Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Grape #14: Pilgrimage to Maui: Part 4

Sunday, May 20th, 2012.
On Sunday we drove south, to the resorts and roads along Maui’s ritzy south coast.  We quickly realized how "So Cal" it all was, how unlike the Hawaii we came here for.  We checked out a couple of beaches before realizing we’d be much happier if we just followed our hearts to the main attraction: Little Beach.

Now, I’m not sure how to explain what this place is like.  First of all, it’s not just the kind of beach you drive up to, park and walk onto the sand and in the ocean.  Little Beach can only be accessed by going to Big Beach, walking all the way to the western end, climbing up a steep, rocky cliff, and then climbing down onto the other side.  Once you get there though, it’s a land like no other.  If Maui is paradise, then Little Beach is The Garden of Eden—some parts before and some parts after Original Sin entered the picture!  First, there are a lot of nude people.  Like, a lot.  Next there are drummers, some nude, some not, pounding away in a tribal circle.  Maybe like 5 or 6 drummers when we got there, closer to 12 by the time we left.  Naked men and women of all ages are walking around, chatting happily with one another, their breasts and penises hanging out, wine glasses in hand for some, as the tribal drumming grows.  On the rocks behind this beach, the distinct smell of marijuana abides and seems to remain just off the sandy area itself. 

Sharing the ganja territory are mountain goats.  No auto correct mayhem here, you heard me correct: mountain goats.  Now I don’t know why exactly he does this, but a short, deeply tanned man with white hair and a white beard shepherds these goats…on leashes.  They seem to love the guy too.  He pets them, talks to them like he does people, and they really seem to understand him.  I spoke with him briefly while taking a break from the sun to sit up by him and the goats in the shade.  He was trying to take their picture, and they were camera shy.

Have the picture in your heads of what this place is like?  A beautiful beach in Maui populated with nude people everywhere, tribal drumming, wine, pot, and goats.  Got it?  Okay, good.

The festive, wildly weird atmosphere was actually really enjoyable.  I’m sure some would feel ridiculously uncomfortable in this atmosphere, but Andy and I loved it.  Laying on a beautiful beach, watching people—clothed and unclothed—frolic in the waves as the drums grow louder and louder, quicker and quicker, you feel as if you are in the heartbeat of the planet, the place where energy and freedom meet and explode in joy.

As the sun began to set, the privilege of being in that place was a cathartic recreation of mind and soul, a boost of spirit and happiness knowing we were in a place of absolute acceptance of all kinds of people, simply being happy and one with the earth.

Monday, May 21st 2012.

On Monday morning, we woke up at 6 AM to take a journey to The Road To Hana.  The road itself is the journey, although some of the sites along the way bring you once again to sensory overload.  Plants and trees you’ve never seen before, banyan roots of a single tree covering a huge area, rainbow-colored eucalyptus trees, bamboo of different colors and sizes, and a vast color palate of plants and flowers you’d usually only see in an arboretum.  Waterfalls show up here and there throughout the trip, and I couldn’t help but realize how many waterfalls we see in our lifetime—artificial ones.  Yet here was the real deal.  A rainforest beneath a volcano, with actual waterfalls pouring down the steep cliffs.  A mongoose runs across the road, stands up on two feet so it’s a foot high, looks around quickly then scurries off.  And in between the rainforest views are spectacular ocean vistas, sometimes from very high above (3,000 feet), and other times right at water level. 

We took a private van tour instead of driving the over 52 miles, 617 curves, and 56 one-lane bridges ourselves.  I’m very glad we did!  Things got really, really, REALLY tight!  Plus our driver, Debra, is a native Hawaiian whose family lives in Hana, so she speaks the language, in many more ways than one.  Throughout the 12-hour long day, she spoke all the time, teaching us, making us laugh, and helping us see all of the best sights in all of the best places.  She knew what we’d see at every single turn, and really helped make the day extra enjoyable and educational.  Some of the fun things she told us was that cattle raised on Maui has to be brought to Arizona soon until the winter due to the extra dry weather right now.  She was one of the first female softball players growing up, and wore a coconut bra to games.  When we passed avocado trees, Debra told us she feeds the avocados to her pigs, so that when it comes time to slaughter them, they taste extra succulent.  Lots of fun and funny little stories like that. 

Among the many incredible sights today, we also walked on a black sand beach (the sand is black because it’s actually finely ground volcano ash), hiked, and hung out at The Seven Sacred Pools of O’Heo Gulch, where waterfalls fill natural pools, all leading straight down into the ocean.  It’s an awe-inspiring sight as waterfalls meet The Pacific Ocean, with only rocks and you in between.  In one place we were even able to crawl into a sea cave and come out on a separate rocky opening to the ocean only a few feet wide.  After the town of Hana, we stopped a few minutes to visit the grave of Charles Lindbergh, who died on Maui in the 1970s, and is buried in a beautiful churchyard overlooking The Pacific.

So much more was seen and experienced, but my heart and head are overwhelmed by it all still!  What an incredibly full and rewarding day!  We ended it with a soak in the jacuzzi and a brief swim in the lovely pool.  Mahalo for reading along, and aloha til next time!

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