We've been back from Maui for almost a month now and are still adjusting to reality, or what seems like reality compared to the dreamland of Maui. We're coping with reverse culture shock and everything feels different. Although, we can still wake up in the morning and cross the street to the beach, no islands peak at us from the distant horizon, no reefs greet us in the shallow water, we can't jump in the ocean with snorkel masks on our faces and swim with turtles or tropical fish in the wild. We no longer run around in our bathing suits with the heat soaking through our bare feet. The weather, lifestyle and state of mind is confusing, and our daily routine doesn't make sense. It's a sensory overload and I'm almost bewildered by the things surrounding me: the language, the music, the faces, the smells. People are moving at lightning speed and I'm still lost in the rain forest and snorkeling in the sea. You get used to this laid back way of life where you discover something new and marvelous everyday, then you come back here and everything is the same, exactly how you left it. We're still trying to get our feet under ourselves, keep up, and figure out what's going on, but all we do is reminisce and miss. It almost feels like a long adventurous beautiful dream that I long to return to when I awake from my slumber. I can still remember sitting in front of my computer about to click the purchase button for our one-way ticket to paradise, thinking to myself...
And I did. And I'd do it again tomorrow. Everyday, I watch people get so caught up in their daily routine and get so attached to this certain way of life, they turn down a wonderful opportunity simply because they don't know what to do with it. I could never do that. I will never understand people who get torn between a nostalgia for the familiar and an urge for the foreign, strange and unknown. For me, it's completely opposite, I get homesick for the places I have never seen. I don't travel to escape life, I love my life, I have an amazing job, an amazing home, the most amazing boyfriend, family and friends a girl could ever ask for, I simply travel so life doesn't escape me.
Our days in Maui were withering away, so we gave our two weeks notice, and continued our island exploration to all the places we had yet to see. The cafe I had been working at let us borrow a moped for the day, so we rode it all the way to the border of new territory and old. Every corner we turned we were welcomed with anticipation. Mushroom shaped rocks, pyramid shaped peaks, and vast lands of banana bread and lilikoi butter formed such an unbelievable wonderland around us, only Alice could dream up something like this. It was as if we had fallen through that hole and suddenly found ourselves in a small village hidden along the winding highway. Petite but picturesque, Kahakuloa Village greeted us with graciousness and the most delicious banana bread on the planet, along with samples of homemade taro chips, coconut candies and lilikoi butter!
We followed the coastline down a beaten path of jagged lava and found ourselves among a gem! A natural swimming pool encrusted in the sandstone shelves and protected from the powerful ocean, made for the perfect cliff jumping experience. I could spend hours at the Olivine Pools, but a distant peak was calling my name. Kahakuloa peak rose above the blooming valleys right at the edge of the sea. We parked our moped, squeezed through a cow gate, and found ourselves in the middle of land so pre historic, Jurassic Park could've been filmed here.
After packing our rental car full of food and camping supplies, we found ourselves back in Hana for two entire days. Our curiosity and excitement was shooting through the roof after only catching a glimpse of this heavenly highway our first time around. And if there's one thing we've learned about Hana, there's always something wonderfully new to be found! Driving along Highway 360, we took several small roads down to the most remote beaches and bays I've ever seen, and it's a shame that people don't take more advantage of them, because they are quite marvelous!
Just past the 6 mile marker, there are acres of blooming bamboo forests rising high above tiny foot paths, streams and waterfalls you would never knew existed if you kept driving. A handful of very small breaks in the bamboo are the entrances to this wild adventure, and silently taunt you, "enter if you dare." Daring as it was, it turned out to be our favorite hike in all of Maui, and we did A LOT of hikes. This hike was so fun, we did it all over again the very next day! What made this hike so fun? It could be hiking through a bamboo forest or stone hopping across a stream, maybe even swimming through rivers, walking the plank across fallen tree trunks, climbing muddy mountains on rope swings and questionable ladders. But what really made it spectacular were the 4 waterfalls we came to along the way, flowing into each other and growing bigger and better after every obstacle we climbed and conquered. After the strenuous uphill struggle, we arrived at the fourth and final fall, welcoming us to paradise!
There's places that you read about and research and can't wait to get to, and when you do, you can't believe they exist or that they're even reachable by foot. They're so hard to find, and so scary to get to you almost want to give up and turned back around. The sketchy cliff scaling is worth the risk. A dramatic, beautiful beach awaits around the corner, so unbelievable it's as if we've just landed on Mars. A crescent-shaped red sand beach has formed around the ocean while the menacing-looking lava rock has created a protected semi pool you can swim safely in away from the wild ocean waves. Since we were there in the early morning, there was only about 5 other people at this seaside oasis, and being the eccentric looking characters that they were, it put the icing on top of the cake!
Waioka is believed to be a shortened form of Waioaoaka, which translates to "open mouth of fresh water," and Waioka Pond is exactly that, an open mouth pool formed from lava that opens into the ocean. Also known as the Venus Pool, this spectacular phenomenon should not be visited by those who are afraid of heights or off-trail hiking. I was stunned once we reached the pool. I mean who wouldn't be impressed by a bright blue ocean pounding just outside a giant natural swimming pool surrounded by absolutely stunning scenery? It definitely takes some skills and courage getting in and out of the pool, but the excitement is infinite! The endless opportunities for rock climbing, jumping and swimming here led us to the highest cliff jump we did in all of Maui. A 50 foot cliff jump was definitely the best way to spend our final days as islanders!
Maui was a place that left me speechless, then later turned me into a story teller. I was able to let loose the restless roaming spirit that lives within me. There's no such thing as worries there, just an "aloha" state of mind. Aloha is more than just hello or goodbye, its the essence of life. It isn't easy to explain, but when you feel it for the first time, you'll understand and you'll live by it. And now I understand. Everyday, I crave the idea of escaping, getting away. I'm a dreamer, an artist, an adventurer. I will never lose the desire to travel the world, see things I could never even dream of, or meet people who change me for better or for worse. With each journey, I learn so much about myself and even more about the world, and each time I take a piece of it home with me. The more I see, the less I know and I will NEVER give up seeking more. I guess the next question is... where to now???
"People say that we're searching for the meaning of life. I think what we're seeking is an experience of being alive." - Joseph Campbell