This morning I am the first one up, yet again. I’m noticing a pattern here. I catch the 7AM bus towards the North Shore. I will make two transfers total to get to Haleiwa in time for the Arts Festival. The first stop is in Honolulu where I am very accustomed to my surroundings. The second stop is in a much less familiar area with the word “Heights” in the name. It’s slightly sketchy, but soon I’m on route to Haleiwa. Thankfully the festival is easy to spot and I get off at the right time.
I sign in at the Volunteer booth and wolf down a gluten-free peanut butter sandwich before spending two hours with small children. The woman who leads me over to the area asks me first, if I’m military (um…kind of flattered, but no), and then where I’m from on Oahu (that would be Boston, Oahu).
From 10-12 I work at the kid’s station helping the littlest ones with their arts and crafts. They can make mosaics, watercolors or small puzzles to take home. I stand outside the tent with a pinwheel to give to kids who are interested. They are so happy about their new pinwheels. I spend quite a while with a little girl named Abby. Later her mother tells me that they came back to the festival today just because Abby did not have time to do the crafts yesterday. She must be about 3 and she is adorable. Not only that, but I get to hang out with her for a while as she does each craft multiple times.
When my time is up the woman running the station hugs me and I receive a blue ticket which gives me half-off the price of one t-shirt from this weekend’s festival. Totally worth it, I would have done it for nothing. Now I start to browse the festival. I look for artists who do not have any customers in their tent to interview because I don’t want to take away from any of their sales. I also look for painters mainly who are doing images of Hawaiian landscapes, architecture, etc.
I fall in love with the first interviewee’s work and decide to interview him first. He started out as an architect and has been doing art for about five years. The colors in his paintings are incredibly vivid and he paints a lot of sailboats and islands that I recognize from my trip here. Later, I won’t be able to stop myself from buying one. My only souvenir for today (aside from the shirt). He is flattered to be interviewed, saying he never has been in his life. I only take about 4 minutes of his time and then I go off to another booth. I talk with a woman who paints palm trees and fruits and talks about instilling the aloha spirit into her art. I talk with a woman who has just moved to Hawaii after college and is trying to figure out how to be respectful when portraying Hawaiian culture. And I talk to just about the greatest lady I’ve ever met.
I had read about this artist online, Lynn Boyer. She does almost all open-air paintings, meaning that she usually doesn’t paint from a picture, but out in nature with her easel. Her work is stunning. She answers all of my questions enthusiastically and she exudes the same effervescence as her art. As I walk around looking at the different pieces I am stopped in my tracks. There’s our boat, the Blue Angel, sitting in a harbor in Hawaii. I look over at Lynn, “That’s my boat,” I say, “You painted my boat. You couldn’t have, but you did.” She laughs and says she saw the boat in a Hawaiian harbor. I tell her it couldn’t have possibly been ours, but it was a Pierson Vanguard with a blue hull and looked to be about the length of our boat.
After my interviews I get some food at one of the booths. They have thai food, so I’m in heaven. I eat pad thai, delicious. I explore the festival a little more, and around 2:30 I get on a school bus for the Haleiwa tour downtown. The tour is kind of dry, although I’m also very tired. The guide does a fine job, and it’s really impressive that a group of them did all this research and offer these tours for free, but he doesn’t really tell any stories or incorporate important figures, or common people into the fabric of the history. Additionally, I can’t get used to things from the 1930s being considered “old.” There are houses from the late 1700s down the street from me at home. Still, it was nice to have the tour and get to drive around a bit.
After the tour I get myself “shave ice,” which no one can stop talking about. It’s ok, but I don’t really understand what the big deal is. I eat the ice on the beach though, and it’s nice to be on yet another beach on this beautiful island. I’m glad I’ve turned my trip here into a day trip, I think that is the perfect amount of time if you’re not into surfing.
The North Shore is a big surfing area, and on the busride home I sit next to a surfer dude and his surfer dude son who both talk like Jeff Bridges when he’s stoned. The bus ride back is over 2 hours on the first bus and another 40 minutes on the second. I still don’t read or listen to music on the bus because I’m afraid I’ll miss my stop, and somehow I manage to stay awake the whole time.