Relaxing in the Land of Chickens

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North America » United States » Hawaii » Kaua'i » Lihu'e
September 7th 2019
Published: September 9th 2019
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Today we head to the quieter Hawaiian island of Kauai for a few days of relaxation before heading home.

Our taxi to the airport is a stretch limousine. We’re told it’s the same price as a normal taxi and that we just got lucky. The other guests standing around the lobby look a bit disappointed as we get in; I think they were hoping for celebrities. We climb into our luxurious padded seats to be confronted by TVs, a fancy sound system, and champagne glasses hanging on the wall. We’d be partying if only someone hadn’t forgotten to stock the bar.

I’m not normally a nervous flier, but as we make our way into the plane we hear a voice from the cockpit shouting “pull up, pull up”. Something’s not right here. I don’t know much about flying planes, but I‘d always assumed that you could only pull up if you were already in the air, and we’re still attached to the terminal. Scott says they’re just testing the instruments, but that doesn’t explain the smoke coming out of the vents above our heads. The crew don’t seem to be too concerned, but I think they’re trained to stay relaxed in an emergency so that the passengers don’t panic. It’s not working; I started panicking when I saw the smoke, and that was before we sat down and saw fire engines with red lights flashing out on the runway next to us. Scott says that the smoke is condensation, and that they always have fire engines at the ready when planes are about to take off. I’m not convinced. I get ready to evacuate, but the crew won’t let me stand up because they’re doing the safety briefing. I’m thinking it might be a bit late for that. No one else looks too concerned. We seem to take off OK and I start to relax. I think I might have been watching just a few too many episodes of Air Crash Investigations.

We land in Kauai. It’s much quieter than Honolulu and there are chickens wandering around in the airport. We read that Kauai is a similar size to Oahu, but it’s population is only around 70,000 compared to around a million on Oahu. Our resort is on a rugged looking surf beach, and the waves are crashing in hard. Issy says she saw a video while she was waiting for our luggage at the airport warning about the dangers of swimming in the waters around the island; I’m not sure I need too much more convincing after seeing how wild our beach looks.

Like the airport, the hotel seems to be overrun with chickens. There seem to be more chickens than guests and whole families of them are wandering around the base of the table as we eat lunch, in the hope of scrounging a few scraps. It seems that the wild chickens thrive here because they don’t have any predators. The chickens on all the other Hawaiian islands aren’t so lucky; they get hunted down by the mongooses which were originally introduced in an attempt to control rats in the sugar plantations. That might have seemed like a good idea at the time, but whoever came up with it apparently hadn‘t thought it through all that carefully. Rats are nocturnal, whereas mongooses are only active during the day, so the mongooses hardly ever got to see any rats, let alone eat enough of them to make any difference to their populations. That left the mongooses needing something to feast on that was around during the day so they launched into the local bird populations. Mongooses are now a real problem on all the Hawaiian islands except for Kauai.

We read that Kauai is called the Garden Island, which is largely due to how ridiculously wet it is. The average annual rainfall at the gauge on one of the mountains in the middle of the island is a staggering 11.7 metres, which apparently makes it arguably the wettest place on the planet. They had a storm here back in 1956 where more than 305 mm of rain fell in an hour. No one knows how much more because the gauge overflowed, but it‘s suspected that this was probably a world record.

We came here to relax before going home, and if first impressions are anything to go by we’re not going to have too much trouble doing exactly that.


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