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Today I’m back up at 6AM and I wait outside for the hummer to arrive. I see the hummer turn the corner and slow down as the driver tries to find the hostel. Finally he sees me waiting and pulls up next to the gate. I get in the hummer as he introduces himself. He is from Ethiopia and says he has never picked anyone up at this hostel before. We will now go to pick up three others, a family from the Czech Republic. They don’t speak very much English, but they are huge lost fans. When I tell them I am from Boston, I hear them say Czech words with “Boston” scattered between them. I tell them my sister will visit Prague next summer.

At our first stop we see Locke’s father’s house. It is a gated house along a rainforest road, and the security tower is no longer there, but it is very recognizable…especially since we’ve been re-watching the series so recently. We continue on down the road with the windows down to smell the forest around us. We pull off at a few other locations as the guide pulls out a binder of screen shots and shows us what these areas looked like on the show.

He tells us that when the LOST actors moved to Hawaii most of them stayed in Kailua, where I spent the last week. He says many of them ended up buying real estate there and you can still run into them all the time. I wish I had, but that just means I’ll have to come back. He also says that a lot of them went out to party while they were shooting and most of them were given DUIs while driving back to Kailua on the Pali Highway. He says Anna Lucia and Libby were given jail sentences to be served in CA and that is why they were killed off the show. He also says that Mr. Echo hated living in Hawaii and actually left the show because he couldn’t stand to live here. I’m not really sure what problems he had with sunshine, aloha and rainbows, but whatever floats your boat.

We continue on to Kualoa Ranch where a ton of LOST scenes were shot. This ranch was bought by a family from Kamehameha I when he sold land after conquering the islands. They’ve owned it ever since. It’s hundreds of acres of fields and forests where they raise cattle and rent out the land to production studios. They give their own tours too, but the Hummer Tour Company has special permission to go to some of the private areas of the ranch as well. I can’t count how many places we stop at and how many scenes we see. We see Hurley’s Golf Course, Richard’s hut, one of the Dharma spots, Godzilla’s footprint, the log from Jurassic Park, the log where Anna Lucia kills Goodwin…the list goes on.

As we stop at each site our guide offers to take pictures and occasionally pulls small props out of his bag to take some campy photos of us as if we’re on the island. Some of them come out pretty good! He also shows us clips from the movies that we visit sites for as we drive on a portable DVD player. It’s really great context for the movies we haven’t seen before, and very cool to be watching the clips of the ones we have, from where they were shot.

After about 4 hours we head back to Waikiki. He tells us about the 8 hour tour, which they also offer, that goes to the survivor’s beach, the waterfall where Sawyer and Kate find the guns, Sun and Jin’s temple and even more places. I can’t imagine that there are more, but I guess we’ll have to do that one when I convince my family to come back…

            I slip him a $20 as a tip. I’m getting pretty smooth at tipping. And I eat quickly before my private hula lesson at 1. I meet Kuai at the entrance to the zoo. She is incredibly friendly and comes up carrying a plumeria lei for me. Her sister is there to take a picture of us for her and then she leaves as we go to find a shady spot to learn in the park across the street. She will also be a junior in college next year. There’s a very cool parallel with her teaching dance in Hawaii like I teach it back in Ohio. She says that she loves ballet, but could never do it.

We start off with the basics, most of which I know already from my other lessons, but the refresher is nice. Then we do a warm-up, she talks about the history a little bit and begins to teach me the song “My Yellow Ginger Lei.” It’s all pretty simple, but a lot of fun. I really enjoy myself and she is very encouraging and enthusiastic. At the end of the lesson her sister tapes our dance on my phone for me and she says she will email me the music and names of the steps so I can practice. She thanks me for the lesson and says that she had a lot of fun. I’m so glad I did that!

I have most of the afternoon ahead of me, so I head to the beach. I take a nap, swim in the water, and lay out on the beach mat that I will probably have to throw away tomorrow. At around 5:30 I go back to the room to shower before dinner.

I walk down the block and spot a hotel restaurant along the waterfront. I go inside and ask the woman what they have that is gluten-free at the buffet. “I can go get the chef for you and he will take you down the line and show you what you can eat. He’ll probably also be able to make you something special,” she says with a smile. I’m game. It looks pricey, but hey, it’s my last night.

The chef comes out and tells me what’s okay for me to eat, starting with the desserts. Then he tells me he will additionally make me a special island fish with asparagus, tomatoes and some other grilled vegetables. On top of that, he says, when I’m finished with dinner he will make a sorbet. I am so incredibly stuffed with good food when I am finished eating. I’m not sure what they will charge me since I got the buffet and an entre, but at this point I’m willing to splurge with my own money if I have to. One of the girls staying in the hostel last night told us that her mother always says, “Money comes and goes, but time only goes.” I keep that in mind as I wait for the check. The only charge me for the buffet, so I leave a generous tip.

I will miss the food in Hawaii for sure, and it has been nice watching the sunset almost every night in Waikiki, but I think about going home tomorrow for one of the first times.

I cannot believe I have been here on my own for over two weeks now. I had no idea I was capable of that, and I’m actually quite proud of myself. Like I said, I’ll miss a lot of things about Hawaii, but I am excited to go back home and see my family. I’m looking forward to watching LOST again, now that I’ve been to many of the places, and going on a trip with them in about a week and a half.

It’s incredibly different traveling on your own. There are lots of pluses and minuses. For one, you never have to consult with anyone about what to do for the day. If you decide you want to stay somewhere longer or not as long, there is no discussion about it. You can just spend the afternoon wandering if that’s what you want to do. I also think other people find you mysterious when you travel alone. People have guessed that I am from Venezuela, a part of the military, a local in Hawaii, a student at Hawaii University among other things. It’s kind of nice to hear what people’s gut instinct is about you, and when you’re with other people it changes their perceptions. Also, on this trip I’ve had the opportunity to travel with people who live here who want to show me things and offer me rides and dinner. That’s not something you often get when traveling with others. It also offers you a lot of contemplative, internal moments to really soak in the beauty of the island.

On the other hand, I don’t think there is much that beats traveling with people you love. Getting to experience things together, and trying things that you might not have put on your personal itinerary. Having experiences and making memories, rather than witnessing, and having good conversation along the way. There is a lot more laughter when you travel in groups, and you can still find those contemplative moments, but they are more rare, and maybe you appreciate them more for it.

I honestly and learning to love both. I can’t wait to travel even more and learn from people everywhere I go. Those were my contemplations at dinner…I thought I’d put them down or risk forgetting them.

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