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Zen and Hula Hoops

Posted Jul 20 2010 12:35am

I can't pinpoint the exact day that I decided I was going to pursue zen. Technically, zen means a "meditative state", and I see it as a place where you are completely in the moment and nothing can distract you. I've attempted to get to this zen state of mind many times, most often in yoga class when the instructor is reminding me to focus only on my breath. Sure, I can do that for about 3 minutes and then it's, "what should I have for dinner tonight?" and "If I want mashed potatoes I'll have to run into Whole Foods" and "how in the world am I going to get Suzy to read Level C books?" Yeah, not really zen. However, I found my place of zen last night...


Let's rewind a bit. Sunday morning I decided Eric and I were going to do a dive or snorkel with the manta rays. We had previously decided we didn't want to do it, but when I really thought about what it means when Travel Channel rates something as one of the Top 10 Things to Do Before You Die, I realized I couldn't leave here without trying it. We called Jack's Dive Locker to ask if we were allowed to scuba, but since we aren't certified, they said we had to snorkel. We were a bit disappointed (in my defense I've been scuba diving before in Australia, but apparently its easier to scuba without being certified outside of the US), but we decided to go for the snorkel adventure anyways.
Jack's Dive Locker does a bit of a different experience than other companies, as they take you out on the water in the afternoon and you snorkel once at "dusk" and then again when it's dark. I temporarily forgot that I get sea sick and booked the trip thinking I had discovered the best deal of all time. Oops. The boat ride to the dive site went well- we even saw some dolphins that I didn't manage to get on camera, but we did see them.
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Once we stopped the boat, things got rocky. I spent several hours staring at the horizon line and doing a mediocre snorkel #1. I was cursing my planning, and plotting my escape from the boat, which Eric quickly pointed out would not go well since we were right next to the airport and a quick run across the runway would either leave me run over by a plane or in jail for a TSA security breach. Fortunately, the sun finally set and it was time to get in the water for the manta ray experience.
My underwater camera is circa 1996 so you will have to wait for photos until I get my film developed (didn't think I would ever say that again) but let me give you a little history of the manta rays. Basically, in the 80s, the Sheraton on the Big Island decided to light up their beach with underwater lights. In doing this, they discovered that the lights attracted plankton, WHICH in turn attracted the manta rays that have to eat 25% of their body weight in plankton... which, trust me, is a lot! Fast forward about 20 years and now there is a huge number of diving/snorkeling companies that do this night experience seeing the manta rays...the more people (with lights) the better. Crazy, huh?
Anyway, enter me in the water with a wet suit on, light in my hand, disposable underwater camera in the other and I find it...zen. Trust me when I say I was not expecting to find zen any time when I was sea sick with giant animals swimming around me, but I was literally just so mesmerized by the whole thing that I didn't even mind when mantas were doing somersaults in such a way that I could go into their mouths at any moment. As someone who has been both snorkeling and scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, I feel that I have high expectations when it comes to these things. This was easily the coolest snorkeling I've ever done. Since I don't have any pictures yet, I'll just show you some I stole from google...

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Yeah, it's really cooler than pictures can show.
Perhaps when kindergarten kids stress me out from now on I should just fly to Hawaii and chill with the manta rays?
Anyway, today was a bit of lazier day. We are staying at such an awesome hotel we thought we'd enjoy it a bit. We actually have awesome day-time snorkeling at the beach here, so we spent some time out there this morning. We saw so many colorful fish and coral and my favorite, sea turtles. Tonight we continued to enjoy our hotel with a sunset dinner. The hotel has a few restaurants but this particular one is just drinks and appetizers, with a ukulele player and hula dancer for entertainment.
We saved ourselves a great seat well before sunset and ordered our drinks and appetizers...
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They gave us some crazy peanuts to start...
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Then we ordered some spreads (hummus, olive and roasted red pepper)...
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Eric got Ahi tuna tempura roll...
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I got sesame crusted chicken satay...
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Yes, that pineapple was as amazing as you would imagine pineapple in Hawaii to be.
At one point the hula dancer moved downstairs to participate in the torch light ceremony that happens at the hotel every night...
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Speaking of the hula dancer, I have an awesome kid story for you guys (you didn't think I would stop having kid stories just because I'm not at work, did you?). This little girl (probably age 5 or 6) came down with her brother to see the hula dancer. She takes one look at her, turns around and says to her brother, "she hasn't started hula hooping yet!" Awesome. Are there really people who do not find kids HILARIOUS?
Speaking of awesome...the sunset...
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Obviously Hawaii was the exact right choice for our honeymoon.
Don't worry Caroline, I am coming home :) Just not yet.
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