You’re not going to hear any complaints from me about going to Hawaii.

My many visits to that beautiful place include several trips a year as consultant to Tripler Army Hospital a long time ago and more recent annual visits to attend board meetings and one postgraduate course.

One makes time for work, time for comradeship and diversion. It’s almost always a good experience.

Fighting a headwind that sometimes exceeded 100 miles per hour, our flight to Honolulu took 7 hours and 40 minutes.

The time passed agreeably enough until my wife and I noticed that our legs were frozen. I doubted poor circulation and impending gangrene were responsible.

I took off my shoes and rubbed my feet, sat cross-legged on one foot, then the other, walked the aisles trying to warm up. Finally we realized that the culprit was the peculiar air-conditioning system, blowing unrestrained from vents near the floor.

We reported that to the flight attendant, who encouraged us to cover the vents with our carry-on luggage and blankets. We tried, but to little effect. I read and dozed, and eventually we saw Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach from the right side windows, signaling our arrival in Honolulu.

So far, so good. At least the longest segment of the trip was over. We took the Wiki-Wiki to the InterIslands Terminal and joined the line at the appropriate check-in counter. “Gate 49,” said the clerk, and I went to look for it. “It’s not back there,” she said, over her shoulder. “It’s in the next terminal, that way.”

More impatient than really surprised, we walked some more on swollen, slowly defrosting feet and finally found our gate. Knowing that seating was open, I got in the boarding line. After standing there for 15 minutes, shifting my weight from one foot to another, I heard the inevitable and no-longer-surprising announcement: “Flight 96 to Kona will now leave from Gate 53.” I hurried over but ended up far back in the line. So it goes.

I’m sure it is not necessary to tell you the final surprise. Our luggage made it to Honolulu but went from there to Maui. “Oops,” said the baggage claim lady, “wrong island.” We filled out the necessary form and she assured me our bags would be delivered later that night.

This is written the next day. Our bags finally arrived a little while ago, about 19 hours after we did. But we are rested and clean, have our clothes and are ready for the reception tonight and the beginning of the meeting tomorrow.

I try not to think much about the fact that we still confront the probably surprising adventure of the return flight home.

Melvyn Schreiber is a physician at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Melvyn Schreiber’s essays are now available as a paperback book (without the book reviews and opera reviews). If you want one, send $15 to him at 12 E. Dansby, Galveston, TX 77551, and he will mail a copy to you. It’s not heavy enough to press your trousers with, but it may please you in other ways.

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