Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Grape #15: Pilgrimage to Maui: Part 5

Wednesday, May 23, 2012, 8:30 AM MAUI, 2:30 PM NY
Yesterday was Andy’s birthday.  A mostly relaxing day was on the schedule, some beach time and exploring, and a luau in the evening.  We headed north to the Kapalua Beach area, where my favorite PGA Tour golfers start their season each year in January.  It’s the home of the Ritz Carlton Maui and some of the most beautiful vistas on the island.  Just past Kapalua was a beach we’d wanted to visit.  Set between a couple of lava rock peninsulas, D.T. Fleming Beach is one of many crescent-shaped beaches on the island of Maui that boasts great swimming conditions.  Sounded good to us!  We set up “camp” on the beach in a nice shady spot for me to read in, and Andy got ready to go in the ocean.  His phone rang—his brother Chris calling to wish him a happy birthday.  After a few minutes of chatting, Andy went in for a dip.  I kept an eye on him because I know he can’t swim, but thankfully there are many beaches where the shallow water extends out further than it would off Long Island in New York where we’re used to going.  He came up to the towel after maybe 10-15 minutes of splashing around and enjoying the warm ocean water up and down the beach, and the first thing he said to me was, “Do you have the car keys?”  Uh-oh.

Andy’s been the driver, so I wouldn’t have had the keys.  So the fact that he was asking me this was not what I wanted to hear.  We searched the bags and ground around where we set up, and the car key was no where to be found.  Andy knew he had not taken it out of his bathing suit.  Disaster.  Panic kicked in and fast.  I told him he should go and look in the ocean.  “It could be anywhere though!”  Instead, he called 411 (information) and got in touch with the car rental place on the other side of the island.  Conversations went back and forth about spare keys being found and sent, and even a locksmith was contacted and put on alert in case we needed him to come.  While Andy made phone calls, I walked down to the ocean, determined to find this damn key.  I knew what I was looking for, a single silver key with a black lock/unlock button operation, and a plastic tag attached with the information about the car.  I had told Andy that our biggest problem was not the lost key, but that the lost key was found by someone else and the car stolen.  It’s one thing to have to shell out a few hundred dollars to solve this drama, it’s another to be liable for replacing a car.  So I told Andy to keep an eye on our car up in the parking lot while he made his calls.

Andy made his frantic calls, and I waded through ocean water, searching for a needle in a haystack.  The waters off Maui are thankfully clear blue, so you can see the sand even in a couple of feet of water, but with the sun going in and out from behind passing clouds, and waves constantly stirring the water, this was hardly the same as finding a coin in a bathtub.  I had my work cut out for me and I knew it, especially since Andy wasn’t just enjoying our part of the beach but had gone down quite a ways to our left as well.  “God, Saint Anthony, please help me right now.  I really, really need to find this key.”  Faith, I kept telling myself, you have to have faith.  I must have looked like a squirrel desperately searching for hidden acorns, so I told several people wading nearby what I was doing and looking for, and trusted them to keep their eyes open and let me know if they found it.  One of the people told me right away, “Was it a silver key?  It’s up at the lifeguard stand.  It was in the parking lot.”  Joy rose within me!  “Yes, a car key attached to a plastic car rental identifier.”  No, she told me, this was something different.  Dashed.  I kept searching, and I kept believing.  After checking half a football field’s worth of water for about 15 heart-racing minutes, I spotted it!  That was it, I just knew it.  I reached down in 2-3 feet of water to the sand and grabbed what I was pretty sure was the key.  Yes!!!  This was it!!!  I KNEW I’d find it!!! 

The smile on my face stretched from one ear to the other and felt like it wrapped all the way around my head 360 degrees.  I ran up to the towels and fetched my cell phone to call Andy in the parking lot, figuring he might see he was getting a call from me and put either Avis or the locksmith on hold to take my call.  He beat me to it, though.  From the parking lot a couple hundred feet away, he saw I was back at the towels and thought I was holding something, so he called me first.  He couldn’t believe I had found it.  I reassured him that I knew I would and that you can never, ever, EVER give up.  Andy, not one for PDA (Public Displays of Affection) didn’t mind accepting the big hug I gave him there on the beach.  We celebrated by swimming together (after ensuring our valuables were safe on the beach and not on our person) and then heading out to do more exploring and find lunch.

We hadn’t booked a luau before coming, mostly because I was concerned it was just going to be a silly shtick of a thing designed for tourists.  The woman at the activities desk at our resort assured us the Old Lahaina Luau was the most authentic Hawaiian Luau on all of the Hawaiian Islands.  Sounded good to me, and everyone was telling us we’d really enjoy it, so book it we did.  You pay about a hundred bucks for this 3-hour experience, so here’s what it happily entailed.  You walk in, and coconut-bra’d women and shirtless men greet you with trays of cocktails—you pick your poison from among 10 varieties of liquor plus a few wine and beer choices too.  Andy and I each had a mai tai (served in real glass tumblers with little flowers floating inside—nothing plastic here!) and then a cute young guy greeted just the two of us, brought us to our table and put beautiful flower leis on us.  Yes, we got--  Okay, you can imagine the rest, so I’ll leave it unsaid.

At the table, we met the other guests sitting with us for the luau.  Now for anyone who doesn’t know, this can be a stressful experience for two gay guys in a straight world.  You just never know what luck you’ll have or what idiots you might be seated with.  The couple across from us were in their early 30s, and—we found out later—were newlyweds.  They were from Oklahoma City and were just really great people.  And the three-generation family occupying the rest of the table were from Alaska.  All of them were outgoing and friendly, completely sweet and wonderful.  This was going to be great.  The price of your luau includes unlimited cocktails all night long.  The whole first hour was cocktails and photo-snapping.  Hawaiian music played and sung live as you mingled and enjoyed a beautiful outdoor festive luau area as the sun slowly set out behind you on the Pacific.  Throughout the second hour, you go buffet style (self-serve) to try as many of the huge variety of dishes as you’d like.  All traditional Hawaiian meals, they included imu-roasted pork (cooked underground in a large pit they uncover before the meal begins), guava-seasoned chicken, beef, rice, pineapple, banana bread, sweet potatoes, and several varieties of fish.  And the whole third hour includes desserts and coffee while you watch a variety of beautiful hula dances performed as a narrator describes different parts of Hawaiian history, and explains the meaning behind the dance. 

It was a wonderful way to spend three hours of Andy’s birthday, and with the beautiful sunset and later stars above us as we watched the performances in this gorgeous beachfront outdoor area, it was an incredibly enriching, stomach- and soul-feeding evening to remember forever!

As we closed our day in paradise, we saw three geckos in the area outside of our condo, one on the way into the resort, and two more on our private wrap-around lanai.  Called a sign of good luck, seeing these creatures for the first time on Andy’s birthday was an extra blessing on a very blessings-filled day in paradise. 

The original plan was to rise extra early the next morning to watch the sunrise from the top of Haleakala, but the mai tais and delicious food changed our course, and we decided to sleep in instead.  Haleakala will probably be tomorrow instead.

Mahalo for reading along as always.  Much love to you all.

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