There is something so very comforting about traveling with your friends. There is security in numbers and confidence in your combined ability to make things work. When we landed in Maui ( I miraculously slept away 4 of the 5.5 hours of the flight!) we realized how sleep deprived and still directionless we were. Still very unphased. We spent about 30 minutes watching the flow of travelers making their way to their final destinations while googling away potential taxis/car rentals/couch surfing opportunities (U.S. travel…uninhibited phone service!!!) We were strongly debating heading back into the airport to sleep for a bit when another backpack-wearing, weary looking traveler came towards us. He was looking to catch a taxi to his hostel and was hoping to split the price since taxis (along with most all things) are expensive on this Island. We didn’t have much to lose, so figured, why not…at least it was away from the airport (where we had learned was the most expensive place to rent a car). We made our way to the taxi van line, and another fellow came walking our way. The lost and confused tend to flock to each other. There was a lot of names of places being thrown out and even though we were speaking english, I couldn’t even attempt to spell where we were discussing. North island? West island? 15 minutes? 40 minutes? Where are we? Which way is the ocean? Oh right, we’re on an island. Yikes.
We climbed in the cab. At least we were 5 now right? Maxi, 27 and from Argentina, had a hostel reservation. Rob, 45 from Sacramento, had a condo. We? We had options. It’s hard to pow-wow when you are sitting in different rows of a van, but we got our esp going and started asking the right questions. We all seemed to agree both gentlemen’s vibes were good. Safe, friendly humans all around. So really, both options were sound. We made it to the hostel in 15 minutes, and Mario (our taxi driver who was becoming ever more chatty) encouraged us to stick around in the cab for the drive and condo experience. “You will wake up on a beach”, he said. SOLD. Phone number switch and goodbyes to Maxi and we were off to the unknown. 45 minutes later and almost at our destination, we learned Rob has his condo until Monday, he works for law enforcement back in California, and he’s got our back..already questing our future moves and safety.
Where are we? We still didn’t know at this point, but we had a gated condo community, security guard, and pullout couch to sleep on in an ocean front condo with the waves lapping the shore in greeting us to Maui. This is really happening. We made the bed, changed, and passed out in record time. I think it was probably 11:30 Hawaii time at this point…so that put us at 4:30 am home time. Holy long day!
I vaguely remember thinking I should set and alarm or I will never wake up, but that required too much energy. So it was a shock to find myself awake at 6:15, and relatively energized. Aj was already out on the Lanai taking in the wavs and early morning sun and I had to take a few minutes to place myself again as to where I was. Caz was sill snoozing next to me, and for as awkward as you might think it would be to wake up in someone else’s place, it felt incredibly relaxing and peaceful. Cara woke up and we were all out watching the water when Rob came out to join us. All of us were in awe of the view we could hear but not see from the night before. The water immediately below us, palm trees everywhere, a private sandy beach to the left and the mountain-outline of an island off in the distance. A real-life postcard. Want to be more jealous? Get ready…we saw giant sea turtles and whales splashing in the water!!
7 am and the whole day ahead. We spent a decent amount of time on wifi attempting to find a cheap rental car to no avail. We are in Hawaii….lets get outside! Upon Mario’s suggestion, we headed in the direction of the Lahaina famers market *maybe Kanapali? --- we’re still working out our location. Aj and Cara’s heaven…samples everywhere. Not only samples, but sellers literally pushing extra and then extra extra samples onto us. Thank you free breakfast. We wandered on a bit farther down the road until we made it to Mario’s second suggestion…Enterprise of Lahaina. Gracias Mario. Well, really gracias to our enterprice agent/secret informant who not only happened to be from Vermont, but also was friendly enough to clue us into the dark side of car rental. Inflammation because of demand…not all enterprises within the confines of the same island are priced equally.
Lahaina is a tourist mecca, and therefore in demand. Kihei, a town not even 30 miles away is more local and therefore half the price…and only a $4 bus ride away. Off to Kihei! Our bus venture was amazingly seamless and we had the pleasure of learning some state facts thanks to a rather colorful local. Did you know the state flower is a yellow hibiscus? Bird…the Nene. Mammal...the humpback whale. The flag has 8 stripes for the 8 islands.
We still don’t know where we are.
Enterprise is all about sending New Englanders to Hawaii apparently. Our lady in Kihei has been here for 8 months now, but is from NJ! Thanks to her, we got hooked up with our little lady for the trip…a 2015 Nissan Versa that gets 37 miles to the gallon! Can I take you home please? How liberating a feeling to be behind the wheel again. With Rob navigating, we found our way to Star Noodle. We don’t generally plan any of our travels around food, but this restaurant had been mentioned to all of us individually by many different sources…so it was a necessary stop. And a great recommendation it was. Pad Thai, kimchi, the freshest Ahi I’ve ever had. Thank you Hawaii for our first amazing meal. And thank you Rob for continuing to be our saint and treating us to a ‘birthday’ lunch. Your presence is beyond words.
We made out way back towards the condo in a happy food coma. Sunset and and cocktails were the only potential plans we had, so we stopped at the grocery store to check out the local beverage seen. Rum. Cheaper here than home. Who knew? Mai-Tai’s it is. Condo living provides plastic cups, ice cubes, and a stone walk-way to the beach. Hawaii provides sunsets and whales. We happily consume. It’s now 8:04pm here time. 1:04am home time. We continue to chat. New friends. New places. Warm weather. Waves.
Beach. Lunch date with Gram’s good friend.
Hawaii <3 Mahalo.