Friday, 15 October 2010


Today is my last day on this magical happy island. "Aloha!" is used for both "hello" and "goodbye" and as I don't really want to say goodbye it seems very appropriate. Today I'm having my private lei making class with an incredible, Hawaiian grandmother. She works in the hotel, as does most of her family and friends but today is her day off and she has come in to teach me this local art. Firstly we have to gather our material, whilst I wonder around the base of the trees selecting the prime blooms she is shimmying up the Plumeria trees to get us more. We fill a large wicker basket and then find a shady spot out of the midday sun for the benefit of the one of us who has an English rose complexion.

She explains that we have to carefully sort the heady perfumed flowers and decide on a design. The act of sorting the blooms allows them speak to you and the characteristics of each type of Plumeria reveals itself. The pure white ones with the tiny yellow centre overhanging my rooms terrace wilt too quickly so these are pushed to one side. The very yellow ones are the most robust so I will insert those in between the more delicate purpley and pinky ones which are my favourite. My wonderful teacher shows me how to thread the blooms onto dental floss with a giant needle whilst serenading me on her ukulele and telling me about her fascinating life.

We've gathered enough flowers to make two leis so it seems silly to waste them. She explains if I keep them in the fridge they will last a couple of days but I have a flight to Honolulu and then LA later so their life expectancy is rather curtailed I suspect.
Adorned in my gorgeous leis, I spend the rest of the time in this idyll enjoying a last meal at the Ocean Grill, capturing a few more shots of palm tendrils against those impossible blue skies and even as the little bus takes us to the airport, more of the local flora and conifers lining the roads.

I still can't really believe I got to visit Hawaii, this beautiful island of Lana'i and M's dream place to visit before she died. It really is like no other holiday I've ever enjoyed, and I will never forget my little slice of paradise. And for a few hours at least I have perfumed flower leis as my memorable taste of Hawaii to accompany me back to the real world.

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