Archive for the ‘Hawaii’ Category

Lots of plane time

Friday, March 16th, 2007

I love planes, and I am fascinated by airports. But right now I’m tired of all of that.

My last night on Maui I took a small capoeira class with Pedrita, of grupo Porto de Minas. As it turns out, she knows Edna Lima from New York (Mestranda Edna baptized me at my first batizado in 2005 in SF.) The class was all of 2 people, so it was low-key, which is just as well, since it’s really hot there and I hadn’t worked out in a little while.

The following day I flew to Honolulu and spent a night at an unmemorable hotel on Waikiki. I got some sun and sand time in, so I can’t complain; but it was really just a transit point and I didn’t get a chance to really see Honolulu (next time, right?) Early next morning I took a flight to Tokyo (9 hours), had a 4 hour layover in Narita (inari + sake + massage chair.. need i say more?), and then hopped a 7 hour flight to Bangkok.

And here I am at Big John’s guest house. I have no impressions of Thailand yet, and i’m exhausted. I just chatted with Justin, who claims it’s 11:30am in SF. I believe him, but my body clock doesn’t. I think it’s time to hit the sack.

Rainforests, snorkeling, and things in between

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

What is striking about Maui is how quickly and dramatically the scenery changes. The island is pretty small but juts two mountains out of the sea. Between its slopes you find everything from volcanic rock along the coasts, to dense, moist vegetation on West Maui. Sadly, I won’t have time on this trip to do a proper overnight in Hāna. Instead, we took a quick trip into Iao Valley State Park yesterday. Not much is accessible to the general public without trespassing, but the little we saw was definitely worth it.

Half way up the trail, local kids were taking tips for jumping from a 25 foot bridge into a shallow pool. I didn’t exactly want to break my ankle right before my flight out, so instead we opted to jump a shorter distance from a boulder. Despite it not being very extreme, it was pretty fun; not to mention that the cold water cut the afternoon humidity just right. Better than coffee.

On the way back to Kihei we hit a torrential storm. I’m surprised at how much I am enjoying rain here; I suppose it’s different than when it is accompanied by the cold cold breeze of the Bay Area. Here it is life-giving and, as has been the case with everything simple on my trip so far, life-affirming.

We left the western swath of rain behind as we approached our beach town, and hit the beach for the requisite beer, sunset and boogie boarding.


This morning we braved the threatening weather and drove south until the road turned to volcanic rock before dead-ending on the coast, at La Perouse Bay. Through a barbed-wire fence on the side of the road, we followed a wooded trail to the giant coast-side bed of craggly rock. The terrain, unsurprisingly, was lunar, cut with splotches of sand, occasional oases, and pools of varied sealife.

Taking care not to slip and split ourselves open, we hiked a mile or so before finding a small bay to snorkel in. Despite light rain and overcast clouds the water was clear, and we spent an hour swimming among a rainbow-variety of fish — from little puffy ones to long, skinny fuckers. The very best part was the giant sea turtle who had been napping in the area. Some five feet in length, it must have weighed several hundred pounds. Luckily, it didn’t mind too much being harrassed by our bevy of pallid mainlanders.

Haleakalā

Monday, March 12th, 2007

I didn’t really imagine that I’d experience 20-30 degree windchills in Hawai’i, but I almost lost some extremities this morning.

The house managed to wake up at 2am to do the famous Haleakala volcano bike tour. A van brought us up to the summit by five in the morning or so, where we watched the sun rise and froze our respective bits off.

Despite the freeze, the view was spectacular. The summit is close to 10,000 feet, so vegetation is sparse, the landscape martian. The volcano is home to rare species such as the Haleakalā Silversword Plant, and Reagan-era Star Wars telescopes and lasers.

After being lent hazmat-esque windbreaker outfits, and given obligatory safety information, we started our 38-mile, winding ride down to the ocean. Along the way we periodically shed layers as we passed through several climates — from the deserted, freezing summit; descending into more temperate zones where there is actual vegetation and wildlife; through humid cloud cover into moist farmland, past cows and eucalyptus; down along Baldwin Road through Upcountry, past movie star residences; through paniolo towns (Maui reportedly had cowboys before Texas did!) and hippie towns; past burnt-down and harvested cane plantations and pineapple fields; down to the coastal town of Paia, where our journey ended.

Exhausted, we were bussed back to our neck of the woods in Kihei. Surpsingly, we rallied and spent the rest of the day at the beach. Not a bad way to end the day. Time for dinner.

Hawai’i: reunion and wedding

Saturday, March 10th, 2007

The thing about admissions and housing offices at my school is that they are good. Real good. Case and point: I am in Hawai’i with almost a dozen kids I met freshman year. Not only have we kept in touch, many of us still live in the same towns. Hell – my current flatmate in SF lived a couple of doors down from me back then.

Even though some of us see each other often, most of us only regroup at weddings, every couple of years. So, here we are in Maui, privileged not only to have landed in such a beautiful place, but to share a really special moment in cjc’s life.

The wedding took place at the Four Seasons resort, and was one of the fanciest I’ve ever been to. An outdoor ceremony, it overlooked the ocean. Totally idyllic. In fact, rumor is that when the bride and groom were exchanging vows whales were breaching in the distance.

Now, i’m generally not one who believes in the weighty tradition of marriage, and often roll my eyes at the religious pomp that generally comes with it. I did have a wonderful time, however. After all, there are moments to put cynicism aside and enjoy yourself, especially when surrounded by warm people and emotions.

I guess when it comes down to it, I like to see people happy, especially old friends.