|Love & Light and everything bright...|
23 Jan 2011
Updated Apr 25 - Fruit, flowers & rain forest near Rainbow Shower
FROM HAIKU, MAUI (HAWAII)
Building of "Gulch Expressway" at "Rainbow Shower"
HAIKU, Maui, Apr 19 - One of my closest kept secrets is that I have a civil engineering degree. That's because I spent all of about six months working as one since I graduated from Belgrade University more decades ago than I care to remember. Before I escaped from the former (communist) Yugoslavia in 1970, I had designed several roads on paper. But I did not hang around long enough to see them actually built.
Well, this weekend, thanks to extraordinary skills of our neighbor and construction contractor, Charles Apuna, a native of Maui, I actually experienced the thrill of seeing one of my projects come to fruition.
Ever since I bought the "Rainbow Shower," I had been planning to build a path from the top of the property, where the house is located, down to the gulch, some 75 feet of a nearly vertical drop below. The two left shots, taken from the other side of the gulch, should give you a good idea how steep that slope is. And for those of you who know how to read topographic maps, you can also see a birdseye view of the area in the right image.
Most of the days since I arrived here on Mar 18 have been pretty cool (low 70s) with sunshine and rain engaged in perpetual dance in which they switched sides sometimes 10 times an hour. That would not have been very good weather for the kind of road construction we were planning, carving off huge parts of a hill. So on Thursday (Apr 16) I prayed for drier and warmer weather.
On Friday morning, I said to Elizabeth, "this feels to me like the first day of summer." I have never been to Maui in its summer months, but there was something to the air quality that suggested a change had taken place, practically overnight. Later in the day, some other native Hawaiians said they had noticed the same thing.
In the afternoon, we were just driving around running some errands, when we noticed a sign "free fish." On a spur of the moment, we did a U-turn and drove into someone's private property. About half a dozen men were sitting around, drinking beer and chatting at a table. They were evidently the fishermen who had hauled in their catch of the day, and were now enjoying a well deserved respite. We ended up buying a 16-pound ahi tuna, which this man (above) skillfully filleted for us in less than five minutes. Elizabeth said this would suffice for about eight meals and four soups for us. Total cost? $45. In Scottsdale, this would have bought us perhaps three pounds of a FROZEN tuna.
Later than evening, Elizabeth prepared our first fresh fish cooked meal. It was delicious!
Before that, however, a big truck delivered a giant bulldozer which Charlie was going to start using on Saturday morning to build our road to the gulch. Elizabeth posed next to it as if it were her new car (right).
That evening, Elizabeth and I enjoyed another gorgeous sunset from our lanai (deck).
Saturday morning felt like another warm summer day. The heavy dew on the ground provided the sparkle for these early morning pictures I took. I wanted to remember this land as it was before we started building the road. The two giant earth moving machines stood silent, poised for action. It was a lull before a story.
"This place will look like a warzone tomorrow morning," I remembered Charlie saying the night before. So I wanted to remember it in its pristine form, "before the war."
I also walked down into the gulch to mark some more spots in the jungle for Charlie, so that he would be sure to stay on our property. The last thing I wanted it is to upset a neighbor by encroaching on their land. As it turns out, one of them had already come over to talk to Charlie about what the big construction equipment was all about.
"We are going to build a nice lawn for Bob down in the gulch," he told her. Which is actually quite true. That is the end goal. There will be more, of course, later on, as we open up the gulch and make into a lovely nature and wildlife preserve. But first things first... and clearing the jungle for a lawn is indeed the first order of business, after the road is built.
Back at the bottom of the gulch, the above shots and the one on the left should give you an idea of how thick and jumbled that jungle is. The gulch fought valiantly, giving me quite a few cuts and scratches as I tried to hack my way through it with a machete, an ax and large sheers. But we were both good sports about it. It was a primeval introduction: The land ("aina" in Hawaiian) was the boss and mother. I was its new caretaker. So we had to jostle a little first to get to know each other.
In return, I was rewarded by seeing a large clump of bananas on one of our trees down there. They weren't ripe as yet, but I did bring one as a sample back up to Elizabeth's kitchen, along with a beautiful wild orchids I had also found down there (right).
And then the "war started," as Charlie and the giant machines to sprung into action. Undaunted, a white egret hovered around, like some sort of a construction superintendent. I am sure he was keeping an eye on worms more than on Caterpillars (dozer). :-)
After that, Elizabeth and I went to a yoga class. When we returned, we were amazed how much progress Charlie had already made.
Over the next several hours, gradually, our new road started to take shape. In the right picture, you can see Elizabeth starting to film her videos about the experience. Which you can now also view on YouTube below:
Building of "Rainbow Shower"-to-Gulch Expressway", Part 1 (Apr 18, 2009) - by Elizabeth Fuentes (1:14 mins)
The flip-flop sounds you were hearing in the above video were made Elizabeth's flip-flops. We both had a laugh when we saw and heard them. Now you can see why they are called flip-flops, literally. :-)
Building of "Rainbow Shower"-to-Gulch Expressway", Part 2 (Apr 18, 2009) - by Elizabeth Fuentes (1:26 mins)
And in Part 2 (above), you can follow her trek back up the hill, from the first switchback to our lawn.
By late afternoon, incredibly, Charlie had not only made his way down to the bottom of the gulch, but had already started to shape the slope of the hill down there for a nice lawn. That's when I climbed up again to the other side of the gulch, from where you can now see the same views "after" that I took this morning "before" the construction started. And you can see what the two switchbacks now look like that made it possible for the "Rainbow Shower"-to-"Gulch Expressway" to take shape. And just think, Charlie did all that in one day!
At Baby Beach and "The Grapes of Wrath"
After two quick showers at the Rainbow Shower, two residents went through a quick change of costume and headed into town (Kahului) for an evening performance of "The Grapes of Wrath" by the Maui Academy of Performing Arts of a theatrical adaptation of the famous John Steinbeck novel. On our way, we stopped at the Baby Beach...
... in Paia, where we enjoyed the sight and sound of the breaking waves...
...as well as a hazy sunset over the Kahului Bay.
The performance was surprisingly good for, what we thought, was a small regional theater. But the play was very long (three hours). So we skipped out after about 9:30PM so we could grab some dinner before all restaurants closed down. After all, Kahului is not Broadway. But we did find Paia very lively with several restaurants and bars opened till later hours. We had another surprisingly good Mexican (!) meal at Milagro's Foods. It is a restaurant in Paia Town Center whose sign is so tiny that we had no idea it was Mexican cuisine until we looked at the menu.
Construction Day #2: Sunday, the Earth Day
Charlie was back at work on construction day #2, Sunday, the Earth Day (Apr 19), even before we got out of bed. After breakfast, we went to a dance class, and then on to the beach. This time, we actually took a dip at the Baby Beach, followed by a long walk (probably two miles) up to Baldwin Beach and back.
Back home, we changed into our grubby clothes and headed down into the gulch to see what Charlie's been up to. As you can see from the left shot, our lanai (deck) is wide enough that it could serve as a promenade on a cruise ship. When we started to descent down our new road, we realized just how perfectly everything has worked out.
Later, Charlie and I compared notes and discovered that we had both prayed to and gotten permission from the Hawaiian Gods to do this - he from Lono, the God of the land; I from Goddess Pele, the goddess of fire and volcanoes (on which this land sits). So no wonder the weather was perfect, the soil happily yielded way to Charlie's machines, and the whole project proceeded without an incident. The only unhappy gulch dwellers who rebelled against it were mosquitoes. Elizabeth quickly retreated to higher grounds and the safety of the Rainbow Shower, while Charlie grumbled about having to wear a long-sleeve shirt on a hot day like today.
I had also got bitten by mosquitoes and by some nasty ants, too, but didn't mind it one bit. I just kept hacking and pushing my way through the jungle, until I cleared enough of a path so Charlie and I can pass through and I could show him what else I wanted him to do, now that we had reached the bottom of the gulch. Guess it was "another case of mind over matter: if you don't mind, it doesn't matter." In two days, I had worn out a machete, an ax and large sheers. All three needed sharpening this evening, when I finally climbed up out of the gulch.
Just to give you an idea how much in alignment this property and Pacha Mama (Mother Earth) and I are, take a look at the two souvenirs she has gifted me as I climbed up our new road. The first one was a rock shaped like a condor/eagle. The second one looked like a fish (whale).
Earlier today, we actually saw a couple of whales frolicking off the northern shore of Maui while driving home from Paia. It was within a couple of miles of the point where our road (Kuiaha) reaches the coast (actually intersects the Hana Hwy). Just like a week ago off Lahaina, we saw several breaches (see A Whale of an Easter Weekend, Apr 2009). Except that this time, we weren't on a whale-watching cruise. We were just driving around when I spotted them. Then we pulled over and watched them from shore for a while.
"I can't believe they are still around," said Charlie, the native Hawaiian. The whale season is typically November through March. And all of the whale-watching boats are based in Lahaina, on the southern shore, not in the north where we live. So we took it as another sign of welcome by Pacha Mama (Mother of the Oceans, Lakes & Rivers).
Finally, I brought a gift from the gulch for Elizabeth - a red mushroom that I had to peel off with my machete from a dead tree trunk at the bottom of the dried out stream. Charlie said the Hawaiian word for it was "pali." He also taught me that "lau" is a leaf. "Kumulau" is a tree. "Kui" is a knife. "Ahi" is a fire. "Aha" means "what." "Kumunui" is a coconut tree. Etc.
So as you can see, I am getting a secondary benefit from this road construction... learning some Hawaiian words from Charlie, while teaching him some Inca Quechua expressions in return.
And thus ended our Earth Day, Apr 19, on Maui.
HAIKU, Maui, Apr 24 - Today is exactly one month since I took possession of the "Rainbow Shower." Unlike the sparkling sunshine and a giant dolphin in the sky that welcomed me to our new home on Mar 24, the last several days rain has been a steady visitor at the Rainbow Shower. This made for an interesting challenge to the construction crews who are building a pad for our new spa (Jacuzzi). I admired their perseverance and determination to complete the job on schedule despite what most people on mainland would have considered "inclement weather."
Interestingly, when we went into town last night for a Pancho Sanchez jazz concert at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, there was not a drop of rain in Kahului. Yet that's only 14 miles away. And even in Paia, which was only 5 miles away, there was no rain. Such are the micro climates on this little island where you can sometimes go from desert to rain forest in half an hour.
The rain continued all night at the Rainbow Shower, though. So when I went down to the gulch this morning to examine what Charlie had done in the last couple of days (our "road construction" contractor), my rubber boots were dropping into mud nearly knee deep. Since I have not been on skates or skis for a long time, I thought it was kind of fun slipping and sliding in them on a steep hill. And I even managed to return to base at 920 ft without looking like one of those girls in mud wrestling matches. :-)
By mid afternoon, rain had stopped and the ground had dried up sufficiently for Elizabeth to dig up her new vegetable garden and plant some of the new spice plants that she bought in town yesterday. Afterwards, we decided to go for a walk, and then a spur of a moment drive in our coastal neighborhood. We stopped at a local fruit and veggie stand (left two shots) and made friends with a couple of guys who were running it. They slaughtered a coconut for us so we could drink the juice and eat the flesh from it. When they heard that we were neighbors, they gave us a nice discount. We also admired these gorgeous Heliconia flowers for which Maui is famous (middle left).
After that, on a spur of the moment, we headed eastward on Hana Hwy, once one of the world's most treacherous roads. I told Elizabeth about a drive my two daughters and I did on this road over 20 years ago, when it was still mostly unpaved. We had rented a Jeep. Which was a good thing because of its 4WD. But the trip took its toll on our kidneys. So when we returned to our condo at Kapalua, I bought both girls T-shirts that read, "I Survived the Road to Hana." :-)
Anyway, about seven miles east of the Rainbow Shower, we stopped to admire a rushing creek in the middle of a rain forest. You can also see and hear it if you click on this short video clip:
We stopped at this beautiful black sand beach which would have been basking in resplendent blue and white colors had the weather been sunny. So until we return to it, you'll just have to use your imagination. Elizabeth could not believe seeing high voltage line strung out between foreboding mountain peaks above the road. That is what she is pointing to.
And that's all she wrote from this rainy Friday, Mar 24 at the Rainbow Shower.
HAIKU, Maui, Apr 25 - Today was a drying out day after three days of rain. And what a beautiful sunset it produced...
All these sunset pictures were taken within about a 15-minute period. That included the shot of these lucky ducks at Rainbow Shower's front lawn (right). They belong to our next door neighbor, but wander anywhere they want, especially after a lawn has been freshly cut, as ours was today.
And that's all she wrote on this Saturday, Apr 25. We're off to Honolulu for the next two days, so Aloha for now!