Friday, January 29, 2016

Island Life .2.

Aloha! It’s been about the quickest 41 hours I’ve ever experienced. 6 am Thursday morning I was in the car with Michael heading to the park and ride in epping. I hoped in the Govoni’s car and was chauffeured down to logan (thanks Cindy!) to catch our 9 am flight. The rest of the day was a blur of sitting in a whole bunch of odd and uncomfortable positions. 6 hours to San Fran (actually not terrible at all) on a very empty flight so Caz had a whole 3 seats to sleep in and Age and I had a row to ourselves to catch up for  5 hours (we read and blogged and slept too). Then the real fun began. The  various exciting and ambitious plans we had for our 6 hour layover in San Francisco resulted in 6 very long hours of wandering the lovely terminal 2 San Fran: inclusive of vegan rice cake tastings, facial oil samplings, hallway headstands (and various stretches) a celebrity sighting (Lady Antebellum…you were in the  San Fran airport around 3 pst, no?), and one very expensive lunch/dinner/food experience at one very delux fresh market within the impressive food court area of terminal 2. It was with  a mixture of excitement and loathing that we boarded the plane at 5:35 (8:35 now at home time). We still didn’t exatly have plans as to where or what we would do once we landed in Maui, so we made a pact to try to talk to all our different seat mates and attempt to get lodging for once we landed. Yes, that sounds shady, but no, we weren’t even slightly phased.
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.

Tomorrows agenda:
Beach. Lunch date with Gram’s good friend.

Hawaii <3 Mahalo.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

from adios to aloha

I want your life. I’m so jealous of your pictures. How do you afford so much travel? Don’t you get homesick? Where are you going next?

I love being able to share some of my travels with everyone via social media and phone calls/text/email/whatsapp etc. Up until this past trip, my communications have been mostly personal and well contained within my own social media bubble. Yes, I realize that sometimes this means friends of friends see my posts, and that extended family gets clued into my whereabouts, but its primarily my family and friends that I aim to stay connected with and keep involved. Partly because I want them to see the cool places I see, but also because I count on them to keep me grounded and not too homesick. The world is huge and sometimes I find myself on the complete opposite side of it than my family and friends, but being connected makes it feel so so so much smaller.

On my last trip, to Peru, I started blogging for the first time. I was writing on my computer by accident in a way, since I had forgotten a journal. I started jotting down bulleted sentences of times/places/expenses and then those bullets started turning into anecdotes and quotes and full sentences and then paragraphs. My notes naturally turned into story (because apparently I type like I talk and every little detail is accounted for).Well, the blogging just took off and recounting a days events was kind of fun and reflective and (and long and tedious and sometimes stressful), but the fun of it won out. I didn’t think I’d make it past day two, or day three, and then four—and well, it just became a thing. Where my pictures and texts seemed to stop circling  with my near and dear, this blog was making the rounds. Totally embarrassing and very intimidating. I’ll be honest, I turned bright red when I read a comment from someone I didn’t even know who had read what I wrote. But there was also something so motivating in the realization that other people genuinely wanted to be a part of my (and really our whole groups) trip. Traveling is fun, and I know I’m super fortunate that I get to do it as frequently as I do. I’m lucky to have family that supports my wandering ways (and lets me come and go from my home at will), and a job at a restaurant as great as it is that takes me back year after year in-between my journeys. Travel, these last few years anyways, has been my motivation and it’s where I choose to invest my funds.

Sometimes I think I’m being careless, or not moving appropriately along the adult-hood path (what even is that?). I can totally see how my pictures evoke envy or awe, but just know that the ones you all post of your styled apartments, work parties, new houses, dogs and babies inspire in me very similar feelings. It’s a give and take. I LOVE new journeys and seeing new places and the freedom of being unattached and the thrill of the unknown. But it does mean forsaking things along the way. Like job security and a steady paycheck. My own apartment. Relationships. A clear future plan. I’m 100% at peace with the way I’m living my life, but I promise you (and maaany friends and family can attest) that this self-confidence is hard to hold on to. Don’t be jealous of pictures and travels, you have a whole lifetime to make them happen. And when you are ready to adventure yourself, I’ll gladly help you plan :) Or maybe I’ll just encourage you to be a little reckless and just go for it---

Generally speaking, I would say I’m a planner. I don’t always know what my next move will be as far as job or destination of travel. But I still try to plan things out: i.e.  I have a wedding to attend on ___date. If I don’t want to be in the cold, I should be gone from ____ to ____. I know this person has some time off during ____ month, so I could try to get there then. I can spend approx $____ for the next 4 moths without going broke--- plans (ish). The worst part of this is that theres a lot of unaccounted for times where you start to doubt yourself and your ability to plan. The best part of this is that theres lots of unaccounted for times and you jump into unexpected adventures and find yourself on a plane headed to Hawaii.

Yes. That’s real. And really happening. I’m currently on Virgin Airlines enroute to San Fran to connect to another Virgin Airlines flight to Kahului, Maui. Aloha! To break down the chain of events real quick (and really, since this all happened within the last 18 hours…it’ll be quick), I landed in Boston from Peru Tuesday night. I took C&J home and for some reason felt compelled to unpack all my belongings and start laundry. Considering my state of exhaustion the allure of my bed and my general track record of living out of my suitcase for at least a week after I get home, I’m not sure where this motivation came from. I fell asleep roughly 11 pm Tuesday night, and a testament to my true level of exhaustion….I didn’t wake up until 3:45pm Wednesday afternoon. Whoops. I rolled over, taking a few seconds to place myself back home and in my own bed, before finding my phone to check the time. I wasn’t even upset it was so late. I had a few text messages checking on my alive-ness, and then a few more that read something like this.

 “Will you be traveling when you get back? Or would you have any interest in going somewhere with me?”
Haha, Whats your plan? Are you packed? When do you leave?
“Tomorrow morning, we gotta leave at like 6”
Um, is your flight on  Virgin Air tomorrow? I could fly with you for $200?!”
“Do not even get my hopes up!!!Thats what I paid.  Look up road to Hana, we’re renting a car. I have emails and stuff people sent…air bnb…couch surfers…hike…waterfalls…please please please…”

How do you say No? My laundry was pretty much done, my empty pack was laying there open on my floor ready to be refilled, and it was a plan in place where as of that moment I had no other. So I assessed my money situation. Stressed a fair amount about whether this was too selfish/rushed/unintelligent, and then called my mom. I figured if she freaked out, it would make me second guess my possibly irrational eagerness to commit. I’ve mentioned before how I strongly believe in signs and things happening for a reason, and all these things being in place the way they were felt very appropriate. Maybe my mom would throw me off. She didn’t. She also reminded me to reassess my money situation, then inquired about my physical readiness to sit on a plane for another 19 hours (thanks for bringing that one up) and my level of preparedness for another few weeks away from home. Then she totally surprised me as excitement crept into her voice reminiscing about her times in Hawaii and how beautiful it is and throwing out places and landmarks I’ve never even heard of. Maybe I should have kicked off my travelbug ways back in the day  with Hawaii and warmed her up to all these other travels?! Sorry mom!

So, all things lead to go. The website even used visa checkout (aka one click and POOF, money gone) so ticket buying happened in a second. It was then 6:00 pm---twelve hours until heading back to the airport. I’ve got to admit, this is by far the most impromptu venture I’ve ever made with the quickest packing job and least amount of thought, and I’m still waiting for the shock to set in…but honestly, I don’t think it will. It all just feels right and has moved too smoothly and I’m with my original travel friends once again. We have an hour til touchdown in San Fran and then a bit of a wait before out second leg. But by the time I sleep tonight, I will be in Maui---one of the most beautiful places one earth according to my Grandma (yes, she gave me the green light to go too <and would have come right along had it not been quite so last minute>) and, I suppose, officially taking a vacation from my vacation.

You can be a little jealous <3

Oh, and so sorry friends for the lack of communication the last few hours…I was a tad bit busy rushed and apologize for not filling you in on my plans….they are very much still in the works! I love you all dearly and will be back soon xoxo