a-049.jpga-028.jpgA free trip to Hawaii! That’s what for!

My BFF (best friend forever) Lorette called me last spring. She was about to take her last CPCU exam but was bumming cause her husband Mike did not want to go with her to get her degree. This year the ceremony was in Hawaii.

Let me explain. The CPCU designation (Chartered Property Casualty  Underwriter) is an 8 part series of graduate level courses in insurance.  The exams are essay and take 2-4 hours. The subjects include accounting, economics, insurance company operations, property insurance, casualty insurance, personal lines, ethics, and law. It takes about 4 months to study for one exam. They are tough. The pass ratio is 70%.  Historically, the company you work for will pay for you & a guest to go to the conferment ceremony/convention.

I got my CPCU in 1989 and went to Anaheim California, where we had an earthquake while skipping a seminar & touring Disneyland. That’s about all I remember about that trip….

Anyway, Lorette started her CPCU studies, then had to stop to raise 2 kids while working her way to the top of the insurance underwriting world here in Maine.  So when she called she said she’d finally take her last exam, but was thinking about going next year to the ceremony in Philly, as she didn’t really want to go alone to Hawaii. Well, what was I to do? She was, after all, my BFF. So I offered to go with her. and she said YES!

So a week ago we set out for Hawaii one frosty morning at 4am. We got a flat tire on the way to the airport, but a local cop helped us FIND the spare doughnut (funny how a cop can always find a doughnut), and then put it on for us and we made our plane in Portland. Which then loaded us right up and sat on the runway for an hour, as Chicago had a lot of rain.

We just made our flight in Chicago and finally got to our Hawaii destination after 22 hours of travel. You should have seen us the first night, trying to stay awake at dinner. We were sitting 10 yards from the surf, the palm trees were back-lit, it was a 5 star hotel, the little hula band was playing steel guitars and Miss Hawaii was doing the hula .  The best coconut shrimp I have ever tasted was on my plate and macadamia nut & chocolate pie was awaiting. And we were about face down in our plates….

The hotel was facing Diamond head and had a little lanai (balcony) to sit out on, where we had our morning coffee ($18 a pot!!!) You could smell & hear the waves. It was a beautiful place with Egyptian cotton sheets that you never wanted to leave. 

When we called for the rental car each morning, it was waiting for us when we got down outside, with the air conditioner running and the bell-hops with cold bottles of water to take with us.

We toured the island with our rental car, going to the back side one day to a small village to have lunch, visiting the Dole plantation (and taking a nap in the car in the parking lot, which actually was quite delightful!). We visited an old sugar mill turned soap factory and in the same compound, a big steel building that housed the Waihali coffee factory. They buy all of Dole’s coffee beans, send them around the island to friends houses to be roasted, then package them and sell it. It was wonderful and I brought home 2 pounds.

One day we took an organized tour to a waterfall hike, 2 miles up in the mountains. The leader had studied the plant-life and was a wealth of information. Orchids & impatiens grew wild.  That afternoon we took another bus tour around the east side of the island & up over the mountains. Lots of people, and an out of control 18 month old next to us.

The speakers were great — James Bradley who wrote Flags of our Fathers spoke at the ceremony. I was so proud of Lorette when she stood with the 4900 other new CPCUs and took her oath and became official. 

The next morning we had another great speaker –  Erik Weihenmayer the blind climber who conquered Mt Everest.   Erik has a wicked cool sense of humour and I could have listened to him for hours—he was a great speaker, warm & fuzzy, and as tenacious as a little terrier.

The last night all 8000 of us went to the waterfront market, which they had closed down for us. There were food stations all over the place, 5 bands, and at the end an awesome fireworks show. The last morning we took a bus to the Pearl Harbor memorial. The lines were crushing & long, but it was a great tour. Very moving.

Then is was back on the plane and 22 hours to home via the redeye.   It was a whirlwind of activity and so much fun. Lorette and I like to do the same things, like shop a little, explore, not lay on the beach, historical things, plants, eat, and definitely need coffee in the mornings. The perfect traveling companion! She drove, I navigated, and if I missed an exit, no big deal, we just figured it out. Unlike my DH(dear husband) who would have screamed at me….

Back before kids, Lorette & I had gone to the Caribbean together. Now 35 years later, we were on another island together. It was such fun!  Thanks Lorette,for sharing your trip with me!

 If you look to the right, you’ll see the photos in the Flickr slide show.