Wake Up Call

St Pierre

Last Friday a musical event was being hosted by the office of tourism – planter punch cocktails were being offered at the Marina in Pointe du Bout, and there was live music on the menu. The singer was big burly chap who had a sort of Barry White type voice, and sang a few jazzy numbers before unleashing the dance hits to get people on the floor. I got talking with Véro and Nat, two young French girls on a mission to have fun in Martinique.

We spent the following days of their one week holiday together by circling the island and discovering various Martiniquian bits and bobs. It also turns out that Nat had a cousin she hadn’t seen in 10 years living on the island, who we met up with several times. Florina lives in Ducos with her boyfriend Pascal, and they both showed us around many cool spots. We all got along very well, and did a lot of hanging out on beaches, visiting places, eating and drinking together these past few days.

Anse Noire

The two girls and I rented a nifty little car on Monday and we drove around a good part of the Eastern coast as well as the Southern center of the island. We went to the majestic beach of Les Salines (the biggest of the Caribbean I hear), we walked through St Anne (a splendid area giving on to turquoise waters), we visited the Habitation Clément, a rum distillery in François which was exquisite to say the least (the rum tasting was particularly fun!), we visited part of the Tartane peninsula where there were traditional market stands scattered around the centre of the village…

We had also visited the day before St Pierre, on the North Eastern coast of the island, a charming little village from which we watched the sun set on a pontoon. St Pierre is full of very interesting history, and we had walked around the ruins of the old theater and prison cells. It is a charming place to visit because of its history and also its colorful houses, bistros and kayaks which lounge around in the yellow sand… In almost each place I have visited, there is always an attractive religious monument such as a little church, an abbey, a chapel, which give the villages an authentic touch especially when you are there to hear the bells ring.

Ti-Sable

My favorite place of all: Ti-Sable, a beautiful chic bar in Grand Anse on the beach. It had such a great vibe and atmosphere to it, and was beautifully designed – curtains, lanterns, buddhas, an attractive stage, colorful spot lights, a champagne bar, deck chairs, cushions, … and I enjoyed all this bare foot in the sand. We were there on Sunday evening, and a local band called Kaf-Konce entertained us with many musical covers which started mellow and ended up very pop and trendy. Ti-Sable essentially turned into a night club later on, and the beach bar was packed with all sorts of young hipsters (locals and tourists) waving their hands in the air and dancing away underneath the stars. What a beautiful night.

Martinique's Female Rugby Team

Another superb moment was meeting the Martinique female rugby team on the beach of Anse Dufour! They were having a lively jovial barbecue on the beach, and were often making passes and tackling each other for fun whilst the fish was grilling away. We were lying on our beach towels not so far away from them, and thus got chatting with them after watching them impress us with their rugby tackling skills. They were such happy girls, always laughing and joking around, and even told me that they were looking for extras to fill their rugby team if I was interested… Who knows, maybe one day I’ll return to Martinique and play rugby for a living!

Cheers!

On Monday I fly to Los Angeles very early in the morning – I am taking 3 flights, one to Santo Domingo, one to Miami and then one to Los Angeles. I will stay in Pasadena for 10 days or so, and then return home to the Pays de Gex, near Geneva where I was born. Yes, it will be difficult adapting to the cold again after six months of hot humid temperatures, and yes, it will be tough returning to reality, routines, an office job. Waking up from a such a wonderful dream will certainly be no picnic… But dreams such as these would not nearly be as good, tasty and intriguing if they did not have endings. What counts is bringing them to life, even if it is just for a brief moment.

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.

Aloha!

my lei

It is a beautiful day on Maui island today. I arrived yesterday afternoon, and was greeted by Ras, a musician whom I will be working with for a little over a month here in Paia. He put a pretty lei around my neck, and I jumped into his white Jeep.

He asked me whether I wanted to go straight to my place, or whether I was up for a little walk to discover on of Maui’s most beautiful spots. Despite my fatigue, I couldn’t resist! I can’t remember the name of where he took me, but it was stunning.

Apparently this was where Jurassic Park was filmed (the part where you see expansive views of vast mountainous regions, and lots of green). It took about 25 mins to get up there in the Jeep, but it was definitely worth it. I walked round with him, admittedly in a bit of daze, saw waterfalls, guava plants, traditional Hawaiian huts, lots of chickens and flowers.

We then drove down to Paia, a small beach town I am currently living in. We drove by the beach, and I saw about 35 dudes surfing the waves. I then met his wife and 2 year old pretty daughter, and had a look round his music studio.

I was totally overwhelmed. I guess traveling from LA to Honolulu and then waiting for 3 hours in Honolulu for my flight to Maui kind of tired me out. And then arriving in Maui just blew me away: the views, the atmosphere, the colors, the vibe.

I am currently staying in a three story house called the Yoga Shala. It is absolutely stunning. On the bottom floor there are yoga classes every day. On the second floor, I am sharing an enormous living room, kitchen, two terraces, bathroom with two persons I haven’t met yet. I think there is a couple living on the third floor.

My room has a very comfy mushy double bed, a couch, and glass doors that give on to the front terrace. The shower has a little windows which look onto the the back of the house and the expansive views behind it. It is so much more spacey than I had imagined. It is calm, and there is a very good vibe about the place, there are Buddha statuettes everywhere, candles, a very large TV, and a swooping couch in the living room.

There are Buddhist prayer flags in my room. There are no locks, which could appear freaky at first, but there is such a positive and calm atmosphere about the neighborhood that I sincerely doubt there is anything to worry about.

I went to bed early last night and got up today around 6.30 AM. It gets dark very quickly here, and light very early. This morning I walked down to Paia’s main town, bought some breakfast in Tiki Bar, and read the Maui Times. I took my soya milk coffee to go, and went down to the nearest beach. I walked barefoot on the sand, and walked across the shore line for a bit, thinking how lucky I am to be here and to see all this.

I have been exploring all morning, getting lost, sitting down in front of the sea and taking photos like a typical tourist. ”Beautiful spot, isn’t it?” said one old couple who was sitting not so far from one of the best views I had found this morning. ”Yes… lovely!” I replied.

And ‘lovely’ is the first word I choose to describe this place.

walking on the beach in hawaii