Not too long ago, I had to ride the bus to work. It was an interesting experience. I stood at the bus stop for about ten minutes or so with a woman who did everything in her power to actively ignore me. She said ONE WORD to me the entire time: "Yeah." (when I asked her "The 11 stops here, right?")
We boarded the bus--myself toward the front, and my new frenemy as far back as she could find an open seat. She's a "local". Though I live here, I am not a "local" in her eyes. Or in the eyes of most authentic, native locals. That's a discussion for another time though. She quickly left my mind as The Bus (Oahu Transit Service's name for their fleet of public transit vehicles--creative, no?) lurched forward and we began our journey into downtown Honolulu. It was obvious that many of the passengers of the number eleven morning bus are regulars. They all seemed to know each other and they chatted about their to-do lists for the day, family, and work. I felt sort of left out. Oh well.
After making a few more stops in Aiea, it was off to the freeway. We exited into a bustling downtown Honolulu and I was treated to a rather unique (well...unique for myself) view of the city. I'm sure it was nothing to my fellow riders--the regulars. For me, though, it was fascinating. We drove through China Town and I watched cute, elderly shop owners shake out rugs and roll up their shades to welcome customers along with the morning sun. I saw multiple varieties of meats, fruits, vegetables, herbs, and hand-made goods being carted out to the walkways. I saw people rushing off to work and children being shooed away to school.
As we left China Town, I got to see a Honolulu that I hadn't before. (I don't have a vehicle here, so my mom does most of the driving around--she's not a fan of city driving) We have never ventured very far into the heart of the city. My mother is not one for meandering around in city traffic. She hates it. She avoids Honolulu like the plague. If, for some outrageous reason, she is made to enter the city, she does so armed with her GPS and a klonopin at the ready. She gets in and gets out with as little sight-seeing as possible. Kind of a bummer. I'm a bit more adventurous. I like to drive around and get lost a little and then turn to the GPS to help me find home again when I'm done exploring. Anyway--the city. I saw a big theater that I didn't know was there. And an art museum. And lots of interesting statues/sculptures. The architecture in Honolulu is amazing! I wanted to take pictures of so many things! But I didn't want to look like a tourist....so I kept my camera to myself and tried to solidify some pictures in my memory.
When I reached my stop and King and Punchbowl, I was a little turned around. And nervous. There were a LOT of people there. Must be a major stop/pick up spot. Plus, I'm a little white girl in downtown Honolulu by myself. There were people from all walks of life at that stop. Seriously. There was even a guy standing there with a bible and a travel podium yell-preaching to uninterested passers-by and otherwise preoccupied soon-to-be bus passengers. I REALLY wanted to take a picture of him, but I didn't want to come off as offensive....so again, I kept the camera tucked away safely in my purse.
All in all, it was by far the most interesting bus ride of my life. My favorite. I wish I could show you all of the things that I saw! Honolulu is a beautiful city full of color, culture, life, and energy. I am so glad I got to experience it the way so many "locals" do. Even if it was only once. If you ever find yourself on the island of Oahu, don't be afraid to ask "Aia i HEA ke ka'a ohua?" (Hawaiian for "Where's The Bus?")