July 8, 2010---Is it really possible that I woke to my alarm in Del Dios at 5:30 this morning? Because it sure FEELS like at least 48 hours have elapsed since I boarded the flight leaving San Diego, bound for Kona, at 10:30 AM California time. It is now after 10:30 PM, Hawaii time, (making it truly after 1:30 AM by my California internal clock) so I’m bound to be loopy…but the story goes a bit deeper than that.
(I’m unfortunately unable to post any pictures, because I haven’t picked up the parcels, including my camera dock, which I shipped over to Hawaii.)
I’ll wait to extol the virtues of my first-ever first-class flight. There was the icing on the cake of the inhumanly prompt transition from disembarking at Kona, to changing into my island togs, to finding my luggage already circling the carousel…only 3 minutes after the scheduled landing! And, of course, I was ecstatic to see my daughter and granddaughters after 9 months. We met at Costco, where I stocked up, in between hugging, kissing and playing with the granddaughters.
While I have previously stayed only in Kona, I decided on this trip to move north of Kona, where the VOG, or volcanic smog, doesn’t impact the air quality. As usual, I had arranged to rent an ohana unit, a “granny flat” type of rental which offers kitchen facilities, and which is more quiet and private than in hotels.
Since my daughter had to head off to work, I left Kona at around 4:30 PM, intending to get my Costco-sized packages of chicken, cheese and salad greens into the refrigerator, before heading back into Waimea to get additional foods. The 45 minute drive into North Kohala was beautiful, with the skies clearing and the horizon expanding the further north I headed. As I followed the provided directions to head uphill and eastward (or mauka, as it’s known on the Kona-side), I felt I’d really discovered the perfect place for me to stay. The grasslands climb up to the sky, the homes are widely spaced, and native Nene plod down the road. I even passed an unexpected botanical garden about 2 miles from my rental. I felt almost giddy!
I managed to find the rental around 5:30 PM (Hawaii-time) after a few false starts (due to inaccurate and incomplete directions.) This unfortunately turned out to be the first of several bumps in this road.
Continuing to follow the directions, I parked the car and entered the screened lanai, only to find that the unit had not been left unlocked, as promised. I was concerned about reaching Debbie, the property manager, since it was after 5 PM, but successfully did so, and she was able to direct me to a hidden key after making a quick phone call. I was becoming more concerned about keeping the food purchases cold, particularly the chicken.
As I opened the door I was disheartened to find the refrigerator unplugged, propped open and pulled partially away from the wall. The electrical receptacle behind the fridge was inaccessible to me, with a scant 2 foot space behind the fridge, and a wall and counter blocking either side. (My arms are not as strong as they used to be, and I was afraid if I managed to climb in there, I might not be able to get out.) I called the Debbie back, and insisted on getting some help. She said she’d try to find someone.
While waiting, I walked throughout the rental. It unfortunately became obvious it had not been cleaned prior to my arrival, nor in any recent time. Dusty insect carcasses (cockroaches and a 4” long centipede) littered each room. There were cobwebs throughout. Due to the amount of rainfall and leaf-litter here, I KNOW that both cockroaches and centipedes are to be expected, so it wasn’t necessarily their presence that concerned me…it was the fact that I could tell they’d been there a while. Another call was made to Debbie. She offered me the first night free and said they’d sent someone the next day to vacuum.
I’ll pass on entering into additional descriptive details of the status of the room, because what emerged was that a mistake was made: somehow communication failed between the room-booking department and the cleaning department of the rental agency. This, coupled with the fact that the apartment had only recently become a vacation rental, meant it had also been quite some time since it had been cleaned.
I turned on the A/C unit in the bedroom, and placed the perishables in front of it, while I waited for Debbie to find someone to bring ice, plug in the fridge and bring a broom. (She was on the mainland, and the property owner lives on the other side of the island.)
Debbie’s daughter/business partner, Leilani arrived around 7 PM. She and her friend Koa brought in some ice and plugged in the fridge. As I shared my discoveries about the condition of the rental, she immediately agreed with my concerns, saying would NOT want to stay there, and she didn’t want me staying there until it was cleaned.
It is our human nature to make mistakes, but Leilani saw to it that they made right by the errors. It is now morning--I was MUCH too tired to stay up to finish this story last night! The tale of how Leilani made this right is another story, which I’ll share with you in my next blog. For now, I am starving, so I’d better rustle up some grub!