Hidden Gems

Peeling, chipping turquoise paint. Rough wood window frame, splintering. A mist of sun coming through the dawn clouds, through the window. Strong coffee smells somehow added to the clatter of forks on plates and the crowd of voices. It added to the sounds of comfort in the morning bustle. It all felt gradual and at peace–like a weekend day, though I had no idea what day it was, what time it was (other than early o’clock). It was a random morning in some lone cafe in Haleiwa that was barely noticeable from the street without half-blinking. But something about all those elements made it that more memorable, and specific to my life, in terms of travels.

Times like that are what make actual memories places you can “teleport” to in your brain, as if you’re going back to that warm, comfortable spot. They’re different from going to any tourist location just to take a picture, just to say you were there. Not that there’s anything wrong with any spot you choose to go–touristy or not. But what does it mean to you? And do the memories of that time and place really contrast your daily life? Make you appreciate that experience that only you lived in your own way?

Maybe that’s too deep a mindset for vacationing. I’m also not the first person to say they prefer seeing smaller, local hang outs, so that’s not a new concept. It probably reflects more of a hipster, try-hard vibe than I care to aim for. But there’s something about soaking in hidden gems and the genuine slices of life when you head to a destination.

When you’re tucked away in a great find that’s far less crowded than the typical out-of-towner joint, you’re allowed the pace to commit each detail to vivid memory. No massive flocks of visitors blocking your views or filling your head with noise. No frustration. That’s why that morning in Hawaii, in a little shack of a shop that I never imagined finding, is so clear and fond to me. It’s just the type of outing I would recommend to anyone, wherever it is you’re going. Places like that are everywhere, just waiting.