I could almost hear the cosmic gears spin and the tumblers click into place one by one as I scraped together what money I had, purchased a ticket and verified that my passport was still in order. Explaining to my girl friend that I was going to go live in the Faroes (where?) for twenty-three days (how long?) in an as yet undetermined location (where are you staying?) with five other people, one of whom was a dear female friend of mine was not easy. (It didn't matter that she was married.) The need to write (scripts, interview questions, a journal) did not seem to register with her and any other experience I would gain (gaffer, cameraman, roadie and roustabout) might as well not have existed. It was just as well that I had to leave quickly. One can only explain something simple in so many ways.
Kona to Honolulu is a short flight. I've done it many times. An hour to the airport, hugs and kisses goodbye, then a half an hour through security, board a Hawaiian Air jet and take off. Thirty minutes later I'm at Honolulu International late at night and after a three hour layover I'm airborne again and leaving my island home behind.
Outbound from Hawaii you fly with tourists returning to the mainland and Hawaiians of various stripes headed for Vegas or business or to military bases following a leave at home. There are enough familiar looking faces and local attire so that the flight seems like a trip with friends. It's a comfortable feeling and I was able to rest and listen to voices in the night and the powerful muted thrum of the engines as they pushed us east toward the rising sun.
Los Angeles is Los Angeles. If you know the airport there's not a lot I can tell you. If you don't there's nothing worth knowing. Homogenized is the word that comes to mind. I spent another three hour layover seated near a power outlet in the wall of the departure concourse so that I could use my laptop. Airport food from a faceless Mexican food establishment. Bud's Burritos or Tanya's Taco or something like that. People watching. The endless stream of harried travelers flowing past was mind numbing and vaguely discouraging. The colors and flavor of island attire were gone, swallowed up by the throng. I was now officially on my way to somewhere else.
Los Angeles nonstop to Copenhagen. It was my first time doing that but I'd spent months in a cramped submarine far beneath the surface of the sea. How bad could flying coach for fourteen hours be? Don't ask. I'm six feet three inches tall. My seat was the small side of one size fits all and I spent at least half of the flight back aft in the galley getting to know the flight attendants. Thank goodness they knew the drill and didn't mind me being there. I tried to stay out of the way and meditate my way East. Time and miles passed and eventually we landed at Copenhagen Airport. I collected my backpack and sleeping bag, exchanged some dollars for Danish Krone and took a taxi to the Palace Hotel in the middle of town. My room had a distinctly European feel to it, small and cramped and slightly musty. I thought I had been given a closet with a bed. The bed was six feet long and about four feet wide and the room was barely big enough for the bed. Okay, more submarine accommodations. I could deal with that.
I stashed my gear and went down to the lobby to try to find Bonnie. Inquiring at the front desk yielded nothing. All I knew was that she was supposed to be staying at the Palace Hotel. I didn't know whether she'd checked in under her name or that of her brother, Louie's, or of her nephew, Christoph Putzel. I was kind of nervous about connecting with her because though she had invited me to come along, Bonnie did not know I had taken her invitation to heart. As such I really wanted to talk to her prior to boarding our separate flights to the Faroes in the morning. Details.
The hotel sits on one side of the main square in town and has a great little bar that looks out onto the street next to the entrance. I introduced myself to Peter, the bartender, and ordered a Carlsberg. I don't know whether it was the location or the fact that I'd finally come to rest after over twenty-four hours of travel, but that beer was, and still is, the best I've ever tasted in my life. As I drank I talked to Peter about Copenhagen and Denmark and found myself doing double takes every few seconds as one after another, an endless parade of blondes walked by the windows that opened out onto the sidewalk. Bonnie Carini is blonde and in Hawaii her hair color stands out. She's easy to find. But not in Copenhagen. I laughed to myself and explained to Pete that I was looking for a friend whom I thought was staying at the hotel. I ordered a dinner of grilled sausages and had another beer. Across the town square the entrance of Tivoli Gardens began to glow as the sun set. On all sides of the square huge electric billboards lit up the night and people strolled in the warm evening air.
I was thrashed and could feel a food coma coming on so I decided to call it a day. My flight in the morning required that I get up at four to beat traffic on the drive to the airport. Back in my room I called Bonnie's cell phone, not knowing whether it would work. After a few rings she answered. I could hear a lot of voices in the background and had a hard time making myself heard.
"Hi, Bonnie," I said. "Guess where I am right now."
She said she didn't know, but I had the feeling she thought I was still in Hawaii.
"I'm in room 142 of the Palace Hotel in Copenhagen."
"You're what?" Bonnie exclaimed incredulously. "What are you doing here?"
My heart sank. Had I made a huge mistake? Flown halfway round the world only to be told I would not be able to join the group?
It was one of those moments that seem to go on forever and before I spoke again I remember thinking that I was going to go to the Faroes with or without them. The tickets were all paid for and there was no turning back. Whatever happened in the next few seconds was important, but it didn't matter. I was on a fixed trajectory, headed for Toshavn, Faroe Islands at eight-thirty the following morning. Stranger in strange land, but I would survive. And I'd had a really good beer in the bar of the Palace Hotel.
It was an omen.
Had to be.....
To be continued. Thanks for reading. D.