Posted by: lornasass | December 25, 2009


After close to 24 hours in transit, we arrived in balmy Maui and took off our down coats.

It’s great to be back, but having been totally bedazzled and blinded by the natural beauty last time we were here, this time I find myself more aware–right from the start–of what “civilization” has done to Maui.

I am sitting on a chaise lounge on a veranda surrounded by ti plants and palm trees, bird-song filling the air, and a gentle breeze caressing my skin, and I am tempted to show my snow-bound friends only the beauty I saw yesterday, editing out the surrounding ugliness. But I can’t bring myself to do that right now, after the farce of Copenhagen and large-scale denial of what’s really going on in this crazy world of ours.

This picture of a fenced-in nature sanctuary in the middle of the town of Kahalui is something of a symbol of what Maui has become:  the remnants of a paradise, with the splendid parts fenced off (figuratively or literally) and much of the island a mess of ugly buildings, malls, resorts, and gas stations.

This Sanctuary, a wetlands maybe two miles in diameter, is the major (if not only) habitat of the black-necked stilt, now considered a rare bird on Maui.

There is a short walk-way into the Sanctuary and an observation blind at the end of it, but the wetlands are surrounded by refineries and highly trafficked roads.

I saw not only about a half dozen stilts, but cattle egrets, and one large Hawaiian goose.  Thank goodness someone had the prescience to set aside this bird sanctuary or the land would no doubt have become the site of a Burger King or equivalent.

We remembered going to a Farmer’s Market incongruously smack in the middle of the Maui Mall, so we walked passed dozens of shops selling all kinds of things no one really needs and then came upon the stalls of gorgeous avocados in numerous varieties, and mostly Asian ingredients like long beans, bok choy, long-stemmed scallions, and young ginger.

Then there were Maui sweet onions, spirited red bell peppers, sweet potatoes, local lemons (as sweet and mild as Meyer lemons), and limes.  We saw numerous varieties of papaya and some fruits and some veggies I’d never seen before. Turns out most of the fruit and produce was grown on a farm in Haiku, the non-touristy part of the island where we have rented a small cottage.

I asked about these unfamiliar vegetables, and it turns out they are used in Filipino cooking.  The friendly woman at the register told us of a Filipino grocery/restaurant called Paradise Market and we intend to try it soon and maybe get some recipes.

The volcanic soil here is so rich that flowers grow around the borders of parking lots.  Even with the K-Marts and Wal-Marts and ever other kind of mart you can imagine, the flowers still enchant and soften the overwhelming sense of stuff and commerce that malls conjure.

Here’s one of the many hibiscus surrounding the cars in a lot filled to capacity of last-minute Christmas shoppers.

Maui is a friendly place.  Here’s a sign I saw plastered onto the rear fender of one of those cars.  I intend to follow this sage advice.



  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

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  2. I had the same response to visiting Sedona, AZ many years after our first trip there which left me spellbound. Fortunately the red rock structures are still as magnificent but the surrounding town and areas are so built up and commercialized, we were devastated! Still one of my favorite places to hike (while we can still go up and down instead of hiking flatlands!).
    We were in Maui 15 years ago and I’m so sorry to hear your news. I’m sure you’ll find the beauty that is still there! Have a happy new year and a fabulous month! Love to you.

    • Yes, I know what you mean about Sedona. I was there is the 70s and remember it well before all the outlets opened. Today we’re going to do that spectacular drive north of Lahaina, with its sheer drops like Big Sur. I’m sure we’ll see plenty of paradise there since it’s impossible to build onto the side of the mountain. I’ll keep you posted. So good to hear from you! Love back.

  3. How sad that our world is being desecrated. We see it over here in NM as well. How often we comment to one another how beautiful the place must have been before industry moved in, all too true for so many places. We are enjoying hearing about the progress of your trip. Look forward to the next installment.
    Stu and Joey Z.

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