In the current issue of Spirit of Aloha, the magazine of Aloha Airlines, I use as the anchor of my piece the one-time visit to Hawai`i of Hemingway and his then wife Martha Gellhorn, not (as I make clear) because I admire him, but because his incommodious comments both fit with my image of him and turn most perceptions of paradise (as the piece is titled) on their heads.
Here is the opening of the article. If you want to read more of my musings on traveling, travel writing, and others’ ideas about both, click the title of this post or the link on the right under “recent writing.”
“Upon his arrival for a short visit to Hawai‘i in February 1941, Ernest Hemingway is said to have remarked that the place was “a dung heap,” that the stack of lei placed around his neck was “filthy” and that he couldn’t bear to have someone say aloha to him one more time.
“That’s what his third wife, Martha Gellhorn, reported in her memoir, Travels with Myself and Another: Five Journeys from Hell. Even though I’m not Hemingway’s most ardent fan and certainly don’t agree with his assessment, I like this revelation because it does exactly what powerful travel writing accomplishes—it delivers me not only to a place and time, but inside the mind of a traveler, allowing me to see the location just as he did. It also allows me to do something impossible in this place where I was born—to arrive in Hawai‘i for the first time.”