We got up and checked out of the hotel, then drove north five miles or so to the Iao Valley. Every morning up til then, the valley had looked dark and cloudy compared to the rest of the island. This was unusual for Hawaii, which is 99.5% sunny with the occasional brief monsoon. This morning, however, the valley was sunny.
coconuts and papayas
The valley is a rainforest in what used to be a caldera in the West Maui Mountains. We drove to the hiking area and went up to the overlook, then went down and walked along the stream in the valley. It occurred to me that for a place so humid and tropical, Hawaii has hardly any bugs. In that kind of weather in the midwest, we’d have contracted West Nile Virus ten times over from all the mosquitoes.
Hawaii has relatively little wildlife at all, actually. There were Hawaiian Road Cock and Road Weasel and many, many birds, but the rest of the animals we read about were most likely mythical. There is no nene. I’m convinced of it.
The Iao Valley has its own giant phallic symbol, which the natives used to worship. They also had an exhibit about native agriculture, so we got to see all manner of fruit plants and such. I don’t know why I think banana trees are so fascinating, but they are. Also, I forgot to mention that bananas taste completely different in Hawaii. Good stuff.
Near the mouth of the valley, there’s a large park called the Kepaniwai Heritage Garden. It’s divided into four sections, displaying Hawaiian, Japanese, Korean, and Filipino architecture. I spent a long time in each of the temples. It was beautiful.
We drove through Wailuku, a cute old town north of Kahului, and stopped at another famous general store, the Takegawa Market. One of the things on my must-do list for Hawaii was to try poi, even though everyone is horrified of it. I had to do it. The market was the first place I’d even heard mention of poi while we were there; they had a big case, and a sign telling us to take only one package per customer, due to the shortage. The case was empty.
A POI SHORTAGE. I was heartbroken.
We drove around the dodgy areas in Kahului, then wound our way back to Paia. I had decided after much obsessing that I couldn’t live without the neko sarong. I got that, then we visited the rest of the stores we had missed, including an amazing shop full of Japanese antiques.
We got back on the road and headed upcountry to Makawao. It was here we learned about the phenomenon of the Aloha Cowboy. It was so charming. They had little Western/Hawaiian shops, and a ton of art galleries. They had a small Down to Earth and a mystical crystal shop; it was hippie central. In one of the galleries, I found the most amazing little carved box. It looked like ivory but wasn’t; it had a unique smell to it that I figured was some kind of wood. I carried it around the store with me, in love, then finally brought it up to the counter. I asked the woman there what it was made of. She said, “Well… it’s cow bone.”
That was the end of my love for that.
We followed the travel guide to the much-recommended Cow Country Cafe in Pukalani, and had a lot of trouble finding it, due to Hawaiians’ immense dislike for street signs. We finally found a closed restaurant where we figured it was supposed to be, only it was called something completely different. We called them and were informed that that was the place, but they were closed due to a plumbing disaster. Ack.
We went back to Makawao and dined at Casanova Restaurant, which doubled as a gigantic Italian nightclub in the evening. I’m not sure what the deal was with the 30s-gangster-style Italian places, but I loved it. Our server was awesome, and the food was excellent. After lunch, we went back to Lahaina one last time so Stephanie could finish her souvenir shopping. We walked around for a while, but it was painfully hot. Since we still had four hours to kill before our flight back to Oahu, and because it’s a huge pain in the ass getting into Waikiki at night, we decided to call Hawaiian Airlines and see if we could get onto an earlier flight. It was easily arranged, and we were on our way to Kahului Airport.
Airport security was stepped up somewhat. We didn’t know at the time that there had been bombings in London. As we got to the scanners, they pulled us out of line to tell us we had to be screened. As Stephanie realized afterwards, our boarding passes were flagged, presumably because we switched flights at the last minute.
I waited while they wanded her, and I knew I was going to have some trouble when they paused over items like the clasp on her bra, and the zipper on her shorts. The TSA girl was extremely thorough. I stepped up for my turn, and she checked my bra clasps and earrings. When she got to my front, the wand beeped and she stopped. She tried again and it beeped. She looked confused. I said, “They’re pierced.” She looked very, very uncomfortable.
She told me to wait there, and disappeared. Then she came back again and told me to follow her. She wandered aimlessly around the secured area, obviously unsure of what to do. She finally flagged down an older female officer and whispered to her. The woman asked me to follow her, and we went into the little guardroom area where they changed clothes. The older officer apologized and explained that they had to have proof of everything that set off the scanner. I said I understood. She stammered and started apologizing again. I said, “Um, I’m kind of in a hurry.” I pulled up my shirt and bra and gave them proof. The old lady winced and apologized two or three more times. I laughed hysterically all the way to the gate.
rainbow over pearl harbor
The flight back to Oahu was on a much bigger plane with assigned seats. Sad. We were at the Honolulu airport by 6:30, and had picked up our car (Captain Crunch). We checked into our hotel in Waikiki, cleaned up, and headed back out to find dinner and wander around. We were back at the hotel by 10, and we crashed.