We’ll call him Carl, in case he wishes to remain anonymous. I no longer have contact with him and no idea if he would be bothered by the use of his real name, but I’d rather play it safe. Carl had a car, as I am sure most locals do, being that it is much easier to get around there with a vehicle than to be reliant on the rather short-reaching Maui public transit system. He seemed about as nervous as me on the phone which helped me feel better about my social retardation such as it was. He agreed to pick me up at my hostel and we discussed visiting some of the more beautiful spots in nature on the east side of the island, including black sand beaches.
We first stopped by the Wailuku swap meet, which was something of a farmer’s market type of set up where he bought a lot of fruit and vegetables. I left my bag in his car since I wasn’t planning on purchasing anything, and when we returned, I realized the car door was still unlocked! I mentioned it to him and he casually replied that the lock on that door didn’t work. I was amazed he didn’t mention that as I left my bag with my wallet, cell phone, iPod, etc. in it and he mentioned he always leaves his MP3 player in his car and it’s never been stolen. This memory came back to me later as he explained there was a “very severe” meth problem on the island, but compared to Oregon is probably nothing! I told him it isn’t that severe if he’s able to leave his belongings in his unlocked car without them getting stolen, and told him stories of peoples’ catalytic converters being stolen from cars in Oregon to be sold for meth. Having grown up on Maui, he couldn’t seem to fathom such a situation!
As luck would have it, not long after this, his car broke down in the middle of a very busy road. We had just left an auto parts store in Kahului, where I had a very odd interaction with a clerk there who noticed my scarification designs on the backs of my calves. These are not very visible because they are scar tissue, and she had asked me if the design on the backs of my legs were faded tattoos. When I responded they were actually scars, she seemed so embarrassed as if she had committed some social faux pas and immediately apologized. I attempted to explain they were put there purposefully and that was why they were so uniform, but her embarrassment was so complete at that point that all she could do was stammer apologies.
So. Carl and I were stuck in his car, broken down in a turn lane in the middle of a busy road and we needed to get a way to move it to the shoulder and get it back to his place. At this point he very cautiously mentioned he would call his “friend” who I will call Dean, also a fake name. Dean had a dump truck which we could use to tow the car back to their property.
Carl seemed uncomfortable mentioning Dean and I soon picked up that they were lovers. I told him in a gentle way that I was not judgmental in any way of such relationships and he relaxed. I could tell he was not used to people being accepting of same sex couples. He told me much more about their relationship and living situation. We actually got along quite well which I was grateful for.
Once Dean showed up, we were able to move the car to the shoulder and I remained in the vehicle as they hatched a plan to tow the car back to their home. As I waited, the biggest insect I have ever seen in my life crawled out from under the seat I was sitting in and went up under the dashboard. That was my first time seeing a cockroach of that size and when I told Carl, he seemed only shocked by its presence in the daylight. He explained he constantly has them crawling over his ankles at night while driving. HORRIFYING. I guess “paradise” has to have some drawbacks!
Dean and I got along well also and he ended up dropping Carl and I off to do some hiking to Twin Falls off the Road to Hana. I don’t have any photos of this portion of my trip as I was too busy enjoying myself with the scenery and company, however here is some information about Twin Falls. My only mistake with this trip was stopping near some standing water in the shade to eat some snacks. I became mosquito bait there, and gave up after counting 31 bites on my left leg alone. Being that I was Portland-winter-pale, I looked extra silly with giant red polka dots all over my legs. Lesson learned.
Since we were carless, we were unable to get to the black sand beaches or other awesome offerings. We decided to hitchhike back towards Paia on the Hana Highway. Standing on the side of the road with our thumbs out, I noticed there was an awful lot of melted plastic and broken glass on the shoulder. Carl explained to me that cars often get stripped down and then blown up. That was an odd discovery for me. I also noticed a particularly odd spider which appeared to have spikes on it, and looked like some kind of creature in a Super Mario Bros. game. Carl told me it was a type of crab spider, and I wish I had a photo of my own to share. I don’t, but this shouldn’t be left to imagination so I will show this one found in Google image search:
This is not the same color combination of the spiders I saw, but you get the gist. Eventually a man in a pickup truck with a dog in the cab stopped for us and gave us a ride. I rode in the cab with the man and his dog while Carl hopped in the bed of the truck. I chatted with the man and found out he was from Seattle, and seemed surprised that I was also from the Pacific Northwest. He stopped again to pick up an old man hitchhiking also, who got into the bed of the truck with Carl. Carl couldn’t handle that for long and asked the man to drop us off soon. We got out in some territory unknown to me, and the man drove off while Carl called Dean for a ride, saying we could stop at Mana Foods in Paia to get some stuff for dinner and invited me to stay and eat with them. Carl told me the old man that was picked up after us was a well-known hippie-type around Maui who did way too much LSD, even bumming around with Timothy Leary in his time on Maui.
Dean picked us up and we gathered some food for dinner, and they took me back to the most amazing view I had in my entire time there. They live on property on a hill overlooking the ocean with only one home in sight. I watched the sun set and the moon rise in complete awe. They built their home themselves, which was kind of a little trailer-type domicile with a small kitchen, a futon, and a loft accessible by ladder. The loft is where they slept and they did not even own a TV which I found refreshing. They had some dogs and cats, an outdoor bathtub, a compost toilet, and an outdoor shower. I had the most amazing shower of my life outside in this exotic, tropical location under the big, bright moon and stars. The compost toilet scared me because I could not help but imagine the giant cockroach and crab spiders I saw earlier that day. Carl made dinner for us and we watched a movie on their laptop, Shortbus. Luckily I had heard of this movie, was aware of the very sexual plot and felt comfortable with them enough to watch it with them. I had so much fun with them that I did not hesitate to accept when they asked if I’d like to stay the night. I slept on the futon and that morning awoke very early to the sounds of a huge thunderstorm, the only rain I experienced in my 9 days on the island. The showers stopped by the time they took me back to Wailuku and it was sunny and amazing again. As we drove along the highway to Wailuku, I could see an island in the distance. I believe it was the island of Molokai. They told me it was usually not so easily seen typically and I felt lucky to have witnessed that view.
Back on my own, I headed to Paia the next day because I felt most at ease in that town. Most of the residents appeared to be young-ish, tattooed, dreadlocked surfer-types. The town itself was originally a sugar cane farming town, but eventually people seemed to leave in droves for Kahului which was a much more industrialized area, leaving Paia virtually a ghost town. In the late ’70s people started coming over from the mainland for the perfect windsurfing conditions it offered and it has grown to what it is today. I had an easy time finding food (I do not eat most meat, settling for seafood rather than red meat or poultry) and the beaches were easily accessible by bus, and I even found some delicious gelato and a great coffee shop. If I go back to Maui, I think I would stay at a hostel there, because it seems a lot more lively than Wailuku and with beaches within walking distance, as well as a grocery store and other restaurants. In Wailuku, the coast was just made up of huge rocks and only fast food stores seemed to exist, such as Subway and McDonald’s. I was very reliant on the Main Street Bistro in Wailuku which I found to be quite delicious. The website is not as impressive as the food.
I think 9 days on the island was a long time for how little I could actually see of it, if I had the ability to rent a car or if Carl was able to drive me more places I would have really utilized my time wisely. By the end of about a week there, I was getting antsy to go home and continue my regular life. I tend to like to relax and spend time in nature more than anything else when traveling as opposed to staying in a resort-style setting, where I feel one would not get the chance to experience what the place is truly like. I enjoyed immersing myself in Wailuku, wandering around the town and seeing how the locals live. I did even check out a family bakery down the street from my hostel and enjoyed it quite a bit. There may not have been a lot to do in the town, but seeing this sleepy little village was nice, a glimpse into how the locals live in their little post-war homes near the hostel.
I was grateful to have experienced this trip, I took away from it so much, it was the best decision I had ever made in my life. Luckily for me, once I returned home, there was a large project to be taken on at work and I was finally earning full time wages and was able to pay off the debt I racked up on my trip. Even though I traveled in a fairly low budget manner, it still adds up, even airfare is going to be at least $400 round trip, at least from PDX. I returned home feeling more relaxed than I think I ever have felt in my life, and it was apparent to those around me that I went through a truly life-changing event. I was completely hooked on traveling solo from that point on. I vowed to do so at least once a year, which unfortunately has not always been able to happen due to financial reasons typically but I have gotten a fair amount of travel in the past two years which you will read all about if you continue to check in!
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