Hawa1'1, Day 3: "How to Speak Hawaiian Like a Haole."

We wake up this morning a little confused and disoriented -- it's the next day already?! After gathering ourselves, however, we decide that today's going to be a relaxation day; it seems fairly obvious that we need a bit of rest after the lack of sleep we had over the past couple of days.

Bearing that in mind, we go to the free buffet breakfast that our hotel offers... it's a "welcome breakfast" where they talk about the special deals they offer for tours, and the free lessons they offer, and the magic show they host and for which we can buy discounted tickets; it feels much like a timeshare spiel, except with tours and shows instead of condos, but hey, free food!

So we sit and listen to Sam (actual Hawaiian name unpronounceable) talk about how we can spend our money while we help ourselves to scrambled eggs, Portuguese sausage, crispy fried potatoes, fresh fruit, and Danishes to go with our coffee and ice water. It's very good for a free breakfast, and Sam is entertaining enough, so a nice time is had.

Afterwards, we go back to our room and put on swimwear, then head out to the adjacent beach. We stop by the rental kiosk and rent a cabana for a partial day, then spend the next several hours relaxing on the shaded lounge chairs on the sand; enjoying the view, and snoozing, and reading books we brought along for the occasion, and shaking our heads judgmentally at the people we see walking along the beach talking on their cell phones and gesticulating wildly, and playing in the water, and getting a little sunburned because I'm unused to the aerosol sunscreen we bought and end up missing parts of my farmer's-tan shoulders and my non-driver's-side-of-the-car arm.

For lunch, we go to the hotel's courtyard and have a seat at the Tiki Grill. We share teriyaki beef skewers, Lucie has a fruit salad, and I opt for the extremely Hawaiian Reuben sandwich. YES, the Reuben sandwich is authentic Hawaiian -- what else says "Polynesia" than thousand island dressing?

After lunch, we head to the free lesson we signed up for, the Hawaiian language class. It's hosted -- like all of the culture seminars at the Kā'anapali Beach Hotel -- by one of the employees, in this case a nice woman named Malihini. She walks us through basic pronunciation (vowels and consonants pronounced very much like Spanish, with the exception of the w ["veh" instead of "double you"] which can be either a v or a w sound) and many of the basic words (aloha, mahalo, pupu, humuhumunukunukuapua'a), and other essentials such as diphthongs and accents. It's a fun and informative class, and Malihini is warm and encouraging and entertaining ("and I was born here, even though "malihini" means "newcomer", she admonishes), and we like her. Heck, we've liked everyone we've met here; that's one of the great things about Hawai'i.

It's also one of the great things about the Kā'anapali Beach Hotel... as previously mentioned, it's called "Hawaii's Most Hawaiian Hotel." They received that moniker from other groups (Waiaha Foundation, and the Hawaiian Tourism Authority) in large part because of their employees' actions... welcoming songs sung at the welcome breakfast and (at their request) Fridays in the lobby; carving a single hull outrigger canoe and hundreds of other authentic Hawaiian traditional items; offering free hula and Hawaiian language and lei-making and other lessons; planting and maintaining traditional flower gardens... they were even named as one of President George H. W. Bush's "Points of Light."

After the language lesson, we rest for a bit, then walk to Whalers Village just down the way -- there's a paved walkway along this stretch of beach called the Kā'anapali Beachwalk so we stroll to the shops while enjoying the beach view. Once at Whalers Village we make a few stops at some of the stores (The Honolulu Cookie Company for -- surprise! -- cookies, and Soul Lei for a honu pendant for Lucie) before going to the Hula Grill for a sunset dinner.

We have a very nice view -- apart from all of the tourists along the Beachwalk who end up in our way -- and a very nice ambience -- apart from all of the noise and screaming children -- as we enjoy our dinner. Our appetizer of kalhua pork potstickers is yummy, Lucie's entree of macadamia nut crusted moonfish is juicy, and my fire seared ahi is cooked perfectly; Lucie's "Hana hou" (a concoction of vodka, ginger honey, liliko'i, iced tea, and lemonade) and my "Kā'anapali cooler" (gin, ginger syrup, mint, and lemonade) and liliko'i mojito are cold and refreshing, and make the screaming children a little more tolerable as we watch the sun set from our table.

After dinner, we walk back to our hotel and sit at a table near the stage, where the slack key guitar band is once again playing songs. We request Hawaiian Suppa Man from Iz and Drop Baby Drop from Sean Na'auao, both of which receive appreciative nods from the band as they hear them called out. We order piña coladas from the courtyard's Tiki Bar (located right next to the Tiki Grill where we had lunch) and listen to the band until they retire for the evening, and chat with the band afterwards; they ask if we're kama'aina and we regretfully say no. When they hear that we're from San Jose, they perk up a bit and ask if the store Sun Jose Hawaii is still around (it isn't) and we ask if they've played the Hukilau (they have, but the San Francisco location, not the one in Japantown)... Turns out the bassist has a relative living in the Bay Area, so as far as they're concerned we're practically ohana.

We pay for the drinks ("charge it to our room" are five words that go very well together) and head upstairs for the night, full and happy and feeling welcomed and just maybe slightly tipsy. It's been a good day.


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