Before we ever saw it, the town of Hana had taken on a mysterious and romantic identity in my mind, a sort of personality created out of the scattered facts and sayings gleaned from books and friends, such as:
Hana is remote, reached by a long and winding, narrow road… The residents like it that tourists find it troublesome to get to… Many stores only take cash, and businesses close early… There’s not much night life… The beaches are black, or red-and-white, or the usual white/grey, but always mythical… It rains most days on that side of the island.
No doubt I also connected the sound “hah-nah” to that other geographical name that resonated not only in my ears but in my soul: Hoh. That was another moist place we visited, a river and a forest that teemed with life and constant change, and which I found soothing and exhilarating at the same time.
We reserved a condo in Hana for one night so that we wouldn’t have to hurry back to our home base on the South Shore as soon as we reached this destination. Good thing, because as it was, our experience of Hana was too short for comfort, and bittersweet.
Lisa St. Aubin de Teran said that “Traveling is like flirting with life. It’s like saying, ‘I would stay and love you, but I have to go; this is my station.'” I don’t mean to be superficial; I always long for plenty of time to get to know a new person or place to some degree higher than a Casual Meeting. Hana must think I am a flirt; I hope I can go back and demonstrate otherwise.
We arrived in Hana in the afternoon, and missed visiting the famous black beach because we were late for an appointment (oh, that is so un-Hana-ish) on the other side of town. But we had our own lesser black beach that we could see right off the deck of our room. In the picture above you can barely see it on the other side of the building, a little dark strip.
At dusk we walked on those steep slopes of black gravel, and the wind blew my hair every which way as rain began to fall. Quite a lot of rain fell in the night, and we could hear it along with the pounding waves, through the doors that I insisted on leaving open so that I could feel the magical Hawaiian air.
In the morning we packed up and went early to Hamoa Beach — there are those soft-toned exhalations again — where the sky and sea looked dark and coldly unfriendly like our Northern California beaches — but beyond the colors, there was no likeness at all. Mr. Glad walked out into the waves and swam in the warm water to his heart’s content, while I waded and dug my toes into the so-soft sand. I took pictures, and noted that the Spider Lilies here looked fresh and perky compared to the ones on the sunnier side of Maui.
For a little while it seemed that we were the only people on Hamoa Beach. On the beach, yes, but there was a surfer out beyond the breakers. He caught my eye when he stood up on his board, a muscular brown islander guy (surely the same hunk I had seen on a postcard), and let the surf bring him all the way in.
On The Most Beautiful Beach in the World, wasn’t that just the perfect scene enacted for our delight? When he carried his surfboard out of the water I told him, “Watching you ride that wave completed my experience of Maui.”
“Is it your first time on the island?” he asked. Then he extended his hand to shake mine and said, “Welcome to Maui!”