Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Aloha from Maui

Now it's starting to get really interesting! I've always liked new and different places...well, Maui certainly is both!
In some ways it's almost Caribbean... the sunsets, the beaches, the beach towns are similar; they even have a radio station that plays all reggae, which seems strangely appropriate here. On the other hand, the Caribbean islands don't have many volcanoes, I don't think.
Hey Jim, remember when we were kids, we'd take a bunch of toys and stuff and throw a green blanket over them, making a pretend mountain-y landscape on which to place our little toy soldiers? That's what Maui looks like: the mountains are high, green, and rifted with deep valleys way unlike anything in the smooth, worn-down Appalachians.
I started out on a not-so-great note: I had to stay in a mediocre hotel near the airport without my luggage, due to a delayed flight, a hasty re-connection and a United ticket agent who didn't inform me of my choices. But it was no big deal as I always carry the important stuff in my knapsack that I take on board with me. And by the time I got into Maui (11pm local time, 1 a.m. San Fran) all I wanted to do was sleep anyway. The flight was pretty cool-- a nice couple with a sweet little baby sat in the two seats next to me, and after takeoff the flight attendant told them there was another empty section they could move to, so I got three seats to spread out in! Almost as good as your business-class, Betsy! (But no free beers, alas).
The next morning, after picking up my lost bag back at the airport with the help of a nice United lady, I drove around the island to the pretty town of Lahaina. Almost all the towns here are on the beach, including this one. It consists mainly of a waterfront street with lots of little shops, and a town square with the biggest banyan tree in the U.S.: it covers an entire acre of ground. It's pretty amazing, but I think most of the tourists here are too busy shopping to take much notice of it.
I'm in my favorite waterfront open-air restaurant now, Cheeseburger in Paradise, a two-story tiki-type casual place with great music, good food, and a fantastic view of the sunset. I recommend it to anyone who comes to Hawaii. Last night I had an interesting conversation with Mike, a Californian ski buff with movie-star looks who came to surf and enjoy the sun. Just think, ladies, a tall, tanned surfer with an MBA! He may meet me in Europe, so if any of you are interested, maybe you can meet us there. (He's supposed to come back here tonight, so if he does I'll try to take a picture of him for you girls.)
And the hotel, the Lahaina Inn, is a quaint old place that feels like you're staying in Granma's place, complete with creaky floors, old pictures on the walls, heavy dark wood everywhere except where it's flowery wallpaper, and even a funny "Grandma's house-like" smell. The room also had a ceiling fan worthy of a Humphrey Bogart movie.
Yesterday morning I met some park rangers buying 50-pound sacks of cat food in K-Mart who said they have a colony of cats at their animal preserve. Now, this intrigued me, as cats are natural enemies of the local birds and wildlife. I had to check this out. Unfortunately, thanks to my short-term memory, I immediately forgot the name of the park and the town it was near. And of course no local had any idea what I was talking about, so I drove all over the island checking out state parks and wildlife preserves. I never found the cats, but I did have fun exploring Maui!
And today was even better: I went out on a snorkel boat, but did more, I snuba'd! It's a setup where you have a 20-ft air hose attached to your snorkel, so you can spend all your time underwater. It was just like scuba, only without the cumbersome BCD and tank. The reef we went to wasn't anything to write home about; I suspect either pollution or tourist damage had lessened the beauty of it, but the water was clear and warm, and there were more fish that I saw in Caribbean dives, so I can't complain. And I had the bonus of meeting John, Hank and Sue on the boat, some locals who happened to be along for the ride for whale watching, and who gave me some great tips on future travels. Just about everyone I've met here has been to Pacifica (New Zealand, etc.) and/or Asia. I guess for them it's like us east-coasters going to Orlando.
So tomorrow I go to Oahu and Honolulu for my last night here, which should give me a chance to finally see Pearl Harbor for mylself, instead of just in the movies. More on that soon. Til then, I've gotta go back to my room and get my camera, in case surfer Mike shows up!

1 comment:

MozzarElla said...

Did you get to try any "poi" or other local food?
I'm sure you must've had one drink with an umbrella or some other required island ornament!
Have fun... and thanks for all the posts. You're making my list of places I'd like to see very long!