I’m publishing a rather lengthy article.
Blog note…..this blog mine, was published several years ago. Only now have I been able to track down a handful of blogs, most all were lost when I migrated from Windows Live to Word Press…..this is a snapshot of the Joy I found in the Summer of 1996. Just a snapshot.
In the Summer of 1996, I had the privilege, the time and the ability to backpack this island of Maui. Near the end of me adventure, I landed in Hana. Many times in life, the first time is the best, and indeed it was for me. Went back there, and life was still slow, but somehow, it wasn’t quite the same.
The first night in Hana, I was a bit ill, but recovered over night, a rather long night, to this day I believe it was altitude sickness, but that’s another story.
Laying on the bed, hurting and in pain, the only solace, temporal, that is. Was the breeze of the trade-winds, and the faint smells from the jungle and oceans around me. Then quite slowly, appeared a pair of lizards, extremely small, 3-4 inches long, and a tenth of that in width. Curled up, and suffering I pulled a pencil out and like a baton of a musical conductor me slowly gained the pairs attention. Moving the pencil slowly, they drew a bit nearer, but not so close as to touch them. To my surprise, and I’m sure anyone else who would have witnessed this, at first their heads moved accordingly side to side, with the slow direction from the pencil. Then up and down, and again, side to side. Moving the baton closer, they as a pair backed away, moving it back, the lizards would again approach, this all the while, they faced me head down above my nest of pillows, only a foot or so attached to the wall, above me head and to my right, or north. Time passed, and they lost no interest, time passed, and the sun did set.
Me last memories of the them were as gentle as the trade winds thru the room, circling my pencil, all the while their eyes on mine, but I refused to look them squarely, so not to intimidate the little fellahs.
In the morning, I awoke, though I felt like I’d been run over by a truck, from the previous evenings sickness, my mind and body were clear, and my stomach asked for food. I was grateful for their company the evening before, and remember, how I was their guest, indeed, I was their guest.
A song on the radio that evening, I’ve searched and researched, for over a decade, maybe it was only a dream to my ears. Something of a 1940’s lyrical song. All me can remember are a few phrases, and typically with time, I’m sure, that I’m not quite sure how it all went, but the melody has remained with me for a decade and a half, and never left……….
41 MILES FROM SHORE.
41 miles from shore, I paddled towards your door. The seas got rough, the waves did soar, the mighty ocean roared.
Well we sailed/paddled our boat on thru the night, 41 miles from shore……..41 miles from shore paddled to you door.
( a small after note, the “North-Star” and the “Southern-Cross” were used to navigate thousands of years past, and still easily to this day) The islands lay, I believe about 38-degrees south latitude.
By Lisa Gosselin
April 21, 2005 ….all apologies Lisa, I’ve edited just a bit…..McTell
Just before sunrise, off the eastern coast of Maui, clouds stack up on the horizon and drag their shadows across the glistening Pacific. Waves born four time zones away move in softly and then thunder into the black lava cliffs. Somewhere in Kipahulu, the last settlement before the pavement turns to dirt, a wiry old Hawaiian named Eddie Pu sits meditating in front of his house. An ‘apua-kea lets loose—the name Hawaiians give to the predawn showers—and then moves up the mountainside, cleansing everything in its path. “Eddie, come inside!” Beverly Pu, the daughter of a Wisconsin dairy farmer, calls to her husband. “What do I care,” Pu calls back with a laugh, “This is Hana.”
The town of Hana has two stores, one gas station, and a coffee shop. It has the Hana Ranch, with 2,000 head of cattle, and the venerable and lovely Hotel Hana-Maui, which reigns discreetly over town like a Queen Mother. There is a historic church, a few small inns and guest houses, a cultural center, and a harbor. But to most people, “Hana” refers to the eastern bulge of Maui, starting where the Ke‘anae Peninsula juts out from Haleakala’s lush volcanic slopes and encompassing Hana town, Kipahulu (and its famous waterfalls), and the dry ranchlands around Kaupo.
Hana is as much a state of mind as a place. Though it has been colonized by pot-growing hippies and New Age organic farmers, reclusive rock stars and working artists, it still harbors the old soul of Maui. Polynesians arrived here between a.d. 500 and 800 and discovered that Hana was the perfect place to grow taro and other crops. By 1883 there were six sugar plantations, and by 1940, Hana had a population of 3,500. When the cane operations shut down, so did the town. As of the 2000 census, 709 people lived in Hana, most descendants of Hawaiians and Polynesians.
Hana is a place where most of the native Hawaiians still live off the land, and money rarely changes hands between neighbors. Fishermen share their catch. And if you break a bone, run a fever, or are facing irreconcilable differences with your brother or your spouse, you turn to a kahuna la ‘au lapa‘au, or native healer. The phone book lists no therapists, and the nearest hospital is a two-hour drive away.
Eddie Pu may not be a kahuna, but he is a legend in Hana. “I am just a simple Hawaiian,” he says, like a refrain, as he talks story one morning at the Hana Ranch coffee shop. “I wake each morning before sunrise and meditate to thank the land, to thank my ancestors for what they have given us.”
Eddie pu has the lithe, proportioned body of a man who has always worked with nature. He was hired in 1972 as one of the first park rangers at ‘Ohe‘o Gulch, a series of pools and falls now part of Haleakala National Park. Over the years, he saved many lives, including those of the Saudi ambassador and his wife and son, who were swept out to sea. Pu dove into the waves and rescued them one by one, though he ended up in the hospital for several days. Later, the “simple Hawaiian” was flown to Washington to be thanked in person by President Ford. In the decades Pu stood guard at ‘Ohe‘o Gulch, where flash floods in the mountains catch seaside bathers unawares, no one drowned. Since he retired, seven people have died.
It is hard to guess Eddie Pu’s age. His long gray hair is pulled neatly back and kept in place by a ti-leaf headband to ward off headaches. In a few weeks, he tells me, he would set off with a towel, a walking stick, and a bag of dried fruit to do what he has done nearly every birthday for more than 25 years: Walk around Maui. On November 25, he turned 75.
Pu always walks the nearly 200 miles alone. “A spiritual walk to heal my soul,” he explains, and his secret route changes from year to year. He might walk past Hotel Hana-Maui’s Hamoa Beach, where he lifeguarded for 21 years, out past the flower farm his son owns and then to Kaupo, where the last abandoned church stands sentinel. The road moves inland here, spiraling up toward Haleakala’s crater, past the wineries and lavender farms of Kula.
But Pu often follows the desolate, uninhabited coast, passing the remains of ancient fishing villages, traveling along the overgrown path of what was once the King’s Highway. He may walk for a day in the no-man’s-land of volcanic rubble and windswept dry grass before La Pérouse Bay comes in sight, and later, the clipped golf courses of Wailea then the condos of Kihei, the old whaling town of Lahaina, and the beachfront resorts of Ka‘anapali on the westernmost end.
Along the way, he talks to the trees and the birds and plucks a leaf or two from plants he knows not by name but by their medicinal values. (Once back home, he sends them to the University of Hawai‘i for identification.) “These are healing plants our ancestors left for us,” Pu explains. “They planted what they needed at the shores and then moved inland.” Ancestors, I start to gather, means not the deceased great-grandfather or grandmother who often show up in his dreams to offer unsolicited advice, but the Polynesians who brought with them the canoe plants.
Pu has come across sacred ruins and even human remains. “I bring no camera, draw no map—these things must be left there and not disturbed,” he says. He tells a story about how on his first two trips, all the film he shot came out black. After the second trip, he dreamed he must go to the island of Molokai A young girl met him at the airport and said, “You follow me. My great-grandmother is waiting for you.” They came to a home where an old woman sat on a porch chair, rocking and laughing.
“Eddie Pu, you should throw away your camera,” the old woman said, still roaring in mirth. “Your film will never come out. Your mind, that is where you must store pictures, so our ancestors will not be disturbed.”
Maui is a misshapen peanut, with volcanic mountains cracking the shells at either end and a flat isthmus of cane fields in the middle. The north side is lush and steep, the south side sunny and dry. At the east end is Kipahulu, a settlement just past Hana that still has no electricity, and where, if you want a burger or a steak, you rope one of the wild cattle that roam the hills. At the west end is Kapalua, a resort where you can sup on filet mignon and a $9,000 bottle of 1961 Chateau Latour at the Ritz-Carlton.
There is only one paved road that leads to Maui’s east end. From the airport in Kahului, the Hana Highway runs for 52 miles of one-lane bridges, waterfalls, and dark bamboo forests, winding around the finger outcroppings of Haleakala like a twisted telephone cord.
My first trip to Hana was in the 1980s, before the road had been repaved. It took three hours and several “I think I’m going to be carsick” stops before we reached the series of falls and pools of ‘Ohe‘o Gulch, marketed at the time as the “Seven Sacred Pools”—though the only thing sacred was the revenue they brought to town. We gasped at their beauty, clicked pictures, then rushed to get back on the torturous road before sunset.
The second time I went to Hana, I met up with friends who lived on Maui’s north shore. We rode out on mountain bikes, stopped at all the falls, and hiked into the riot of wild ginger, ferns, and flowers. We camped by the edge of the sea for a week, burning the soles of our feet on the black-sand beaches, free-diving for our dinner, and picking wild mango, guava, avocado, mountain apple, and pa-paya. I complained one evening that we had no lemon for the lobsters we’d pulled from the ocean an hour earlier. “Citrus tree at three o’clock,” replied Mark, the surfboard shaper. Minutes later, tangy juice was streaming across the delicate white meat.
The third time I went to Hana, I saw Jesus.
I drove out this time, and as I swerved around a blind curve (one of more than 600, it is estimated) on the one-lane road, I came up fast on a man walking. I veered and screeched the brakes. Out of the corner of my eye I could see the cliffs plummeting down to breaking surf and briefly wondered if the car would float. It came to a stop. The man, a Hawaiian in his 20s wearing a backpack and running shoes, seemed unperturbed. “Can you give me a ride?” he asked.
We talked for the next few miles. He told me how he walks to Kahului once every week (and around the entire island sometimes), and he told me about Eddie Pu. As the young man got out in front of the house where his father raises fighting cocks, I asked his name. “Jesus,” he said.
It had been ten years since i camped in Hana, and after dropping off Jesus, I stopped at my favorite haunts—the legendary cave at Wai‘anapanapa State Park, the small but impeccable Hana Cultural Center, and then the akule hale, an open-sided, thatched meeting house for fishermen that overlooks the bay. A sign was posted there: “All outsiders (non-residents), hunter, fisher, picker, gatherer, and real estate people, as of now all resources taken from the Hana district shall be regulated by the eastside hui. All your resources are being exploited and eradicated.”
I felt a pang of guilt for trespassing ten years earlier. And I had the sudden panicky feeling that Hana had changed.
Of course it had. Oprah Winfrey had acquired the coastline (or at least the most scenic 100 or so acres of it). Passport Resorts had purchased Hotel Hana-Maui, renovated it, and installed a stunning new spa. Park rangers had cracked down on illegal camping, and there was more traffic on the road. But as I pulled into town, everything appeared the same. Even the notices at Hasegawa’s General Store seemed as if they had been tacked there for a decade: Smoked Pork, $10 a Bag; Juggling Lessons, Tuesday at 7; UPS Pickups for…, and a list of ten names followed.
I checked into the hotel, made my way to the garden-front spa and, as an attendant brushed a paste of spirulina and ‘awa (the narcotic known through much of the Pacific as kava) across my body, I began to think that maybe all was right with the world.
It could have been the lingering effects of the ‘awa, but I like to think it was Hana itself that set my mind at ease. There is nothing to do here—or at least nothing that must be done. The hotel has no TV and no newspaper on the doorstep. The town has no bars, no golf course, no parasailing. Each morning, I would wake at dawn, grind and brew the locally grown organic coffee the hotel genteelly provides, and then sit in the hot tub on my cottage deck watching the sun rise over the sea. Horses grazed in the fields beyond the lawn, and one day I rode along the craggy coast, crossing the land Oprah purchased from the Hana Ranch, including the sacred hilltop, Ka Iwi o Pele, where Pele the volcano goddess left her bones after she lost a fight with her sister, the water goddess, and her soul fled to the Big Island.
“How do Hawaiians feel about Oprah buying sacred land?” I had asked Eddie Pu, whose family once held large plots of land in Kipahulu and who now lives on just two acres.
“Oprah came to me and to some of the elders and asked the same thing,” he said with a smile. “I told her, it is your land—you do as you see fit. So far, nothing has changed. Maybe it was good she bought it.” He shrugged. “But who am I to say? I am just a simple Hawaiian.”
Maybe it is luck, or maybe it is the long winding road with its one-lane bridges, or maybe it is the overpowering soul of the place that has kept anyone from developing Hana. In 1961, Laurance Rockefeller arrived with plans for building a resort. He bought 52 acres of Kipahulu’s coastline and then, according to historian Russell Apple, decided that East Maui was “too beautiful and rural a community for commercial exploitation, with the social, economic, and environmental changes and other developments a major resort hotel would bring.” Later, he bought more land and raised money to protect the Kipahulu Valley’s most important watershed. As a result, ‘Ohe‘o Gulch and its cascading pools, bamboo forests, and guava groves is now part of Haleakala National Park and forms a crucial nature corridor to the volcano’s crater.
Most of the land surrounding Hana is still owned by the Hana Ranch, and cattle graze in the grasslands above the hotel. One day Kevin Coates, who runs Hana Bay Kayak and Snorkel, took me to the ranch’s highlands on the slopes of Haleakala in his Unimog, a massive overland Mercedes that he uses for his ecotours. As we crossed the high pastures of the ranch, with views out to the Pacific, Coates told me how he was working with The East Maui Watershed Partnership (which includes the ranch, the state and the local chapter of The Nature Conservancy), to protect land that has the highest concentration of rare and endangered birds in the United States. “The owners of the ranch are serious about the environment and the community here,” he said. “I don’t think this land will ever be developed.”
It was by coincidence, or maybe something stronger, that two days later I was back in Hana, holding hands in a circle and chanting with Kahu Lyons Na‘One and his two apprentices at Maui Stables. At LifeFest, Lyons had told me about the stables and the “cultural rides” he leads there. I wished I could ride with him, but he would not be back in Kipahulu for a week, and I was scheduled to fly out. But as I drove to the airport I had a strange feeling that there was something unfinished in Hana and I changed my flight.
As I pulled into the stables, just past the place Charles Lindbergh chose for his burial ground, Lyons was saddling up horses for the afternoon ride with two guests. He laughed when he saw me. “I changed my plans,” he said. “You too, it seems?”
I joined them. As we rode along Lyons pointed out two frigate birds, iwa or warrior birds, and talked about his specialty in healing: ho‘oponopono, or mediation. Lyons is a specialist in Hawaiian martial arts, served in Vietnam, and spent some time in Los Angeles acting as personal bodyguard to a movie star who is well-known for his martial arts films. When he returned to Maui, he began teaching a course in Hawaiian culture and mediation, and married one of his students, a lawyer from Massape-qua, New York. Until 1988, Hawaiian healers were forbidden to practice, and healing had been a dying art. “Now it is time to teach a new generation,” Lyons said.
His apprentice, Awapuhi Pi‘imauna, seemed to have learned well: She showed us the small purple flowers that taste like mushrooms and keep your blood pressure down; the red-berried trees whose crushed leaves taste like pepper; the noni, which is said to heal bruises; and the kukui nut whose oil is used as everything from a moisturizer to torch fuel. The 30-something single mother also told how her dogs had cornered a wild pig the other day. She had whisked the hog’s legs out from under it and slit its throat with her pocketknife. She had only lost one dog. “In Hana, we say the only people who buy food from the store are either lazy or stupid.” Ironically, Kipahulu means “to fetch from exhausted gardens.”
In Hawaiian culture, ahupua‘a are pyramids of land that embody a variety of ecosystems: They begin with a mountain gully, slope down broad hillsides, and end past the coastline, encompassing the reefs and ocean waters. If it is cared for properly, each ahupua‘a can sustain a community. Reverence for the land and malama‘ aina, the care of nature, is central to the Hawaiian culture, Lyons explained. Before riding into the sacred, fenced off area of the Kipahulu Gap, Lyons performed a chant to ask permission of the ancestors to cross the land.
“What will happen to this place? How can Hana survive?” I asked Lyons afterward. “We came here by canoe and we were not meant to stay here,” he said. “In 2012, the end of the 26,000-year-old Hawaiian calendar, we will plan our next migration.” He described his plans to build a double-hulled canoe in the year of the precession of the equinoxes, and go first, as was ordained by the ancestors, to Necker Island, eight miles from the Tropic of Cancer, on the solstice. “From there it will be decided where we go—possibly to an island in the South Pacific, to colonize a new place,” Lyons said. “The land here must be rejuvenated. We will find another island.”
Before the kahuna left to ride back to the stables, it occurred to me to ask him if he knew Eddie Pu. “He’s my godfather,” he said.