Everything in Lanai City is closed on Sunday, well, except for the Blue Ginger restaurant. Expecting it to be packed, we leave for breakfast a little later than usual, hoping to miss the crowd. But the crowd never showed up. “There’s a big banquet at Manele,” someone tells us. “Everybody’s working.” In a town of 3000 residents, everybody works when a big conference comes to the island.
The convention has something to do with doctors, we soon learn. We see them at our hotel, smart phones in hand. I feel jittery just looking at them. All three hotels are at 100% occupancy, but you wouldn’t know it at the Lodge. It’s the resort at Manele that is overwhelmed. When we attempt to get beach chairs and an umbrella (a “set up” in resort-speak) the well-groomed woman lounging next to us exclaims to the young resort staff, “You aren’t going to put them THERE are you?” Meaning, she doesn’t want us near her. The resort staffer explains that he’s also setting up a beach wedding, and everyone is going to be moved to the sides, but she is adamant. “I can’t see the ocean!” she shouts, pointing to the vast blue sea in front of us. Immediately, my calm, my peace, my zen leaves me and I fight the urge to pummel her. She smiles at me, “Really, I’m very nice, but I don’t want you right in front of me.” No, she isn’t nice, not even a little bit. I want to head back to the Lodge and forget the ocean. I want to walk the empty streets of Lanai City and enjoy the solitude of Sunday.
As if on cue, another resort staffer comes up to warn us of man-of-war. “It’s not a good day to be in the water,” he says. Curiosity peaked, we grab a plastic cup and take a walk along the shoreline. Tiny purple man-of-war dot the sand and I scoop them one by one into my cup. Fifteen minutes and eight man-of-war later, we’re convinced. It’s time to go “home” to the Lodge.
Back on the shuttle, we converse with the driver, we ask if we (tourists) drive him crazy. He smiles and tells us he likes tourists, and that he’s happy to have a job. Are the resorts a good place to work? He is emphatic, “Good pay, good hours, good work. Lots of ‘look busy’ jobs at the hotels, but every job is a good job on Lanai.”
We get off the shuttle in town and stop by the Blue Ginger for cookies and start our slow walk back to the Lodge. Even though nearly the whole town is closed, it’s only an illusion. The residents are all working the hotels, setting up a wedding at Manele, preparing a banquet for the doctors convention, and catering to every tourist whim at the beach. Sunday might just be the busiest day on the island.