Day 8: Death By Chocolate

Eighth Day June 23

If you see an ad for a chocolate factory that offers free samples, beware ! You may think you got the better deal coz you got a few nuggets of this cocoa confection, but as any chocaholic knows , this addiction demands immediate and gluttonous gratification.  Chocolate contains Theo bromine and caffeine that shoot straight up to the pleasure centers of the brain, but to avoid withdrawal symptoms , the supply must be kept steady  (or so  I told my husband as I struggled with my purchase ) . To maintain therapeutic levels of serotonin (happy hormones) in the body, generous helpings of caramel clusters and chocolate macadamia nuts must be ingested. Besides, who can seriously be content with just samples when the brown nut-encrusted devils staring at you on the counter are described as “luscious buttery caramel hand-deposited on a bed of dry macadamia nuts covered with a generous shell  of milk chocolate.”  Come to think of it , Death by  Chocolate is not such a bad way to go.

The Kahlia Chocolate Factory that tricked us 🙂 into buying its chocolate  had a post office inside its building. Actually, I always buy postcards at every place I go to , but I never get the chance to mail them. Now with this post office within easy access, I had no excuse. The  cool thing about Hawaii is they are very creative with their “postcards”.  They have”message in a bottle ” where you put your letter inside this plastic bottle and mail it, bottle and all. (For a moment there, I was worried that we had to throw the bottle into the Pacific Ocean ourselves and pray really hard it reached its destination.)  Also cute are  these miniature wooden surfboards that double as postcards. Other zany  souvenirs are  whole coconuts painted colorfully on the outside with a  drawing of the Hawaiian islands or other tropical designs, shipped as is.  As the guy at the counter wryly remarked,   “Yep, the Post Office will ship just about anything these days  .” Apparently, that includes messages in bottles, mini-surfboards and yes, coconuts, complete with husk and all.

There is a place in the Big Island called  Ka Lae, also known as South Point, considered the southernmost tip of the US. Ordinarily , nothing about this would have compelled me to drive 80-some miles just to see it but of course, nothing is too far for my adventure-driven husband. So down steep and winding mountain roads we went until two hours later, we found ourselves at the southernmost tip of the United States  as promised. Now the good thing with having low expectations about something  is that you are bound to not get disappointed. I expected South Point to be nothing more than an insignificant geographical dot. I was surprised to find, after a ho-hum ride, gorgeous views complete with jaw-dropping cliffs, rugged countryside and a scenic beach. The view stoked us for some intense photo sessions. Some time later, Melanie took pictures of her dad taking pictures while I took pictures of Melanie taking pictures of her dad. There were definitely a lot of Kodak moments to be had.

Consultation with our little map showed a scenic spot close by. It was a beach made of green sands . It was only one of two green sands beaches in the world, the other one being in Guam. By some stroke of luck I was able to convince my avid adventurer not to go. Good thing because I later found out that the actual beach was a two-hour hike from the main road.  Previous visitors have recommended sturdy walking shoes , several layers of sunscreen and plenty of water for the walkathon.  It definitely was not for the faint of heart and the weak of spirit.

Green  sands get their color from waves pulverizing a semi-precious mineral called olivine, also called  Hawaiian Diamond , a common component of lava flows from volcanoes. Interesting, yes, but not enticing enough for me to endure two hours of fatigue , sunburn and dehydration, that’s for sure.

What saved us from the green sands- near disaster was our desire to check out Punalu’u Bakeshop , a local favorite.  It was closing soon but  Ronnie’s  antics behind the wheels that bordered between high-speed driving and low-speed flying got us there, with five minutes to spare before closing time. Punalu’u Bakeshop was reputed to have the best Hawaiian bread in town, and it did not disappoint. Tasty Hawaiian bread  came in regular flavor as well as taro and guava. I wisely stayed away from the cinnamon raisin macadamia nut sweet bread that I’m sure was as decadent as it sounded. There were other sorts of goodies and ice cream that cried out “diabetes”  but there was no more time to browse or who knows what damage my sweet tooth would have inflicted.

Twenty miles down the road was Punalu’u Black Sands  Beach Park. Black sands are formed when molten lava from Mauna Loa and  Kilauea volcanoes spill into the water and quickly cool,  breaking into granules that became sand.  This is considered a rare natural phenomenon that’s why removal of black sands from the beach is prohibited. Walking on them was like walking on these tiny charcoal crystals. In the middle of all this was a gigantic turtle just basking in the sun, oblivious to the gawkers nearby. There was a sign nearby that said “Turtles nesting. Do not disturb. ” It is a warning you better take heed. These giant green turtles and nearby monk seals are an endangered specie. Touching them or even getting too close to them carry a hefty fine.

We got back to the hotel pretty late as usual. We had been upgraded from Bay Club Hilton to the Hilton Grand Vacations Club nearby. If we were impressed with Bay Club, we were floored by this one. This place was even more elegant and spacious than the other one. The motif was Oriental/ tropical and the rooms were gorgeous.  It even had its own private lanai that overlooked a sprawling golf course. The jacuzzi could turn any room into a Honeymoon Suite.  We were definitely loving this.  As Melanie jumped up and down from bed to bed, she echoed what was in my mind. “Wish Chessa were still around to enjoy this !”

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