A wandering bird's-eye overview of most things even vaguely related to travel, and an opportunity for writers, artists and photographers to contribute the historical, the hysterical, the quirky and quixotic... anything with heart.

2 years ago
Burning in paradise
Burning in paradise

I am sitting in paradise, so they tell me.  Here on Kona, the Big Island of Hawaii, where Hawaiian royalty used to come to play and relax. I'm possibly on the only soft seat in the world, outside of my home back in Melbourne.  Have you ever noticed, when you travel, that you wind up sitting on a lot of stone benches, concrete steps, and bare plastic chairs?  Look, I understand, I truly do.  Easy to clean, easy to dry after rainfall.

But I have no padding between my sit bones and the world.  Even though I have a padded everything, my sit bones are threadbare – there’s my bones, a smidgeon of flesh, then open air.  Makes horse, camel, donkey, elephant, and every other sort of riding an agony.  Wherever I sit on an animal, it seems their sit bones are aligned with mine.

I spent three days of bruised and blistered pain after a horseback ride in Sth Africa.

So, I’m noticing that my bum is getting rather sore about a week into this holiday.

I’ve taken off from the Sheraton Kona (The Big Island of Hawaii) hotel this morning and wandered(stupid me, forgot my great big Byron Bay sunhat, and it turns out the sunscreen doesn’t flow out of my roll-on sunscreen bottle) in morning sunshine to this peaceful spot near the hotel.

I’m sitting on a padded chair (hurrah!) outside the Sea Quest Snorkelling and Rafting shop, in the shade.  I’m near the public beach, which is simply a concrete slope into the water.  Everything is lava rock here, where Madam Pele built Kona, and fought with her sister the ocean goddess.  A few people are swimming, one older lady paddle-boarding, and a few kids scoffing down plates of local food.  It’s Saturday morning, and I’ve been gone from Melbourne since the previous Sunday.

A boat called Capt. Jack floats nearby, and further out in the calm aquamarine water, bigger waves are breaking on black rock to create spray and white foam.  I can hear the sound over the twitter of birds that I can’t see.

Nearly everyone I can see is dressed in black, which makes me swelter at the thought.  I have on baggy, thin white shorts, and a bright orange singlet.

There is only a slight breeze shimmering the palm trees.  A yellow butterfly jerks its way around the tiny lawn area in front of the shaded tables and chairs.

I am traveling with The Excellent Husband (TEH), but have had enough of company today, and frankly, the last few days.  I’ve left my HRT  at home (my Hormone Replacement Therapy), and now I remember why I take it.  It cools my body so that not every moment feels like 30 degrees Celsius, and stops the on-top-of-that hot flushes.  It calms my anxiety down to a level where I can sleep, mostly, and it cools the rage that fills me every second of every day.

I want to punch, and bite, and pull hair.  For no reason other than I do.  For people being alive, for TEH breathing, for people whining they’re hot whilst wearing black in Hawaii.

When I get like this, every magnificent scene is reduced to ‘it’s a big hole in the ground’, ‘it’s water’, and ‘I hate people’.  I’m no more interested in eavesdropping than I am in geography(my most hated subject in high school).  Right this moment, I could be shown the wonders of the deep, and I’d want to get the trolley to Waimea Shopping Centre and buy things I don’t want and will regret two minutes after purchase.

I won’t be able to get at my HRT until I get back to Melbourne, so I’m making do with flaxseed oil pills, evening primrose oil, my lavender and rose geranium essential oils, yogic breathing, and getting away on my own to hopefully defuse some of this rage with solitude.

A tiny bird with a red head is pecking around on the grass.  It looks small compared to a cheeky sparrow at the next table, who has come in to see if I’m scattering crumbs.  Sorry, no.

I had the wild urge this morning to just leave everything bar my phone, credit card, and Gladys my mini-computer, and head to the airport to go anywhere but here, so great is my 'if I can run, maybe I can outrun my own body and mind’.  All through my shower, while TEH had a snorkel lesson, I plotted madly.

Taxi to the airport, first plane going anywhere, become lost in the world, with only the clothes on my back.  Then it became:  ‘well, if I’m taking my phone and computer, I’d best take the chargers for those, and the plug adapter.  Oh, and I’ll need my face cream so my face doesn’t start burning from lack of moisture.  I’ll need deodorant, because no one likes a dirty hippie who really IS dirty and smelly.  Towel.  I’d have to buy a towel.  My backpack isn’t big enough to fit all that.’

Suddenly, I had a suitcase full of crap, and  I wasn't quite the barefoot, carefree backpacker I wanted to think I am.

In my heart of hearts, I don’t want to fret TEH, because he frets so easily, and I do love him, despite loathing the entire world right now.  Hormones, ugh.

Black cohosh doesn’t work for me, and I can’t find anything at the local drug store with red clover in it.  Only another week of feeling like a volcano, and I can get back to some sort of equilibrium.

Why, in paradise here in Kona, is my body so insanely betraying me like this?  I feel wounded, hurt by my own mind.  I am the crashing waves out there, the explosion of Kilauea, the harsh cold of Poliahu’s snow on Mauna Kea.  There is nothing solid about me, no rock, no sturdy tree.  I am all fire, lava, and destruction.

Here in paradise, where people are relaxing, playing, loving, I am nothing but molten rage.


(Several weeks after this travel confession, I am now back in Melbourne, and back on my HRT. The rage has abated, and the wretched hot flushes are coming under control again.  I do not hate the world, my  husband, or myself.  For all the HRT naysayers, I tell you, it is saving my life, my marriage, and my sanity.)


Photo: Burning in paradise _ Ian Cochrane


  1. lostboys 

    Haha. You're always hot Helen.
    A clever, quirky read as usual.