On our third day in Kauai, we went horseback riding. I was SO excited for this excursion because horseback riding was the first date B had ever planned for me when we were dating, and it was something we’d ran out of time before doing in Mexico. Although booking it was not my favorite part! Did you know that they ask your weight when booking a horseback riding trip? I mean, I guess it makes sense and all, but still. Who wants to go around telling strangers (or your brand new husband!) your weight on your honeymoon? Luckily the concierge was fantastic and she sent my dear husband away to get me some water before asking me for little bit of information. Love that woman!
The other couple who were supposed to show up for our tour didn’t show up, which meant that B and I got the tour guide to ourselves! The tour included a 2 hour ride through a plantation to a waterfall, where we got to eat lunch and swim, and then the trip back. We got rained on (the rain blows in and out fast in Kauai!) but it was still so much fun and completely beautiful.
We capped off the night with dinner at one of the nicer restaurants at our hotel, and then rented a movie (Despicable Me!) to watch in bed. What we didn’t know is that at some point during our dinner an earthquake was happening off the coast of Japan. We never watched the news and the hotel didn’t make any announcements, so we went to bed completely unaware.
At 3 a.m. the next morning, we woke up to my cell phone ringing. A lot. I almost ignored it but when I went to turn it on silent I saw it was my mom, and knowing that my mom would not call me on my honeymoon except in case of emergency I decided to answer. The next 5 minutes were probably the scariest of my life.
When I answered my mom was clearly upset and in tears. The conversation went something like this:
Mom: Where are you?!?! Just tell me you’re safe!
Me: We’re in our hotel room what are you talking about?
Mom: OH MY GOD. WHY ARE YOU NOT EVACUATED?
Me: Evacuated? Mom we’re fine what the hell are you talking about?
Mom: oh my god oh my god honey there was an earthquake. THERE IS A TSUNAMI COMING FOR YOU.
Me: Um… its not even raining.
Mom: A TSUNAMI NOT A HURRICANE IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE RAINING <– Um, it was 3am, I was not in my right mind.
Me: Oh… um, I think you’re wrong though? No one told us and it seems… fine?
Mom: I have been watching the news for hours! A earthquake hit Japan and the tsunami is coming for you! They are tracking it! It is supposed to be there in 15 minutes and the news said that everyone in Kauai is evacuated! You have to evacuate!!!!!!!
At which point I was pretty sure B and I were going to die. On our honeymoon. In one of those tragic stories you hear on Oprah months later. I told my mom to hold on and I called to the front desk, trying not to sound panicked.
Me: HI UM SHOULD WE BE EVACUATED NOW BECAUSE MY MOM JUST CALLED ME AND SAID THERE IS A TSUNAMI COMING FOR US?
Front Desk Man: Um, ma’am… you’re on a cliff. Our hotel is 200 feet above sea level on a cliff, remember? Tsunamis are not 200 feet high. We are where people are evacuating to, we’re fine. You’re safe.
Which, I guess I knew that we were on a cliff, but I had no idea how a tsunami worked or that they weren’t 200 feet high. So, I relayed this info to my mom, assured her that we were fine and that I’d text her in an hour after the tsunami was in full force to assure her that I was fine again, and sent her off to work. (To be fair, can you imagine how scared you’d be waking up for work in the morning, only to see on the news that there is a tsunami coming towards the island your daughter is honeymooning on?)
Meanwhile my heart is beating at about 200 beats per minute and I engaged B in (I’m sure) the most obnoxious conversation ever about whether or not we should turn on the news. Because on one hand, it would reassure me that we were fine. But on the other hand, what if the front desk man was lying to us about being safe and he KNEW that the tsunami was going to wipe us out and we were just doomed so there was no point in even telling us to evacuate?
It took about 3 minutes of that before B took the remote and turned on the damn tv. And? It was fine. We sat up watching the Kauai news for the rest of the night and not a single person was injured in Hawaii (thank God) during the tsunami. By the time it reached the islands, the swell was only about a 9 foot change in sea level. While that was significant enough to damage lots of boats, some homes, and a few roadways, everyone had gotten to where they needed to be in plenty of time.
That day, Friday, we were supposed to go Kayaking but those plans got canceled because there was a ban on any going into the water for the day. We were exhausted anyways, so we had a lazy morning at the hotel. That afternoon after checking with the front desk, we decided to go explore the damage. All the beaches were still closed with a ban on all swimming, but the roads were safe on the North Shore where we were, and we wanted to see how the beaches we’d already visited had changed. Honestly, there was a bit more debris on the beach, and the sea level was a bit higher, but there was not too much noticeably different. Still, we can say that we went to the beach the day the tsunami hit Kauai.
One of us obeyed that sign above, one of us did not. I’ll just let you guess who was who!
We ended the day with pizza at a local shop (which was incredible!) and the best ice cream I’ve ever eaten. It was actually from this random hole in the wall called Kilauea Video that we read about in the guide book. Apparently it is the only place on Kauai that sells the famous Tropical Dreams ice cream, which is local to Hawaii and uses all fresh, in season, ingredients grown on the farm of the owner of the company! We also met the most interesting man who owned the store. He was from Texas but he and his wife had decided to leave their corporate jobs to buy a video store in Kauai and just surf every day– how cool is that. He’d even been out surfing in the tsunami swells (nuts!). He had asked how we’d weathered the tsunami and we told him about our frightening awakening. He assured me that if a tsunami wave of over 200 feet hit Kauai it would be, literally, the end of the world and we might as well just grab a board and go out big on a wave haha.
And that brought to an end the day of the tsunami!
Stay tuned for Part 3…