Maui, Days 1 and 2
Written by Calliope Pappadakis   
Monday, 08 March 2010 12:55

March 6, 2010

After 19 hours of travel time, my friend Beth and I arrived in Maui, Hawaii on Saturday around 5pm. The air that greeted us as we deboarded the jet was warm, humid and sweet. We had arrived on a volcanic rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Unbelievable. Jagged mountains and green stretches of sugar cane fields unfolded before our eyes. Bobbi, Ashtanga Yogi from Be-fit Yoga, and our tour guide and part-local in Maui, met us at the airport with a beautiful smile and a Maui tan. We found our Bio-beetle rental car, a cherry red VW Jetta that sounds like an old bus and runs on bio-diesel, and off we went, following Bobbi onto unknown roads flanked with ocean and mountains and dotted with lines of magnificent Monkey Pod Trees remniscent of trees on the African plain, as well as the finial-like Captain Cook pines. We spotted rainbows and low-lying clouds and crisp, fresh air filled our nostrils as we drove further into the foothills of Haleakala into the upcountry of Maui. After about 15 minutes of driving, we arrived in Makawao and stopped at a local store for food, the Rodeo General Store, what we came to refer to as just "Rodeo". The floors were hard-wood, the shelves held only organic foods and the produce display boasted locally grown avocadoes, tomatoes, bananas, liriquoi, limes, and much to my surprise and happiness, Black Tuscan Kale!! It was advertised as Lacinato Kale, but I recognized the name and its unmistakable texture, unlike any other kale. They were selling it in small bunches of full sized leaves, which I had never seen. I felt an instant connection with this place. We gathered our supper: carrot ginger and split pea soups, beets and greens in olive oil, Ahi Fishcake and Salmon filets, guacamole and chips and coconut tapioca. We may have picked up a 6-pack of Blue Moon, too. We grabbed some Maui coffee and half and half for the morning time. We drove to the B&B in Makawao, God's Peace of Maui, a hidden property on Hali'imaile Road surrounded on one side by the Haleakala Mountain and pineapple fields, and a view of the north shore on the other. I don't think we expected the fruit orchard either. The yard is lush and filled with tropical plants and even nasturtiums! Coconuts trees line the front of the house and an Angel Trumpet casts sweet fragrances your way as you enter and exit the property. It's not mango season, but there are mango trees, too. The B&B is cozy and clean and the people are really friendly. There are about 8 rooms and 3 showers and 4 toilet/sink rooms. The owner lives on the top floor with her kids and hosts guests from around the world down below. Our room has a queen sized bed with soft sheets, pillows and blankets, a small fridge, TV and shelves. It's small, but perfect for us. Oh, and it faces Haleakala. After arriving and getting a tour of the property from Bobbi, we settled into a hearty meal outside at the picnic table... the one next to the hot tub, and chatted with a local woman and played catch with her gorgeous Australian sheep dog named Tsunami. We took showers and were sawing logs within seconds, exhausted after what seemed like days of travel.

March 7, 2010

We awoke fully rested at 5:30am, an hour before we had set the alarm clock. We woke half the sleeping guests with our giggles and talking. I make no apologies. We're in Maui, people!! We made french press coffee and sat at the bar near the kitchen with our laptops and checked our email and the rest of the world. No jet lag, we couldn't believe it. After a couple pots of french press, we got ready for yoga. The real purpose of this trip is a yoga retreat at the House of Yoga and Zen of Nancy Gilgoff, but I tagged along on an unexpected and spontaneous vacation. Our group includes Bobbi, Beth and me, Joe Bedard and his son Greg, and Linda and Donna. Having only ever been to 1 Ashtanga Yoga class in my 32 years, I wasn't sure how well I'd do with a room full of practiced yoga folks, but I was excited to stretch and participate. The only indication of the studio was a small sign off the road that reads "Organic Tomatoes". The studio was built on a farm. But not just any farm. When we pulled into the driveway, 3 Gothic High Tunnels appeared. Oh lord, could this get any better? Two dogs and a fluffy Maggie-type cat ran around happy in the sunshine. We entered the studio, a single-room structure with high ceilings that seemed like nothing except a place to practice yoga and meditation. Their was a sense of stillness. It was lit only by the sunlight streaming through a high east-facing window. The floor was covered in a thin outdoor carpeting and beautiful people lined the two longer walls with their mats. Nancy came in, a tall woman whose presence evokes respect. She was certainly the authority of the practice. We began a chant in Sanskrit that I wasn't familiar with and followed sun salutations at the sound of the gong. I participated through the poses until they asked the new folks to come to an end. The close of the practice are 3 lotus flower poses. Throughout the class, an assistant named Keiko helped me and got me into positions I didn't think I could do. She was gentle, and despite her small stature, strong. She whispered instructions and encouragement as Nancy called the poses and counts for the class. Heavy, rhythmic breathing filled the spaced and folks moved in and out of poses. It was beautiful and as if humans were flowing in some ancient way. As I lay there in rest, I watched Beth next to me as she moved and breathed. Yoga seems like an embrace of the self, a deep reflection and love of one's own body, spirit and movement. I was entranced. I finished my rest and got up to take pictures of the property and the high tunnels and pet a cat who had the tail of a dog.

The high tunnels were a fantastic surprise. I wish the Earth Cowboy could have been there. He notices the small details that make things work, the details that I sometimes overlook. They used tomato clips. I set my camera on micro to get closeups.

After yoga, we stopped at Casanova for breakfast and coffee. I had a double latte with honey and a mozzarella/basil/tomato omelet, which was served with one of, if not the, best biscuits I've ever had. It was almost as if they were prepared in a cast iron skillet. Mmmh. Casanova is open in the evenings for Italian dining, but the main dining room was closed, and we had breakfast in the cozy and colorful front section of the restaurant. An older and lovely Hawaiian woman made our coffee - it was scrumptious and perfect and served in an extra large glass mug. The employees were friendly and the service was fast. After about an hour of eating, laughing and discussing ethics (Greg is a philosophy major at Millersville), we drove back to the B&B to change and get ready for a day at Baldwin Beach in Paia on the North Shore. Um, did I mention... of Hawaii?

I can't really say much to explain how beautiful this Maui Beach was, so I'll just show the photos. The water was warmer than I expected and the sun was brilliant. The water was a mediterranean blue and the sand was a soft yellow.

We met friends of Bobbi's and late afternoon, we packed up and headed into Paia for dinner supplies and sightseeing. Beth and I got a gelati - 2 flavors. Liriquoi and Strawberry, both fruits locally and organically grown on the island and then we decided it was time for a Margarita so we stopped at a corner restaurant called Milagros and had Happy Hour margaritas for $3. We had to meet everyone back at the cars at 5pm, so around 4:45 we made a mad dash for Mana Foods, a big and busy Maui grocery store, something that back east we'll call a super nice health food store. It's kind of a social spot, too. We grabbed some lime tortilla chips to accompany Bobbi's dinner of "Burritos in a Bowl", some yogurt for breakfast and chocolate bars for a midnight snack. Our last stop was at a very hip wine store called The Wine Corner where we grabbed a bottle of Malbec for dinner.

Before heading back to the B&B, we drove to Ho'okipa Lookout off the Hana Hightway to see the ocean from another view. We spotted sea turtles bopping their heads in and out of the water with the surfers. We climbed over the guard rail and walked down to the rocks below as the sun was taking its final bow for the evening.

When we got back to the B&B, cooking, laughing, wine-drinking and just general happy-people-socializing commenced. Joe broke open a bottle of Sailor Jerry and more laughing followed. By 10, we were exhausted, but decided to finish the day with a quick dip in the hot tub. I was so relaxed after a 10-minute soak in 105 degree bubbles, I could barely walk to bed.  We slept to the sound of downpour and sometimes rain would bounce off the banana leaves outside our window and splash onto my face. It made me smile.

March 8, 2010

We awoke shortly before sunrise at 6am and enjoyed more French press and fresh rain and bird songs. Greg and I are the two people on the trip that don't regularly practice yoga, so we attended class on the days that were recommended to us. I logged into class and did some school work and Greg slept in while the rest of the group went to a Mysore Yoga Class. Beth called when they were finished and Greg and I drove to Casanova to join the group for more coffee and biscuits and I made a quick stop at the post office to mail the Earthy Cowboy a postcard. We came back to the B&B and after a bowl of fruit, cottage cheese and yogurt, we got ready to hike the The Four Falls of Na’ili’ili, in spite of the rain and cooler temperatures.

We took a gorgeous drive along the Hana Highway on our way to the falls and Bedard spoke all of our thoughts when he said, "In any direction you look, you get a different sky." Heavy dark clouds, light fluffy ones, blue skies, rainbows, and on and on. The rain had stopped and the sun was out when we arrived at Bobbi's friend Merritt's house to pick up Merritt, Troy, Elizabeth and Carrie. Merritt lives in part of this beautiful home and the owners are here about 4 months out of the year. The views were fantastic and the house was pretty cool, too.

Once we were all there, off we went in 3 cars to find these waterfalls. We were all in anticipation of an exciting day. Bobbi had told us earlier that to get to the 4th waterfall, you have to climb ropes and then swim a 100-foot canal, so I was looking forward to some bushwacking, swimming and marveling at Hawaiian waterfalls. After driving up and down very windy hills, we pulled off the road and parked on the side of a steep embankment. We then decided it was time for a group photo.

We crossed the street and began our adventure down into the bamboo forest. We got lost about 3 times and when we finally arrived at the first waterfall, it became obvious that our plans to hike the four falls were over. It's rainy season here on the island and the path across the river was completely washed out and the moving water was too fast for us to cross. We decided to drive to another waterfall nearby. I use the term "we" loosely - the decision of where to take the group next came from discussions between Bobbi, Merritt and Elizabeth for the most part. I was along for the ride, and I loved it. Take me on an adventure!

What happened next fulfilled all of (or most of) our expectations for and exciting day. Before I left for this trip my only plan was to have no expectations and to see and experience new things and places, but after 3 days of thrills and good times, I suppose I may have been expecting only more fun and excitement.

We took the Hana Highway back about 5 miles and then drove about a 1/2 mile down a gravel road flanked by lush tropical plants and trees. We stopped and parked by coconut trees that I wanted to open and drink from, but alas, most of the group were on their way down into the greenness. For about 20 minutes we bushwacked our way along a steep cliff at the bottom of which was a muddy rushing river, all 11 of us, including two spirited friends in their 60's. Fearing that the water was too high to continue toward the falls, half of the group split off and headed back to the cars. The rest of us - Bobbi, Troy, Donna, Greg, Beth and me - continued toward the waterfall that Bobbi remembered from a past visit. More bushwacking ensued and what surrounded us were tall trees dressed in the most enormous philodendrons I've ever seen. I have a philodendron in my kitchen. I've only ever thought of it as a house plant, but here they were in their native habitat - enormous, and uninhibited. They vines felt their way down toward the water and up the trees. I felt small, like Thumbelina. The canopy of trees let in only a little sunlight and the earth was dark and looked like the best, richest compost I've ever seen. I wondered if I might be able to get some of this for my raised beds.

We weren't sure we were going to make it to the falls - the distance eluded Bobbi's memory and the path wasn't clear, but we continued and right around the time we weren't sure if we should keep going, a flat path opened up before us and we spotted the falls about 300 feet ahead. Hooray!!

On our hike back to the cars, which seemed about 1/2 the distance than the journey to the falls, Donna led our small group in "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands." You can't make up this kind of stuff. A group of 6 people who don't really know each other, and some meeting for the first time, bonded in a bushwacking, hiking, waterfall adventure. I'll keep that sweet memory for my life. This is living.

We left our hiking grounds and the Harrisburg, PA, group headed into Paia for dinner at Flatbread Pizza Company and I had one of the best pizzas I think I've ever eaten. Beth and I split the Organic Salad and the Co-Evolution pizza -- the roasted red pepper, kalamata olive, red onion, rosemary, goat cheese pizza -- and enjoyed a couple of Liriquoi Margaritas. Wowza. The big stone pizza oven was in the front of the restaurant, and we sat in the back to be partially outdoors while we ate. Donna journaled and asked us each to describe the waterfall hike with one word. I said "engaging".

Our next stop in this full and blissful day was in Kahului at the Sports Lounge where we went to see Bobbi's friends and yoga comrades play in their band, Soundwave, rock and surf music. They were tight and groovy and I wanted to dance. Instead, I had a couple of Maui Brewing Company Lagers. Good times.

We noticed the clear skies on the way home and watched the stars, thickly packed and twinkling in the Pacific sky. I don't remember climbing into bed, but I do know I slept soundly with rain sounds and a happy heart.

March 9, 2010

You know, I don't mind the daily rainfall, in fact, I love its cleansing and refreshing effect. The sun comes out a little later, after I've had my coffee and opened myself to the day. We're visiting a perma-culture farm and hiking a crater today. This trip is a gift and each day gets even better.

So many adventures followed that I lost time and focus to blog about them. Eventually I will post photos of the remainder of the trip and brief descriptions of where we were and what we were doing. Thanks for reading!