Wednesday 6th April 2016 – Hilo, Hawaii, The Big Island

Welcome to your new tax year. If you do spreadsheets and stuff, this is the day you need to start a new one.

Decent night’s kip, for a change.

Email from home. Leak definitely stopped, but pretty bad staining, according to the pics. Now the bills start coming in. Wowzer. Oh well, easy come, easy go, I suppose.

Managed to escape the disgusting parts of breakfast, by keeping last night’s roll and carrying it over, so to speak. Melon has now been sneakily added to the options, but the portion size was pretty insulting. Still, better than nothing, which is what you get if you ask for raspberry-flavoured yoghurt. Yes, I know you have banana. That’s because it’s disgusting and no one eats it!

Off the ship and onto the shuttle bus. Well, if there had been one. There apparently are not many vehicles available here, so they were only running every half hour. That’s a long time to ask someone aged over eighty to stand. And wait. In the rain. So we got on the Hoppa On Hoppa Off minibus, which is the local tour bus, and the nice driver took us into town.

There was a market with crafts and antiques, where I spent a surprisingly small amount of money, considering the number of bags I ended up with. Then a taxi to Walmart. Which, oddly, we had to share with the taxi driver’s wife, who was asleep in the front seat! Very odd. The Walmart complex was out of town – ish. Everything here is so spread out, it’s hard to tell if you’re in town or not, to be honest. I think this is really a very small, pleasant town that they have just spread out like an American town, so you have to drive from one shop to the next. If they put them next to each other, this place would probably only be about four streets square, instead of fifteen minutes’ drive square! At this point, it stopped raining, which was nice, cos it meant we got to see a bit of the town as we drove through.

I bought a laptop in Office Max, which is what they seem to call Office World over here. And it speaks English! The sales girl was absolutely lovely, and knew her stuff. She even took Dad’s shrapnel and made 81 cents out of it, which made his pockets much lighter! We have 14 days to take it back, so if I hate it, I have San Francisco and San Diego in reserve. But I doubt I will. But I may have trouble recalling my Office 365 password, which may make things tricky for a while…

I also bought a wireless mouse. I brought one with me, but I picked up the wrong connector, so the pooter and the mouse couldn’t talk to each other. Have spent the past three months using the touchpad. Am now liberated from that little annoyance. Which is nice.

Then we ate in McDonalds. You know what you’re getting and it’s quick. The portions were huge. I had to finish everyone else’s fries. I’m a martyr, I tell you. No one appreciates my suffering.

Then more Walmart shopping fun – t-shirts for less than five dollars. Rude not to, really, if they’re giving them away like that…  (100% cotton, made in Honduras, for the more curious among you).

Then back to the ship on the free shuttle bus (well, we think we were supposed to pay, but no one asked us for any money!). Then I took the bags back to the cabin, before we headed off again. We used to call this “doing a Honolulu” – buying so much, you have to go back and unload halfway – but we might change the name now.

Then we took the Hoppa On Hoppa Off tour of the whole place. It didn’t take long! It was, essentially, a nice drive along the coast and back for an hour. When we looked on the map of the whole island, we reckoned we had pretty much travelled two squares. Barely touched the surface of the place, although granted much of the centre is volcano (yes, active). But we had a lovely day. It’s a truly nice town, the people are lovely, and we couldn’t really fault it in any way. A few more buses might not go amiss, mind you, if they’re going to keep passengers happy. Remember, we are a comparatively small ship, and if they can’t handle us, what will happen when something three times our size pulls in?!

Got a slightly bizarre text message from my bank during the evening, asking if a card payment was genuine. I rang Reception and they said, yes, we requested an authorisation for that amount. Five days ago. So I texted back that, yes, that was real, and they replied “Thank you. We have now unblocked your card”. Don’t be silly, I’ve used my card so much today, the corners are melting. Even the market stalls accepted it. It’s not blocked. All a bit odd. Still, they’ve got four days to get themselves sorted. Not really my problem. As far as I can figure, the worst that will happen is that the payment for my computer will not go through, by which time, I’ll be out of the country! Not worried!

Sorry, no postcards today. No magnets either, come to think of it. Hawaii, you have let us down. Tut.

Avocado at dinner! RIPE avocado, with EDIBLE French dressing. I was like a puppy with two tails. How pathetic can their service have become that those five words are worth celebrating?! The only remaining let down was that the decent GF rolls are all gone, so they are now expecting us to eat dishwashing sponges for dinner AND breakfast. Nope, not happening. The head waiter was mortified. He went to the bakery, he went down to the stores himself, he searched the whole ship. He came back very shamefaced about the fact that there was nothing else available. Oh well, I should probably not be eating bread anyway – GF or otherwise – so it’s not the end of the world. But it’s a bit tough on every other coeliac on the ship – even if he does treat me like I’m the only one aboard!

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