Walking barefoot would be considered a little strange, maybe even eccentric in certain parts of the world. Wearing shoes is considered unnecessary on Kaua’i, especially when the rains come.
The little town of Hanalei on the northern shore of Kaua’i is where I had my first fish tacos, my first shave ice, and where I was when the rains that brought the historic flooding to Kaua’i started to come down really hard.
I stopped in Hanalei on my way from the Limahuli Garden & Preserve. Hungry for some real food (after surviving on bread for the past several days), I managed to find a parking spot where it seemed that the car might not get towed and walked back towards the main road – Kuhio Highway (which is literally the only main road on the entire island).
Fish tacos won (yeah, I’ll admit it, because it was considerably cheap and I was on a really tight budget) and, honestly, it seemed to be the most delicious food I’ve had in my life – but that might have been strongly affected by the fact that it was the only food other than dry bread in a week.
I couldn’t not try shave ice, that was unthinkable. And so I decided that this day was going to be my food-day and spent a few more dollars on what is basically just ice with some syrup poured over it. But it was worth it, it was as delicious as unhealthy. And it must have been really unhealthy with the amount of sugar and colouring used, I’m telling you.
The rains were in, the streets of Hanalei overflowed with water. In this situation, it didn’t seem to me like the best idea to wear my only pair of sneakers which I desperately needed to keep dry. And so, it was decided; I hid them in the safety of my car and ventured into the streets barefoot.
I know you probably think I could have worn my sandals but, actually, I could not. The previous day, I somehow managed to shave off the skin on one foot and the sandal straps were cutting right into it. I did not desire to make it any worse and, yes, it was also really painful whenever the straps only touched it.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my Chacos and they’re the best sandals I’ve ever owned and worn, but this was not the time for them.
And you know what? Walking with shoes or barefoot, nobody – and I mean literally nobody –gave one single look or thought to my bare feet. And it felt awesome. It felt so great to do what I felt was just natural and not earn any weird looks as I often do.
Thinking back, not once during my time in Hawaii did anyone stop and stare or give me weird looks because of what I was doing. It felt only natural to me to sleep under the stars in Punalu’u – and when that Hawaiian guy saw me there, admiring the sunrise from my sleeping bag, he didn’t even pause or ask any questions suggesting I was anything else than normal. Instead, like if it was the most normal thing in the entire world, he asked: “Did you sleep well?” whilst back in the place I live and the place I come from people were really weirded out about me sleeping with no roof above my head, exposed to anything and anyone who might come to the beach.
Hawai’i and Kaua’i welcomed me as I was; weird or not, it didn’t matter. I was normal the way I was, accepted, and safe, and it was one of the best feelings in the world.
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