Wednesday is my first full day on the island. I’m still on Portland time, so I rise with the sun, around 8 (6 Hawaiian). I join Paul on his “constitutional” – a 3 mile walk down the coast, past the really rich resorts including the Grand Wailea, where Oprah stays (or hosted a holiday party for her staff). The friendly girl who gives us water sounds like she’s from Minnesota, but she’s been born and raised on the island. (When I commented on her accent, she laughed, saying she gets that a lot. Her parents are from Ohio.) She teaches us about the Kona Winds and Trade Winds. Her allergies are flaring due to the vog and she’s waiting for the Trade Winds to erase them. Then it’s time for my new daily routine: a morning swim. And I wonder how anyone could suffer from stress on the beaches of Maui.
Today we do a little sight seeing and I discover my favorite market. While Paul drops me off at the shops in Paiea, I stumble into a grocery upon their promise of fresh sushi in the deli. I want to take this entire market back to Portland, or move to Maui so I can claim it as my market, as I do with my coop. Tiny aisles lined with fresh, local fruits, vegetables, bread, dairy and the prices compare with crappy, florescent lit Safeway. I spend a good 1/2 half hour reading the produce labels. Tangellos, limes and dragon fruit grown in Maui. Potatoes from Oregon. Peppers and tomatoes from California. Local asparagus, green beans and lemon grass. Yams from another island. Local avocados the size of a Bocci ball and half the price of the imports from Safeway.
I’m disappointed in the rest of the shops I visit. Same imports from Bail, Indonesia and Philippines we get in Portland. My friends requested “something from Maui” and I take that as something made in Maui.
We take a scenic route out of Paia, past a beautiful church and the only sugar cane plant left in operation. I expect it to smell sweet but instead am greeted with a nauseating sulfur/sewer smell about a 1/2 mile before we pass the plant.
Paul snags a great deal on used snokel equipment at Snorkel Bob’s, with his kama’aina discount and a sweetheart at Boss Frog’s gives me a similar discount for my rental. (Even though kama’aina means “children of the land” or a native-born Hawaiian, many stores give discounts to Hawaiian residents. All you need is a driver’s license, which Paul managed to get with the help of a friend’s address. Technically, he’s a malihini, or newcomer, though he’s been visiting since 76.)
I’m a lowly haole, or cracker-faced minority, and frightened to snorkel. I want to see the fish but I don’t trust that I’ll breathe OK w/the tube. As I lower my head in the water, my breath quickens and heart races, making it even more difficult to trust that I’ll be able to hold my breath should water get in. After a few minutes, my breathing resumes to normal and I’m already trying to take pictures of the most amazing fish I’ve swam near (and seen). The Humuhumukununukuapua’a with its neon tips that almost appear to glow in the dark, some long skinny translucent fish that mesmerize me for some time. Other colors I haven’t seen since 1990, when I thought it was cool to wear biker shorts & tanks splashed in neon. (Thank god I was only 11 and can blame my mom, as it’s her and my same uncle Paul in all the pictures that prove I wore such brilliant fashion.)
To top off a perfectly relaxing day, I cook the Moonfish we bought earlier at the Paia market in a spontaneous sauce of: milk, butter, grated ginger and garlic, Bragg’s ginger and sesame dressing and a Soy Tahini sauce. It is received with great glee from Paul and will be my favorite food accomplishment this trip.