my last day on the island, i rented a car and drove the famous “road to hana” to visit my friend kara. kara grew up in the remote, tiny, outlandishly lush and gorgeous town of hana, and told me if i made the trek along the narrow, windy road, she would bring me on some adventures. yes, please.
the 24 hours i spent driving to hana and back and playing with kara made for honestly one of the best days i can remember. it was almost too beautiful to be real or mortal.
i listened to hawaiian flavored versions of christmas songs as i drove through the rainforest. twangy ukulele soundtracked my cruise along cliffs and over bridges and past waterfalls and through dense green. i stopped when i felt like it, hiked along random paths, grabbed some shave ice, let the views fill me up. the clouds moved with me, just a few minutes ahead of me, and it only rained for about 2 minutes total. i was outside during one downpour and i stretched my arms out and let the warm water pelt me. thanks to the week of rain, waterfalls were streaming down the mountains, and everything looked so moist and clean and … man, it was gorgeous.
when i drove into the town of hana, slowly, looking for kara’s house, i heard her familiar voice holler “charity!” and i had arrived! if you met kara, you would be instantly blown away by how genuinely cool she is. she is both exotic, interesting cool and just-truly-a-beautiful-human cool. she’s a filmmaker and a musician, a traveler and a real individual. she has the warmest heart and goodness in all of her veins, goodness you can truly feel when you are with her. really really. she’s a goddess.
as soon as we said hi and hugged, kara said, “let’s go swimming! let’s go hiking! let’s go!” and we were off. our adventures were risky for a non-waterproff camera, so i left mine in the car and kara brought her little one in its waterproof case. then we left it in the car after our first little hike. whoopsie. these two pictures are all i have from our absolutely magically, unrealishly beautiful afternoon:
cameraless, i worked so hard to imprint the sights and experiences of the day on my mind and heart, and because of that, i don’t think i will ever forget that december 14. it was just one of those days full of those moments that completely stun you and you feel so full with goodness and beauty that you’re fit to burst. we hiked along the coast on a path of black lava cliffs and green, green vegetation, which stung my eyes against the blue, blue sea. the clouds rolled, the waves crashed and gurgled, kara told me ancient hawaiian legends and historical facts, and i couldn’t stop sighing at the sensations of it all.
it started raining as we hiked back to the black sand beach, and we walked down a path to some caves filled with crystal clear water and dove in. kara brought candles in a mason jar and we lit them in a corner of the caves and let them float in the water. the rain pinged on the exposed part of the water. we held the candles as we swam back in the caverns, and kara told me about the myth of the princess who hid there. we climbed up through the caves to an opening that put us back on the path, picked ginger flowers, and prowled through the rainforest back to the car.
it rained hard for about three minutes as we drove to another beach, and then stopped just as we got out of the car. we walked along the beach, then over some rocks to another secluded beach, and the waves roared. the sun was setting behind us. the light was otherworldly. the beauty made the air so thick that it seemed like gel we were wading through. we walked along a meadow, the powerful sea on one side and the majestic, misty mountains on the other, the clouds above us golden and the sun behind us making the world glow. we came across a waterfall that had appeared with the rain, one kara had never seen before. oh my goodness, it was all magic. it was unreal.
as we walked back along the meadow, and picked up coral, and cracked open nuts that had fallen from a big wide tree, and the wind blew our hair, i etched that scene onto my memory. it reminded me of a passage in my favourite book, a tree grows in brooklyn: francie stood on tiptoe and stretched her arms wide. 'oh, i want to hold it all!' she cried. 'i want to hold the way the night is … i want to hold all of it tight until it hollers out, "let me go! let me go!"' i literally scooped my arms around that hawaiian evening that surrounded me and tried this: she decided to fix this time in her life exactly the way it was this instant. perhaps that way she could hold on to it as a living thing and not have it become something called a memory. there is a living thing in me now, that slice of time: the surging waves, the luscious clouds, kara’s freckled face, the sponginess of the grass, the energy of the earth rumbling under my feet.
we ate traditional laulaus, went to the town’s christmas celebration at the school, and that night i fell asleep to kara playing the guitar and singing (one of the best, sweetest, most wonderful sounds in the world) and rain pattering on the roof.
as i drove away from hana early in the morning, and the sun rose, and things were golden again, my heart literally hurt because it was so devastatingly beautiful. no picture or words can do. i feel like all this description is so overly “dripping with passion,” but i promise it’s so real, not just drama. the earth and mortal life can be and is that devastatingly beautiful – in fact, i think those moments are the realest of all living.
i stopped for a couple minutes at a beach lookout before i went to the airport to fly back to the mainland. i let the sun seep through my clothes and warm my back, watched the surfers, sucked maui into my pores, and then headed home, completely, completely full.