The wheels of the plane touched down on island with a bump and a squeak. I turned on my phone to see a text from my friend Kelly. It stated, “Text me when you get here. I need to meet up with you in town.” Kelly is also my property manager and the text sounded like whatever it was couldn’t wait. A tremor of uncertainty passed through my mind and I hoped there was nothing wrong with my little condo. We met up in the parking lot of that paragon of Hawaiian culture, Wal-Mart (the other being Costco). We exchanged Aloha hugs and Kelly started pulling bags out of his trunk and handing them to me explaining, “Sylvia and I wanted to make sure you had the basics since you’re staying in your condo which is pretty bare bones. Here’s some sheets and towels, some dishes, silver ware, etc. Oh and here’s a paddle you can borrow while you’re here.” I shake my head in amazement at the generosity and thoughtfulness of the friends I made while living in Maui.
It was profoundly satisfying nesting and setting up house in my little island condo. I had never slept in a bed in a home that I owned before! I kept stopping and looking around grinning thinking, “Really? This is mine? For reals?” I may have also jumped on the bed and squealed. A little Zebra Dove had made her nest in a palm frond at eye level off my second floor lanai (porch). I introduced myself and admired her one tiny baby. At about 4pm, hot, sweaty, and tired, I called it a day, shoved my feet into a pair of slippahs (flip-flops), threw a towel over my shoulder, and shuffled a half block to “my” beach. It was deserted save for an old couple who were fishing. There was a bell on the rod that tinkled in time with the swell surge. I slipped into the water and floated, smiling and loving how there is no screaming associated with getting into the water in Maui. I mean, unless you were overcome with happiness, I guess. In Santa Cruz screaming is a knee jerk reaction because it feels like needles of ice are being jabbed into you wherever the water touches bare skin. As I lazed and floated there was a sudden “PAH!” nearby which elicited a yip of surprise from me. It was just a gentle honu (turtle) coming up for a breath of air. She looked at me with her dark, almond-shaped eye, took another breath, and disappeared again. Back on my towel I was lulled to sleep by the sound of the breeze through the palm fronds. It sounds just like rain.
Early the next morning I showed up on the beach, borrowed paddle in hand. It was so much fun to surprise the members of my old canoe club. “Whaaaat! What’cho doin’ here?” Lot of hugs and Aloha. As we were readying the boats, I heard my name shouted from across the street. It was Tim from the bike shop out for an early ride. It made me smile from ear to ear to feel like there is another little corner of the world where people know me and I feel welcome. We paddled about a half mile out and stopped to rest and chat and watch the sun rise over Haleakala. As we were chatting there was this incredibly obnoxious back ground noise I kept trying to tune out. It sounded like someone had brought a radio on board and was listening to moto cross races. A snatch of conversation floated by. “Eddie, can you translate? What are they saying?” “Can’t you tell? ADELE! ADEEEEEEELE! They’re saying your name, see? I gingerly turned to the left so as not to tip the canoe and asked what was going on back there. The ho’okele (steersman) had dropped a hydrophone in the water and the “racket” was whales singing!
Next on my to do list that day was a trip upcountry. This is where I lived when I lived on island. At 3,000 feet the weather is much cooler and the views spectacular. I stop by to visit Ken who did his acupuncture training in Santa Cruz and now lives upcountry with his wife Nicole. Ken keeps me supplied with locally made Chinese herbal medicine. We go outside to visit with the resident Jackson (chameleon) who has lived in the same bush for years. It would be rude not to say hello. Ah, but a new development since I was last here in October. He has a lady friend. He is bright green today while she is the color of moss and lichen. Their feet look like oven mitts to me. I wish the happy couple well and am off to the farmer’s market.
I am a Pukalani Farmer’s Market fan. The fresh meats and fish, eggs, fruit, and vegetables are lovely, but it’s the prepared foods I’m here for. There is a little Thai woman named Pan and she makes green papaya salad to order. She asks “how spicy you want” and pulls the corresponding number of little red chile peppers out of a sack. Into a large mortar and pestle they go along with shredded green papaya, tomatoes, lots of garlic, a splash of fish sauce, grated carrot, and ground peanuts. Next stop is the bread lady, a rotund little babushka from somewhere in Eastern Europe. She wears cotton house dresses and a handkerchief over her head. She makes the most divine loaves of hand-made bread. My favorite is the gluten-free kalamata olive mini loaf. One bite and you don’t care how much it costs, just yes please do wrap another for me to go. Directly across the way from the bread lady is a tiny, dark-skinned Indian woman. She has the biggest, whitest smile and she always seems to be smiling no matter that there’s a line 10 deep, her baby is crawling around, and she’s single-handedly frothing cups of home-made chai, stirring huge vats of dal, curried lamb, saffron rice studded with glistening currants, spicy cauliflower…oh my. Her food makes me go weak in the knees. But wait! We must not forget the local food stand. The chicken mochiko cone-take a paper cone from your local office water cooler, drop a scoop of rice in the bottom. Fill the rest of the way with chicken rolled in rice flour and cooked till it’s hot and crispy. Sprinkle with furikake (seaweed flakes and sesame seeds). Eat with plastic fork. Pork Lau Lau-pulled pork wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed. Say no more. Haupia pie-purple sweet potato pie topped with coconut pudding and chilled till it’s set. The slab takes me three sittings to eat, it is so big. Every visit to the Pukalani Farmer’s Market entails much deliberating, hand wringing, and nail-biting for I cannot possibly eat it all. But I would like to.
Lest you get the idea that owning a condo on Maui is all fun and no work let me tell you that Sunday was designated “Mud Wasp Eradication Day”. The outside storage closet had been taken over by the little beasties. The inside of the closet was quite covered in (thankfully abandoned) mud wasp nests. I was hot and sweaty and grumpy working outside in the heat. The nests have to be chiseled off the wall with a putty knife. The dirt rains down all over you and sticks to your sweaty, grumpy person. Then you have large piles of dirt all over the floor which need to be taken up by a shop vac. Then sweep. Then mop. Done! Thank God.
The next morning, paddle was cancelled due to a heavy shore break. I sat inside writing while a workman installed a new front screen door. I looked out the window and saw mama dove sitting on a different palm frond. I walked out on the lanai to say hello, but no! Tiny disaster! Her nest hung by a string, upside down, empty. “Oh no!” I say out loud, to no one in particular. I look over at mama dove as if she might be able to tell me what happened. She looked back at me with a beady, black eye. Perhaps she is asking me the same question. I lean over the railing and peer at the bushes, scanning the asphalt. I see no sign of the baby. I feel sad for her. Birds don’t make facial expressions so it’s hard to know, but I imagine she is sad too. Once the workman has finished and I can again use the front door, I go for a run out to La Perouse, through the lava fields out to the bay where the Spinner Dolphins live. Along my route I see a showy, tropical flower I don’t recognize. I send the photo to everyone I know on island and discover it has the unfortunate name of Stink Banana. It is neither stinky nor a banana. Well, I guess some of us get stuck with names that don’t fit. I’m thinking “A Boy Named Sue” here.