Our recent trip to Hawaii had been highly anticipated for several months. While I challenged myself to complete a long-term project, Thanksgiving went by at a run. (Or, a turkey trot, perhaps.) As my self-imposed deadline neared, my husband took charge of putting up holiday lights and getting gifts in the mail. New Year’s Eve passed, then New Year’s Day. I was breathless.
Time was a rubber band. The more I stretched it, the greater was my worry that it would snap back to bite me.
Finally, though, my tasks were buttoned up; our travelling bags were packed. On the day of our flight, we checked in well ahead of time and took our places in line for Security. I am “a woman of a certain age,” and so did not expect to be detoured and patted down. It was quickly over with, but was, as my Grandmother Opal would have put it, “discombobulating.”
Still, aboard the plane, leaning back, behind my closed eyes our destination glowed. Soon we would be embraced by a warm Hawaiian welcome.
Maui’s airport, though, was nearly deserted. In our rental, we negotiated a dark and winding road, arriving at midnight. We parked and lugged our suitcases through open double doors marked with our hotel’s name. The lights were on. No one was there.
Peering into the small office we called out, “Hello! Anybody?” No answer. (Where was Security when you wanted it?) With visions of sleeping in the car, we stepped out onto broad concrete steps, and came upon Our Official Greeter: a young, black cat. Languidly, it assessed our presence and silently conveyed, “Welcome to Meeow-ie.”
We returned to the car and, a quarter-mile further along the road, a valet informed us that earlier we must have mistakenly entered the hotel’s annex. In the actual lobby, we registered, then took refuge in our room and, six hours later, began our holiday. The black cat crossed our path at random while we wandered in the hotel gardens. Always, it eyed us with sideways glances: I see you. I don’t see you.
Cat notwithstanding, we enjoyed many opportunities for wildlife viewing. Beyond our silent friend, the grounds featured numerous parrots; the charming African gray was anything but silent. In and around the ponds were magnificent swans and exotic flamingos. One carefully managed area was home to eight African black-footed penguins. Paradise found.
Maui was a dream. The sky was blue, palm trees swayed, the ocean whispered. No deadline. No schedule. We were on Island Time.
Maui Ocean Center. I’d suggest you check the website (https://mauioceancenter.com) for seasonal hours, rates, and availability of menu items appropriate for hungry children. In the bookstore, I browsed titles ranging from those for children to adult-academic. The Center offers the first-of-its-kind 3D Sphere, a dome in which visitors feel as if they can touch gigantic whales. Maui Ocean Center has been named one of the world’s Ten Best Aquariums.
Maui Tropical Plantation (https://mauitropicalplantation.com) is located in Waikapū Valley, the island’s agricultural hub during the sugarcane era. Entrance, including nearly full access to the grounds, is free. For a fee, there are tours, via open air trolley. Taking advantage of one, we learned more about coconut culture than we knew there was to know, and had fun in the bargain. Ample eateries are on site.
Did you know . . .
. . . there is no set date for Chinese New Year? In Maui, I learned that at any time throughout December, January and February, somewhere in the world the turning of the year is being celebrated. I like that!
In 2020, in Asian communities, the holiday spans dates from January 25th through February 8th, when the Lantern Festival will be celebrated under a full moon. Online you can find numerous, lovely photographs of the event.
Personally, I am charmed by an image recorded by my friend and fellow fly fisher, Gina Taylor, on a December beach outing. It portrays the object of our heart’s reach when long winter nights are upon us, beauty where we allow ourselves to see it, a glimpse of light in darker days.