Tag Archives: island

Turkey: The Country and the Lunchmeat

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Istanbul

In three days, I’ll be traveling to Europe 🙂 Rome–>Athens–>Santorini–>Mykonos–>Istanbul–>Capadoccia! One of the things I’m most excited about is the Blue Mosque in Istanbul (the beautiful thing shown in the picture).

I’m not sure what I’m more nervous/anxious/thrilled about: this amazing summer trip or my new teaching job starting as soon as I get back. I am officially moving from 7th grade English to 9th grade English. I accepted a position at Hays High School, my alma mater! To top it off, I’ll be teaching alongside my mentor, my real-life Dumbledore, the guy who’s responsible for me writing and teaching (thanks a lot, I’ll be poor forever). My novel is actually dedicated to him! So hey teachers, feeling down? You never know, maybe a student will dedicate a book to you one day.

I’m really gonna miss my squirrely middle schoolers though. Not to mention my coworkers here in Del Valle that I’ve come to deeply love and respect.

Hence my clever title…lunchmeat, cafeteria….high school? Ok, so maybe the dots aren’t as easy to connect as I’d like to think, but whatever.

Why am I writing one blog to talk about two completely different topics? I’m lazy, y’all.

In fact, I’ve said all I wanted to say already.

Let me sum up (I just love making lists, to be honest):

1. Rome- I guess that coin I threw into the fountain a few years ago for “returning” worked. Now about that other coin…

2. Greece- Was anyone else obsessed with The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants when they were younger? Yeah, I’ll be on the lookout for Kostas.

3. Turkey, the country- Please send good, safe vibes since it’s not exactly a prime time to travel there… Also: we’re going on a hot air balloon ride. Be jealous.

4. Turkey, the lunchmeat- Bring it on, freshmen.

 

Sidenote: it’ll be really nice to get away from all the book marketing exhaustion. THE WAITING ROOM is my baby and I love her…but she has been a real pain in the ass! Sorry to my WordPress/Twitter amigos- if I’m silent for a few weeks, it’s because I’m tanning on a Greek island. NBD.

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Yeah, Mon!

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You know you’re officially old when you opt out of going to the Ochos Rios Margaritaville with college boys and instead head up to your room, piña colada in hand, to read and pass out by 11 pm.

Ah, Jamaica. I’ve never had so much fun doing so little. Let me tell you, I didn’t get hit on ONCE. My younger self would’ve thought a vacation without vacation romance would be no vacation at all. Pft, who needs a man when you’re at an all-inclusive resort, sipping on rum from morning til night?

Don’t get me wrong, we swam with dolphins and climbed Dunn’s River Falls, but we spent the majority of our spring break working on our tan, our appetite, and our alcohol tolerance. I gained about six pounds and three shades of brown.

Jennifer, my co-teacher/co-captain/co-pilot/co-whatever else you can think of, DID get hit on. Hard. I literally thought they were going to kidnap her (and by they, I mean every Jamaican man in sight). The man driving us to the airport grabbed her arm and said, “I don’t want you to go. Stay here with me.” I thought I was going to have to go all BACK OFF SHE’S MINE on his ass. But most of the men just smiled and winked at her, gaping at her curvy figure. Our tour guides at Dunn’s nicknamed her Shakira (I definitely called her that for the rest of the trip). Then they’d glance at me and occasionally offer to sell me weed.

Conclusion: Jamaica is amazing. Side note: I do not recommend going “off the beaten tourist path”…as amazing of a country as it is, it’s still extremely impoverished and therefore, well, just scary in parts.

I dedicate the rest of this blog to random highlights that I typed in a note on my phone. Feel free to stop reading here.

-Jennifer hadn’t been on a plane in ages and was also a little sleep deprived. She rambled on and on when we were landing…it went something like this: “I feel like we’re floating. You know how when it speeds up and then it stops? Now I feel like we’re on a bungee rope. This would be a lot harder to park than my truck.”

-We witnessed a random drunk man stand on top of the hotel’s fake waterfall and throw his flip-flops into the pool below. He wound up walking downstairs to retrieve them and I said, “Excuse me, why do you hate your shoes?” He slurred that he just did it to do it, considered jumping in the pool to get his flops, then said, “Fuck it,” and stumbled back inside, barefoot.

-We went out on a small sailboat one day and the driver kept repeating over and over, “I’m going to get you ladies so wet.” Yeah…awkward.

-There was a snake in the ocean one morning! Freaked us out. The workers said, “No problem, mon, they don’t bite. They’ll just wrap around you.” Cool.

-We had an omelet man who we absolutely adored. As in, the same man made us a gourmet omelet every single morning. My breakfasts will never be the same.

-Jennifer was too lazy to keep walking back to the bar, so she would usually show up with four drinks in her hand. Then she discovered what a Hummingbird was, and all hell broke loose. Crazy lady. She would also frequently order in interesting fashions like this: “Can you just make me something blue? I want something blue.”

 

Conclusion #2: Jamaica is the most affordable paradise I’ve ever been to. Highly recommend! And all-inclusive is definitely the way to go. I can’t even explain how awesome it feels to walk up to a bar, order a beer (Red Stripe, mon!), and not have to even think about presenting an ID or money OR tip—tips aren’t allowed! They win coolest accents, yummiest jerk chicken, and most rum-filled island.

Love Letter

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Dear Hawaii,

I will miss your sand and everything attached to it.

I will miss the way the GPS says “Kah-may-ha-may-ha”.

I will miss warm malasadas and crunchy chicken katsu at potlucks.

I will miss those few and far between hapa hotties and North Shore board short-ed booties and tantalizing tribal tatted triceps.

I will miss driving through the mountains of H3, spotting Stairway and doing an inner I CONQUERED THAT happy dance.

I will miss the pineapple and pupus and Pidgin and the Pee-peh-lee-neh joke and Papailoa, where I go to read and bask alone.

I will miss my ohana (those staying on the island and those leaving) and so many moments in their lives, big and small. The birth of Cassie’s little man, the next time Kelly dyes her hair, the day Phil cooks a meal that doesn’t involve any frozen food and Annalise gets engaged and Leslie decides to stay a third year…

I will miss my keiki, who take up so much of my heart. I don’t ever need to have kids because I already have 200 it seems!

I will miss so much I could write a novel about the things I’ll miss. I could write a novel about the extreme anxiety I felt when I said goodbye to my favorite beaches and restaurants. I could write a novel about how the birds here are royal, expecting you to drive around them…yet, I’ll miss them.

I will miss every aspect of life here, all things, good and bad, because that’s how you miss wholly. Therefore I will miss the radio stations and lack of Mexican food right along with the rainbows, leis, honu, and mai tais.

I will miss calling this rock home. But I left home once so that I could return, maybe I’ll do the same again.

Oahu, I will miss your skies and smiles and waters, your colors and kindness. Mahalo for your patience and your always warm embrace. I will love you always, I will carry you everywhere- your sand and everything attached to it.

With aloha,
Alysha

Acceptable Tourist Traps

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5 Oahu Tourist Spots that are Worth a Visit

Living in Hawaii has its ups and downs, just like any other area. One major con? The tourists. They crowd beaches, cause traffic, and definitely overdo the floral print. Honeymooners are easy to spot and hard to avoid during peak season. These bright-eyed people snapping photos of every plant and sign flock to a few standard “tourist spots” on Oahu and I have to admit, I completely understand why. These are the spots that locals would love to stay away from, but most can’t—they’re just too beautiful or amazing or fun or all of the above.

When friends or family or strangers on the plane visit Hawaii, I always recommend hitting up the lesser-known locations on the island. The beaches  are less crowded and more beautiful, the restaurants are less expensive and more authentic, and the bars are filled with great people and great drinks instead of coconut bras and grass skirts. However, these five major tourist spots are irresistible—for anyone! My friends and I, and other locals as well, gladly surf through waves of sunburnt travelers for another experience at one of these attractions.

Turtle Beach: One of the first stops along North Shore, Laniakea Beach is extremely unique because multiple Hawaiian green turtles can usually be seen casually basking on the shore or swimming in the calm waves. The huge turtles, or honu, aren’t shy at all here. However, this became a problem when some people didn’t treat the creatures with respect, causing a group to band together to protect the turtles all day, every day. The Honu Guardians place red rope around the turtles so that people won’t disturb them. They also know everything about the honu, and happily dole out interesting facts and pamphlets to visitors. I was blown away to learn that the green turtles swim 500 miles to lay their eggs on another island—and then the newborns find their way to Laniakea Beach and the process starts all over. It’s an amazing spot on Oahu that offers an incredible up-close interaction with an animal that is absolutely fascinating.

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Diamond Head: To call Diamond Head a hike is a bit of a stretch. There are plenty of real hikes on the island, and this one is more of a “trail” in comparison. But that’s one reason why so many people love it—it’s easy and the view is an exceptional pay-off for the little amount of physical exertion applied. The entire path is paved, some of which consists of actual staircases. You’ll definitely break a sweat, but more so because of the sun beating down upon you. The breathtaking view is hidden until you reach the very top (which only takes about 45 minutes at a normal pace). It’s been bustling with all kinds of people every time I’ve been, but it’s worth it—nice work out, fantastic weather, and a gorgeous view of downtown Honolulu wrapping around the ocean.

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Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck: You haven’t had shrimp until you’ve had this $13 plate of pure heaven. And yes, it’s out of a truck. Tucked in Haleiwa, a small town in North Shore, this truck attracts an eclectic mix of people every day. I’ve never been and not had to stand in a line. But the buttery, garlic-filled platter of a dozen shrimp and two scoops of rice is well, well worth the wait.

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Matsumoto’s Shaved Ice: Open since 1951, Matsumoto’s sells one hell of a shaved ice. You can opt for something common, like coconut or strawberry, or you can explore some local flavors like lilikoi or li hing mui. Even the small size is huge, but you won’t have a problem finishing your frozen treat. Like everything on this list, be prepared to wait in a crazy line. But again—worth it. Make sure to pay an extra 25 cents for a plastic holder, which catches any drips or spills—you won’t want to waste one drop!

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Hanauma Bay: The best snorkeling that I’ve found on the island yet. Unfortunately, you do have to pay to get in to this nature reserve area, and again with the lines and crowds, but the wildlife in the bay is a sight you can’t miss. The reef offers some of the most beautiful fish species, turtles, and coral on the island. Plus, the bay is calm and safe, and a great beach area to just relax on after you snorkel.

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So there you go—five spots on Oahu that are super touristy, but also can’t help but attract locals like myself as well. It’s hard to avoid any parts of the island, honestly, because it is just as beautiful as the postcards. I still say that you’ll have a much better trip if you experience the lesser-known spots, like Stairway to Heaven, but these five sites have to be crossed off of your list as well.

Hawaii Bucket List

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A LOT more to cross off, and even more to add. Suggestions welcomed and appreciated! I’ve almost been here a year and I still don’t know a whole lot about this island…leave no stone unturned!

  1. Climb Stairway to Heaven
  2. Hike Koko Head
  3. Hike Lanikai Pillboxes
  4. Makapu’u tide pool hike
  5. Sex on the beach
  6. Skinny dipping in the ocean
  7. Visit Big Island
  8. Volcano hike on BI
  9. Visit Kauai
  10. Visit Maui
  11. Waimea Falls park/hike
  12. Surf
  13. Paddle board
  14. Booze cruise
  15. Learn a little ukulele
  16. Learn a little hula
  17. Learn a little Hawaiian
  18. Learn a little Pidgin
  19. Manoa Falls hike
  20. Shrimp trucks and shaved ice, repeat often
  21. Be a friend’s tour guide (local status)
  22. Whale watching
  23. Snorkel, snorkel, snorkel
  24. Scuba?
  25. Become as tan as I can possibly be
  26. Befriend a boat owner
  27. Explore Chinatown
  28. Art After Dark
  29. First Fridays
  30. Fresh Café Slam Poetry
  31. Get absolutely sill-ay in Waikiki
  32. Diamond Head
  33. Lighthouse Trail Hike
  34. Kualoa Ranch
  35. Kayak
  36. Meet Jack Johnson, Bruno Mars, and/or Dog (but preferably Jack)
  37. Pearl Harbor
  38. Iolani Palace
  39. Punchbowl
  40. Go to a luau
  41. Hit up every single beach on Oahu
  42. Bishop Museum
  43. Polynesian Cultural Center
  44. Honolulu Zoo, Aquarium, and Sea Life Park
  45. Parasail
  46. Hanglide
  47. Camping
  48. Ride horses
  49. Grow a pair and jump off of the Waimea rock
  50. Steal a pineapple from Dole Plantation fields
  51. Visit Lanai
  52. Decorate one of the “NS Christmas trees”
  53. Mac 24/7 Pancake challenge

Dating on an Island

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In case you hadn’t heard, I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific. It’s not exactly a large rock and most men here are either A. covered in tattoos and wear jeans and flip-flops to the gym B. are in (and obsessed with) the military or C. work with me in TFA. All three are baddd directions to go in. Trust me. Ok, so I haven’t tried option A, but some assumptions and judgments just have to be made.

Also on the plate: I have officially been swayed (by a very trustworthy source, might I add) to try out a certain online dating site. Let’s just call it Bokay Poopid. Don’t laugh. I was extremely hesitant about this endeavor, but finally took the leap after realizing that, in my current life, the only way to meet a person of the opposite sex is drunk downtown or at Foodland (no such luck in the cereal aisle). So Bokay Poopid it was. Worth it, you ask? Well, the free dinners have been nice. Some conversations have been great. But what it all comes down to is…the craziest, most ridiculous, insanely sketchy, creepy as hell messages I’ve ever read in my life. Let’s review a few experiences so you understand the magnitude of this situation, shall we?

Ex. #1: “How do you feel about guys doing you with a strap on?” This gem went on to talk about penis size (and offered to send picture proof). Thank god there’s a block button. What. The. Hell.

Ex. #2: “I buy you a horse.” That’s it—that was the entire message. I think it might’ve been in reference to me being from Texas, but then again, could’ve just been a sugar daddy with a ranch. When I read the message, in my mind he had a heavy foreign accent…because he didn’t say, “I would like to buy you a large animal to ride about” or “Would you like a thoroughbred complete with a saddle and stable?” Nope, just, “I buy you a horse.” Looking back, I really should’ve messaged. I’ve always wanted a horse.

Ex. #3: “How do you feel about egg salad sandwiches?” I did message this guy back, to ask him if it would be a deal breaker if I didn’t like them (because I don’t). To really throw him for a loop, I mentioned my love for tuna salad, preferably made with Miracle Whip.

Ex. #4: I go on a date with a guy who seems completely nice, normal, and smart. He casually mentions mid-meal that he’s shipping off to Afghanistan in a mere week. Thanks, bro.

Ex. #5: First date, the guy asks if I have any weed. WINNER.

There have been more, sadly, but let’s stop at 5. The point is, Foodland isn’t working out, the bar scene is definitely not working out (“Oh you’re a teacher? I bet you get a lot of apples, huh? Get it? ‘Cause you’re cute.” SHUT. UP!), and Bokay Poopid is obviously not working out either. Thanks Life, you’re the bomb.

Also, for the record, it’s not just me. My friends, since being on this anti-Cupid of an island have:

  1. Dated a guy and then been dumped via email.
  2. Met a guy for coffee and afterwards he basically tried to force her into his car. Near-rape is always fun. Ladies, if you live here, start carrying some pepper spray.
  3. Been set up with a wildly attractive man who turned into somewhat of a Clinger Stage Five. “Can I see you every second of every day for the next, say, rest of our lives?”
  4. Had love professed to them by coworkers or friends who have not a chance in hell and they now have to awkwardly keep seeing that person.
  5. Started to like or date the roommate or best friend of said awkward person.
  6. Dated and cheated on two people at the same time. “You will be my M-W-F. You will be my T-Th-S.”
  7. Have broken long distance relationships off because the fact that we’re thousands of miles away from any other civilization is hard.
  8. Have tried the whole friends with benefits thing (not smart).
  9. One night stands, nuff said.
  10. Have thought seriously about hooking up with their roommate. Icky.
  11. Have been a tourist’s personal “guide”…Poor, unsuspecting vacationers.

Do I really need to go on?

The fact is, this island is cursed. CURSED I TELL YOU. At least I’m not alone in this. Maybe this is part of “island fever” that no one told us before moving to “paradise”?

What are our options, you ask? Well, Lesbianism is out unfortunately. I wish it were that easy. Moving is out as well, I’m sticking out this two-year contract even if it crushes my body and soul! Bokay Poopid was disabled after the “I want to get you into a shower” message I got the other day, but desperation might make me enable it again I’m sure.

The only real option is to get over it, to accept the fact that for the next year and a half of my life, I’m going to be on this loveless rock, having hilarious dating experiences that make exceptional stories and pretty damn funny blogs. I can live with that. There’s also the the lesser known option D; carless, dorm-living, undergrad UH student. Don’t worry, he’s legal. I’ll let you know how it goes.

It helps that I have amazing friends going through the same crap (if not worse). Not to mention, we have wine and lots of it.

“If I met Ryan Gosling, he’d wanna build me a house.”