The Road to Hana

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Our first day in Hawaii was, admittedly, a bust. A total and complete, embarrassing, hide-your-face-in-shame bust. It was supposed to rain, you see – not just on that first day, but the entire time we were on Maui. The forecast was bleak, filled with rain clouds and 80-100 percent chance of precipitation on day after day of our very expensive, much-anticipated vacation.

So, when we woke up that first day and saw the grey skies, we were not surprised. But, we thought, just maybe, we could enjoy an hour or two by the pool before the rain started thrashing down on our swimsuits. One hour became four, which then became five. The skies were mostly cloudy but the sun peeked out from time to time and the temperature was pleasant. We had to make the most of it though, didn’t we? It was going to rain all the rest of the week, after all.

The next day we woke up horribly sunburned. Words cannot describe the color or the texture of our skin. We looked like burnt breakfast sausages, ugly-browned in odd spots. We were red, raw, and in horrific pain. We were swollen and uncomfortable and both expressed fond wishes for being flayed alive. And, to top it all off, the sun was shining. Brightly. (As it would continue to do with nary a drop of rain for the whole week).

What could we possibly do? Another day in the unforgiving sun was out of the question. And so, we were advised to rent a car and explore the island, specifically the illustrious Road to Hana – zig-zag, hairpin roads through the rainforest, past waterfalls and greenery and impossibly beautiful scenery. Which sounds pleasant and gorgeous, and an option for a too-sunny day.

Unless, that is, you are prone to car-sickness. Which, I am.

But, despite that, we set out in our rental car. The road was easy to follow and we had a guide that mapped out which mile markers held which attractions. As we drove by the different sites, we developed a pattern: pause, snap a photo of the unusual jungle plants, take a few steps toward a waterfall and marvel at its beauty, and then I would vomit. Stop again, park the car, walk around and gaze down at the water below, and then, I would vomit. We would drive a little further, stop the car for Maui’s famous banana bread, I would puke, and then we would eat some shaved ice by the side of the road and look at goats and chickens and cats, cats, cats that stalked the outskirts of the trees.

The road was long and made longer by very slow speeds and frequent stops to marvel, and/or empty the contents of my stomach. When we had ventured about 30 miles or so toward Hana, I begged, most earnestly, to turn around, knowing that every mile traveled, every hairpin turn meant having to retrace the same turn on the way back. Mercifully, my husband obeyed, and we headed back to our hotel with the same frequent stops and bouts of carsickness, until we returned to find the sun still cruelly shining above, to apply aloe to our sunburns and drink something cold in a dark room.

We may not have made it all the way to Hana, but we made it most of the way, and avoided further skin damage, even if it was at the price of a steady stomach. The trip may not have been what we envisioned, but even with red skin and vomit, it was beautiful.

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