Monday, October 23, 2006

Hawaii - The first 12 hours

So I'm sitting on my flight from The OC to Honolulu and I hear this announcement:

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We've just been informed that there has been a 6.8 magnitude earthquake off the island of Kona. At this point, we are going to continue on with the flight but be advised that some of the aftershocks have affected the island of Oahu. We'll keep you posted as we get more information."

This is how my trip to Hawaii started out last Sunday. My friend Jenny and I were so excited about our trip. I was going to work during the day and then we were going to hang out at night. Little did I know that this was just the beginning of the "best worst" trip ever!

My flight landed in Honolulu at noon and we were informed that the entire island of Oahu was without power. That's right - the ENTIRE island. Have you ever been in an airport that didn't have electricity? It was kind of odd. Luckily we were one of the first flights in and we were able to get the stairs so that we could get off the plane quickly. Next was the walk across the tarmac and into the dark and hot terminal. It was the strangest feeling of being cut off from the rest of the world. We were in the midst of a major disaster and had no means of connecting to the news. When I finally made it down to the baggage claim area it was chaos. The airline employees had to carry our bags in one at a time and line them up in a row for us to claim. It took forever but luckily everyone was patient. Here is what the baggage claim area looked like:

Next task was to pick up the rental car. With the computer systems down the attendants had to write out everything on carbon copy paper. No problems and I headed out to the hotel. It was almost surreal driving down the streets and seeing everything closed down. Since there wasn't electricity, the stoplights weren't working. It's amazing how reckless people can drive and how many people don't treat intersections as a 4 way stop when the lights are out.

Luckily when I got to the hotel I was able to check in. Room 856...the infamous 856! The room was awful and its safe to say that we will not be staying there again. The computers & elevators were working on a backup generator but there was no power in the rooms so I got a GLOWSTICK. Yup, the bright green kind that kids walk around with on Halloween. Exciting, huh?

Jenny finally arrived around 5 but all remaining flights into and out of Honolulu had been cancelled. While I was circling the airport to get her the power had come back on and people were clapping, whistling and cheering. She was lucky enough to get her bag from the carousel and didn't have to go through the same ordeal that I had been through.

So we headed back to the hotel and on the way I got screamed at by a traffic cop. This is what happened - he was waving the people in the left turn lane to go and dropped his arm down to his side and it looked like he was waving me forward. No so. I realized my error and stopped but it was too late. The dude flipped out and came charging towards the car. When I rolled down my window he started shouting at me and I couldn't even get a word out. Instead we just had to sit there listening to him chew me out and then when he was finished he made us sit and wait at the intersection for 5 minutes. No lie - he was a total ass.

So Jenny & I get back to the hotel and we decide that we needed to find some food for dinner. The only restaurant in Waikiki that was open had a 2 & 1/2 hour wait for a salad bar. Not willing to wait around for that long we decided to head out to see what else we could find. We hit up a couple of other places with no luck and then we found Harry's Market. The place was sold out of food but we were able to pick up some water & candles and our new friend Harry hooked us up with pop cans for candle holders. Then we found a gift store where they were letting people in one at a time to buy supplies. The stores were lit by employees carrying flashlights and everything was bought on a cash only basis. We were able to get some crackers, cheese (that was on ice), wine, sunchips and pop tarts. It was the most random snack crap that you could imagine but it was better than nothing. I had a great photo of the candlelight/glowstick dinner but for some reason it won't let me load it...

By this point it was after 10pm and much to our surprise the power came on. Everyone was on their balconies and we all clapped, cheered, whistled, etc for the power. It makes you realize how much you take it for granted when you don't have it. It also makes you realize that there is absolutely nothing to do on Oahu when you have no power...

I later found out from one of my accounts that this was the worst power outage in the history of Oahu. Why does that not surprise me? I've now made history...

Well, that's the first day - I have so much more to tell but must get some rest before an early morning flight tomorrow. More coming soon....