Christ – look at this place.
This is Waimea Bay on the north shore of Oahu, recommended to us by some diver we met in Fiji a month previous. An absolute living cartoon of a place. A glorious, widescreen riot of yellow and blue. I remember with laser-guided clarity seeing this for the first time, riding the road along the approaching cliffs in a shit bus, turning the bend and seeing the bay slowly uncurl like a flowering lily. We moved into a bungalow on the beach, sharing with this lovely American couple from San Francisco, who, within the first day, had blocked the fucking toilet.
They were nowhere to be seen. Not that it really mattered, I wasn’t about to come crashing through their bedroom window, in a balaclava, screaming “WHICH ONE OF YOU DIRTY BASTARDS DID THE MASSIVE SHIT?” I did want them there to baseline the plan to get it fixed, in the very polite manner classically associated with The Englishman Abroad.
I hightailed down to the bungalow office, a chaotic place, set amongst collapsing tree-houses doubling as characterful tourist accommodation, and run exclusively by proper nice surfer dudes, working there while the surf was flat on the north shore and therefore they had nothing to do. All in flip-flops, board shorts, and rope bracelets. Relaxed to a fault. If you’d burnt the bungalow down and thrown the smoking, charred timber at a bunch of local schoolchildren (one option of dealing with a blocked toilet), you probably still would have got a shrug and a smile.
To my surprise, my new American housemates were there, looking tall and radiant, like the handsome, pan-blocking bastards that they were. Hello. Hi. Yeah, the toilets blocked I said. Yeah that was me, said the guy, blushing slightly, all sheepish grin, and white teeth. I’ve just come to get a plunger he said. I just folded – I was trying to be a bit serious about all this – but I couldn’t be. I behaved disgracefully, in the sense that I instantly forgave them because they were nice and funny and good looking. If they had been totally fucking wizened little hobbits with bad breath…. I still would have been nice to them initially, but I probably would have stayed in my room until they fucked off.
Jesse, the guy was called. I forget his girlfriends name. She was very nice. Ellen, that was it. She did beach yoga and got a rash at some point. Jesse was an Economics major at UCLA. He let us stay in his mums house in San Francisco when we departed, in a granny flat that was bigger and nicer than any house I’ve ever lived in. Brilliant people. I’ve attached a picture of Jesse buzzing over a turtle in the shallows of the bay. The turtle is that dark looking lump in the sea. Top photography by me here – it didn’t really end up as a good picture of anything or anyone.
Lesson: If you want to endear yourself to someone, absolutely hammer their toilet with a massive poo and suddenly you’ve got a shared dilemma to bond over. But also be good looking and charming. Disclaimer: This is awful advice.
I felt great being here – in all seriousness, there’s a lot to be be said for being a total bum, living off fresh fish, swimming in the ocean every day in the sun. A guy who was fixing our roof took us swimming on his lunch break. In the ocean, amongst the reef and the turtles and the fish. That’s what this guy did on his fucking lunch break. It still haunts me every time I eat a sandwich at my desk. The bastard still ruins every lunch I have.
Honolulu is a bit rubbish, by the way. Fly in and get out. Apologies if that sounds snooty, but if you’re going to fly all that way, travel an extra hour or so and get your toilet blocked and all future lunch breaks ruined on the north shore.