Thursday, July 24, 2014

Coconut Woman

I hit the snooze button on Mr. Rooster this morning.  Do not fear, animal lovers; no birds were injured during this wake up call!  Our rooster quietly called out two half –hearted cock-a-doodle-doos at about 4:30 and it was still very dark out.  Knowing the first thing I wanted to do this morning was go for a run and also knowing I needed a little daylight to run in an area that is relatively new for me, I rolled over and went back to sleep. Luckily Mr. Rooster trumpeted a more enthusiastic call around 6:00 am and I hopped out of bed eager to go.  The Mynah Bird had to give a few obnoxious shrieks to get Greg out of bed, but we both managed to be stretched and out the door by 6:30.  We ran a mile up to Kahana, paused to explore the grounds at the Sands of Kahana, where Greg had stayed previously with his family, then jogged back to our room. 

Running in Maui, even before 7am, is a guaranteed recipe for sweat.  We both returned to the condo dripping.  Greg threw on his trunks and took a dunk in the ocean while I rinsed off in the shower. He was able to observe that the tropical storm seemed to have subsided.  The water was as smooth as we had seen it during our stay.  We decided today was the day to test out the snorkeling in front of the condo.  Greg and I split an apple banana, just so we weren’t venturing out completely out of fuel.  (We have found two varieties of bananas at the fruit stands, apple bananas which are shorter and chubbier than the ones we are used to at home.  The flavor is similar but a bit more complex and fruity and the texture is a bit denser.  I don’t get an apple vibe from them at all, but they are mighty tasty.  The other variety is called a honey banana and that is synonymous with regular banana.  We haven’t tried those yet).  Anyhow, stomachs somewhat settled, we slapped on the sunscreen and grabbed our snorkeling gear and headed for the beach.  We walked a few steps down the beach to where we saw a more sandy entry point in front of the condo to the south
of us, the Nohonani.  After the initially shocking dunk, the water seemed cool but not cold.  By the time we had our flippers and masks in place, the water temp was comfortable.  We negotiated our way out past the first set of rocks, hovered above a sandy expanse and found our first reef; Unicorn Fish, Parrot Fish, Sea Urchins, Brain Coral, plenty to look at.  The wind picked up a bit and the water started to get a bit choppy, so we decided to swim back before we got tired or the waves got too large.  Also, being that it was our first real sun exposure on the island, we wanted to keep this swim relatively brief.  As we headed back we found another reef; Trigger Fish, Butterfly Fish, Wrasses, Trumpet Fish and schools of Tangs. It was here we spotted our first honu while in the water.  He was a little guy about half of the size of the larger ones we’ve been seeing from the shore.  He swam with us for a few minutes then disappeared under a coral formation. 

Back in the room we cleaned up a bit and decided after our early morning jog and swim, we had earned a trip to the farmer’s market to gather some breakfast treats.  This time we got some banana bread to go with the lilikoi cream cheese and gave into the temptation of having a vendor cut a fresh coconut for us.  He gave us the coconut with two straws and said to bring it back when we were done drinking.  Obviously this was the freshest, purest coconut water we had ever tried.  When we passed him back the liquid-less shell, he chopped it in two with his machete, then lopped of a couple of hunks of shell for each of us to use as a spoon to scrape the flesh from the half shell.  Greg and I happily carved up our coconuts, devouring the sashimi like flesh, as we walked back to the condo.  When I was little I remember eating a raw coconut and thinking it tasted like chewy mayonnaise, EW!  I can’t believe how different this fresh meat was.  I am becoming such a coconut fan! We took our coffee, banana bread and coconut meat out on the lanai and reflected that it wasn’t even 10 o’clock but we had already had a full day! 

At about 11:30 the uke store called and let Greg know that his ukulele was ready to be picked up! As we drove into Wailuku, we saw a sign for eggs.  We hadn’t found any eggs at our health food store or street market and we are used to getting very fresh pastured eggs from our farmer’s market at home.  We pulled up to the gate of this borderlands house and found the business license and health department documents posted.  We followed the directions and rang the large bell outside the gate. First a large friendly German Shepard came running to greet us closely followed by his farmer friend, who warmly welcomed us and sold us two dozen eggs, very fresh and enough to last us through the next several weeks.  We snuggled them into the cooler and headed into town. We grabbed another sandwich to share from our favorite bakery, Stillwell’s.  This time Greg couldn’t resist ordering a slice of their daily pie special, a chocolate silk slice, lucky us!  Greg played his beautiful new ukulele through the amplifier at the shop. It sounded amazing!  While in town, we decided to visit the record store to grab some local Reggae CDs for the drive home. 

We decided we would drive back along the north shore giving us a chance to see another part of the island on the way home!  I adore this drive.  Yes there are some one lane challenges (thanks for driving carefully and patiently, Greg!) much like in Hana, but the open view of the ocean and the towering green mountains and foliage above make it so worthwhile.  Sometimes you just have to say, “Is this real?”  It seems like a beautiful dream. We stopped at mountain top farm stand, a stop we had made years ago and found very charming.  We spoke with the owner about his products and received free samples of everything; very moist banana bread, coconut candy, dried mango, and coconut cashews.  We opted to get some coconut candy and dried mango for the road (Yes more coconut, is it possible I’m becoming addicted?)  After we made a purchase, our host invited us to choose one fruit for free, I was drawn to the passion fruit, I hadn’t had one yet today.  He pointed out a purple passion fruit, which he claimed we wouldn’t find at stands on other parts of the island, it only grows on the mountain.

Back on the west side, we decided to celebrate the events of the ukulele joining our family and surviving yet another set of narrow winding roads.  Maui Brewing Company welcomed us for a Coconut Porter (It is official, I have consumed illegal amounts of coconut today!) and a sampler of their many tasty beers.  Later in the condo, Greg played his ukulele and we visited with neighbors over the sunset.  We capped the evening with a vegetarian meal. I know with all the fresh fish available we’ll be indulging much more often than we usually do at home, so I’m aiming to give us at least one veggie meal per week.  This week it was organic Fusili pasta with a macadamia nut pesto and sautéed mushrooms.  For dessert I’ll probably have another piece of coconut candy, I’m not going to lie, I have a serious problem!

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