Things I have learned:
Aloha is not just a word, it’s an attitude. People don’t just say aloha, they emit aloha. As it turns out, I have scads of aloha. Aloha is letting someone go ahead of you on line. Aloha is giving a surfer two of your Madonna bracelets and being told that you will forever be his friend and that he will never forget you. Aloha is sharing the meal you cooked with the wife of the guy who runs the hotel/hostel you spent the night at. I have aloha, baby.
“Stoked” is a word that is used in all seriousness. Thanks to movies such as Point Break, I was not surprised to hear it being used in the sense of “The waves are good today. I’m stoked.” Or “I’m totally stoked about going to this luau tonight.” However, it was used in the transitive form last night in a way I had never heard before, e.g., “That chick is really cool. I’m sooo stoked on her.”
No substitutions please. Hawaiians seem to be easily confused when a plan or a set program changes. Do not ask for a side of hash browns instead of the bacon in an Egg-rice-meat breakfast combo (and yes, a place that regularly serves rice with breakfast is a place I could live in for the rest of my life). Do not suddenly discover that you have exact $1.34 for the bottle of water you are purchasing after you handed her $2, as the cashier will stare at you and the $2.34 for a good three minutes, then look at you like you are insane when you tell her to simply return one of the dollar bills to you.
If someone asks you if you are going to “watch the moon” shit is about to go down. Friday night was one of the most surreal experiences of my life. After $1.50 beer happy hour, Dale and I headed to the beach to shoot the shit for a while, when a man on a reclined bike asked us the above question. We didn’t think much of it at the time, sat and watched the moon and the stars. First we noticed that Orion is far closer to the horizon, and that you can actually make out his head and shield from here. We also noticed that only one of the dippers is visible above the horizon. The moon was setting very low and we could see it being grayed out as it set. A while later, I realized that the moon usually sets like the sun, from the bottom up. The moon was setting from the top down—and suddenly I realized that what we were seeing was an eclipse. The fingernail-crescent at the bottom got smaller and smaller, brighter and brighter, went bright red, blacked out completely, then rose for a few more minutes and blacked out again. It was amazing.
Rental places will fuck you any way they can. For an overnight road trip, Dale and I rented a Jeep Wrangler from this place called Hawaiian Riders, which if you ever find yourself on Maui, do not, I repeat do not give them your business. We reserved the jeep over the phone, arrived Saturday morning to pick it up, and after a half-hour of form-filling and credit card reserves, we are shown the jeep and told, “oh…uh, the top doesn’t close all the way and there are no back windows.” Long story short, as I don’t want to get too into it and sour my mood, we asked for a discount for a broken jeep, and were told that we could either pay the whole thing, or not rent it, as he could rent it to someone else in minutes. I asked about the ever-present possibility of precipitation, and was told, “Don’t be sarcastic.”
According to a local Hawaiian, the past four days have been the windiest, rainiest and coolest March days that Maui has seen in ten years. Needless to say, we were a little more displeased with the missing windows than we thought we would be.
A 50-mile drive can take six hours. With the rented topless Jeep, we embarked on the Road to Hana, a drive around the coast of the island that winds up and down mountains, across one-lane bridges, passing waterfalls and picturesque cliffs. I read in a tourist guide that it’s the only rainforest that you can actually drive into. It was breathtaking. Hana, however, is a town that time forgot. There are three hotels, a 5-star, a 2-star and Joe’s, where we stayed for $45, which provided us with clean beds, a group bathroom, and a full kitchen downstairs. Ed, the owner and manager, who from what I can tell spends his days at his house next door sitting on the porch waiting for his guests to show up, warned me that the only restaurant in town will charge me as much as the room per person for dinner, so we should get there before seven so we can hit the only grocery store for 20 miles before it closes so we can buy food to make for dinner and beer. We got to Hana just in time to get to the store, got our food, sat on the beach and met a German woman from Seattle whom we shared our Coors Light and a nice conversation with, went back to Joe’s, cooked, and headed to dinner. The road back from Hana is when the rain started. But dammit, it was some of the best driving I’ve ever done.
The clock is ticking on my vacation. As it has been cool and windy these few days, my tan is not coming along as well as I would like, but there’s time yet. Dale and I will be looking into going to a luau today and trying to arrange an overnight trip to Molokai, a nearby island that in her So You Wanna Live In Hawaii Book says “Molokai is like what a small Hawaiian town was like in the 1930’s. Just remember the Great Depression was in the 1930’s.” It was also a Leper Colony in the past. I’m psyched.