Maui: Day One

Notes from my first trip off the continent.

Mahalo. Not sure what this word means, but the folks on Hawaiian can’t get enough of this word. A friendly gentleman tells me that tomorrow and Sunday will be the best days to learn how to surf and I’m not sure if this is truth or the days he’ll be at the beach. And where are the Hawaiian shirts, sari’s and clear blue skies? (Finally! A girl dallies to her gate in a floral sun dress. Hope trickles in.) The air is muggy and my first destination is a bathroom where I can shed my layers and don a loose fitting white t-shirt. Other than the outdoor and open air walkways and terminals, the airport is San Jose’s … a tiny strip with baggage claim at the end where it curves and transforms into car rentals. The sky reminds me of Phoenix, both bright and dreary simultaneously.

Moon over the Ocean
And then I get the call. My uncle is pulling up in a red, convertible turbo PT Cruiser and I’m swept away to meet Maui for my first time. (Don’t forget the turbo! We’re not sure what it means, but Paul loves revving and punching and accelerating fast.) Kahalui is a sprawling suburb. We drive past the Cosco and almost stop to pick up IPod speakers and then realize we don’t need them. Gas stations (at $3/gallon) and shopping centers line the 2-lane crowded street and we crawl out of town. Paul points out Hakalalia, nearly undistinguishable in the vog. Vog. My uncle’s a funny guy and I wonder if this is a word he’s coined or island slang. Apparently, I chose a bad day to fly in, as this Volcano ash fOG has only been blown in by the Kano winds this morning. And they will persist for my first few days.

A few minutes out of the city, the landscape morphs into sugar cane fields which remind me of Vietnam war movies than any farmland I’ve seen. No “rows” pop out as we drive by. (Not like rows and diagonals of corn and soybeans as you drive by, which could mesmerize me for hours on long car rides.) Simply overgrown jungle grass. And it’s beautiful in it’s seeming disorganization.

== SPOILER ALERT: Do not read below this line if you don’t want to become overrun with jealousy or have never visited Maui and need not discover how your life may be lacking. ==

After some grocery shopping in Kihei (I won’t bore you with the insane prices … but I won’t complain about $3 milk anymore) we head to the condo my uncle’s rented at Mana Kai Resort. I’ll later learn, from an essay written by Tara Bray Smith on Hawaii in “State by State: a Panoramic Portrait of America” that mana is the life force Hawaiians believe inhabits all things. Kai is the sea. I’m greeted with songs of the tropical birds.

It’s nearing sunset already, so we don our suits and wade into the ocean. A seasoned ocean swimmer, Paul dives right in as I wait for something … a warm current perhaps? (Do fish pee, I wonder. And if they do, perhaps it’ll be just enough to warm the water.) And then the waves roll in and I’m under water and I’m instantly relaxed. We wash off and watch the sun set into the horizon, just to the right of the shadow of Kahoolawe Island. I try to recall uncle Tom’s notes on how far one can see on water (he was in the Navy) and end up Googling it instead. Turns out we see 3-4 nautical miles. But I digress.

It’s now time to head up to Maui Meadows for a relaxing and delicious dinner party, on the “foot hills” of the large volcano, Haleakala. I’m stunned by the lush vegetation on our climb and the open entry way of the hacienda style home. Art everywhere! Sculptures, paintings, photographs, a large mirror rumored to mimic those in Versailles (and I make a mental not to look this up and visit some day). And the people … they’re energetic, young, healthy, attractive. I’m by far the youngest person at the table and suddenly I’m afraid of being the boring, tired, naive niece. I don’t do yoga, work in the “new age” fields, eat a raw-food diet, own my own business (anymore) and haven’t traveled out of the US. But the Moon Fish is delicious and I even though I want more, I eat the salad. If I can look this great at 50+ I’ll eat the salad and learn how to keep my body’s acidity down by consuming foods high in Alkalinity: apple cider vinegar, limes (which can be confusing since they’re citric), millet and quinoa, and most veggies. And pay attention to the energy of my foods: cold (raw fish, veggies) and warm, yin and yang. And give myself a few breaks to enjoy alcohol, like this tasty Rum.

I’ll save the conversation which compares the Hawaiian archipelago to the Chakras for another time.