An Otaku Goes to Paradise Part 2

Part 8:

What is the Best Treatment for Rope Burns?

Anxiety’s Physical Manifestation

I was looking forward to rafting. I was so looking forward to rafting. This was not what I had in mind. We woke up again at the near crack of dawn for another boating adventure. I was thinking this would be a lot like our first marine cruise on a large boat and slow speeds towards popular snorkeling destinations. That is not what we got.

This was a tiny pontoon boat with two captains that were clearly taking out some deep-seated hatred of the sea by nearly drowning tourists and getting their kicks off on those who thought they were adrenaline junkies until they set foot onto this tiny craft and raced down choppy seas at around 30 nautical miles. It was a smaller vessel and a smaller group, so the captain really let us do what we wanted. “You wanna see whales and turtles? Let’s see whales and turtles!” “You want to go faster? SURE. LET’S GO FASTER!” none of these things are exciting or beautiful when you’re clinging on for dear life. The thrashing ride was way longer than expected and we stopped at the backside of the volcanic crater we visited earlier. But this was different. “Oh you know…it’s about 220 or so feet deep.” that statement should never be said so calmly.

I didn’t realize exactly how clenched up and scared I was until I did tempt fate and my fears and coaxed my terrified frame into the swirling abysmal cavern of sea death. My hands hurt as soon as I hit the salt water. I looked up to find that I had rope burns from holding onto the pontoon supports for so long and so hard.  I didn’t think I was scared or that it was so obvious but I looked green the entire boat ride and didn’t hit the water again despite being able to see whales (which apparently is super rare) and sea turtles (which is less rare but still super cool) I just didn’t have the desire to swim in that kind of ocean again.  I was more in love with the feral chickens running around the island than the whales and I have to understand that maybe that’s just kinda how I am.

Not everyone has these awe-inspiring moments when it comes to nature and that’s okay. Just as I was starting to feel like a mega loser, it came to my attention that EVERYONE felt sick after the captain’s choice of LARPing Speed Racer on the high seas; even the captain was a little ill after that. Still, my heart felt a little heavy that I let my anxiety get the best of me. But the seas were high and the surf was rough. Most people SHOULD be afraid of water 220 or so feet deep and turtles are kinda jerks. My rope burns will heal and it stands as a decent reminder that yes, anxiety can be limiting but it is there biologically for a reason. There are some things you’re meant to be afraid of, and that’s okay. And now I get to sport cool hand bandages.

Part 9:

In Decadence We Trust

You Can’t Have a Pineapple Based Economy

I had saved for this trip but my aunt did receive a stipend since this was an incentive trip. That fact alone brought out something very interesting in me: when confronted with really any sum of money I deal with it in a rather distinct way. I horde.

I am like the Dragon in Grendel. I rather save that money, make wise spending choices and on a whole keep my expenditures low to maximize the sum. But that’s just me. I’m the type of girl that will talk herself out of buying absolutely needed items just to save a buck so there’s no real healthy medium between the at times excess of my family and my tendency to save. Our last day’s excursion was to a local outlet mall and while I had already done far more shopping than I think I have in my adult life, shop was what we were supposed to do. Spending in any quantity began to feel like a battle for the sake of mementos. I was willing to give up steak for Spam, cocktails for cola and souvenirs for seashells (which I had to buy because our beach was so synthetic). Each receipt was a wound, a battle scar and it was starting to feel like our combined excess was keeping this island afloat.

The purchases I’m most proud of are the ones that supported local artists. A black and white pearl ring and a sea glass and geode bowl. That’s what I’m proud of. Oh and the obscene amount of postcards ( I scrapbook, don’t judge me.) The highlight of the shopping day was FINALLY getting a Dole Whipped, which is a delightful fro yo of pineapple and sweet Polynesian secrets. Best part of the day. Oh and the garlic Mahi Mahi from a local shop, served with two scoops of rice and one scoop of macaroni salad. Gotta love the military history of the island. Our bus ride back to the resort told us a lot about the current economy of the island. It was nice to hear.

Hawaii’s not a place mainlanders talk about. Apparently their governor kinda sucks, there’s actually a ton of social-political issues going that stems from a long standing battle between natives that want to protect the land and others that want to…not protect it?  And their economy is based on pineapple harvesting, hospitality and sugar. You can’t have a pineapple-based economy. The night ended with traditional Hula dancing which was amazing! I was so happy to see the stories of the people danced out. The legend of Pele (which I was happy to have known prior.) and some of the other legends of the gods, goddesses and the travels of the early people from Mother Tahiti to Hawaii. That was the highlight of the trip. Culture, finally.

Part 10:

The Long Flight Home

Closing Remarks

Wow. What can I say about Maui? It’s a beautiful place with awesome people and fantastic food. It’s almost too perfect. I think that’s why I was so eager to return. I was in a very synthetic part of Maui. Bleached beaches, perfect everything, Underground passages to keep lawns manicured and pools flowing. I want to visit a real city the next time I visit. I want to be on the other side of Hana. I want to see people, culture and rocky shores. I don’t need perfect beaches, perfect people or perfect bodies. The history of Hawaii isn’t perfect and the people know that.

There’s real issues, real people and plenty more to discover. So as I flew back home I kept the list of places I WANTED to visit and stowed it away. Culture will have to wait until I return. In the meantime I learned that the Polynesian culture wasn’t so much unlike my own. Ohana, a word that means “Family” often refers to members that aren’t blood much like Southerners have to this day. The people respect the land, their ancestors and the future of these islands. Many people I visited were impressed that I knew at least more than one language. That I knew Japanese culture better than my own and knew about local ingredients more than the others I was travelling with. What was hilarious was how little I felt like I knew about Hawaii. That fact hasn’t changed and I still want to know more. Mahalo, Hawai’i. Thank you for letting me invade your beaches for a few days. When I come back, it will be for real then.


An Otaku Goes to Paradise

I don’t go on many vacations. Conventions are like work for me since I’m often a guest, panelist or in costume. Not to say I don’t have fun but they’re not times for rejuvenation, it’s time to catch up with friends, fix wigs, worry about looking cool with professional voice actors. So when my aunt called and offered me a chance to visit Hawaii I did what most fangirls did. I worried about my manga collection. I did however agree to go and now I’m going to Maui.

This is to chronicle some of the fun facts about how being a cosplayer and fangirl shapes travel, social interaction and more. So please stay tuned. I’ll add to this more.

Part 1:

One Does Not Simply Ask a Cosplayer Not to Bring Her Whole Closet

Packing for Fangirls

When I go to an anime convention I usually have 3 outfits per day. My costume, my civilian clothes and my night look. My suitcases are so full of clothes when I go away to convention it’s hilarious but I always manage to pack an ungodly amount of clothing into tiny luggages and make it look not like a total train wreck. This is a rare instance where I’m packing for actually quite a long time. I need clothes for all of those times. I need outfits for galas. Suitable clothes for the ocean and to generally look like the young professional 20something that I am. I can no longer afford to look like I fell into the clearance rack at a Hot Topic. I’m going to start my packing way too late. I should have packed last week but now I’m typing this while sorting out clothing, getting accesories together and trying to find out why all of my swimsuits are Iwatobi High blue. Speaking of swimming, I also have to consider that when I swim, I can’t afford to be like Haruka Nanase, I often times run towards a pool with little thought. The hilarious thing about that fact is that I’m not a great swimmer. If I had HALF of Haru’s grace in the water I’d still look like a beached whale. My friend Carlos learned this when we went to convention together and the hotel we stayed at had a beautiful pool. He couldn’t keep me away from it and he learned that version of swimming is basically incredibly aggressive water twerking. This is the ocean, not a swimming pool. I can’t afford to throw my clothes off and run towards it hoping and praying that my active floating won’t result in my demise. Running into the ocean mindlessly? That’s called drowning and that’s how King Ludwig II killed himself (Yes, really. The Mad King of Bavaria drowned in Lake Stern by basically running in and not bothering to come back up.). I also can’t swim in the usual manner I’m used to for pool parties, a t-shirt and shorts over my suit. That’s silly. I’m not an anthropomorphic blob, I can be seen in public in just my suit, dry off and put on clothes like a normal human being.
What I’ve found to be helpful is to plan outfits based on the day’s activities. Most of the things I want to do in Maui involve museums, walking around and fumbling over Japanese at as many places as will allow me to continue to try and speak the very formal Japanese I learned in high school.  This means I can have a little bit of nerd flair, just not go overboard. There is also one thing I plan to do. I will wear all black on the beach reading Anne Rice. Why such a specific request? It’s to prove a point. Nerds can be kinda immobile when we travel, we tend to stick to what we know. That’s fine for some places but I’m going to a location that will literally not allow me to sit in one place and awkwardly flip through graphic novels. That won’t stop me from reading whenever I have a chance, however.

How I usually dress will do. Now getting all of those clothes into one suitcase. When I pack I’m usually watching something. I’ll probably watch Kill Bill or some kind of musical. That motivates me to get the work done faster. Now that clothes and makeup and accessories are covered….what does a nerd bring with her for entertainment?

An Interlude:

The Otaku’s Home is Sat

In realizing that I was going to be gone for more than a few days I decided to have my apartment watched. I live in a tiny studio just outside of el barrio, so I felt better having my apartment watched while I was away. Picking someone to watch your apartment is a chore. Picking someone who won’t judge what’s on your walls is a bigger chore. I’m a fangirl, I have prints from animes I like. Manga everywhere. Plushies. It’s intense. This is not a watch job for the uninitiated. When thinking of a house sitter, I asked a former anime clubber of mine. He more than agreed and now he’s happy to watch my place and have access to my anime. And my apartment is safe while I travel. He also won’t be scared away by the overwhelming about of merchandise.

Part 2:

What and How to Read Volumes 1-13

I am facing an 8 hour flight. I am not looking forward to this. 13 hours and I was in Germany. GERMANY. So that brings up what to do. I have handhelds (I’m the proud owner of a mint green 2DS), I have manga (most of them I’ve already read), I have books (too many), and other compact hobbies. I also have movies I’m bringing along with me as well as the things already saved to my very sturdy laptop.  This is good for me because I have a hard time reading on the bus for fear of missing my stop. Reading at home? Not happening. By the time I leave the office the only thing I want to do is go to bed. As much as I’m not excited about flying for 8 hours or suffering through jet lag, I will have some time with nothing else really to do but read. As I learned with my trip to Germany, the best way to treat jet lag is to resist the urge to sleep on the flight. I will need something to keep me occupied for 8 hours. Challenge accepted.

What I will be watching:

  • Destination Truth
    • I actually have a HUGE soft spot for these kinds of shows. Just because they never find anything. What I’m afraid of is the day they do find something.
  • FullMetal Alchemist
    • This is the anime that I say is one of my favorites. I can watch it over and over again and I always find something new.
  • Sweeney Todd
    • Because.
  • Dark Matters Twisted But True
    • Same as the above with Destination Truth. But these are actual scientific stories that many people don’t talk about and I absolutely love it.

What I’m reading:

  • Sweet Tooth: The Bittersweet History of Candy by Kate Hopkins
  • Pink Samurai  by Nicholas Bornoff
  • The Dharma of Dragons and Demons by  David Loy
  • All of the other books on my Kindle…which is over 1000

Why did I choose these?

These are books that I really needed time to sit and sink in. Time is something I’ll have plenty of. Most of them are also academic based so I plan to be brushing up on a few things while I am encapsulated.  I look forward to being able to sit down, highlighter and pens in hand to make and take notes.  I don’t get to read the way I like to because I like to get lost in a book. I can’t do that on busy public transit or on a park bench, that’s how young ladies get robbed. While I’m not excited for jet lag, I’m excited for solid blocks of time in forced stillness. I mention this above but it’s worth bring up again. This is why I chose these books.

Part 4:

8 Hours in Air

3,711 Miles  Later

I survived an 8 hour flight with little more than the snacks I packed and a cheese and fruit plate. I also logged more play time on my DS than ever expected. My key to surviving jet lag? Don’t sleep. I didn’t sleep but when I arrived in Maui, I was more than tired. But there’s nothing quite like being in the air for 8 hours. I amazingly have very little about the flight because fun fact about me: I’m actually kinda afraid of heights. I dislike flying. It’s a scary. It’s hubristic. It’s a giant act of defiance of nature and physics. So why do we fly? At the same time I had some beautiful, really deep thoughts about life and plummeting to one’s death from several thousand feet. Needless to say, I’m happy to be on the ground.

Part 5:

I Love Volcanic Isolationism

Breakfast and Snorkeling with the Iwatobi Swim Club

After the jetlag and exhaustion I managed to wake up without feeling entirely miserable. My aunt and I went to the breakfast buffet at the Hotel and of course, I was blown away. Everything has been absolutely delicious and I’m very aware of how lucky I am to do this. Breakfast was a pina colada waffle and miso soup. Because. Why not? I ate far more than I needed to and I enjoyed every moment of it. Japanese culture is very important here in Hawaii and it’s very important to me. I adore any situation where I can enjoy miso and pancakes, rice and bacon and fried Portuguese donuts and Brie cheese.

After a delicious breakfast, we were signed up to snorkel. I wasn’t expecting to do that but it’s more than fine. We were set to snorkel inside of a crater formed thousands of years ago that now plays host to corals, ocean fish and apparently whales and eels. Now as mentioned before, I’m not a great swimmer and I was apprehensive about snorkeling but a deal’s a deal. Let’s snorkel. The ocean was beautiful and amazing. The water was so clear and blue. I saw fish I never expected, corals for the first time and got to love being on a boat. And that’s the thing I forget about myself. Once I’m IN the water, it’s hard for me to leave. Getting there, can be a bit of a rough process. There was also a curative for seasickness that involved minced ginger and Sprite to keep tummy troubles away. I was more than fine; my aunt was a little bit less than fine, perhaps. She slurped down these beverages and I was happy to continue to fetch them. I found them equally delicious, even if I wasn’t sick to my stomach. I did learn though, that rum can be added to the ginger tummy elixir and then I was truly sold. Medicine turned into a cocktail? Sign me up.

After a day of viewing fish under the water, my aunt and I decided to hit the beach.  I learned that there is apparently some type of beach pheasant that lives on the shoreline and the water was cold, salty and wonderful. I had a hard time leaving the water, despite nearly drowning due to a strong tide. But surviving the drowning made me feel stronger. I was able to conquer my fears for a moment. That feeling of invincibility wouldn’t last long.

Part 6:

Dinner off Resort

The Great Hawaiian Rebellion  

I dislike resort food. I dislike entrees with 5 sauces. Not everything needs a reduction or foam. I also dislike resort prices. Even though there are highly recommended and very tasty celebrity dining options beneath me I was not looking forward to eating anything on the menu. I wanted simple food. We found a place: Manoli’s. A  pizza joint with a fantastic outdoor dining option and some of the best pizza and pasta I’ve had in a long time. But it was honest and simple food. I look forward to more meals that are honest, delicious and not worth a car payment.


We managed to eat really only breakfast on resort during our stay. Most of our other meals were off resort and included Manoli’s, Tommy Bahama’s, Monkeypod and L&L BBQ (The most local out of all the places and was my favorite by far). The only meal we did have on resort was lunch on our last day and it was…not worth the money, I’m sad to say. I rather have had more outdoor pizza with feral cats.

Part 7:

The Best Laid Plans

Someone Please Feed Courtney

Today for the first time I’d have some time away from my aunt. I ate breakfast alone, which was great despite being treated like a fragile child by the staff. At resorts, apparently a woman doesn’t eat alone. Who knew? I ate less this morning but it was still delicious. My day included a massage and I was looking forward to it. A note should be made: I’m usually not a fan of massages. They’re often painful for me and I end up more sore leaving than I do walking in. I signed up for a massage because I didn’t want to bike 28 miles. I don’t think I’ve walked 28 miles total in my 25 years of life. My massage was set for the afternoon and I checked in only to be told that my appointment would be with Courtney.

Courtney’s a man.

This was my first professional massage with a male massage therapist. And he was very good. It wasn’t awkward but when you sign up for a firm massage, firm from a woman’s hand and firm from a man’s hand are very different types of firm. Also, when tying a robe’s sash, don’t think kimono. I had to be cut out of my robe like a chubby chocolate sausage. What was amazing was that apparently this isn’t an uncommon issue. Courtney’s had to cut people out of their robes before. That didn’t help my ego.

It’s difficult to relax when you can hear someone’s stomach growling in your ear. I ended my massage after wondering if Courtney was fed properly and that I am sore and “full of free-floating toxins”. I waited for my aunt to return and watched far more trash TV than I like admitting. I was bored. When I first arrived in Maui, I wanted to go to museums and do culturally interesting things. What I ended up doing was watching rich catty women throw wine at each other.  There’s no shame in this, vacations are meant to be relaxing. If this is how I happen to relax then so be it. And I still had toxins running round in my body, so I might as well take it easy.