With living abroad for a long period of time you get a different perspective on life, family, culture, attitudes, language, scenery and all the little details that only you and you only can understand and describe.
It had been some time since my visit back to the United States, over two years to be precise and with that time that passes, so does your opinion and memory. Those were the two biggest realizations once returning home.
Your old opinion has soured into a new more well-rounded assessment of the things and people around you. I found it a humbling experience but left my memory perplexed at how so much has changed in what seemed like a short period of time (2+ years).
Those adventures, those friends, that vacation, that restaurant, even the weather changed while you were gone. Yet you find none of those things matter, it is just you self-evaluating your experiences over the last few years and how they relate to you at that moment.
This all sounds too familiar for people who have spent a considerable amount of time away from home out of their element. I suppose the proper term to describe these feelings are Reverse Culture Shock or at least how I understood the concept but could imagine it is different for everyone.
This idea of reverse culture shock was a very real and new experience for me and I was lucky enough to be able to understand it in one of the most beautiful places in the world:
So much was different, even the language and one of my favorite parts, everyone owned a Toyota Tacoma!
When we arrived at the airport, we were greeted with a Hawaiian Lei. A symbol of affection when arriving or leaving from the Hawaiian islands. (Dont worry the US Airforce did not jet us over here from Spain)
The different of scenery from North to South, to East to West are all very different on Maui. Where we were staying was on the dry side of the island compared on the other side of the mountain is considered a rain forest and rains just about every single day.
From sea to summit, Maui offers a wide variety of activities on both the ocean side of things and mountainside. In the morning, you can be on top of a 10,000 ft peak and in the afternoon be laying on the beach.
About to dive into Haleakalā Crater
And then into the ocean for sunset.
Road to Hana
The Highway to Hāna is 54 mile road from Kahalui the capital of Maui to the small town of Hāna. Over the course of the drive, you pass over 59 bridges of which 46 are single-laned. These single landed bridges turned into an interesting game of chicken when it comes to the slow-paced tourists in their Chevrolet Camaros, Ford Mustangs, and Jeep Wranglers comparing to the locals who drive it every day everyday and know every corner like the back of your hand. Without any stops, we were told it can take easily 3+ hours. But for us took all day and then some… You will see why.
We did not understand the concept of rainforest, nor did our gracious host that sent us off on our way check the weather.
The weather looks great today! It shouldn’t rain one bit!Dad
But like any storm, the weather started to clear early afternoon and we started to dry out our clothes and enjoyed this tropical place called Hāna.
Waianapanapa State Park
As we were approaching Hāna, we saw a sign for a state park and quickly dived off the highway in search of another mini adventure. This one turned out to be very promising and eventful.
Dumpster diving Farret
Black Sand Beach
Lost and Forgotten Fresh Water Cave
We arrived in Hana right before sunset. We checked into our little swanky place for the night: Joe’s Place (highly recommended if you are ballin on a budget). Proceeded to drop our bags in our room and headed off to catch the sunset. I found a hiking trail on my map app which was right down the road from Joe’s. It was a long day of non-stop adventure, but we squeezed out the last bit of energy to enjoy one of the best sunsets during our trip.
Hana: The Land of Waterfalls and low lying clouds
The next morning we awoke to refreshing clear blue skies after multiple downpours throughout the night. Made a nice American breakfast in Joe’s community kitchen of eggs and bacon to prepare us for the day ahead. Followed by multiple cups of delicious coffee thanks to Joe himself! We even had time to pack some sandwiches for the cooler. We continued down the road past Hana to see what else the East side of the island of Maui had to offer before we turned around and fought the tourist road warriors. It was just as amazing as the day before.
Lava Tube Spelunking
If you are going to visit Maui, I highly suggest getting a guidebook. We would have missed out so many small details and experiences if it wasn’t for the guidebook. This lava tube cave right off the highway to Hana was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. It is hard to find, but if you proficient with navigation, you will have no issue finding it. Happy Spelunking!
Haleakala National Park
When you go to Hawaii, you think of beaches, surfing, Mai Tai’s, turtles, flip-flops and board shorts. Well, I suppose that’s what I think about. Regardless, my point is you don’t think about bringing jackets and warm clothes. From traveling from mild winters of Spain to tropical Hawaii and then to wet and cold Oregon, we had to pack for it all. So when we arrived at the top of the peak of Haleakala and found everyone in their shorts, sandals and tank tops in 40 mph winds and 40 Fº, we were glad we had warm boots, pants, and jackets on. Here are a few photos of our adventure from the bottom to the top of Haleakala National Park. P.S. If you have a National Parks pass, bring it, it will save you $25.
The north of Maui also has its fair share of surprises and own independent beauty from the southern part of the island. Every little detail just compounded and cemented my love for this like slice of island paradise. The people, the culture, the lifestyle and chill atmosphere was a recurring theme throughout our stay in Maui Hawaii. Yes, it is extremely expensive and yes, I highly recommend having a Costco card for gas and food. But I can see why so many people retire and or move here from the mainland. Island time is the best time!
It was definitely a trip of a lifetime and a great way to start the 2018 year. A non-stop action-packed trip to Maui Hawaii, we hope we can be back sooner than later. Until then, I am full speed ahead on the work aspect of life in preparation for hopefully another trip sometime this summer. Stay tuned and hope you enjoyed Maria and my journey to Hawaii and our short love story of this special little paradise.