Tuesday, February 21, 2017

USA lite

Another photo (sadly not mine - uplifted from @allapetropavlovska on Instagram - go and see her others, they're amazing too) to add to the file headed 'How does Lava Ocean Tours get away with this stuff?' It's making me think that what I considered an exciting boat ride back in December was so, so tame compared with what's happening now on Hawaii's Big Island. Remember, folks, the Kilauea Volcano has been in continuous eruption since 1983, and still it's not empty! Captain Shane must be loving it, and is clearly still pushing the boundaries to give his customers the cruise of their lives. I hope he continues to flirt unscathed with the danger...

Hawaii is a pretty hot destination right now, from this end at least, with temptingly low airfares thanks to Hawaiian Airlines' new service out of Auckland, and the appeal of getting a taste of the States without having to venture into Trump territory (Hawaii is a blue state). All the negative news from the Lower 48 must be making life a bit difficult for the Brand USA people who have been so busy here over the last few years. Anti-immigration doesn't sit well with tourism, on top of all the upset and aggro that's going on, making the States feel like a slightly dodgy destination these days.

Mind you, I think it's always had a bit of an edge. They may speak English (...) there, and lots of the cities, the countryside too, and many of its ways of life are already familiar from TV and movies, but it's still a foreign country that despite the general friendliness of its natives can make visitors feel a little anxious in ways that, say, France or Hong Kong or even India don't. For me it comes down to the authoritarianism of uniformed people, starting of course with airport customs and security, and the guns everywhere. Even the signs are so bossy! Telling you what to do and, more sternly, what not to do, wherever you go - with no concession to common sense or even basic self-preservation instincts. They seem to assume that everyone is either irremediably thick, or ill-intentioned. Neither is reassuring.

Captain Shane seemed to be just like that, in his introduction, which verged on abrasive - but then he went on to break goodness knows how many rules on his cruise, to give us all the best possible thrill for our money. Or maybe that's just how he gets his kicks, and we customers are the means of enabling that... Anyway, good luck to him. Lava Ocean Tours, people.

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