Like I said in Part 1 I couldn’t quite believe we had just landed back in Hawaii. Unsure of what our next move would be we went to the USO Family lounge. I know I have talked about the USO before, and I am positive that its an organization I will continue to talk about because it truly is amazing. This lounge is only for families, you need to get a passcode in order to enter, it is maintained by volunteers who do a great job at keeping the fridge stocked with snacks and drinks, which are free for the families, it consists of 2 rooms; a lounge area with couches, t.v, and lots of toys and even an inside climbing frame. The second room contains 2 cribs, a changing matt, a smaller climbing frame for little people as well as couches and chairs. The volunteers that greeted us that day were a retired (Air Force) couple, who take hops all over the world and volunteer at the USO’s wherever they can; they said it was their way of giving back a little. How inspiring, something that I hope Matt & I can do when the time comes.
Not really knowing how long we would be delayed due to the mechanical issues, tired and even more crankier than I was before, I rang Matt! While he, along with my in-laws, offered to find us some accommodation I also didn’t want to be too far from the terminal so that we were there and ready to board as soon as the plane was fixed, I also knew that prices were excruciatingly high and then of course I had to pay taxi fares on top of that. Daniel had given me his number but of course I had left it at the hotel. Having seen the family room I was happy that we would at least have somewhere semi-comfortable to stay. As the day progressed it became evident that we would not be leaving any time soon and then the family room started to fill up with people waiting, hoping for flights, some with destinations in mind, others just wanting to go anywhere. I remembered that a lady I have only met online through a photography group, had a daughter, ‘K’, living in Hawaii; I figured I would message her and see if K (who also has an interest in photography) would fancy meeting up for a chat. To cut a long story short, a few hours later the girls & I were being picked up and taken back to her house, where she lives with her husband and 3 (of her 4) children. K and her family were amazing, so kind, generous, funny and welcoming. The youngest had Eden giggling so hard. The middle child loaned Eden toys and even let her play with her guinea pig. While the eldest gave up her room for us to sleep in.
K’s kindness didn’t end there, the next day, knowing that this was my first time in Hawaii, offered to take the girls and I out for a bit before dropping us back off to the terminal for our 2pm roll call. We first went to Moanalua Garden’s also known as Hitachi Park due to the large monkeypod tree with a distinctive umbrella shaped canopy which is used by Japenese electronic company, Hitachi, as part of its marketing campaign. We sipped mango smoothies (total deliciousness) as we meandered around, before coming to a pond full of koi fish and ducks. Eden loved feeding them and Clio enjoyed looking on, although I am sure she would have rather have been let loose. The park contains a Buddhist temple, a cottage as well as lots of beautiful trees from all over the world.
Next up was lunch, K took us to a Jackies Diner for some authentic Hawaiian food. I can’t remember the names of what I ordered, but I had 2 pork dishes, both delicious, and a side of taro which wasn’t too my liking, Clio however loved it! I also ordered some Chicken noodle dish, which was pretty tasty. The best, however, was the coconut jelly!
With still a couple of hours before we had to be back at the terminal K drove us around the bases, both the Air Force side as well as the Navy Pearl Harbor side.
Finally K dropped us back to the airport, where I quickly spotted some the other family trying to get back to Yokota AB who informed me our roll call time had been pushed back to 4pm. As the day went on the roll call time continued to be pushed back until finally at midnight it took place! A couple hours later we were on the flight and beyond exhausted we fell asleep before the plane was even ready to depart. Sadly, I was woken to be informed that the plane had more mechanical issues. I burst into tears. Clio had developed a fever. Eden, who through this whole adventure had been amazing, was ready to see her Papa who she missed dearly and I didn’t want to be the one to tell her that we may need to stay longer. I missed Matt and I was more than ready to see him. Thankfully, the awesome Air Force mechanics had us up and running a few hours later; the whole time we remained on the runway and the kids slept.
Arriving in Yokota, while not quite home, I breathed a sigh of relief, I knew if I couldn’t get on the space-a flight (which only had 12 seats) I was not far from Tokyo and could fly commercial should I need to. Thankfully we were selected for the flight and 1 hour 45 minutes later we landed in Kadena and Matt was there to greet us with flowers and even a diamond necklace! It was so good to be home.
A few days after getting home I read THIS article giving 10 reasons why woman should travel solo, I understand I had the two girls with me but I thought it was an interesting article all the same and I can definitely vouch for number 8 “Experience the Kindness of Strangers” while I only mentioned a few of the people I met on our journey, there were many more, all with different stories, offering words of encouragement, happy to hold a child if needed or to carry bags. I am so thankful I took this trip because it reminded me of how kind people can be.