“With my writing, I can still play inside an enchanted castle or live inside an old fort. I can run from ghosts or ride dolphins any day of the week.” – Mary Pope Osborne
“Life is an experimental journey undertaken involuntarily. It is a journey of the spirit through the material world and, since it is the spirit that travels, it is the spirit that is experienced. That is why there exist contemplative souls who have lived more intensely, more widely, more tumultuously than others who have lived their lives purely externally.”
– Fernando Pessoa
I’ve spent the better part of the week in Hawaii with my sons. What I find interesting about the islands is that for as beautiful and pristine as they are, I struggle to be photographically inspired here. Don’t misunderstand please – the sunsets alone are photographed from visitors all over the world and I’m a sucker for a good sunset. The beaches, the aquatic world full of great sea turtles and fish the color of rainbows are what postcards are made from; though for me, while meditative, therefore giving me ample time to contemplate, they lack artistic inspiration; drama.
Take me to a city with interesting architecture and people and I can’t seem to put my camera down. Take me to the beaches where cameras abound, and I’m loathe to pick mine up. The photo below is one of the twenty I felt inspired to take. The man in the photo must’ve known he was being photographed because he quickly moved down the beach.
This week, while on Maui, a co-worker and I woke before sunset, only having a few hours before we were to fly back home, hoped on the loaner bicycles the hotel offered us, carrying nothing but our identification and a few bucks, and cycled to a local surf shop. After striking a bargain for two hours on a double sea kayak instead of the daily price, we carried our boat to the beach.
Sylvia and I are pretty petite woman, however the heavy plastic boat, although awkward, wasn’t so bad carrying across the road, down the beach and into the surf as we’re both fit and strong. Unlike most Maui mornings it was cloudy and sprinkling. We were the only boat out. A few surfers rested on their boards, waiting patiently for the waves that appeared to be picking up with the rain. We paddled past them, nodding our heads a “hello” and without talking much, worked our way far out to sea.
We were on a mission that morning. The Humpback whales are visiting the waters off of Hawaii presently and essentially, the waters between the islands is like their big play pen. I had never seen a Humpback and was looking forward to hopefully experiencing the beauty of what I consider one of the seas most majestic creatures.
That particular morning they were far off shore due to the clouds and choppy waters. I began to get nervous as more than a mile and a half was between us and the safe shoreline. Although I enjoy the water I am a land-lover at heart. Though I continued on my morning journey. We stopped when the winds began to blow a bit and decided to just sit back and not go further to be safe.
After just a few minutes we began seeing the beauties breech out of the water, their tales slapping the sea as they’d land. We waited for them to get closer, hoping they may even swim under us (Silvia’s had that very experience herself.” Then I heard it; The coolest sound ever. The sound of the Humpback’s blow-hole releasing the air from her lungs. It was beautiful. I knew she was a female because as she breached in almost slow motion out of the water, her little calf followed suit and breached as well. My breath was taken away.
The weather began to change and we couldn’t stay any longer hoping they’d come closer. We began the long and laborious paddle back to shore. It seemed harder, as if the boat was heavier. Sylvia and I paddled stronger and when I thought my arms would give in, we rode a wave to the beach and stumbled out of the kayak. We were barely able to push it on the beach.
When we tried to pick it up and carry it as we did earlier, it was almost impossible. We decided she’d pull the front and I’d push the end, dragging it on the beach and up the grass. Once we got it to the sidewalk, still needing to cross the road, we heaved it off the ground and struggled – having to stop every foot or so. I felt so weak. The guys from the shop saw us and ran over to help. They couldn’t pick it up either. After turning the boat over, saying it was full of water, they inspected it. Apparently there was a crack in one of the drain holes. The boat was completely full with water; the reason it had been so difficult to paddle and carry on the way back. We were told that had we stayed out any longer, it would have likely sunk. We just sort of looked at each other. I wondered to myself if we did sink out there….would a fellow mother come help us out….now THAT would be a story to tell, wouldn’t it?
“I once heard a grouty northern invalid say that a coconut tree might be poetical, possibly it was; but it looked like a feather-duster struck by lightning.”
– Mark Twain
I tend to spend a bit of time in Hawaii for work. Recently I spent the day in Kihei, on the island of Maui. Of all the islands, Maui is one of my favorites. As usual, I didn’t have too much time to myself, but made the best of what time I did have. I’m not really a “lay out on the beach” kind of woman. If I’m in the sun, which I love to be, I prefer to be active – snorkeling, stand-up paddle-boarding, riding bikes, etc. I love to read on the beach, but usually find shade to do so.
My company booked a new hotel and I was thrilled to find that they offer bicycles for use to hotel guests. I threw on my bikini, shorts, hat and flip flops and sunscreen and headed out on bike to explore Kihei. I always forgo the tourist places (including the busy beaches) and like to find out-of-the-way gems. I find it much easier to do so on a bike as I’m able to expand my search by miles and miles.
In Kihei in particular I have a few favorite places I like to go. One is an out of this world seafood market and cafe named Eskimo Candy. It’s not on the main road so not many people but the locals and those that do their research know where it is. These guys bring in the fresh fish daily and not only do they make a good fry, but my very favorite dish of all time – Ahi Poke. I do believe I could eat poke every day for the rest of my life and not get tired of it. After purchasing some Shoyu and Wasabi Poke packed on ice I threw it in my basket and headed back out on my bicycle.
My next stop was to Ki-Hana Nursery. I never buy anything there as I’d have to lug it home with me, but I like to meander around the nursery and check out the native plants, clay pots and garden statues. In my head I daydream about all the different garden designs I can come up with if I should ever have a garden in a warm climate.
Before my ice began to melt and ruin my Poke I was back on the road in search of a good papaya to go with my fish. I found one at a local fruit stand for only a dollar, grabbed some juice while I was at it and a few hours later was sitting on my lanai, listening to the birds which filled palm trees near me as I enjoyed my lunch…..life isn’t so bad indeed…
“I have been astonished that men could die martyrs
for their religion–
I have shuddered at it,
I shudder no more.
I could be martyred for my religion.
Love is my religion
and I could die for that.
I could die for you.”
– John Keats
I met a man on the beach – juggling. I stopped my walk and watched for a moment. After noticing me, he turned and gave me a private show and when he had finished, I complimented him on his skills and turned to leave. Before I could take my first step the man began a conversation. The man; the juggler, simply wanted to tell someone his story . I was that someone and he had my utter attention. He didn’t introduce himself, nor shake my hand. Instead, he humbly thanked me for my compliment, explaining that Hawaii had many amazing jugglers and he was certainly not one of them (He was juggling six balls without flinching mind you.) I politely disagreed with him and told him he shouldn’t knock his skills. He ignored my comment.
The man; the juggler, told me that he had lived in Honolulu for twelve years and had been juggling since his arrival. He was from Chicago originally; where he had been a mailman for many many years. His mother, on her death-bed, had told him of his inheritance and he promised her that he would retire from the postal service, take the money and move to Honolulu – her favorite place to vacation – and retire. He did just that. After explaining that Americans in general had no respect for the art of juggling like that of Europeans, he began juggling once again. After a while I wished him a good day. Likewise, he wished me a good walk and continued his juggling.
I’m not a huge Honolulu fan, however, I now have a whole new respect for jugglers…
A few months back I visited Kona, Hawaii for a week-long vacation with friends. I had been to Kona before, as well as all of the islands, however this trip wasn’t work related so I had an opportunity to really settle in, sleep in, eat in and generally love the island up. As I’ve said before in other posts I’m not really much of a shopper. When I do shop I’m searching for something specific and will spend all day looking if need be. However typically I don’t just shop to shop….especially at obnoxious tourist stores. I’d rather take a swift blow to the head then pick through cheesy trinkets made by machines and plastic and such. How many shot-glasses does one really need anyway? I have one that I bought at the grocery store after my other one broke – it’s plain glass and well used. When I make drinks for people no one ever asks me where I bought my shot-glass…
So when my friends announced they’d be filling the car and heading out one morning for a day of shopping and lunch I politely declined the invitation; letting my feet take me to the local beach – towel in bag and book in hand. I had been going through one of my introverted phases and was in need of alone time anyway, especially after sharing a house with so many women. Fortunately for me, they’ve know me for years and years and don’t even bat their eyes when I go off on my own.
Enjoying the sights and sunshine I walked quite a way down the dark sand beach, away from all the vacationers and locals as well, until I found the perfect quiet spot to sit and read my book. It wasn’t until I settled in and was on my fifth or so page that I noticed I had unsolicited company just a few feet away. I’m not sure if he was there when I arrived or had with Ninja-like skills, come out of the water to relax without me hearing. I was enjoying my book, but for me not to notice an enormous sea turtle sunning himself beside me was highly unlikely. However and whenever he got there I don’t know; though he was so beautiful and peaceful I was grateful for the company. As I introduced myself he didn’t stir. Instead he slowly opened one eye before returning to his deep, sun-drenched slumber.
After about twenty minutes of reading and listening to the sounds of the ocean I happen to look up to the water and noticed yet another Ninja was making his way to sun himself alongside of me. I sat and watched his slow, methodical process. As the small waves came to shore he would use them to his advantage; pushing himself by his flippers through the sand and rocks each time. He would then wait patiently for the next wave to help him along. The ocean was like a mother scooting her child along, feet dragging, off to bed to rest. The sea turtle, half asleep, was her child.
As I left the beach hours later I thanked each of my guest Ninjas (there were a total of three – the last making his way just before I left) and wished them all well. The largest of the three offered me another slowly opened eye and I was off again on my way down the dark sand beach utterly at peace; not even offended that they didn’t get up to see me off or offer me a shot glass with a map of Hawaii on it……