Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Road To Hana

It is little wonder that the road to Hana is touted as a must “do” trip on the island of Maui. Fifty miles of single lane blacktop wind along the northeast coast, dipping in and out of valleys, skirting waterfalls, blue water vistas, and black sand beaches. The number of tourists, rented mustangs, and first worldness, decrease exponentially as you approach the tiny hamlet of Hana. You are wise to drive slowly on the twisting roads and let the local pick-ups rumble by. This part of Maui gets a lot of rain, and the most of the way the rainforest is dripping. There are plenty of diversions along the way: beaches, hikes, waterfalls, fruit stands, museums, and such. But as usual, the experience is in the journey. As you head east, the modern world fades behind you, and you enter the lost world of aloha, the rural island spirit that is both seductive and mysterious. Near Hana begins a world where people are people, living off the land, looking out for each other, waving hi with a smile, picking sweet liliko'i in the jungle. Its not the world you came from, its different there – and after a few days, if you are lucky enough to spend the time, you will notice the pulse of life slowing down so you can hear its beat. The air is rich with scents, orchids drip off the trees, tasty guava and coconuts abound, and rainbows touch the sea. In season, the whales even come to visit, and play in the azure waters just offshore. Luscious waterfalls pour off the mountains into beautiful jungle pools that trip down to the beaches. Sound like paradise – it’s a place that time forgot, no Wal-Mart, no McDonalds, No Starbucks, no malls, no cell phones – just the quiet spirit of land staring you in the face. Its quite a feeling, and not one that comes lightly, you need to slow down and spend some time here to tune into it. Pass through Hana, and the Hasegawa general store, your one stop shop for everything from spam musubi to plumbing supplies, and keep going past the celebrity mansions, well hidden off the road, and you enter the heart of the place. Open ranches roll to the sea, fresh breezes move the palms gently, and yes, the rainbows keep coming. Swim in the pools of Oheo Gulch, and hike up the river to the beautiful falls, while you hunt for yellow guavas. You can even camp for free at the coastal campground of Haleakala National Park, and watch sunrise over Mauna Kea. If you realize you want to go back to the hustle and bustle of life, pinch yourself a couple of times, and jump in the cool river, then start the journey back to civilization. As you travel back, and your senses are flooded with the over stimulation of our modern world, you will realize that you occupied a different time and space out there, and that it was indeed beautiful

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