Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Aloha: from 80 to 20 in six hours

Sometime late last week we arrived home on a red-eye flight from warm, wonderful Hawai'i to chilly, snowy Bend. From 80º to 20º in just a few hours, and still in shock. We spent two lovely weeks with my brother and his family, exploring Oahu and The Big Island, relaxing, and not (much) thinking about our shops. Sorry to those of you who may have stopped by one of our stores on a day we were closed. It's just that time of year when things are kind of sleepy (and that whole nasty April 15 business looms), and we can slip out undetected for a bit. The highlight of the trip (aside from spending time with my darling nieces and family) was seeing Kilauea volcano and all the spewing from the Pu'u O'o vent -- before we were evacuated due to dangerous "vog" levels. All these new words! Vog is volcanic smog, and that stuff was blowing right at us as we finally hightailed it down the mountain on day two. At night Pu'u O'o (I just want to say that name) was this mysterious, pulsing red smoky cloud that we couldn't turn away from. Not a great photo but you get the idea. Next evening, having relocated to Hilo after our evacuation, we hiked up to the lookout point to watch the lava flowing and exploding into the sea. Another mesmerizing and amazing once-in-a-lifetime sight. What else did we love? The people, the language, the ribbons of white sand beaches, the warmth (ahhh), the ukuleles (we found such a cute one at Costco in Honolulu, of all places), the macadamias, the flora and fauna. The flip flops, called slippers there. Flowers for your hair, leis, lillikoi jam, papaya with a little squeeze of lemon, sea asparagus at the farmer's market, black sand, white sand, and turtles. Just a little taste of the good life. I also got completely wrapped up in Hawaiian history, buying every book I saw on the subject. The most poignant is this small volume called Then there were none by Martha Noyes. This little face says it all...

Okay, so this is a shop blog, and what would it be without some comments on shopping and hunting? We didn't do a lot of it this time, given that this was truly a time to get away, but I did manage to pop into some shops and gather some impressions. First, on the Big Island (in Hilo) we stopped at a place called Big Island Candies. My sister-in-law and her friend Jasmine kept telling us we shouldn't miss it, and we thought, okay, but why all the excitement over a candy store? Because it's so much more than that. Everything is so delicious, and so beautifully packaged and their displays were stunning, merchandising boxes of chocolates and cookies with simple, modern arrangements of tropical flowers. Couldn't take pictures and the website doesn't show the interior, but you can certainly order some island treats (see In Honolulu, there was a mind-boggling number of high-end boutiques, none of which I dared enter. The Ala Moana shopping center is the largest open-air mall in the world, and it's Chanel and Gucci and Tiffany from one end to the other. Same in Waikiki, where the large strolling street is filled with more of the same. On the other end of the spectrum, there are a lot of tschoke shops selling souvenirs and dashboard hula girls (of course we had to buy one! We're total suckers for that sort of stuff). But we did find one shop that I really connected with, that had such a great vision of island life (but totally different and more edgy than the bamboo lanai look): called Into, it's located on Hotel Street in Chinatown. Great lamps, fab decorative accessories, plus handbags, fabrics, gifts.

So before leaving we harbored this secret little fantasy about opening Pomegranate III in Hawaii. Not a very realistic discussion, but one can always dream. Now that we've visited, we know just how impossible it would be. We'd have to live in a tent on the beach, because you need at least $1 million for a small house. The rent for a tiny storefront would give us nightmares, and our merchandise would probably have to be delivered by container, $40,000 at a time.

Here's one piece of property we might be able to afford. I guess we'll stay in Bend.