Saturday, September 19, 2015

Thinking about Maui

In March, I went on a seriously perfect last minute vacation to Maui.

For whatever reason, taking a trip to Hawaii was never something that had jumped out at me. I wanted to travel the country- See New Orleans and Austin for the first time, spend more time in the dessert in the Southwest, spend more time deep in forests, walk down craggy shorelines in Maine.

Island vacations seemed like something for...someone else. I can't sit in the sun for more than half an hour before feeling sick to my stomach and dizzy. I get freaked out trying to swim in large waves, not trusting my own strength as a swimmer. And, my frugal tendancies had me immediately eliminating any sort of resort or fancy hotel lodgings, which is really all I thought of in the past when I imagined a vacation in Hawaii.

But I recieved a call from my friend Nora, who had just had her 30th birthday and hadn't done anything to celebrate. We were both fresh out of break ups, and winter in Portland was well underway with its classic gloomy gray.

"I want to ask you something, and it's okay if you say no, but I really hope you'll say yes."

"Okay, what is it?"

"Will you go to Hawaii with me? In 2 weeks? Flights aren't so bad..."


And we bought our tickets the next day. Two round trip flights to Maui.

How lucky I am to be able to say yes to this did not escape me. For the first time in my life, I have a job with flexible paid vacation, a lot of airline miles built up since moving cross country, and very few other responsibilities to complicate the freedom of a last minute trip. I know.

Two weeks later, we were on our way.

Blurry airplane shot of Nora in her par of matching heart sunglasses we bought in advance of the trip.

In the airport, at 5am, I bought a breakfast sandwhich from Burgerville. Upon opening the bag on the plane, I saw this cute message:

Hi back, Burgerville Guy!

I should take this time to explain just how unplanned the details of our trip were. When buying our flights, we didn't find a hotel or rent a car. Until a few days out from our trip we didn't even have any idea what we would do or where we would go after landing in Maui. We were just trusting that everything would work out. Nora is one of those charmed people, who you can count on finding the best possible situation with the least possible planning, so I just put my faith in her devine luck. We figured we would camp, or stay at hostels, anything cheap. Something would work out.

Nora had lived in Maui for a year at 19, and as she isn't on facebook, and has changed phone numbers multiple times in those last 10 years, she was not currently in contact with any of her old friends there. She promised me she would try to get back in touch with an old friend there to see if he could recommend campgrounds or hostels that might work well for us, and maybe meet us for a drink or a day at the beach. The trip got closer and closer, and she had not successfully found a way to reach him.

But, I shouldn't have worried. Nora's luck succeeded. A few days before our trip, Ben, her old friend who still lived in Maui, reached out after being contacted by a friend of a friend. Of course he wanted to see us while we were in town, and yes, he had a recommendation of where we could stay- his guest house! For free! which happened to be an absolutely idylic cottage in the jungle-y upcountry town of Makawao. And he would clear his schedule to pick us up from the airport. I know. The charmed life.

In the car with Ben, so happy to have made it to Maui
The first thing I did once we landed in Maui was go feel the ocean. It was warmer than the air! I walked right in, clothes and all.

pardon the poor quality of this one...
Arriving at Ben's cottage to drop off our belongings, we were blown away with what an amazing corner of the world we were in. The house was surrounded by Banana and avocado trees. Out front was a big fire pit, and across the the way was a chicken coup and vegetable garden. The house was on a winding, unpaved backroad, and everywhere you looked fruit was growing.

Our absolutely adorable jungle lodgings

Taken on a morning walk down the muddy road that lead to Ben's home

Morning yerba mate, and so many banana trees in the background

I was really way too excited to spot real bananas growing
 The rest of our trip was...a dream. It was warm but cloudy every day we were there, which may sound like a bummer, but it meant I could stay outside for several hours without getting dizzy and sick and needing to escape the sun. It also meant that we were driven to spend more time being active hiking in the jungle than just sitting on the beach as we might have been if the weather was perfect.

Those dark rocks were formed by lava flows, we hiked along a long trail of the path of a previous volcanic eruption. The earth was sharp, jagged, dangerous and foreign looking. It felt a bit like discovering a hostile new planet.

A rare sunny moment -at Little Beach

I was walking to find shade, most likely...

Mostly we didn' t go out to resteraunts or bars, to save money, but we did check out a local brewery with some awesome giant bar games. Here, giant jenga gets serious. 

Most of the food we ate we cooked at home- and we made sure to use the plentiful eggs from the chickens across the way, and avocados and mangos from the trees around the house whenever possible. The bread in this photo was made from scratch by our host's girlfriend!

We also made a lot of Musubi, which wraps up really well to take along as hiking food! I plan to make a post next with a tutorial of how to make this yumminess.

More homemade Maui food. The life was simple and good.

 This is far from all the pictures I took, or all the notable adventures we went on- from barefoot hiking in a bamboo forest, climbing up waterfalls, hitchhiking from beach town to beach town, and meeting new friends, I have so many stories I will absolutely cherish from this adventure. But, if you've made it all the way to end of this post, and you want to hear more, I'd happily gush about all that. For now, I'll end this post, and get back to my non-vacation life.

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