Reading the signs
by Janice Nigro
I don’t know what it means when you run into someone that you haven’t seen in 20 years in a place where neither of you ever are. Or when you hear the voice of a person in a big city museum that belongs to a cousin living two states away from you. Or when you and four of your best friends serendipitously meet on a crowded street in Roma. Ok, in the last instance, it means that you all really have an intense craving for some of the best gelato on the planet, but on the same day/hour/minute from three different countries?
There are more reliable methods to meet up with family and friends (well perhaps). Such as actually planning a real holiday together. A few good habits did develop from my experience overseas that I keep with me. One sort of rule that I had was to meet friends and family when they traveled to Europe (or potentially elsewhere) rather than fly home for special events or holidays. It meant that I had a few Christmases a long way from home, but once you have done it, you wonder why you did not do it sooner.
Sometimes I get hung up though and forget this good habit. I recently was considering a trip to Maui. I am freelancing currently (i.e., no steady salary), and I have had 1.5 years of sort of non-stop travel, including a recent trip to Europe. I humored myself anyway and investigated the cost and availability. The trouble with the trip was that it would be to meet my very best friend and her family.
So at the back of your mind, you think these opportunities are rare. And I have time because I am working on my own and from the Internet. Ironically, you only have time when you are not making so much money, and when you are making money you have no time.
Availability was disappearing at a rapid rate, as the rational side of my brain weighed out the reality of my situation, and of course prices went up. I finally clicked the purchase button when a family member emphasized the uniqueness of the occasion. And maybe more importantly a surprise source of funding arrived in the mail that at the moment was like cracking open a fortune cookie with the message “trip to Maui in your future.”
It is amazing how many hours I spent thinking about whether to go to Maui or not, because in the end it is pretty easy to get there-one nonstop flight from LAX to OGG and only 5.5 hours. It took me no time to pack even though I took my underwater camera and diving gear for what I was pretty sure would be a single day of diving. To make it a little tough, I had an early flight which was coincident with daylight savings.
There was nothing but clouds all the way over to Maui and continuous turbulence. But alas, that magic moment, after 5.5 hours over the Pacific Ocean, an opening through the clouds, green, hopeful search for whales, and a landing. The airport did not seem so busy considering the serious lack of hotel, Airbnb, and VRBO options available.
It was whale season and spring break. Humpback whales travel from Alaska to give birth, court, breed, and perhaps just play in Maui. Before you arrive, you wonder exactly what you will have to do to have a whale encounter, but the reality is not so much. All you need to do, is go out and take a look. At first you will see plumes of water vapor (spouting), like you are imagining something, but then you see a tail or a long sleek body attached to it and realize it is real and it is a whale. With a little more effort, if you stick your head underwater for a moment, you will hear them singing.
The whales almost seem to be outdoing each other as if they are showing off just for us humans, or who knows. A lot of surface behavior is thought perhaps to be a way to communicate. I am not sure if it is happiness or the “I am in love” type of feeling or just stay away from me today. Regardless, it is spectacular behavior to watch that you can see from any beach or hotel balcony while sipping a beer or drinking coffee.
It means there are no stress free moments at the beach. Your eyes are constantly on the look out for any sign of a whale. In sort of a competitive way. Even into the sunset it still remains possible to see shadows against the setting sun of the massive animals propelling themselves into the air. We can only speculate what might be happening in the night-perhaps a taunting display of wildly breaching animals when the humans can no longer see.
One of the pluses of traveling with others is that someone else is making the decision on what to do some of the time. We watched the young men dive from Black Rock at sunset, took a hike, and had a meal at a local restaurant. Very local. An Internet search yielded a small sushi restaurant hidden in a strip mall called Miso Phat. Only a few customers could be seated, but the proprietors kindly moved us around so that we could all fit as more arrived. And yes, Miso Phat was a cheeky play on words used even in the naming of the sushi rolls-Miso 007, Miso Pretty…
There was also my day of diving and a snorkeling cruise on the Trilogy out to Molokini hours before my red eye return to LAX. A snorkeling cruise is never uneventful, but this one was special as we watched a mother and her calf breaching not so far from us. It is hard to imagine how such a big animal even though it is still a baby would get tired, but it does, and so afterwards the mother defined her territory so that her calf could come up for air and catch its breath.
I took a new toy with me, a wide-angle lens for my underwater set-up. I would not exactly say that I was successful with the photos, but I sure had fun trying. And while I was trying, we saw a couple of white tip reef sharks, a turtle, and a lot of other reef fish-puffers and Moorish idols-and a couple of eels in some kind of eel tete a tete perhaps romantic, perhaps not. At the end, I was the last in the water, diving down to see a unique starfish until I was called up to the boat.
It rained a lot which made the snorkeling tour a good choice on this day. It was a bit chilly, and when I got back I only had a few more hours on the island. I drove to Makena Beach, one of my favorite beaches in the world-golden sand and creamy green water-which I more or less had to myself (you can be away from the crowds). I wrote some postcards and glimpsed a few more whales breaching in the distance near Molokini.
It is the USA I have to remind myself at Makena, as Maui-it seems trapped in another dimension-like in a place where there are no problems.
Sometimes not being full time employed has its advantages…
©2015 Janice Marie Nigro/janikiInk.com