Return to Paradise
The pilot brought the plane to a smooth landing. I was filled with joy. The brilliant red color of ginger and phosphorous, bright yellow and orange birds of paradise, showy protea, trees of mango, guava, breadfruit, pineapple and banana plants danced in my head. Fifteen years had passed since my last trip to the island of Maui. I had named it my paradise. The van driver loaded my bags. I was excited to begin my back to nature trip. We had gone only a short distance when a big K-mart superstore had popped up before my eyes, then a Burger King, Longs Drugs and other chains that darted the mainland. What happened to your beautiful isle?
“What have they done?” I said aloud. The driver offered no reply. He was bobbing his head to the pulsating beat of reggae music. Didn’t he know that Hawaiian music should be playing? The driver stopped and left a few minutes to let me view the outdoors market with a few native sellers. My mind returned to years past local merchants were selling hand-painted island T-shirts, wood carvings, painted scenes of seascapes, surfers, flowers, and other handcrafts. In the area that looked like a small clearing in the forest a basket made from bamboo leaves caught my eye. It was marked $15.
“Will you take ten?” I offered.
“How about twelve,” he countered. Sold. Probably should have gotten it for ten, but the enjoyment of the haggle was worth more than the reduction in the price. I snapped back to the present as we passed Denny’s. Soon we were on a road lined with sugar cane on the sides. All had not been lost, I thought. The landscape quickly changed again: hotels, motels, condos, and private homes stretched as far as the eyes could see. We reached the entrance to the resort. The lushness had been preserved here- palm trees, ferns, and exotic flowers were abundant. The greeter placed a lei around my neck. This was all make-believe, like Disneyland. The real thing would yet to be found. The next day I set out on the west side to find my lost island. Instead I found a mall with many designer shops: Chanel, Versace, Gucci, Christian Dior, and other stores and restaurants were there. Hawaiian dancers in plastic grass skirts provided the entertainment.
In the souvenir shop, I voiced my surprise in the changes over the years. The sellers said, “lots of growth and progress has replaced the local merchant. However we have 50% less sales this year. The lack of Japanese tourists have left a lot of these stores without customers.” Undaunted, I boarded a tour bus to Hana, still seeking the beauty of the images that swirl in my head. The tour promised fifty-four miles of unspoiled natural wonder. I regarded with the forest flushed with trees, guava, breadfruit, mangoes, pine, and rainbow eucalyptus, red and blue ginger plants, ferns and the richest green imaginable. Bamboo plants seemed to create their own forest. They were so thick as if designed to prevent any intruder. Four hundred feet waterfalls cascaded down the mountain with a thunderous roar and foam. We got a refreshing feeling from the spray as it bounced off the rocks below. The sunlight caught the droplets of water and the most magnificent rainbow with an array of colors presented a picture that the finest artist would probably not be able to reproduce. The winding roads gave me more to delight in each turn except for the tourists. It seemed that man had spared one of the most awe-inspiring spots on the island. Perched 50-100 feet above the ocean on a two-lane road more suited for one lane of traffic with very little area between the bus and the long drop down was both scary and exhilarating. The driver stopped for us to get a view of the ocean and I expect to promote a little fear. A voice from the back yelled, “Okay! We’ve seen enough, let’s go! Let’s move right now!” and we gave a nervous laugh. I was pleased that someone had voiced my feeling. There were more waterfalls, trees, and beautiful flowers to see. We saw wild goats and cows grazing near the narrow road. As we ended our tour the driver said, “The cows and the goats can be caught and kept by anyone on the island.” After the trip to Hana I discovered that my paradise had been reduced to a few places in Maui, but a guided tour helped me find one of those that was still left.
My Trip to Hawaii
When I was living in California I had the opportunity to go with one of my coworkers. She was from Hawaii and I stayed with her family on Oahu. We went to the pineapple plantation, we went to the beach; it was amazing. We went on a tour of where King Kamehameha is buried underneath the hills. It was beautiful and I had a wonderful time except for the flying cockroaches. It’s really an amazing place and the one thing that struck me was the soil is red. In the tropics, the soil is red and it was beautiful but I had never seen anything like that. I just had a fabulous time and I would like to go to Maui if ever I get the opportunity to go back.
Re: My Trip to Hawaii
Carolyn, I just want to say there’s a place in South Carolina where the soil is red on a bank, and there was a young woman there at that time who ate some of that soil and there are people who do that. I’ve forgotten the proper name of that you call for people who eat different kinds of things that we don’t normally eat. It’s Pica, yes.
Well, this one woman would go to sort of the bank in South Carolina and chip away the red clay to eat. She also ate what was called Argo starch. I don’t even know if they use that anywhere. She ate those things, I just remembered that. I thought it was so strange that people eat almost anything. I was born in the South and there was a lot of things still I hadn’t heard until today about tar, never heard of tar. Even when I was doing parent class there was a little kid who ate deodorant and stuff, by that Pica. And that was right here in Philadelphia.
Re: Re: My Trip to Hawaii
Now, when I was young they had Argo starch and people did eat it for whatever reason, I don’t know, maybe there was something in it that was healing? I know that in the South there are a lot of people, years ago there was tar, they would eat tar. T-A-R. They would eat the tar off of the roads. Yes, they did! The tar is supposed to clean your teeth and keep them white. There’s a lot of things that they do in the South that is very interesting because they really believe that the earth has a lot of properties in it that we’re just ignoring today. But it’s a reality that’s what they do. Oh my God.
Well, I have to make a confession. When I was little I used to go out in the back yard and eat dirt. So I was one of those kids that would eat dirt. In the South, too, I used to eat clay, too—clay and dirt. I’m still here to tell about it, though! It is what it is, you know. We all have different tastes though, you know; some like bark, some like clay. I’m a dirt fanatic.
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Curated by Caitlin Cieri