Paia Party Time

Friday night was Paia’s party night – every fourth Friday of the month, the town lights up, the bars and shops open their doors, musicians come to play in the streets, games are played and various street shows are put up. It was such a colorful night! In fact, it had a little bit of a carnivalesque air about it, as this is the Halloween weekend, so a lot of people were dressed up in crazy attire. Rose and Branden wore masks.

I took part in a ping pong tournament, from all things (!), and partnered up with a Spanish guy who was a good team mate. We didn’t get very far through the tournament, but we played well, and celebrated our good sportsmanship with a glass of red wine! I met quite a few people that night, mainly South Americans from Uruguay and Brazil.

Charley’s bar was absolutely packed with people dancing to the lively music of a latin dance band. There was a great ambiance about the town, and lots of very happy people. There were no ridiculously drunk loud people, or any sense of danger about the festivities. It was a great celebration, and I enjoyed the liveliness of it, as it can be very quiet in this part of town in the evenings.

Despite a lot of people telling me that I will most probably prefer Maui to Oahu, I am looking forward to discovering Honolulu and the Waikiki area. I island-hop to Oahu on November 23rd. Most Maui-ans see Honolulu like most French people not living in Paris see Paris, or how most rural Brits see London, how most mainlanders see New York. Coming from Pregnin, and only being 10 mins away from Geneva, I am used to both rural and urban scenes, and finding somewhere similar, that has that same balance is rare. I am looking forward to being in areas where there are more people, music, livelihood, not because I am bored of the quiet, but because I am used to both. Perhaps I will long for some tranquility after a few weeks in Honolulu… Who knows? Stay tuned!

Today I went to Hookipa again to play some music. Today’s winnings: 17$. One guy gave me a 10$ bill and began talking to me, as he seemed very enthused by my singing and playing. He came from Tennessee and told me his brother was in the business of making steel guitars. I also met another musician yesterday, who was on the Haiku bus with me, he had a twelve string guitar with him. He was on his way to the Paia party, and was hoping to play in a restaurant or two. I love the sound of a twelve string!

windsurfing competition

There was a windsurfing competition at Hookipa today, and seeing as it was Sunday, it was very busy. I watched the windsurfers for a bit, and was really impressed by their skills as the wind was very strong today, and that sport does not look easy.

Tomorrow I will go to Paia Bay Café and re-write an album review for Ras, publish it online, and schedule some interviews for him on radio stations. Ras is also playing a show some time next week which I will attend!

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Fairy tale

Yesterday I woke up later than usual, around 11 AM. I made myself coffee and sat myself in the kitchen where I did a little bit of emailing and radio contact work. I phoned up a few online radios, organized some CD shipments, researched into more online radio reggae stations in Hawaii.

Around 1PM, I went downstairs to Rose’s place, my downstairs neighbour. Trish was there, my yoga instructing housemate and Chelsea a friend of theirs. We sat down around a coffee table and spoke about of all sorts, and had a homemade banana berries and bran smoothie. Chelsea suggested we go to a secret waterfall spot she knows of, and so we all got our stuff together and headed down there in Trish’s down-top silver Jeep.

We walked bare foot through muddy paths, on top of flat rocks, climbed down into this jungle like setting, where we set off to find this secret waterfall. The amount of different trees, plants, flowers and fruits was stunning. After about a 20 mins walk, we arrived and I was blown away by the view that was in front of me: a giant waterfall of pure water pouring into a beautiful still private pool. Intertwined roots of trees circled the pool – Trish rightly pointed out that it seemed we had entered a fairy tale!

waterfall wonderland

So we undressed into our bikinis and swan into the cool water, and gazed out to the waterfall. There were also a few spots which the sun was shining on that we could sit in when the water got too frisky. We stayed there and chit chatted for a while, and then ventured back, after having taken quite a few photos.

On our way back, Rose suggested she’d invite us to some Mediterranean food at Café des Amis, a place in Paia. So when we got there, we ordered two platters, extra sides of pitta bread, and some drinks. I got my first Mai Tai cocktail – which I loved. We had arrived between happy hours so drinks were half price – score! When the platters arrived they looked delicious, and actually reminded me a lot of home: hummus, pitted black olives, tzatziki, marinated aubergines in oil, pesto covered tomatoes, tasty mushrooms. Followed by a nutella and strawberry crêpe topped with whipped cream, which we shared with four forks. YUM.

my very first Mai Tai

I was then asked if I wanted to go to a free meditation class with Chelsea and Rose at 6PM. Sure, why not. It was my first proper meditation experience, I have done a little on my own before. We had chanting sessions, and one 15 mins meditation followed by an 8 mins meditation. (That adds up to exactly 23 mins of meditation, by the way… coincidence?)

That had relaxed my mind quite a bit (so did the Mai Tai!), and we went back to Chelsea’s for vanilla tea and chocolate macadamia nut ice cream. I met Chelsea’s two Spanish housemates, who were very friendly – one from Barcelona, the other from Madrid, who told me I could come up to theirs any time. On our way back from Chelsea’s, Rose came up and we watched Trish play around with her new sowing machine in the sitting room. We drank red wine and ate cold chocolate.

Branden joined us later as she came back from her waitressing job. We all chit chatted in the living room until the late hours of the evening. I really feel at home with these girls, I have met some really good people here. They speak of ‘energies’ in people, are into yoga, meditation, healthy organic foods, and have a lot of respect for one and other. They are genuine and honest, and are very comfortable to be around.

It is a shame that it is Branden’s last night in the Yoga Shala tonight – she has found a job with a marine biologist that requires her to move to Kihei, about a 30 mins drive from here. I will miss her being around and next door to me. She has so many good tips and tricks on how to stay healthy, and has taught me how to indo-board (an indoor surf board!) She will be replaced by a French dude called Olivier, who is a kite surfing friend of Liam’s (Trish’s boyfriend who owns our place). I met him briefly the other day and he seems very friendly, and I’m happy I will have someone to speak French with on a daily basis!

Today I played a few more songs in Hookipa, and got offered a coconut, cut up so that I could drink from it, and 13$ again. (Funny I made the same exact amount than last time!) I ventured down to Mana Foods this afternoon to get some fresh veggies and fruit, and a box of assorted chai teas.

And that’s the way the cookie crumbles

So, today is Sunday Oct 23rd and it has now been exactly 2 weeks since I got here.

I’ve gotten used to the rhythm here – everything is slowed down. Granted, I am not working a 9 to 5 job or anything, my volunteer work allows me the freedom to do it whenever, wherever and however I want. But there is still this laid back atmosphere that really shines through all places and people you meet. No one ever seems to be in a hurry, or stressed out.

This morning I walked down to Paia Bay Café, my usual coffee spot, and waited for the bus there. The oatmeal cookie I ordered had crumbled in the pot whilst the barista attempted to take it out of its jar – so she was ordered by the owner, a nice lady with short hair and a motherly look to her, to give me an extra one for free as I was a ‘regular’. Yay!

I then hopped onto the 10:59 bus, and made my way to Kahului, where I had it in mind to go to Walmart – where the food is supposed to be cheap! It didn’t turn out to be exactly what I had in mind – there were no fruits, veggies or anything fresh, just stuff you can get in bulk like cereal, pasta, rice, chocolate, ice cream. So I got what I thought would last me a while. And carted the just under 50$ worth of groceries all the way back to Paia, on two separate buses. I’m pretty chuffed because I’ve managed to get some beers in, a bottle of rosé, mint chocolate ice cream, and a lot of other yummy things that will keep me going for a while. Fresh fruit and veggies will have to be either picked or bought at local markets, which actually sounds like a great plan. I got three avocados from Chief, one of the Polynesian dudes who lives in Hana the other day. His house has beautiful views and lots of fruit trees.

view from Chief's place in Hana (with added rainbow(s) bonus - score!)

Yesterday I had ventured out to Hookipa Lookout – a surfing spot, very popular with kite surfers, about an hour walk there and back from here. I went out with my guitar, a glass jar which I filled with a a 5$ bill, a 1$ bill and a few coins. I found a shady spot, lay a towel down, sat down and thought what the heck, let’s just try this and see what happens. So I sang and played for about an hour, people came and went, a few stopped and looked out at the ocean nodding their heads, others winked and smiled at me, children were given coins to put in the jar and ran over to me giggling, etc… I made about 13$ in an hour. ”Keep it up!” said one smiley mustached man.

Great! So I happily walked back home 13$ richer, and thought that will go towards my next food shop tomorrow! I’m going to try and do that on a regular basis – it’s good for my practice, I get to hang out at the beach and get a bit of money for doing all that. Awesome.

Next week I am supposed to be trying to get Ras some appearances in online radio shows in Hawaii. This means getting all the Hawaiian contacts together, giving them calls, scheduling some meetings here and there. I’ve never organized such things before, so this will be a good first experience with online radio gigs. Also, I am going to be assisting in the shooting of one of his new music videos, in Twin Falls – a spot I hiked up to last weekend with waterfalls and jungle like surroundings.

Twin Falls

I am also trying to get my flights sorted out for the rest of my adventure after January, which I think will be the Caribbean rather than Fiji. Flights to Fiji right now are astronomical. And why not check out the Caribbean music, culture, people, lifestyles as well as the Pacific?! I’m thinking Guadeloupe and Martinique…

Is this for real?!

Buddhist temple in Paia

It was on Tuesday night that I was invited by Ras to go to a ‘special concert’. I wasn’t really sure until that night what type of concert it was, so when I got into the car with Ras and our neighbour Poney, who had invited Ras and I from the outset, I asked what kind of music we were going to be listening to.

Poney said ”Oh no, it’s not a concert, it’s more of an exclusive jam session”. She went on to explain as we drove up the Maui mountains, that this jam session was hosted every Tuesday in a house that belonged to a married couple. The guy who owns the house has a renovated garage type thing, where he has special guest musicians show up all the time, namely Jack Johnson, Ben Harper, and others!! Wow.

So when we arrived, there were about 10/15 people there, and the room looked like something out of a 1960’s movie. It had couches, peace symbols, Buddhas, incense smoke, many many guitars, drums, amplifiers, maracas, keyboards, posters, disco balls, the works everywhere! I was very warmly welcomed by Divino, a long haired bearded man who owned the place. He even greeted me to the jam by waving sage incense around me before they started making music! There were weed pipes and joints being smoked away all over the place.

After about a 20 mins tuning session, maybe another 20 people showed up. Mostly hippie looking men and women in their 50s. There were a few youngsters about my age around too.

When the music started I was absolutely blown away by the quality of sound and the professional experience and talent that came out of these instruments and singers. The songs they played had a kind of Santana sound to them. It was all improvised – there were a few covers, namely Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick In the Wall’, which was truly excellent. Divino acted as a sort of chef d’orchestre, as well as playing his twelve string guitar, and would signal when the tone should go down or up, or would go over to one musician in parts and really get them fired up.

It was an amazing experience, to see and participate in this. I was only a guest, and was not asked to go up and play guitar or sing, but I never would have had the guts anyway. This was a level of musicianship that I have not yet attained! I played along with a couple of djembés I found lying around a few times, but that was it. And even that felt awesome because I felt part of this amazing band!

I didn’t take any photos or film – I really wanted to – but I did not see anyone else do this, and I figured it was way too exclusive an event to just start snapping shoots at people.

At the end, everyone gathered by holding hands, and there was a small speech given by Divino. He thanked ‘Mother Maui’ for all this great energy, and all the love and talent that reigned throughout the night. It was like a blessing ceremony, or similar to saying Grace before a meal… Something that I am not at all accustom to, but that fascinates me nonetheless. It was very hippie-ish, but hippie-ish in a kind of 30 years ago kind of way, which I thought was so much fun. I am very happy to have had the opportunity to witness something like that, and to perhaps be part of it again!

I met a younger guy there, a 22 year old dread-lock hippie looking boy, green clothes, who lives on nothing, and spends most of his days hunting and picking fruit in Maui’s jungles. He said that he would be able to help me out if I ran out of money and didn’t have any food, which was nice of him. Anyway, his name is Crafty. When I heard his name, I thought wow… so, I’ve come to this amazing place with this person called Poney, and have been greeted by the chef d’orchestre with great connections called Divino, and met a young hippie who can get me free stuff called Crafty…!

I couldn’t help but think when I was back in my bed that night that all this sounds like something out of a book! All the characters are named carefully to suit their different roles. So then I started asking myself whether I’m actually insane, and just inventing this whole Hawaiian adventure in my head, because I’ve been dreaming about it for so long. LOL.

Kahului, Lahaina and more

It has barely been a week since I got here, and I already feel very much at home. I guess it’s easy to get used to this paradise.

One little downside is the fact that everything is so expensive! I’m in the process of trying to figure out all the tricks to not spending too much and still staying alive (!) and making the most of the time I will spend here! It’s so tempting though to go out for frozen yoghurt, to get a Maui shirt or ukulele, to buy a smoothie… Food shopping is expensive, but next time I go, I will go to a big discount super market thing and see how well I can do in there!

So it was on Wednesday that I went out on my first adventure into a big town (Kahului) and went to a shopping mall to get a phone. I got off at Queen Ka’ahumanu Center, one of the main bus transfer stops, and went around the mall looking for the best phone deal. The mall was just like the ones you find all over the states, except it was open air and had palm trees in it. It had all the stores I love to go when I go to California: Hot Topic, Pac Sun, Jamba Juice (yay, I got there at Happy Hour and got a smoothie for 2$!), Journey’s, etc… Yay!

Queen Ka'ahumanu Mall

The best deal I found was in Radio Shack – there was a super friendly giant guy there who recommended I buy a phone for 12$ and get a contract with unlimited texts and 300 mins of calls for 25$. Perrrrfect! So I now have a Hawaiian number, if anyone feels like calling me! : +1 808 419 1503.

I have been working on getting some 2012 festival contacts together for Ras, and have drafted a template email to send out to them. I will show him all this when I meet up with him later, and hopefully get some pointers on how I should proceed. He has suggested I come to a ukulele festival this Sunday with him and some others, at the Maui Arts and Culture Center. Should be excellent! I have been looking at prices for ukuleles, so I may cave in at some point and get one! They sound and look great, and are practical in terms of size too.

I sort of ‘purposely’ got lost yesterday by getting on a bus which seemed like it had a good route. I got off at Ma’alaea harbor, and walked around there for a while. There were shops, a lot of boats and the offices of the Pacific Whale Foundation. I then got on another bus which took an hour to get to Lahaina, a beautiful town, and rode across the west coast of Maui. It was excellent. I felt like I was on a tour bus, but in fact was just on a local 2$ bus to the next town. I saw some amazing views.

Lahaina view

When I got to Lahaina, I literally was gob smacked. My heart was racing (no joke), I had the impression I had yet again landed in another bit of paradise! The views were astonishing, and the little town was full of colors and happy people. I bought 5 postcards there, and wrote them out this morning. It was a really lovely discovery, and was happy to jump back onto the same bus an hour later to see the coastline views once again – I made sure to sit on the right side of the bus this time to get the best views! I took a couple of videos.

Last night Ina took me out again to sing with his Polynesian buddies. We were sitting in an outdoor spot, which was just as comfy as the last place. It was next door to that giant chill room. Again, people came in and out to join us and have a drink of Kavah. We played some music, and I also managed to get a bit of film of them playing some traditional songs together. They told me I was welcome anytime to their home, and that it was a pleasure to hear and play with a different type of musician. They said I had a ‘cool spirit’ and that they were so happy to meet me. The feeling is entirely reciprocal.

This morning I got up and walked down to Paia and had coffee this time in Café Mambo, which is another great place to have breakfast. I wrote my postcards there and had two cups. I then went to a little henna boutique and met Addie, who does really beautiful henna tatoos. I’m thinking of getting a traditional looking one all the way up my fingers and forearm, which she said would look great – I looked through all her work, and it looked amazing. We got talking and after having told her I was from France she told me to go next door and meet Nathalie, a french lady, who has a boutique called ‘Oh La La!’

So I happily went over, and as soon as I arrived there she was joking around in French with another friendly looking chap. This guy was called Peter, and he was from Switzerland! We were speaking in french and really bonded. They suggested I come to their francophone bashes (every 4th Friday of the month), and mingle with the french speaking community of Paia. Yes, please! Nathalie said that I could come to her boutique whenever, and that she will introduce me to Magda, her good friend from Tahiti.

Voilà, so on my way back to the house today I went to sit on the beach for a bit and took a few more snaps of this incredible place. It bought tears to my eyes as I sat in front of the ocean (I know I am so soppy!!) and realized that what I have been dreaming for for so many years is happening right now.

This is truly amazing and I am so thankful!!

Settling in

It was a stunning day today in Maui! Sunshine, warmth and good vibes!

Yesterday evening I met Ina, Brendan’s boyfriend from Samoa who came to the yoga shala to pick up a few things from Brendan’s room. He is a surf instructor and is in the process of trademarking his own surfing brand called ‘Boobie Shack’. (Contrary to what you may think, ‘boobie’ actually refers to the boobie bird, a bird with flippers and a rare capacity to dive into the water from the surface of the water. Most birds have to dive from a few feet high…) He has cleverly chosen the word ‘boobie’ to attract attention, and is doing very well. His logos are awesome. He said he would give me a hat, and surf lessons for free!

Ina's jeep

We got talking and as soon as I mentioned I played guitar and sung, he insisted I come chill with some of his Polynesian friends and have a little jam session with them, Polynesian style. So we jumped into his yellow open-air Jeep, and we cruised up to his friends’ place with loud music blazing! He gave me the half of his delicious dinner wrap, which I ate on the way. Such a friendly guy, he kept asking me if I was alright, if I was warm enough, if I needed a drink and that he had some carrot juice in the Jeep if need be! LOL. He has such a positive friendly vibe to him.

After a 20 mins cruise up the hills of Maui, we arrived. Their chill room was mind blowing. I was stunned at what a great spot this was: very spacious, with plenty of couches, cushions, soft carpet, a large fridge and a big TV. He mixed his ‘Kavah’ – a Polynesian drink which is essentially a mix of roots and water, placed in a very large wooden bowl (bucket size) in the middle of the room. He explained that it acts as a sort of muscle tranquilizer, and that it relaxes you without you feeling out of control. At first I was a bit apprehensive, as I am admittedly with anything like that. However, once I began drinking this muddy water, I realized that the stuff was completely harmless and actually made me feel great. Relaxed, mellow, optimistic and completely in control of what I was thinking and saying. Aaaaah, very nice.

part of the chill room

Four people joined us in different successions and drank Kavah with us: a Samoan lady with her 9 year old daughter, a Fijian and a Tongan. The two dudes played guitar and sang with us. It was one of the best jam sessions I’ve had in a long time. Everyone in harmony. I played along with them when they played traditional Polynesian songs, and fell in love with their soothing music.

Two things struck me as I listened to them discuss and talk:

One – the Fijian guy was talking about a friend he was concerned about who had developed a bloodshot eye and bad health symptoms. He reckoned it was because he drinks spirits instead of just sticking to beer. He said he didn’t understand why people drink spirits, and even asked me if I knew what spirits were… He explained that those things can’t be good for your insides, and probably effect your liver and other internal organs. The other guys all nodded and agreed as they sipped the Kavah.

Two – Ina was talking about how this group of very loud Americans from Las Vegas had come into the surf shop to get lessons. He described them as wearing lots of make up and wearing small revealing bikinis. He said that they were loud and rude and kept ‘throwing money’ everywhere, demanding for receipts and special care. He said, and I quote, ”these girls had tight bodies, and their boobs were up to here – it was disgusting”. I was expecting him to say ”they were hot!”, but no…

So, here I was with these older Polynesian guys (in their 30s), playing excellent music and very happily imbibing their culture of respect and positivity. The talked of respect for elders, how Jack Johnson was such a good man, how we should organize a BBQ next weekend and watch the rugby World Cup.

These are the moments that I have been waiting for. This understanding is what I have been searching for. I feel so at home with this culture 🙂

What I’ll be up to..

Update from yesterday’s first introductory session with Ras from 4Pm to 6PM:

Boy, there is a *lot* of work to be done! He has recently moved into his new home in Paia, so he is in a bit of disorganized mess at the moment. My role will be to help him out, act as a sort of agent, help him re-organize. This means taking all his contacts (festivals, musicians, fans, promoters, radios, blogs, etc), getting back in touch with them, sending them promotional material, organizing some concerts, getting people to buy his mp3s online…

I will also be assisting him when he does shows around Hawaii. There is a very exciting special festival he has been invited to, scheduled at the beginning of November, which, fingers crossed, I will be able to assist as his agent. It is called the Awesomeness Fest, and costs about 12,000$ if you want to attend as an outsider! There are 200 to 300 incredible speakers, artists, musicians which attend, and it supposed to be one of the best experiences ever. The author of ‘The Secret’ will be there. It will be hosted in Maui this year, and is only for exclusive invitees. So I’m counting on your positive thoughts, and hopefully I will be able to be part of this festival of awesomeness!! http://www.awesomenessfest.com/

Awesome Fest 2011

I have downloaded this program called Band Manager, which will help me get all his contacts sorted out. This will also be a good addition to my professional experience. Also, getting in touch with all these musical contacts will be great and will hopefully enable me to become more familiar with how the music biz functions.

There is certainly a whole bunch of productive work awaiting me – yay!! It seems I will be able to work from my room here in the Yoga Shala, which is great because it is such a calm, quiet and beautiful spot to work from. I will also be able to couple all this day time activity with yoga classes and exploring the island principally on the Maui bus, which I have got a schedule for. There is a lot to learn and be visited!