in the hazy distance on one blessed Friday morning I faintly distinguished
a lofty range of mountains rising from the expanse of ocean, I felt, as
the crew of that vessel in the “Bay of Biscay – Oh!” felt, on seeing
a sail and on escaping from the loud roar of the dreadful thunder and from
the tossing of the billows.
over six days the small vessel which was carrying me from San Francisco to
the Hawaiian Islands had, by its continuous jigging and dancing, by its
habit of almost turning topsy-turvy, and by its game of hop, leap and jump
shown that the Pacific Ocean had conceived an extreme dislike for me.
There were other passengers against whom the ocean’s revulsion had been
even more extreme, such as the young American lady who, on the first
evening out of ‘Frisco, had been hurled violently from her seat at
table, had fallen on her head and bad been carried unconscious to her
was to us, therefore, Heaven or Nirvana, and had the streets of Honolulu
been paved with gold for all to take thereof they could hardly have been
more welcome to those of us who came ashore from the gales and almost
embraced the porters, the taxi-drivers, and even the Customs officers from
sheer joy at feeling the firm sidewalk beneath our feet.
Out of the Bag!
the unknown dark maidenly figures came and gently surrounded my neck with
garlands of orange, red, and white flowers until I looked like a
successful world-flier being received in the South of Prance. It was
in this garb that I confronted the Customs officer.
you’d come a few years earlier you’d have had a more thorough
search,” he said, passing my bags without looking at them and explaining
that during the Prohibition era they had to examine the baggage carefully
lest liquor be smuggled into the Islands.
smart young man of the Kansas City travelling salesman type joined in our
know a guy who was too smart for you Customs folk,” he said. “He
was a mate on one of the liners and he wanted to bring a dozen bottles of
whisky ashore. He came with a bag, and the Customs officer shouted,
“Stop! What’s in that bag?”
the ship’s cat,’ said the mate.
kent kid me,’ says the officer. ‘Open that bag.’ He
opened it and out jumped the ship’s cat, ran away, and climbed on board
I’ll have to catch him again,’ says the mate, goes in with his bag,
fills it, but not with cats this time, but with good old hooch, and comes
out. The Customs officer salutes him, apologises for not believing
him, and the dozen bottles of whisky go for their little walk to some
apartment in Honolulu!”
laughed, and soon I was rushing to a hotel which lay on the world-famous
Waikiki Beach. In travel bureaus in all parts of Europe and America
this beach had beckoned me in a thousand different forms. To tread
upon its golden sands and to listen to the lilt of Hawaiian music beneath
swaying palms (I think that is how the advertisers describe it) was to
know a bliss which only this gem of the South Sea Islands could give.
that mood I leapt like a sprightly fawn from my room to the shore.
At last I should feel the velvety embrace of its sand and revel in the
onrush of its surf. I entered the water, but no surf did I see.
Suddenly, a sharp, cutting knife seemed to jab my toes, and I jumped, but
descended on more “knives.” It was coral, and I was the latest
of its victims. I went in further and further; sometimes coral would
bite into me, sometimes seaweed clustered loathsomely round my legs, but
never did I approach the surf, and however far I walked I could not go out
of my depth.
returned disillusioned, and I still maintain that there is scarcely a
beach in all South Wales which is not infinitely superior to the
much-vaunted millionaire-infested but disenchanting beach of Waikiki.
rest of the main island, however, with the array of delicate colours which
play upon the waters, the palm trees, the twanging of ukuleles, the
interplay of women’s voices singing in rhythm and harmony, and the
fascinating movements of the grass-skirted hula-hula girls is not so
disenchanting, and as a human study is remarkable. It Is the spot
where America meets Asia, and its streets and villages are a hotch-potch
of Asiatic and Pacific races, a Tower of Babel where the twangs of the
plains of the United States mingle with the long, moaning vowel-sounds of
the Polynesians, with the sharp cracks of the Japanese tongue and the
poppings and konkings of the Chinese dialects.
you go through the streets you will see the Japanese mixing with the
Chinese, the Hawaiian children playing with the “black Portuguese,”
who are called thus because they are descended from the Negroes who were
imported long ago from the Portuguese Islands of the African coast in
order to labour on the sugar plantations.
friendly feeling between peoples of various races made the greatest
impression upon me.
Buddhist temple with Japanese gabled roofs of deep blue, Chinese places of
worship and houses with savage dragons carved upon them, a brilliant white
marble Mormon temple with Hawaiian Mormon worshippers, a few grass shacks
under palms heavy with coconuts, modern American skyscrapers - these
varied types of dwellings also showed me what a number of civilisations
are gathered in these volcanic islands in the middle of the Pacific.
peace they live, love and laugh, undisturbed by riots and national
hatreds. A cloud is appearing over the horizon, however. Mars
is invading these coral strands and palm beaches and scattering the germs
of conflict among the peace-loving populations. What the problem in
Hawaii is I shall tell in my next article.