Overwhelmed in Oahu

When the plane revved up its engine to depart from Maui, I noticed from my window seat that another beautiful rainbow had formed. I couldn’t believe it, but when we took off, we headed straight for it, and the rainbow became a big colorful circle which we flew into. I thought to myself that I couldn’t have left the Maui island in a more symbolic way!

The flight was ridiculously short (I was actually looking forward to a bit of airplane time – magazine reading, a little drink, a snooze), but before I could say ‘glass of white wine, please’, we had landed in Honolulu. A taxi came to pick me up, and was parked next to two white limos. I asked him why he wasn’t packing my luggage into one of the limos jokingly, I think he thought I was some weird European nut.

view on to Honolulu

It was strange being on a highway and stuck in traffic. It was slightly overwhelming seeing all the cars, the giant buildings, the many roads. It was slightly exciting but also a bit frightening, because I began to realize driving through the masses that I had gotten used to a certain tranquility and quiet lifestyle. And it actually began to stress me out to think that I was soon going to be confronted with very large crowds! I didn’t think anything of it before arriving slap bang in the middle of town.

Despite my stress, my curious eyes darted from scene to scene, and I began to get a feel for Honolulu – a very large city used to attracting and accommodating a lot of visitors from all over the world. The taxi began to exit the freeway, and we drove uphill into residential areas. Still, everything seemed so large, and reminded me a lot of California in terms of the grid style streets, houses with back and front yards.

view from the living room

When we arrived at the house I was destined to stay in, I was staggered by the view it had onto the city. I didn’t realize Honolulu was so full of skyscrapers. There are five girls who live here: Mac, Brit, Thawn, Sunny and Shani. The youngest is 18, the oldest 29. And it is very much a female house – there are about 50 pairs of shoes in the entrée and a fridge heaving with snacks. I haven’t got to know them very well yet, but it appears both Brit and Mac enjoy sacking out in front of the TV a lot, watching all sorts.

They had plans to prepare Thanksgiving dinner together, and were interested to know whether I celebrated it and if I would like to join in on the feast if so. I told them that I don’t celebrate it, but would be glad to be part of the festivities. I contributed with a gratin dauphinois and a bottle of champagne.

Thanksgiving dinner

It sort of felt like Christmas, Santa appeared on almost all the adverts on the TV, and there were Christmas themed movies on back to back. The girls made turkey, sweet potatoes, corn bread, broccoli, pumpkin pie, and other American style festive dishes. The food was nice, but I did not overindulge as one tends to at Christmas. The girls did though, and slept most of the afternoon after eating.

I ventured off into town, I had a walk that morning, but wasn’t satisfied with just that. Unfortunately, my adventure into Waikiki turned into a bit of a nightmare bus ride. I waited for the bus for about 1h. When it arrived, I just decided I would get off when I saw something worth getting off for: a large bustling area or a beach front, but none ever seemed to appear, and as time went by, it started to get very dark outside. It appeared I was really on the wrong bus, and should have got off maybe earlier along the way. The bus went through all the gritty, poor, run down parts of Honolulu.

I spent about 1h30 in the bus, and waited it for it to go back around. I eventually got off where most people on the bus got off. I walked around, took another bus, and got off as soon as I saw the Hilton hotel, thinking this would definitely lead me to some sort of tranquil, touristy (granted, but safe) area. I followed a group of Swedish tourists, and ended up, after such a long ordeal, in Waikiki where everything was beautiful and bustling.

Waikiki

Fire torches, christmas lights, shops, smiles, happy couples, calm waters of the beach, beautifully lit up buildings, palm trees a plenty, high end stores, clean taxi cabs, flowers and dressed up tourists. I walked around, in a slower pace, admired the scene, and listened for live music. I found one bar: ‘Five-O bar and lounge’, where a duo was playing called TTYM. I thought ‘Right, my first reporting material’, took a few photos, ordered a cocktail, got a feel for their music, and enjoyed the sounds and scenes.

After they finished their set, I have to admit to something that goes against what most hardy travelers believe in. I could not see myself fretting around trying to figure our my complicated bus route scenario, so I stopped at the Sheraton hotel, and asked for a taxi there to bring me to this address. Ahhh, much easier. But much more expensive, of course. But I think worth the price for not having to stress out.

a well-deserved Mai Tai

I am a little overwhelmed at the moment. But there is definitely a lot to discover. I just need to adapt to this busier lifestyle, and get moving!

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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!!

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