Call it the Rainbow State connection or just plain coincidence, but a recent trip to San Diego had us crossing paths with many fellow Hawaiians. It reminded us that although home might have been an ocean away, the spirit of the islands remained with us wherever we went.

Almost all of the people we met were transplants from Hawaii. They lived in island fashion for many years before their fate led them to California. A subtle wave of homesickness would wash over their expressions, as my mom, sister and I chimed in about life back in the islands. However, the conversations always ended with them sharing their brightest memories of Hawaii and the dangling hope that they would one day return.

An antique shop owner we met in La Mesa had the best stories to tell about the islands. Like my sis and I, Ramon was an avid surfer. I couldn’t help but chuckle at his description of Hawaii surf. He called the waves at his favorite west side spot, ono, which means “delicious” in Hawaiian; I’ve actually never heard the word used in any other context but to describe food. But, ono surf…I was digging it.

He talked about the plate lunches he missed back home, the warm weather and even tossed a couple of shaka gestures into the convo. I almost felt like it was OK to turn on da pidgin but didn’t. Mostly, he missed the mellow vibe of the islands.

It was almost coincidental that every time we ran into someone from Hawaii, we were in search of direction or advice about San Diego. For instance, our acquaintance with Ramon couldn’t have been timed more perfectly. We were desperate to surf but didn’t know of any good spots. He not only gave us the surf scoops on several spots near our hotel, but he let us borrow his soft racks for the remainder of our trip, too.

Before Ramon loaned us the surf racks…LOL.

In the true Hawaiian way, my family and I made sure to repay the kind gesture with a huge mahalo and some goodies from Trader Joe’s. It would have been nice if we had packed island snacks to share with him, but to be totally honest, those were long gone by the end of our plane ride! Perhaps we’ll cross paths with Ramon sometime soon – whether it be in San Diego or in Hawaii. Until then, we’ll be sure to pay forward the same kindness and aloha we experienced by helping out those in need of some guidance while on a Hawaii vacation.

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