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No Coconut Left Unturned

SUNDAY, JUNE 7, 2015

My eyes opened and I instinctively looked to my left towards Maalaea Bay and the ocean. I woke up with the heavy feeling that this is our last full day in Maui. The next day we would have to leave in the afternoon to begin our journey back home. It had been a long trip on the road and away from loved ones and the comfort of home, but I know I could have stayed longer, at least a few more days. As far as the filming was concerned, we went to all of the locations on the list and that task was successfully completed. All that there was left to do was whatever we wanted and not much of anything. Thomas was doing his own thing and working on the computer and I didn’t want to seem pesky by telling him all the stuff I wanted to do. Therefore, I made the decision to stop peering off the balcony and actually go out there to the water’s edge of the property, the view that I had the great fortune to see every morning for the last four days.

Once I made my way to the front of the building and around the back, the inevitability of our departure hit me even harder. There was a little concrete garden bench that sat right at the edge underneath a tree. I took a seat to reflect. When I gazed down at the rocks I noticed a set of eyes watching me. The eyes belonged to this small lizard that was very well camouflaged amongst the rocks; he was almost undetectable. My new lizard friend was watching me as closely as I was watching him and he stayed for quite some time. He showed off a few times and made some spectacular leaps from one rock to another (leaping lizards!). If he could speak, I probably would have had a conversation with him about this audacious display of athleticism. Between watching him and listening to the water crash on the rocks and feeling the sun on my skin, I soaked up all the last bits of splendor that I could.

Eventually the lizard scurried away and I continued to sit there for some time before heading in. When I get back inside, Thomas and I discuss our plans for the day. There were some random things that I wanted to do and it was all a bit of a lollygag. One thing I had to do was find some beads for necklaces I planned on making. In Alaska I purchased quartz with the intention of making identical keepsakes for my mother, sister and I that would commemorate my completion of the Graham’s journey of traveling to Alaska and Hawaii. It may seem corny, but I wanted something that would be a memento of this accomplishment that incorporated a bead from each state. I did some research to locate a few bead shops. Luckily I had a few options, but I decided on a place called the Aloha Bead Company in Paia because it was a place that we had driven by a few times and had wanted to stop and peruse.

Out and about we go, where we stop, nobody knows… until we get there. On an island like Maui, you would expect it to seem small but there is quite a lot of land to cover. There are many places we had yet to see but after a while you get to know at least the main drags. Honoapiilani Highway is right outside our door and it is one of those main drags. It hugs the island and has the most astonishing views of the ocean. We jumped on Honoapiilani and witnessed what is probably typical of Sundays in Maui. At almost every opening on the sand and among the trees were people, a lot of people. Cars are parked all along the street on the side closest to the beach. People are grilling and meeting with family and friends. Some have even stayed the night before in their Volkswagen camper vans and have all their necessities scattered from one end of the line to the other strewn between two trees. What a fantastic way to spend the day.

As we drove along, we decided to stop at Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop that sat across the street from Kayak Oluwalu. If you remember, it came highly recommended by Bradley, our kayak tour guide, the day before. Naturally the parking lot is full since it is quite active today. Inside it was quite a nice looking hipster establishment without being too heavy on the hipster. It was bright with a balance of white wainscoting, natural wood, stainless steel, subway tile, shabby-chic farm style furniture stations and chalkboard menus. While we were standing in line to look at the menu and the bakery case, I became overwhelmed. I loved the bakery case way more than I should have. Lying inside perfectly lit and equally spaced were the tiniest and most delectable looking pies. It was one of the most difficult decisions I have made but I went for the macadamia nut chocolate pie. I believe Thomas got the key lime. We carried our pies to an open table and sat down. Leoda’s was packed with what I assume to be a mixture of locals and tourists. As I glanced around, I wondered if anyone in here had just arrived today. The pies were absurdly tasty and very rich. The waitress kept our water glasses full which helped thin out the opulence of the pie.

When we left, in the parking lot there was a car about the size of a one of the pies. On top laid a surfboard that extended past both the front and back of the car. Something about the juxtaposition of these two objects was amusing. Had we seen the car before we went in, it would have been a fun game to guess which patron owned the car. There was no rhyme or reason to the day besides the few requests I had of looking for beads and a possible place to get back in the water. Up the road a bit we stopped where there seemed to be a turn out where people were parking that was not quite as crowded as the other beach areas along the street. This beach you could not see because it was not at street height but it looked pretty popular. Parked in front of us was a young couple that began pulling a lot of beach items out of their car. I assumed that they had been here before because there was no hesitation in the unloading. While the woman was grabbing some items out of the trunk, I noticed that there was a little furry black face peeking out of her tote; man’s best friend.

I grabbed my towel since my bathing suit was already on. We briskly crossed the street. To get to the beach, there was a bit of a steep drop down and you had to pay attention to what you were doing. By the time we get to the beach, the dog had been released from the tote and the owners had much of their stuff situated for what appeared to be a long day. The dog and the man both got into a small pool that had formed from the rocks running parallel to the shore. It was shallow enough that the man was sitting in something close to the size of a jacuzzi tub. The dog swam around in the water swiftly reminding me of the old school wind up tub toys that they still sell on the boardwalk, until his owner put him on the ledge of the rock. He was extremely hesitant about jumping back in, even with the coercion of his owner. Is he going to do it…no he is not…wait he is…no not quite. Eventually the man pulled him in much like a parent would at their child’s swim class. It was the cutest display of affection between a man and his dog. Here I was thinking that the owner carrying the dog in the tote was going to be the pushover for the miniscule dog, not the macho guy with tattoos.

Meanwhile, while we were caught up watching this dare devil love pup fest, there was something completely different happening to our right that required the participants to have no aversion to the water. A young woman was in her wet suit and had been zipping around in the water kiteboarding. She was talking to another person for some time while they were watching a fellow kiteboarder still skipping in the waves. The clouds had grown larger and moved closer and the wind picked up. This was part of the reason that I was not in the water. It was a little rough out and unless I had gotten in to one of the small pools along the way, this area was not calm enough for a relaxed swim. Out in the distance the wind was carrying the kite high in the air and back down and driving the board fast across the ocean. After a long run of dicey jumps he finally makes his approach to shore. On his way the wind picks up significantly and the boarder on shore can tell he needs some assistance. She jumps to action and heads into the water and over the rocks to grab his kite. The two manage to make it back in.

The show was officially over. We return to the car and find our way to Paia and walk along the many shops and galleries and pop our heads into a few that were of interest to us. At the end of this trip, I did not want to spend any additional disposable money. Sure there were things that I wanted, but I couldn’t justify spending $50 on a tank top no matter how super cute it was (come on IMRIE). Hidden at the end and tucked away behind two other storefronts, I found Aloha Bead Company. Inside was presumably the owner sitting behind the glass top display case carefully working on a beading project. She was very friendly to all that came through the door and it was appreciated. From each wall hung strands of beads of every color, shape, size and origin. It was dazzling. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for but I knew I would know once I saw it and for Thomas’ sake, I didn’t want to irritate him by holding him hostage too much longer. I made a decision and purchased my items and we left.

On the way back, we passed the same little shaved ice and coconut stand on Honoapiilani Hwy called the Maui Coconut Station we zipped by everyday. Today it shall not be passed. The unique thing about this stand was that it wasn’t the stand itself that caught my eye. Cleverly parked out front was a vintage truck and wagon placed on one corner and next to the stand. Both cars were restored with smooth powder coated paint jobs that made them pop off the background of the green grass. The parking was across the street on the corner behind the wagon with “Shave Ice” painted on its side. We crossed the street that created the intersection in front of the stand and walked up the pathway and up the steps. From the outside, the stand was mostly open on three sides except for the back, which had a small room with four aluminum sided walls and a door. The roof matched the red of the pick up truck.

They sold a variety of fresh food besides shaved ice and coconuts. We were told as soon as we walked up that they had sold out of sugar cane. (Wo)Manning the stand were two young women that were extremely nice and Maui laid back. Everything was “cool” and “no worries.” I felt that the shaved ice would have been a treat but I thought I should go all in and try the fresh coconut water that I could drink straight from the fruit. I was even allowed to pick my coconut. With strength and needle accuracy, the young woman took the coconut off to the side and made some quick moves with a machete and in a matter of minutes I had a freshly cut coconut with a long red and white paper straw sticking out of the top. There were a few tables in front of the stand and we chose the one shaded from the sun. I’m new to the fresh coconut water scene and wasn’t sure what to expect. I figured it wasn’t going to taste like the coconut water that they sell packaged in the store. It wasn’t too bad and I found it refreshing. Coconuts can hold a surprising amount of water. I was thirsty and found it tasty but it was too much that I tried to push some off on Thomas. He was not interested. When I was finally finished with the water, they chopped my coconut down and I left with a full ziplock bag of the coconut meat.

Here we are practically around the corner from our place and I was melancholy about leaving. It is such a beautiful island and it makes me question if I had gills in a past life. Smack dab in the middle of paradise and I have only been in the water once and I was beside myself and on the verge of internal pouting. Kayaking and snorkeling was fantastic and an experience I will remember for a lifetime. However, that has not made me forget that I am literally surrounded by pristine water that is all kinds of crazy aqua and blue and green. 2.4 million people come to Maui every year, primarily for the beaches. So clearly I am not crazy for wanting to go to the beach. I knew I was not going to be satisfied either way. Today I wanted to forcibly insert some beach time. Things were a little windy and the surf was rough and the beaches that were calmer were crowded. It was becoming more obvious that it may not happen. At the end of our block we found a beach that wasn’t hectic. In my mind, at this perfect beach, I would sit and stare at the perfect water and get in. When I was standing there I talked myself out of staying because I knew I couldn’t stay all day and I would be just as upset or more. Is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? I don’t know Tennyson. To me, I would have only been teasing myself. I’d rather not know what I was missing. Before we left, I needed self-talk to remind myself that this was waycation (work and vacation), with the emphasis on work. Vacation with beach days would have to wait. I silently sulked back to the car and we left the locals and happy vacationers to enjoy the beach.

Back at our place and we took our stuff in. Thomas was a little hungry and he wanted to walk up the street to the Carl Jr’s we had become fond of during our stay. He took his food to go and we meandered down around the fishing piers, the back of the other condo properties and eventually around the back of our place. Along the edge we sat and talked while he ate his food. It was an enjoyable conversation about many things as we appreciated our surroundings. It was still a pleasure to see all the turtles swimming by and the waves crashing in and the palm trees swaying. At the particular place that we sat, there were steps leading into the water. When I noticed it the first time, I questioned the purpose of these steps along the edge of this residential property because this not an ideal area for boats or swimming. But I do remember seeing people in water early one morning scooping with nets but they were too far away to see what they were up to. On cue while we were sitting there, a plane flew overhead and I cranked my head up to look. Tomorrow, this silver bullet will have us for passengers, whisking us back to the east coast and it was difficult to accept.

Against my will, the remaining hours of the day slipped by. The gig was up and it was time to start reassembling our items back into their bags and cases. Our flight wasn’t until 1:15 pm the next day, but once you back out for checking out of our place, returning the rental and checking in for the flight, it made more sense to finish packing tonight. Thankfully part of the convenience of staying at a condo was a washer and dryer, which gave us the option of washing clothes throughout our stay. I kept out all the items I would need for the following day and tried to roll and tuck everything else away as best I could. At some point I realized that on the way to the airport, I would have to find the closest post office and mail more stuff home. There were some troublesome items that would have added more weight or would have been destroyed in the suitcase or carry on and I thought it was best to put it in the hands of our trusty United States Post Office. The once bright blue sky had now faded to black. I went out on the balcony and looked out. Not once since we had been here had I seen this, but for some reason tonight they had lit the tiki torches all along the edge of the water and at the common space where there were grills and tables and chairs. At first I was disappointed that they hadn’t done this earlier but I thought this was a great send off. I tried my best to stay up and listen to the waves one last time. Alas I was washed asleep.

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