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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, July 15, 2024


My wife and I started visiting islands in 1959 when she flew to visit her parents in Ponce and I spent a wonderful 15 hours rum-shacking my way across the island from San Juan in a publico with three most compatible puerto ricans. Ole!
Having been spurred on by Capt. Fatty Goodlander with his quest of the Pacific, we decided to visit the Hawaiian islands of Maui, Hawaii and Oahu, and the American Samoan islands of Tutuila, Ofu, Olosega, and Ta'u.
Following Hurricane Hugo's destruction, several Virgin Islands residents relocated to Maui, Hawaii. One may question the tradeoff from hurricane alley with potential for earthquake to hurricane/typhoon target with potential for lava flow. But then, Maui is far larger and the infrastructure is far superior.
Golf courses abound, the roads are first class, water and sewer service is almost universal, and the supermarkets are filled with delicacies too numerous to mention.
Our one and only visit to a supermarket netted raw octopus salad, pickled crabs, Portuguese sausages (one hot and one mild), Hawaiian crackers with macadamia nuts, mixed seafood salad, and field-ripened pineapple. I pigged out for two days on 20-some dollars of exotic foods. Yes!
For shopping we visited Costco. You could put the entire Tutu Mall inside Maui's Costco. You name it: clothing food, furniture and flowers. Get tired and you can take a break for a pizza, barbecue chicken or other meal; then get back to shopping.
Our big event was a trip around Haleakala, the big volcano to the east. We had done the western volcano on a previous trip hiking into the rainforest lush with guava and coffee, but were turned back from Haleakala due to inclement weather.
The road around Haleakala is a study of environments. We began out drive at Kula, on the western slope; famous for its Hawaiian cowboys.
An interesting feature along the road is the Chinese cemetery. This unique collection of grave markers and memorials commemorate the Chinese brought to Hawaii to work cutting cane.
Next was the "best winery in Hawaii" – the only one. Actually the wine is quite good, especially after a bicycle ride or hike across the mountain. It is in a wonderful grove of trees sheltering the historical ranch complex, which has become the winery.
The western half of the south road is a patchwork of asphalt, which makes Virgin Islands' roads appear acceptable. Here and there are scattered homesteads-parcels of almost raw lava given to Hawaiians. While electricity is possible, water is but a dream and must be hauled in. Rainfall is far too sparse to support a family, and what vegetation there is must exist off the moisture in the air.
After miles of desolation, there is the beginning of vegetation and scrub cattle lands. There is also one of the few sites of Polynesian pictographs. Unfortunately, the Polynesians did their drawing with soft gray and red clay which left few artifacts. The characters our Sierra Club volunteer guide and old Virgin Island friend shared with us were primarily man- and fish-oriented.
The closer we got to the east end of the crater, the more lush the landscape. Apparently the mountain rising out of the sea creates the conditions for rain. The rain lasts for ten to fifteen miles getting blown toward to the north. This results in a lush east end and north shore.
We stopped for awhile at Kipahulu to visit Charles Lindbergh's grave. "Lucky Lindy," the great Swedish-American aviator, was the first to fly the Atlantic and continued to pioneer aviation until his death. He is buried in a most unassuming grave in an isolated graveyard overlooking the Pacific (considering Lindy's shy determination, it is most fitting his remains enjoy serene rest).
On the crater wall above Lindbergh's grave, we spotted seven most active waterfalls. Each one had water flying into space and disappearing into gorges far below. Driving along the road, we passed over one river after another boiling toward the sea.
Just south of Hana, we stopped for a beach picnic at Hamoa. It seemed only fitting to sample the beauty of the sea sitting under coconut palms next to surf breaking over a coral reef.
Turning west along the north shore, we passed the homes of numerous celebrities. We have seen Kris Kristoferson riding his bicycle and sat behind Michael Jordan at a local basketball game. George Harrison of Beatles fame also has a home on the north shore to Hana.
Near Kalahu we visited the botanical gardens, then walked along the rocky waterfront to the 'blue pond." Here water falls about a hundred feet through flowers and fern into a fifty-foot diameter fond. The fall through the air into a pool perpetually shadowed by the cliffs yields water many degrees colder than the ocean and down right frigid in relation to the air. To take a dip is to cool off with a vengeance. Walking back to the car, we realized the base of the cliffs was fringed with lush watercress growing in the fresh, cool water.
The north shore road from Hana to Kahului is supposed to have some fifty streams and bridges. We didn't get to count them, but would attest to hundreds of narrow and sharp curves in the road.
At the end of a short side trip down the Keanae peninsula, we viewed the remains of the cattle loading station. Due to the rough shoreline, rocky cliffs and turbulent waters; transporting cattle off island was a real challenge. Boats had to stand off shore and were connected to land by a web of ropes. The cattle were driven off a low cliff into the water where they were herded between the ropes to the boat and winched on board.
The Mokulele valley between Haleakala crater to the east and Kepaniwai to the west is a mixture of sugar cane fields and pineapple fields. I have been told the cane business is heavily subsidized to keep it operating and many residents would just as soon see it stop. Burning cane fields and smoke bellowing rendering plants are Maui's number one air polluter. On the other hand, it is hard to find any thing sweeter than a field ripened pineapple.
Maui has something for everyone. Five-star hotels and championship golf courses; hiking in rainforest, giant tree forest, and barren lava flows; swimming, surfboarding, diving and all those other water sports; bicycling galore; and excellent food with reasonable prices. No wonder so many Virgin Islands residents have relocated.

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