Dazed and Confused: Getting Around Hawaii

I used to think I could depend on certain things while driving, to a reasonable degree. For instance, if I am going 40 miles an hour down the highway (which is 5 miles an hour over) then I used to think that people waiting to turn right will not wait until I am more than halfway in the intersection to do so. I used to believe that people turning right in front of me would attempt to hug the curb, not swing over to the left and slow down as though they are driving a semi-truck. I always thought that people would obey the rules of the four-way stop and not randomly let cars through, causing accidents in the name of being “nice.”

And I never before experienced a police officer tailgating me without using police lights to force me out of their way, then do the same to one car after the next during rush hour, as I did twice in one day (same police car). And heck no, I’m not gonna report the car. I’m 99% sure he was doing it so he could ticket the people who sped up to get out of his way for speeding.

I am not sure what the bumper stickers saying “Drive with aloha!” mean, but I’m fairly certain it does not mean these things that I see every day when I drop off or pick up the kids. It does not mean the a-holes driving 50 down the residential street by the park, where kids walk. It does not mean speeding up, then stopping so people cannot turn right on the street next to you.

My route consists of three miles to and from school. I start at the elementary, one mile away and up a busy hill. There is one light, usually manned by a sweet old lady who wears white gloves and waves at all the parents. Here I drop off Ethan, go down the hill, and back into traffic.

On my route, we always see a woman on a tandem bike with a kid behind her. Her older son pedals his own bike. They wear reflective vests and helmets, yet I worry for them because people are horrible drivers. My pediatrician warned us that bikers get hit a lot around here; nobody pays attention. This family starts out in our neighborhood and by the time I drop of Kaiya at her preschool, they are pedaling past us to the Waldorf school nearby. That tells you how slow traffic moves: a bike with kids moves just about as fast as we do in our car.

All told, it takes nearly an hour to drop off the kids and return home.

The other traffic-related item that I am not used to is that Honolulu streets are not built on a nice, neat, Roman-style grid. Usually, if you get off a freeway exit in other cities and you need to turn around, doing so isn’t too difficult. This is not the case here. Only a few streets go back to the freeway and you must know what these streets are ahead of time. Streets veer off at a diagonal, they end, they decide to turn into one-way streets, they go behind buildings into brick walls. Some of this seems to be caused by landscape considerations, like old cemeteries, canals, and the like, but mostly it seems like various traffic engineers built blocks of buildings and streets that got added to by others later on, like an old house that keeps getting additions built without consideration for hallways and you have to walk through Junior’s room to get to the master bedroom.

I asked Cadillac, who had to do all kinds of weirdo map reading in the Army Rangers, for his opinion on the most confusing street section here. He voted for Kapiolani, which loops down and then back up. It will make you lost if you’re a tourist. Watch out for it.

Oh, yeah, I blotted out the bottom of my screen shot so you can’t see what I was doing. Spies.

Although many people say that nothing is far away on such a small island, that is not true. It takes a long time to get places. I live in fear of having to go to the West side. My friend Kim (holla out Kim!) who I’d probably see a lot more if she lived closer, lives over in Ewa Beach, and I have never been over to her hood. The West side is scary to me, a vastness of concrete and heat and traffic. That’s where Target is. Last time we went– well, we went to Toys R Us first– it took an hour and a half.

And even Kim, who grew up here, says people don’t know how to merge and drive erratically, so I know I am not imagining things.

I went to a new urologist (located downtown, his office visit alone, with travel there, parking, and travel back, took a total of four hours, I am not kidding), who wants me to have this procedure that is TMI for my blog. But basically, the procedure itself won’t take too much time, theoretically (I think it will, I always need more healing time than the docs say). The bad thing about the procedure cause it requires multiple trips to the West side of the island for tests that are only done at certain times of day. The office on the west side is by Toys R Us, so I know it will require many days off for Cadillac and heroic child-care efforts.


I called it off. I would rather live with what I have than drive to the West side four or five times a week for a month. The driving and the getting lost will wear me out quicker.

Published by Margaret Dilloway

Middle grade and women's fiction novelist. FIVE THINGS ABOUT AVA ANDREWS, (Balzer + Bray 2020); SUMMER OF A THOUSAND PIES. MOMOTARO: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters (Disney Hyperion); TALE OF THE WARRIOR GEISHA and SISTERS OF HEART AND SNOW, out now from Putnam Books. HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE was a finalist for the John Gardner fiction award. THE CARE AND HANDLING OF ROSES WITH THORNS is the 2013 Literary Tastes Best Women's Fiction Pick for the American Library Association. Mother of three children, wife to one, slave to a cat, and caretaker of the best overgrown teddy bear on Earth, Gatsby the Goldendoodle.

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