Friends with 4-Wheel Drive


Sunday began with a swim.   Before this trip, I hadnít swum in many years.   I was slowly getting back into a little shape; that is my muscles were not complaining as much.   We checked out the buffet at the hotel but it didnít appeal to us so we thought we might eat at Durty Jakeís again.  But as we crossed the street and looked again at the menu we both felt that we wanted to walk further and see what else there was to choose from.  We scoped out Lava Java but again all the good seats were taken and the menu didnít appeal.  We looked at the menus of several restaurants.  When weíd walked almost to the other side of town, just before a gorgeous old banyan tree we saw Akiís Japanese and American Cafť.  The menu looked good but we kept  walking a little further until we encountered a group of four people with Southern accents who were doing the same thing we were but coming from the other side.  They asked us if we knew of a good place to have breakfast.  We mentioned Durty Jakeís at the other end of town and pointed out Akiís as a possibility.  It was getting late and restaurants were going to stop serving breakfast, so we decided to go back and eat at Akiís Cafť.  It was one of our best moves.  We ate many a breakfast and lunch at Akiís.

Akiís is small with only three or four tables inside and six tables outside.  But the view was unbeatable.  Right across the street the surf pounded against the rocks often spilling over the roadway, marine activity came and went from the Kailua pier and people walked, drove and pedaled by.  It was always entertaining.  The food is even better than the view.  Always fresh healthy ingredients, delicious seasoning and the best 100% Kona coffee brewed perfectly.  To top it off the waitresses were great, especially Josie, who shared the charm and grace of her native Bali with the customers.  We never ate dinner at Akiís so that will be another thing to look forward to on our next visit.

We met a couple from San Diego at the next table.  They were leaving the next day.  They had come to Hawaii with the thought that they would look for real estate and retire here but upon seeing it, they decided they wouldnít like to live on the islands after all.  We had thought about that too but at that point, I felt the same way and Iím sure John did as well.  I was never uncomfortable with the fact that this was an island thousands of miles from any mainland, but it seemed so foreign to me that it didnít feel like home.  I was just beginning to get used to the tropical temperatures and humidity; Iíve always preferred moderate, cool weather.  And yet, my body was beginning to like the warmth and my skin, in spite of the intensity of the sun, hadnít felt that smooth since I was a baby.

We had heard from Johnís friend in Hawi the night before so today we drove back up there to meet with him and his family.  It was another gorgeous day and the drive to Hawi is just a little over 50 miles.  As we approached the town, John looked for the road that led to Upolo airfield that we had missed the first time.  We saw the sign and again we missed the road.

Terry, Carol and their son Neil live in a comfortable house in a small development of homes on what had been sugar country.  The view from their house looks out over a green meadow with a lone windblown tree, horses grazing, the ocean and Maui.  Because of the clouds, the outline of Mauiís peaks appeared almost vaporous.  We brought them a bag of those delicious macnuts that we purchased in Kailua.  Terry showed us his porch floor which was covered with macnuts from his tree still in their shells.  He had a machine downstairs in his shop that broke the hard shells.  On their lot they had macnut trees, papaya and coconuts.  Everything looked green and abundant.  Terry also showed us his library of interesting books from metaphysical to everything Hawaiian.  We chatted for a while, getting to know one another.  Then he offered to take us for a ride in his four-wheel drive vehicle.  We soon found out why it is recommended to rent four-wheel drive if you want to do some exploring.

Terry and Neil took us directly to that one-lane road that led out to the airport that John had been drawn to but had kept missing.  Right on!  After the airfield, we definitely needed the four-wheel drive.  Neil, who is a nineteen year old student at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, drove.  Lou, their dog, paced in the back of the vehicle  panting with excitement.  We drove on a red mud trail along the cliff above the coastline until we came to a closed gate.  As we got out, I spotted what I thought might have been a whale spout not too far out, then again for sure and another further out.  Then the first whale leapt out of the water.  The wind blew relentlessly with nothing to break its force.  I had the feeling of being at landís end and surrounded by a vast and mighty wilderness.  We turned from the rocky shoreline and walked up a gentle grassy slope to the Moíokini Heiau, which is at the northern most tip of the island.

A heiau is a temple and from its history, this must have been a temple of death.  We walked around an enormous wall of stones and as we got to the other side we saw that it formed a huge oval-shaped enclosure.  It is said that it was built with rocks from Pololu Beach over nine miles away which were passed hand to hand along a human chain.  The craftsmanship and the extent of the endeavor is impressive and the lichen-covered rocks, in places tumbled down from their place on the walls, speak of the centuries this heiau has existed here.  It was built around 1200 a.d. for a powerful kahuna named Paíao.  He was the priest who had come with the first Tahitians bringing their strict kapu system to control the more primitive people who had come from the Marquesas Islands and had been living there since about 300 a.d. It was taboo, for instance, for a commonerís shadow to fall across the shadow of royalty or for a commoner to accidentally step on the shadow of royalty.  These infractions were punishable by death. Many of these deaths as well as the human sacrifices to the Tahitian gods were carried out here at Moíokini Heiau.  There is one large rock that is shaped perfectly for the slaughter, naturally catching the blood in its bowl-like shape.  It is a very stark place, no trees, just grass, wind, the ocean, rocks and an eerie sense of the human history that played out there.

We drove on along the rocky edge above the sea on what no longer seemed much of a road.  We bounced up and down, in and out of huge holes and puddles while Lou ran along beside. I decided that Neil was a good driver and held on tightly only a couple of times during the spine jarring ride.  We stopped at a small rocky cove, Upolu Point, where waves blasted through blow holes and smashed against rocks.  We walked down on the rocks and took some pics.  Terry pointed out perfectly round impressions in the rock filled with salt crystals.  He was hoping to see some sea turtles, which he said often climbed out on the rocks.  What we did find was a sad pooch that had probably been abandoned out there.  He still wore a chain around his neck but he looked as though he hadnít eaten in some time.  I was very moved by his predicament but could see no way that I could help him.  I wished him well as we drove back to the airstrip, paved roads and civilization.  We were so engrossed with our trip that we almost forgot Lou who was gallantly trying to keep up.  We had to turn around and go back for him.  It was definitely a trip we could not have made in our Sebring.

On our drive back to Kailua, we were treated to a golden sunset.  That night we ate at the Royal Konaís Tropics Cafť.  Service was slow but the dinner was good.  I had the Hawaiian dinner which had tastes of all the food served at the luau.  The kalua pig was excellent.  We watched them prepare it in the imu pit.  On the morning of the luau, they build a fire in the pit and put stones on the fire to heat up.  When they are hot enough, they put the gutted pig in the pit and fit the stones inside of it.  Then they cover the pig with ti leaves, canvas and then dirt and let it cook for hours.  The imu pit is the center of the luau and all eagerly await the fanfare of the traditional uncovering of the pig.  After cooking all day, the delicious meat falls off the bones.  I also tried a spinach and chicken dish cooked in coconut milk, lomi salmon which is a raw marinated salmon salad and poi made from taro root.  I thought all of it was great except the poi which I would have to get used to.  The pineapple slices that came with the dinner were the most ono (delicious) I have ever tasted!

Another day of our vacation had passed and we slept blissfully to the ever-present sound of the surf.


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