Sep 13, 2004
|We are "Fringe people". We are uncomfortable in the centre of attention , people, or places. We chose to visit places where people live differently than we do. We visited Molokai, the most Hawaiian of the islands, where many native Hawaiians still live, Hana, the most Hawaiian part of Maui, and Honolulu to visit an old friend of Gerry.
On Molokai, we stayed with a Canadian couple at their bed and breakfast - Cheryl and Jack Corbeil. We then moved to a condo in an abandoned hotel resort - spectacular location, but struggling to stay alive. The Hotel Molokai is the centre of action, and we could have stayed there quite comfortably.
Kalaupapa was a highlight, as was a trip around to the north side of the island in a boat.We went with a Hawaiian, Walter Naki, and members of his family. It was an amazing experience to walk through a bamboo forest, to watch the family snorkel for HeHeWai, a type of small fresh-water abalone, and to share lunch with them on the beach. I learned a lot from Walter - we are always welcome to visit, but not to stay !
Even in paradise, there are injustices. Injustices to the original Hawaiians, who no longer can access some of their ancestral land. Injustices that there are few jobs in Molokai, since most crops have failed, in one way or another. Molokai used to produce a lot of honey, but a virus killed the bees. It is unjust that the ranch on the west end does not have enough water. And it is unjust that much of the best beach on the west end is privately owned.
But most people are happy. Molokai is a fabulous family island - kids are everywhere with their parents, even at work. The recreation centre is booming. The baseball team is excellent. Families get together at the beach on holidays.
We rented a Cherokee on the last day, and drove up to the top of the mountain - We say hardly anybody else, and the forest was spectacular. Standing on the top of the cliff, with nothing to hear but birds, and no one else around was awesome!We were at the top of the valley where the residents of Kalaupapa used to live.
My girl enjoyed the trip to the Kalaupappa lookout and the special phallic rock in the forest. She looked very happy in that place.
On the ferry ride to Lahaina on Maui, we were blessed with spectacular weather and no waves. Darlene tried to get us on a bus going in the wrong direction, but the bus driver refused to take us where we wanted to go. We eventually found our way to the correct airport, to a Kinko's to do our email, and to dinner at a Thai restaurant. Despite the worry of my favorite girl, we succeeded in driving the Hana highway at night - a challenge that was daunting, but not so much of a problem after the exceptionally challenging roads on Molokai the day before
We stayed in a studio apartment in Hana, close to the beach - humid and hot, most nights. This is a beautiful place. No lights at night - literally. The power went out at least two nights, and it was totally black, under the trees, with no moon. But the stars are spectacular. Hana was an important place in the past - Chief Piilani conquered Maui from here, and there is a history of battles in this area. There are many remaining rock outcroppings to remind one, and there is a small museum about the local history. According to the Lonely Planet, this is "sleepy Hana", where there is not much to do. There is not much industry - no more sugar cane, work at the "Ranch", and tourism. Many people set up barbeques in their front yard, and sell a "plate lunch", for those who care to stop. Plate lunches are the fast food in the Hawaiian culture. It was similar on Molokai. The Dairy Queen failed, as did KFC. Subway is trying, now. What was Dairy Queeen is now a walk up window with a very ambitious and delicious menu, most of which is a "plate lunch".
This place, Hana Maui, is sooo nice. We were busy every day, and have many things to go back for, because we did not do them. We could not appreciate the waterfalls, as it was dry - but the beaches were great. Moana beach has been called the best beach in the world. It is a location where the Ranch takes its guests, but the public can use the beach - Heavenly. The red sand beach was a bit challenging on the trail, but great snorkeling. The blue pool was cool and different. Food was a bit of a challenge, but we ate at the outdoor window for the Ranch, bought goods at the local store, and enjoyed a few evenings in the local hotel for dinner in the bar. I understand why people keep coming back here. No golf courses, no high rises, no fast food, and great AA meetings. The recovery community is just getting started, but there are a few people with good recovery who welcomed us at meetings, even though we were from Al Anon. We only made it to one meeting because the location of the first was changed, the time of the second was changed, and we showed up to find out that the next meeting was at someone's house. It worked for me!
We left Hana with some sadness, as we were going to stay in Waikiki. On the way we passed the annual marathon to Hana.
What a surprise for me was this place, Waikiki. It is so easy to just be. Good food, beach and swimming out front, nice room with a view, and a girl who looks after herself. My friend David McEwen, who was an Intern with me at Toronto General, picked us up on Saturday, and took us to his house (for sale) on the top of the hill. We had a wonderful time with him - dinner at an outstanding restaurant Alan Wongs on Saturday evening. On Sunday, we found an Alanon meeting where Gertie was known, and David picked us up there. He showed us the town. It was a gift to see Honolulu through the eyes of a local. The views, the backroads, the woodworking show, the Contemporary Museum at Makaki Heights, and the history pictures in the Moana Banyan Hotel were very interesting. David has been instrumental in leading the treatment of HIV in Hawaii, and he has a different perspective on life in this paradise. Even though he has spent his life working in Hawaii, his practice has not been American Medicine at its financial best. Father Damian from Kalaupapa has always been admired by David; his principles and values have helped many people in today's world in Honolulu.