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Year 1 in Hawaii Recap – by Kirsten

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Its hard to believe we’ve been living in Hawaii for a year now.  And what an amazing year its been.  There have been more festivals, beach trips and sightseeing than I can recall.

Here are some of the highlights from the past year:

  • Learning to sail.  We’re only “certified crew” at this point but hopefully we’ll be day skippers in the coming months.  I’ve wanted to learn to sail ever since I set foot on my friend’s sailboat in Germany in 1986 and now I’m well on my way to realizing a dream.
  • Swimming with dolphins.  Absolutely incredible to be in the water while these magical creatures swim, jump and flip nearby.
  • Going to the top of Mauna Kea.  At 13,796′ above sea level, I think its the highest above sea level I’ve ever stood.  The top reminds you of what the moon would probably look like.  And how amazing it was to view stars from one of the best stargazing mountains on the planet.  The journey up and back takes you thru 11 of the 13 climate zones found on earth which is quite unusual as well.
  • Viewing the active volcano at Kilauea.  Its incredible to stand on earth younger than you are and to witness how the islands were born.  We’ve also been lucky to see lava flow on the surface albeit from far away.
  • Learning about the Hawaiian culture has been such a neat opportunity too.  From seeing blessings of things to authentic hula to learning about the history of the Hawaiian people, their language, their foods and their land.  Its almost like living in a foreign country with is own culture, dress, language and foods.  And to be able to teach my children about this culture and learn to embrace pieces of it myself, has been such a great learning experience.
  • Swimming and snorkeling in the ocean has been one of my favorite parts of living here.  I’ve found that snorkeling around a coral reef is my personal zen and makes me feel alive, calm, and happy.  We’ve seen everything from moray eels to more varieties of tropical fish than I can count to beautiful corals, crown of thorns starfish, and plenty of things I can’t even identify.
  • Going to each and every festival of which there have been many.  The Mango Festival, Kona Coffee Festival, Mac Nut Festival, and a lot more.  Each one has taught us more about the island and been a great way to get out and about.
  • In that same vein, we’ve been lucky enough to attend two different Japanese Festivals as well.  They’re open to the public so we’ve always felt welcome and gotten a chance to learn more about the Japanese culture as well.  We recently attended a Japanese O Bon Festival which celebrates the life of those who passed during the past year.  Its a happy festival complete with dancing and Taiko drum performances.
  • Getting to see huge marlin at the International Billfish Tournament that happens here every July.  We got to see (and touch!) a blue marlin that was 482lbs and a few beautiful yellowfin tuna.
  • Going to a floating lantern ceremony that honored those that have passed on.  It was a beautiful thing to see and a nice way to think of those we’ve lost but still remember and miss.
  • Having the kids participate in their first races.  Mara has since graduated to doing swim & run races and I love watching them love the sport and learn to compete.
  • Nearly sinking our kayak was also another adventure that stands out.  It seems odd I guess for something like this to stand out in a positive way, but it really was a funny experience that turned out just fine.  Nothing like getting picked up by a Zodiac packed with tourists and getting “towed” back to the harbor.

And this list is just the highlights.  I can’t even begin to describe the things I’ve learned and experienced this year and all the ways I’ve changed because of moving here.  So mahalo (thank you) to Hawaii for welcoming us with your aloha spirit and sharing all that you have to offer.

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