Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Hawaiian Blues

It seems 'jet lag' is not the only unwelcome thing served up with the in-edible food on long haul flights. Evidentially 'bonus bugs' circulate in the pressurised air...they replace a little oxygen; I'm convinced the O2 is turned down at least a notch to induce us to sleep. Well, that's my theory, however misguided, inexplicably I feel a little better for it. In truth, it's probably the paracetamol and throat numbing, cough suppressing lozenges that are making me feel better, that and the cat purring reassuringly beside me. Of course I do appreciate that I am in no position to be feeling miserable, however horrid my cold is, after all I'm privileged to have be flying long haul in the first instance, never mind returning from paradise! When I couldn't get comfy in my 'premier economy' seat...when there seemed to be no substance whatsoever to my backside and I was literally perching on my bones I remembered we had not since long witnessed countless down and outs living in cardboard boxes on the streets of San Francisco. No complementary miniature pillow or standard issue scratchy blanket for them...not even a smile to keep them warm.

Onto warmer thoughts; another colour from my 'kaleidoscopic' memory. I'll choose blue, for the Hawaiian Blue butterflies, when I close my eyes I see them dancing like the light on the ocean.

My most vivid memory of them is from the day we visited the Kauai Coffee Plantation. We were winding our way along a self guided tour; a less than intrepid route through tamed plantings of coffee trees and sweet smelling tropical blossoms when I looked down to see the sparkle of tiny wings basking in the sun amongst the short grass. I had read that their food plant is Koa, in fact it's familiar name is 'the Koa butterfly. No Koa here amongst the coffee trees, so I was all the more surprised and delighted by my chance sighting. Six or seven in number, they flickered and fluttered like eye lashes, seducing the sun to warm them. We were early, having waited in possibly to best car park in the world for the plantation to open, I imagine we caught them just as they were waking. Their wings span barely an inch; as they flutter and close momentarily they reveal exquisite iridescent soft green undersides. Admiring such perfection probably accounts for the first of many mosquito breakfasts I unwittingly provided whilst in Hawaii. Though the Hawaiian Blue is native to this paradise, the mosquito is not. Whalers bought them to the islands; one could argue that it but a small curse for the carnage caused by these brutal early hunters, tainting the beautiful blue Pacific blood red.

I should mention the coffee; being our first full day in Kauai, we thought we'd begin our adventures gently and simply, indulging our yen for a delicious cup of coffee. As our friends and family know; we are not great drinkers, except when it comes to coffee. Sometimes we teeter on the brink of becoming coffee 'bores' or put more politely 'connoisseurs'. As they grow, roast and grind our 'drug of choice' here, you can imagine our excitement as we waited for the establishment to open.

'The Kauai Coffee Company' is Hawaii's largest coffee estate, boasting rare coffee beans such as 'pea berry' and special roasts, not to mention unpalatable adulterations such as chocolate, coconut and tropical fruit flavoured coffee (yuck!). Well, all this being true, alas it seems that they have yet to master 'the brew'. No 'cafe crema' layer to be admired here, no superlative expresso shots, no velvety thick top to your cappuccino...and if you want to see they very definition of a mystified expression, try striking up a friendly conversation about 'barista art!' Of course, all this will only resonate with coffee geeks. That said, it was a curious and abiding pleasure removing the skin from the roof of my mouth in sampling thimbles full of hot coffee from the twenty or so complimentary coffee urns which stood like miniature Darleks amidst a display of coffee sacks and springs of coffee cherries in the cafe. Frankly, and entirely appropriately, the lack of a decent barista brew didn't come close to distracting from the joy of finding ourselves in paradise. As we sat basking in the early morning sunshine on the plantation lanai, privileged to the very first two strangers in paradise to visit that day, we were incapable of any expression deviating from a broad grin. We had smiles to share as by the time we left we found ourselves weaving through the first caffeine deprived American coach party to call. Discreetly scratching my itchy knees as we found ourselves back in the best car park in the world I wondered how many visitors would notice the Sapphire bright jewels in the grass, the Koa Butterflies.

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