A Long Day, A Long and Winding Road

Trip Start Sep 17, 2012
1
7
28
Trip End Nov 11, 2012


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Flag of United States  , Hawaii
Friday, September 28, 2012

Today was a long day. Our tour departed at 7:30 am for a 100 mile tour around the eastern part of Maui. While the distance we covered was not a lot, the 670 (hairpin) turns and 54 single lane bridges make the trip very slow. It's almost impossible to describe this part of the island which is made up of dozens of valleys each with several waterfalls taking water from the rainforests at the top of the mountain down to the ocean. A little over a hundred years ago, aqueducts were built to divert the water for crops and cattle. Since the area was not a desirable place to live, and the aqueducts required a lot of maintenance, a winding horse trail was built along the tops of the cliffs along the ocean’s edge so that the workers could travel home on a daily basis. This trail is now the infamous Road to Hana. In many places, including all of the bridges, it is its original width. They’ve only recently begun to install guardrails on some of the cliff edges. Most of the road is paved, but the pavement makes Quebec roads in the springtime seem silky smooth. One of the reasons the road is kept "rough" is that it limits traffic. Rental cars are not permitted on unpaved roads so, other than a half dozen daily mini bus tours, there is little tourist traffic here. As a result, Hana has become a refuge for many famous musicians and actors.

From the moment we boarded the bus, until the tour ended at about 5pm, our driver Roy talked incessantly. We did make several stops and get out of the minibus at the numerous scenic waterfalls, beaches and cliff sides, so he may have stopped talking while we were out of earshot, but I doubt it. We both thought he would have made a great televangelist.

Our  lunch was at the Ranch Restaurant in the quaint little town of Hana where we discovered to our horror that the original Maui Kettle Cooked Potato Chips were no longer available and had been replaced by the cheap knock-off version; Maui Style Chips.

We continued our trip making photo stops every few minutes. Our final stop of the day was at a Maui Winery which had pineapple, guava and raspberry wines. We didn’t taste any, partly because all 6 buses arrived at the same time and there were huge lineups, but mainly because we had heard numerous warnings from locals about how bad Hawaiian wines are. Some people must like it though since a few people were carrying cases back to their buses.

As we’ve mentioned, agriculture is rapidly disappearing on the islands. We did learn that one sugar company remains on Maui. They have not been profitable for years. However, they are under contract by the U.S. Navy to produce ethanol for the navy’s own use.

We were struck by how messed up Maui’s economy has become. Pastures and farmland are now overgrown with wild vegetation and the economy relies almost entirely on tourism. As a result, the cost of living is higher on Maui than the other islands. Fresh milk costs over $8.00 per gallon, and bread runs about $7 or $8 a loaf. At the same time, almost everyone works multiple jobs in the service industry, earning between $7.25 and $9.00 per hour. Poverty in Paradise seems to have become the norm.

Scroll down for some pictures. They really don’t adequately portray the experience of being here; The sounds, the smells, the waves crashing against cliffs, the wind almost blowing you off those cliffs, the feeling of nausea as you bounce along the bumpy road knowing you’re inches from careening over a cliff to your death.

WYWH

Peter & Annette



What did zero say to eight?
 “Nice belt!”

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