The Oahu tourist invasion is not limited to humans. Almost none of the birds we saw are native to the island. The doves, cardinals, and sparrows eating spilled azuki beans at this Honolulu shave ice stand are all transplants*. This doesn’t diminish their beauty or charm but being a true tourist myself I wanted to see how the locals live. Earlier today I got my wish.
We were bicycling on the windward side of Oahu where a more generous rainfall gives the volcanic land a green lushness not found on the drier west coast. The bike path, which passes though a neighborhood of nice homes, parallels a long sandy beach. Almost every block offers an unpaved path to the beach where families sunbathe, play in the warm sea, or just watch a small surf touch offshore islands.
Looking for a sandy place to rest we pulled into a beachside picnic area and spotted a diminutive chihuahua being carried about in a two liter bucket. Showing no interest in escaping, the dog allowed its bikinied owner to carry it to a resting place by the water and then to the shade of a beach umbrella. Aki would have liked the attention but not the confinement received by the chihuahua,
Minutes after returning to the bike path I stopped to photograph a green vertical mountain wall rising about a quiet slough. There a black and white shore bird waded in the shallows slough while a line of bright yellow kayaks floated by, being pushed by wading beach goers. I stood on a bridge over the slough where another woman snapped pictures of the bird. After putting away her camera she asked me if the bird was a stilt. Ignorant and almost blind to the bird by glare on the water I told her I had no idea.
Once back at our home stay I compared my photos of the bird with those in a guidebook and found it to was one of the 1400 remaining Hawaiian Stilts stilling wading Hawaiian waters. I couldn’t justify feeling the pride of a successful bird stalker but saw this brief interaction with the endangered Hawaiian bird as a simple, if undeserving gift to a northern tourist.
*Shave Ice is a dessert made from finely shaved ice over which flavored syrups are poured. It is sometimes formed over a core of ice cream, sweet azuki beans, and small pellets of sweet rice four. Condensed milk can be poured over the top of it before serving for added indulgence. It tastes best when eaten in a sunny spot at the end of a good day.