Ahhh, Maui!

Nope, you didn’t miss something last week. I was on vacation on Maui, thanks to a trip my husband won through work. Although it was really the wrong time of the year for an accountant to take off, who could pass up an almost free trip to the Hawai’ian Islands?

With a couple of exceptions, we had a blast. 11 hours flying time plus 2.5 hours travel to/from the Atlanta airport is no fun. But once we finally arrived, it was everything the travel brochures tell you, and more.

We spent the first day admiring the sun (my husband irritated a few trumpet fish with his rod & reel) and doing some shopping for me. I had grossly miscalculated what clothing to bring. Yes, I’d looked at the air temperatures online but neglected to take into account the intensity of the sun. It was hot! That evening the company threw a reception/dinner at the hotel. For once it wasn’t in some dull ballroom with the stereotypical rubber chicken. Outdoors on a lawn, serenaded by a trio (including the ubiquitous ukulele) & hula dancers, good food and fruity drinks. No umbrellas, though. They garnish everything with orchids.

One thing that kind of threw me was … the moon was wrong! Having never been that far south, I was unprepared for the waxing crescent not on the right but on the bottom! I tried to take a picture but neither camera would get a good shot. Orion’s belt and the other constellations were pointing the wrong way, too.

Day two took us from beachfront to mountain. We went horseback riding through a pineapple plantation. The views were stupendous! I was really surprised at how quickly the air cooled the higher you got. I was quite comfortable leaving the hotel in a tank top and rather chilled in the shade during the ride.  That evening we went into Lahaina and had dinner at a restaurant frequented by the locals instead of one of the uber-expensive, high-class ones catering to tourists. Frankly, native cuisine is rather bland – at least the plate I had was. Interesting, though. (Yes, the plate included poi. I’d had it in my youth but sampled it again. It still tasted like sour, purple glue.)

That evening is when the sh** hit the fan. We found out about the earthquake and impending tsunami on the bus on the way back. Our driver told us to turn on the news when we got back to our rooms. Emergency sirens started going off about 10pm, the hotel evacuated the bottom four floors & locked down. We were on the 18th floor so we weren’t affected but with the emergency sirens going off hourly and hotel-wide announcements every couple of hours, we didn’t get a lot of sleep. We got up with the 2:45am announcement & sat on the balcony watching for the huge wall of water. It never happened in our location. Although I’m glad it didn’t and the damage elsewhere wasn’t as bad as it could have been, it would have been rather neat to see – we even had the camera ready.

Friday everything finally returned to normal about noon and we went into Lahaina again for a couple of hours of sightseeing. In case you didn’t know, Lahaina is an old whaling port with all sorts of historical places. About the coolest thing I’ve ever seen is the Banyan Tree in its own park.

No one photo can do this tree justice. An excerpt from the plaque:

Shading almost an acre of the park and reaching upward to a height of 60 feet, this banyan tree is the largest in the United States. The tree has spread over the area by way of its aerial roots, which grow into thick trunks when they reach the ground, supporting the tree’s large canopy. There are 16 major trunks in addition to the original trunk in the center.

Friday night we went to a luau. I had heard about them and seen clips on television but nothing can match seeing one in person. This particular company has been doing it for about 20 years and they really know how to put on a show.

Saturday we bid a fond aloha to Maui and headed back to reality. It was a long trip, arriving at the Atlanta airport at 6am Sunday and driving home. I’m still finding sand in things! We do want to go back at some point and rent a car to do more sightseeing.  I’d also like enough time to talk with the local herbalists.  If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend spending the time and money (things are expensive there!).

One last note … I saw this in one of the tourist-trap places. I’m not usually one for bumper stickers but I couldn’t resist. For those of you who don’t speak Hawai’ian, wahine means woman. Rather appropriate, don’t you think? 😉