it’s impossible to enjoy this expensive paradise without ignoring them. So, last night, the crazy man yelling “Fuck you. All of you just go away. Just get the fuck out of here.” I felt compassion for him. The drunk young man passed out against a wall outside a bar at 6 am this morning. The haunted looking homeless old lady staring at the rich passers by who do not notice her. The old Chinese man pushing a stolen shopping cart loaded with cardboard. The tents and homeless camps in every available spot on this island. And the cost to live here, the way it drives those who do not have fantastic income and the sense of entitlement it gives to those who do. All of this is reality. This is the reality of Oahu.

I was unable to determine what happened this morning. My guess is someone died or domestic violence, but either way it was horrid. I checked out and the charges were less than I expected, I didn’t get charged extra for my rental car, and airport security was such a breeze that I’m again 3 hours early for a flight I could have come 2 hours later for…and yet, I feel we have a chance right now…a chance to have a better life. I know that. I know that somehow, we have an opportunity to do something wonderful. I don’t want to miss that.

The changes here…Trump Tower is awful. I miss the old International Marketplace and the Honolulu Academy of the Arts which is now called the Honolulu Art Museum – that’s a bad name change for me and the International Marketplace took something authentic and wonderful and turned it into a big expensive mall. I’ll be honest, I hate it. I miss the old Daiea markets in Kailua and near Ward. I miss Island Air, Aloha Airlines, Go Airlines, and the old interisland terminal. Kailua isn’t affordable – actually, nowhere on this island is affordable. People don’t smile as much. I heard few “Howzit”s and not very many “Mahalos” or “Alohas”. No one under 50 wears an aloha shirt unless they are a tourist or at work. The prices are much more insane than I remembered – except for milk and gas. I’m glad I was here when I was here but I’m not sure at all that this is the place I’ve dreamed of. This morning, I was ready to leave Waikiki. I swam in Kailua once, swam in Waikiki twice, took long walks through Waikiki, chanted at the SGI culture center twice, drank a Kailua Monkey from Lanikai juice, ate a Shogun Dunburi from Ninja Sushi, looked at three rental units, drove quite a few miles and frankly, that was probably enough tourism for me.

A group of Tibetan Monks just walked by. One of them looks a lot like the Dalai Lama. A slightly chubby Dalai Lama. Any way about it – that is a very cool thing. That doesn’t happen in Reedsport. Meditating on compassion and the similarity of all living things. The miracle of the idea that each of us is a miracle. We are all miraculous beings made from star material. I wasn’t crazy about my hotel in Waikiki, but the Buddhism book in the drawer was a comfort and a better companion than the TV and the Bible which one usually finds (it was there too). The monks (I think) are going to Maui. I never felt a huge connection to Maui the island. In my mind, it was always the rich people’s island. Maybe I never gave it the chance it deserves.

There was a strange spectacle walking to the gate. A busty woman sitting in a massage chair – lots of jiggling going on. She was one of those middle aged, ruined skin from the sun, white ladies who look like she could be a biker’s lady. Ever so disturbing and almost impossible not to look at.

The Buddhism book in the hotel, had the passage where the Buddha became the Buddha marked and next to it was Dec 8, 2001 in Waikiki. I was in Waikiki then. I was having dreams of sand castles on the beach Christmas muppet specials and trying to find a way forward in my life. And just think, while I was doing that – someone blocks away at the Ambassador hotel was marking that passage. How very strange.

When I was checking in for this flight, there was some confusion, it said there was another Damitio on the flight. That’s odd. I didn’t find out who it was. That’s never happened before unless it was a Damitio I was traveling with.

So I came to the Big Island of Hawai’i to check out a property and potentially buy it. The property was gorgeous and remote but the house – my wife would never forgive me if I moved her into a house that far out and in that state of a mess. So I can’t do it. Big Island is beautiful, but it seems that Oahu is not done with me. I’ve lived in Kailua, Punalu’u, Waikiki, Lanikai, Punchbowl, and Manoa. Now I get to see what Salt Lake is all about. I’m pretty stoked actually. I’m an archaeologist and moving my family to Oahu. Cool. I am filled with gratitude. I am excited about this life, this new adventure that begins now.

When I moved to Oahu the first time, I managed the Polynesian Beach Club Hostel. After taking care of it while my boss was away, she bought me a trip to the Big Island. Hilo was the first place I went in Hawai’i that wasn’t Oahu. This is more balance because here I am again.

Flea Markets in the South of France

The south of France is a beautiful area, full of culturally rich cities with countless holiday destinations, hotels, villas and cottages to choose from. But how can you choose one specific destination? Well that all depends on what you are visiting France for. France is famous for its flea markets, and while Paris is home to many famous ones, for more traditional and cultural markets – that means a distinct lack or knock off bags and phones – it is sometimes better to travel farther South. Here we look at some of the great flea markets in the south of France.
south of france flower market

Toulouse

Toulouse hosts a monthly market full of lost treasures in Allees Jules Guesde, on the first Friday, Saturday and Sunday of every month, excepting October. With classical books, military and pre war-time memorabilia, the Toulouse monthly market is an ideal place for those seeking out tidbits of modern history.  Toulouse also offers selections of traditional French porcelain, plus a variety of other treasures.

Aside from the larger monthly market, there is also a weekly market in Toulouse, with around 50 stalls in the Place Saint-Sernin, ideal for those looking for a good bargain.

flea market

Cannes

The covered market in Cannes is more of a cultural experience than a shopping experience for the tourists amongst us. It is great for those living in rented accommodation as students, or living in a villa as this is an ideal place to shop for fresh foods. You might even see some famous faces, as many of the best chefs in France shop for their ingredients.

Plus if you get there early enough, the fish stalls are an educating experience as many of the aquatic varieties on sale there are not available in the UK, and you are unlikely to see them anywhere else.

Isle-sur-la-Sorgue

The market on the Isle-sur-la-sorgue – a small, medieval town built on the islands over the Sorgue River – specialises in antiques, with over 300 stalls appearing every Sunday. This is an amazing market to visit for those looking for a real piece of history to take home, or for those who just like to browse bric-a-brac. And for the literary collectors, the final Sunday of every month is host to a book market.

flea markets

Arles

Arles is a market famous for its size. It is one of the largest markets in the South of France, with over 450 stall selling a huge variety of merchandise, anything between fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices and other consumables, to a variety of high quality, individual fabrics.

Arles market occurs every Saturday, and be sure to pack a picnic basket, because the market provides a huge choice of delicious goods to purchase for a romantic meal for two, or a simple family picnic.

Seasonal Markets

The south of France is home to a number of special seasonal markets, whether it is Easter, Christmas or Valentine’s day, the French love markets. Check out your local trip advisor for a list of seasonal French markets, as these can be both beautiful and culturally significant, with more traditional markets popping up nearer Christmas time.

Discover more from the French Tourism Office.

About the author:
Clare Cook is a self confessed Francophile with a love of spelunking. She has contributed this post on behalf of South France Holiday Villas Ltd, premier providers of high class holiday homes in the south of France

Exploring the World and Finding Valuable Antiques – Edinburgh Antique and Collector’s Fair

I didn’t expect to become an expert on antiques and collectibles, but that is one of the strange side effects of returning to America. I’m not sure exactly how it happened…I’ve always had a love affair with art and there are certainly particular aesthetics that have called to me – it’s the reason I went to Marseilles – just so I could walk through and feel the magnificent Le Corbusier – the masterpiece of architect Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris, to some it would look like a fancy concrete apartment block, but to me – it was a divine inspiration.

Le Cite de Radiance

Le Corbusier was at the forefront of a movement in art and design which is now referred to as Mid-Century Modern. This is the shape of the middle 1900s from about 1940 to the 1970s. It was the aesthetic of our grand parents and has recently been popularized through the AMC series Mad Men. This is the stuff that used to get tossed out when people passed away but which now brings huge dollar amounts. In many cases, antiques from the mid-century period are now bringing in more than pieces from the Art Deco or Victorian eras.

It’s the same thing that drew me to the Antiques and Collectors Fair in Edinburgh, a rollicking event with more than 300 dealers spreading their treasures out and thousands of visitors seeking to find an overlooked gem. I was backpacking then, and while I bought a small antique opium pipe, I was forced to pass on the larger items that spoke to me. I was staying at the Hiedinburh Hotel, because while I backpack, I really can’t stand hostels. I wish I’d had more money, more space, and more time…but maybe next time. I’ll post the specifics of the fair below for those who may be fortunate enough to visit Scotland this spring.

Antiques Fair Edinburgh

In any event, returning to America, I discovered that I had an eye for these gems of Mid Century Modernism. In some cases, this hobby of buying things at garage and estate sales has been the work that has put food on my family’s table. Along the way, I’ve discovered that I also have an eye for other treasures and I’ve learned from buying things, researching them, and discovering new things. I can walk into a thrift store or yard sale and generally double or triple my money – there is always something that has been passed over by everyone else.

I’ve had a few big scores. I bought a box full of old razor blades for a dollar that turned out to be worth nearl $1000, I purchased a first edition Betty Crocker cookbook for 50 cents and sold it for $250, I bought a box of old baseball cards for $100 and have valued them at close to $5000 (but haven’t sold them because let’s face it, no one buys baseball cards when the economy sucks) – but I’ve realized something in perusing the bottom edges of the sea of stuff that is for sale – the big money lies in the more expensive venues. Just as there are treasures overlooked by the legions of pickers at garage and estate sales, there are much more valuable treasures awaiting discovery in the multitude of antique and vintage shops that fill every corner of the world.

To this point, I haven’t had the budget to take bigger gambles – a painting at $500 is beyond my budget and a piece of furniture for $2000 isn’t something I can do – not yet, but I’m getting closer. I’m an expert at finding $50 items for a buck or discovering the occasional $200 piece for ten bucks, but to go for the things worth $70k-$100k, you have to be willing to spend a few thousand. People undervalue their treasures, that’s what makes the antique world such a hotbed of activity. That’s what excites me.

Hunting for antiquesAs promised here are the details for the Edinburgh’s Antiques and Collectors Fair for 2014. Happy Hunting!

Edinburgh Antiques and Collector’s Fair – Scotland’s premier event for Antiques & Collectibles

Royal Highland Centre,
Ingliston
Edinburgh
EH28 8NB
Telephone : 07774 147197

Dates at this venue
Saturday 1st March, 2014
Sunday 2nd March, 2014
Saturday 10th May, 2014
Sunday 11th May, 2014
Saturday 27th September, 2014
Sunday 28th September, 2014
Saturday 22nd November, 2014
Sunday 23rd November, 2014

On Vacation, All by Myself – New York Times

Charming and slightly sad story of a 15 year old who decides that he needs a vacation. I just love that he takes off to savor the freedom of doing what he wants, but is outraged by the idea that he might be running away. Even at 15, it is quite clear in his head that he simply needed a vacation – and one that wasn’t being directed by other people. I totally remember feeling what he describes. I’ll be looking forward to reading Pete Jordan’s new book, “Dishwasher: One Man’s Quest to Wash Dishes in All 50 States.”

NYTPeteJordan

NOT knowing what I’d eat — or if I’d be eating at all — I decided to play it safe and dumped two dozen red multivitamins in a sandwich baggie. I stuffed the baggie into the pocket of my corduroys.

Then I pulled on my coat, grabbed a rolled-up sleeping bag and the brown paper bag that contained my clothes, and left the note on the kitchen table.

As I slipped out the front door of my family’s small San Francisco apartment, I shouted “See ya later!” to my brother Joe — the only person at home. From the living room, he called back, “Where ya going?”

“Out,” I said, then closed the door behind me.

I was 15 years old, and it was August. The note on the table read: “I’m taking a vacation. I’ll call when I get there. Be back in about three weeks.”

At the crummy summer camp I’d attended when I was younger, every hour of the day was scheduled, which I didn’t find very relaxing, and on family vacations — where a consensus was needed to do anything — I always had to tag along after my four older siblings. I rarely got to do what I wanted.

So I caught the streetcar to downtown and boarded a Greyhound bus.

I rode five hours, out from under San Francisco’s persistent fog cover, to Lake Tahoe — which had what I considered to be the two key ingredients of an ideal holiday locale: fogless weather and miniature golf. Upon arrival, I folded my coat under my arm and called home, collect. My mom sounded worried.

“Are you coming back?”

“Of course I am,” I said.

“You’re not running away?”

“Running away?” I was insulted. Living in Haight-Ashbury — a magnet for runaways — I’d met plenty of teens who’d fled home to live on our streets and sleep in our parks. This sojourn usually lasted only until a squad car pulled up to the corner where my friends and I were hanging out. The cops would pluck the runaway from the crowd, stick him in the car and ship him back to his suburb/state of origin. It was exactly that environment that I needed a break from.

“I just wanted to get away for a while,” I told my mom.

“Well,” she replied, “just keep in touch then.”

After buying and applying some sunblock, I hiked straight to the miniature golf course. As far as I knew, it was the closest one to San Francisco. Continue reading “On Vacation, All by Myself – New York Times”

In the Land of the Lotus Eaters – New York Times

On the islands farther from anywhere than anywhere, Hana is a community farther from anywhere than anywhere…

hanafisherman

THE ocean crashed hypnotically as the Venus of Hana yoga gently gave her commands. “Let the sun rise over the crater,” she said, her arm arching into an ethereal halo over her head. She read a poem by Mary Oliver, sang awhile and instructed us to extend our buttocks toward Hana. We closed our eyes, dimly aware of the wind rustling through banana leaves.

Then our yogi, Erin Lindbergh, summed up how it feels to spend a slow Sunday morning on the edge of the earth in a tropical nirvana where all of nature seems to be on Viagra. “There is a bowl of flowers in your heart,” she said.

Nearly 40 years ago, her grandfather — Charles A. Lindbergh — became one of a multitude of seekers to be smitten by Hana, on the east coast of Maui. He is buried in a swamp mahogany coffin at the Hoomau Congregational Church in Kipahulu, not far from his granddaughter’s yoga studio, his now-mossy grave rimmed by beach rock. Like the manic hordes who form a human chain in rented Mustangs and PT Cruisers on the Hana Highway, fleeing chain-hotel sterility on the “other side” of Maui, the legendary pilgrim of the skies was restlessly searching for serenity, a sacred sense of apartness.

To his granddaughter, who recently moved from Montana, and bears an uncanny resemblance to her grandmother Anne Morrow Lindbergh, this remote fleck of paradise some 52 miles, 617 hairpin curves and 56 one-lane bridges away from the nearest city possesses mana, “a life energy,” an unseen spiritual force.

“Hana appeals to the calmer side of one’s being,” Sunni Kaikala Hueu, a Hana native, has written. “Some say that Hana is almost medicinal in nature — a quiet vibration that is felt.”

The vibes can be profound, all right. Where else but in Hana — its fabled highway the approximate width of a suburban driveway — is it possible to encounter traffic jams beside “hidden” waterfalls as tourists pose for Coming of Age in Samoa shots with cellphones? Where permaculturally inclined off-the gridders live in New Age treehouses and make bike-powered smoothies, while across the street in a community kitchen, a tiny 80-something kapuna in pink pedal-pushers peels boiled taro the old-fashioned way: with an opihi, or limpet, shell. Continue reading “In the Land of the Lotus Eaters – New York Times”

High Tea, India Style – New York Times

The author wakes to tea in bed in a cottage among green fields of tea before facing a lesson in tea-tasting from the haughty estate owner who appropriately goes by “Rajah.”

THE Himalayas rose almost out of nowhere. One minute the Maruti Suzuki hatchback was cruising the humid plains of West Bengal, palm trees and clouds obscuring the hills to come; the next it was navigating a decrepit road that squiggled up through forests of cypress and bamboo. The taxi wheezed with the strain of the slopes, and the driver honked to alert unseen vehicles to our presence — one miscalculation, one near miss, could send the little car over the edge and down thousands of feet, returning us to the plains below in a matter of seconds.

For an hour or more, as we climbed ever higher, all I saw was jungle — trees and creepers on either side of us, with hardly a village to break the anxious monotony. Finally, though, somewhere around 4,000 feet, the foliage opened just enough to allow a more expansive view. From the edge of the road, the hills flowed up and down and back up, covered with low, flat-topped bushes that looked like green scales on a sleeping dragon’s flanks. Tiny dots marched among the bushes and along the beige dirt tracks that zigzagged up the hillsides — workers plucking leaves from Camellia sinensis, the tea bushes of Darjeeling.

Flying to a remote corner of India and braving the long drive into the Himalayas may seem like an awful lot of effort for a good cup of tea, but Darjeeling tea isn’t simply good. It’s about the best in the world, fetching record prices at auctions in Calcutta and Shanghai, and kick-starting the salivary glands of tea lovers from London to Manhattan.

In fact, Darjeeling is so synonymous with high-quality black tea that few non-connoisseurs realize it’s not one beverage but many: 87 tea estates operate in the Darjeeling district, a region that sprawls across several towns (including its namesake) in a mountainous corner of India that sticks up between Nepal and Bhutan, with Tibet not far to the north.

Each has its own approach to growing tea, and in a nod to increasingly savvy and adventurous consumers, a few have converted bungalows into tourist lodging, while others are accepting day visitors keen to learn the production process, compare styles and improve their palates — a teetotaler’s version of a Napa Valley wine tour, but with no crowds.

High Tea, India Style – New York Times