So This Thing Happened …

Scene 5

Like puppies enjoying their car trip Annie, Joe and Emma each watched the Maui scenery roll by.  The traffic and preponderance of concrete was surprising and a little disappointing.  It was hot, humid and about the time they all began wondering about the beauty of Hawaii –WHAMMO!  The deep turquoise of the Pacific came into view.  With the craggy black lava rocks and lime green tropical plants in the foreground,  this was a sight of natural beauty unlike any other.

“Aunt Rose, what’s going on down there?” Joe pointed to a string of parked cars along a makai (seaside) beach road.    There were about thirty colorful windsurfers dotting the blue water in front of the white sandy beach.   Right past then was a line of surfers – mostly treating water with their boards, turned towards one lone surfer riding a pipeline in to the shore.

“That’s Hookipa, Joe.   Must be some kind of surf meet.  You ever surf?”

“Aunt Rose, I live in BOSTON.  Not a lot of surfing there.  But I’d like to try it.”  Never much interested in competitive sports, Joe nevertheless had the grace of a natural athlete.  Since middle school, he had been his mother’s early morning running buddy.

“You’ll meet some kids at the party Saturday – you can go with them.”

“Do girls surf?”  Emma was the competitor in the family.

“Yeah,  of course!  No worries, yeah?  I get you hooked up wit da locals.”

The siblings exchanged a quick look and a big grin.  They were really in Maui!

Annie sat back in her seat, enjoying the sights, enjoying the slack key music coming from the car radio, enjoying pretty much everything.  She wasn’t sure whether her euphoria was jet lag or excitement.  She imagined it was a little of both.  She watched as Rose made a right turn off the Hana Highway at the sign that said KULA 15 miles.  “So Rose, tell us about the place we’re staying.  What do we have to do.”

“Ah, yeah, you’re gonna love it.  The guy I used to work for has a bunch of restaurants and has a house on Maui and one in California.  It’s so beautiful.  Anyway da guy that’s supposed to watch his house cancelled at the last minute so Mr Clark asked if I knew anyone to housesit.  You just gotta clean yard and keep the house looking lived in.  And maybe clean one good time at the end, that’s all.”

The road was now a steep incline, which Annie knew was because they were headed up the side of the mountain.  Haleakala was a dormant volcano with a beautiful and sacred crater at the summit.  The weather up here was about 10 degrees cooler than the sultry climate at sea level in the day, and up to 20 degrees cooler at night.  The houses that lined the road were an odd mixture of very humble and very expensive.

“That’s our street.  It’s a different world from where you stay but real close by.”  All three heads turned in the direction in which Auntie Rose tossed the commentary.   Hauoli Place was a small bumpy road that appeared to be lined with modest homes.    Two boys with skateboards grinned at the van as it passed.  “Da folks here are good.  When they know you,  they gonna take good care of you.”

The four continued their journey quietly, each preoccupied by their own thoughts.  Annie  smiled as they passed through the local neighborhood of simple houses, while Rose drove slowly, avoiding the neighborhood ‘poi’ dogs who liked to sleep on the cool cement road.  Every house had a carport,  and every car was parked in the yard or curbside.  In this tropical world, cars did fine outside and the garage type structures were used as additional living space.  Picnic tables  were the décor du jour, and fishermen’s throw nets were hanging at the entrances, waiting for their next mission.

“Are we close to the house yet, Aunty?”

“Oh Ella, you’ll know when we get close.” Annie detected a ruefulness in her sister-in-law’s tone.  Shrugging it off as imagination, she settled back and closed her eyes, enjoying the hysterically funny pidgin speaking radio DJs.    Although they were poking fun at haoles, or white foreigners, it was all in good fun.

Joseph tapped his mom on the shoulder.  “Uh, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.”  Looking out the open passengers side window, Annie saw that the scenery had changed dramatically in just a couple of miles.   The modest structures crammed onto small lots had been replaced large homes straight out of Sunset Magazine.  Rather than the usual six houses to a block, these houses seemed to be on full acre lots.  And the most striking difference – she couldn’t really see below the roofs because they were fenced and gated in.

“So Aunty Rose, why do I get the feeling that we’ve left the local neighborhood?” Joseph asked warmly but not without a touch of his natural cynicism.  “Am I detecting a gap between the haves and the have nots?”

Rose’s deep laughter exploded throughout the van.  “No, baby.  You seeing what we Hawaiians call ‘why you need dat stuffs?‘   We mostly pretty happy with what we have and tink dese folks are nuts.  But hey, if you give us jobs and don’t mess with the aina, then live and let live, yeah?”

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