It’s Whale Season!

It’s whale season here and I promised you all some photos. Mike took these while Captaining the “Scotch Mist” out of Lahaina Harbor. Come visit Maui and enjoy these magnificent creatures. Aloha!

A Blow


A Pec Slap

A Breach

High-Heel Blowout (A Maui Valentine’s Day Story)

If you move to Maui and try to bring your mainland lifestyle with you, you are in for a rude surprise. Nothing translates the same in Maui: not your job, not the money you’re used to making. Not your level of cleanliness—whether personal (three showers a day are the norm in Maui) or in your living space — wind, red dirt off the fields, and the persistent mold will see to that.

And then there are the other unexpected things, like your underwear rotting out in the blink of an eye, and the High-Heel Blowout. On Valentine’s Day, this year, for me.

You see, things rot here. Don’t ask me why. I grew up in the Midwest where the humidity could suck the life out of you in the summer, and we never had this problem. All I can think is that the ten feet of snow in the winter there kills off the mold so it never gains a permanent foothold.

Not so in Maui.

My friend Rita was a former New York model who moved to Maui with a whole cache of expensive La Perla underwear. One day she took what should have been a teeny, tiny pair of bikinis out of her drawer, and to her horror, found that when she held them up, they were about a foot wide. The elastic had rotted and stretched them out enough to fit a football player with the UH Rainbow Warriors.

All my underwear did the same thing, the difference was, mine hadn’t cost a hundred dollars apiece. Still, you get attached, and I was, and I mourned that underwear, especially when I realized I couldn’t even replace it on Maui. I had to fly to the Mainland to get new underwear! (Actually I went to visit Mom, but believe me, I stocked up on my favorite brand of underwear.) And don’t even get me started on how long an $80.00 swimsuit will last here, which is about two minutes longer than the underwear. You don’t even have to take it out of your drawer, or ever get in the water. It just magically disintegrates, right there in your dresser drawer.

So all of you guys out there…do you like shiny things, like cars? Expensive toys? Electronics, photography equipment? Better lock it all in a vault, and kiss that shiny car goodbye, because the red dirt in Maui will own you. Between that and the humidity, you can spend the rest of your life trying to protect things from damage and keep things clean. First piece of advice I got in Maui?  “You will spend your life cleaning.”

Ha! I’m gonna spend my life at the beach, sister.

Right. That worked out well. Tourists who visit Maui have no idea, because they check into a hotel room that has been cleaned by a professional Maui hotel housekeeper, whose main objective in life is to make you believe that red dirt does not exist, so you will bring your tourist dollars right back here next year. So she shines and sweeps and wipes down every inch of the lanai furniture so you can sit out there in your nice white shorts. There’s a reason why you don’t see white shorts on locals.

Red dirt+wind+humidity=mold. Commit this to memory.

So where was I? Oh, right: Valentine’s Day. I pulled out my red high heels to wear to the restaurant. Haven’t had them on in a year, of course. Slipped them on, took two steps from the closet and almost fell flat on my face. The straps had started the rotting process and had stretched out so much they wouldn’t stay on my feet. This is not the first time this has happened. There was the unfortunate Upcountry farmer’s market incident with a pair of clogs, where I was just walking along minding my own business and my entire shoe collapsed like a mini atomic mushroom cloud. I had no other shoes with me. Now, I’m wiser, I’m a local, and there’s always a spare pair in the car.

The next incident was rather more embarrassing and significantly more important. I was at the Maui Writer’s Conference (I’m a writer other than this blog–we’ll talk more about that another time) and it was my turn to get up in front of an auditorium full of people and give my presentation. I got out of my seat, made my way up front, and… Pow! Blowout. My cute little kitten-heel black sandals had chosen this moment to succumb to the Maui humidity curse. I stumbled, my ankle twisted, I turned all shades of red. After I’d righted myself, I galumped up to the podium, one shoe on and one shoe off, pretending that nothing had happened. Because everyone in that audience was from the Mainland, and who would believe that my heel had just rotted off, simply from living in Paradise?

It’s just a darned good thing my underwear didn’t choose to give out at the exact same moment.

Aloha till next time, and hope you had a Happy Valentine’s Day.

P.S. These were NOT my black kitten heels, but they’re cute, don’t you think?

Copyright Jamaica Michaels, 2012. All rights reserved. May not be reblogged or reprinted without express written permission of the author.

Whales and Chocolates for Valentine’s Day

When I started this blog, my intention was to write and post every day, thus the name “Maui Daily Escape.”

But we all know what the road to hell is paved with, and my particular road got paved over when I got The Call. The one no one wants to get, saying their parent is dying of cancer. So I got on a plane for the Mainland and I have been gone five months. I just got back, and I have been considering the things I missed about Maui during five long months, and also the differences between California and here.

First, there’s the sticker shock. I had to go to the grocery store as soon as I got off the plane and I just stood there in the aisle alongside the tourists, muttering.

“Seven dollars for orange juice? Four dollars for a loaf of bread?” Get real!”  I got spoiled on the Mainland in five months’ time, being able to bop into Trader Joe’s and fill my cart with all sorts of enticing, healthy things for very little cashola. (BTW: if you get any group of women together in a room who have moved to Maui, and ask them what they miss the absolute most about the Mainland, the answer, with a moony look in their eyes, is always the same: Trader Joe’s and Target.) Those ladies will lust after their favorite Trader Joe’s food item the way a teenage boy lusts after Jessica Simpson’s assets.  For me, it’s those thin, little cheaper-than-dirt rice crackers. I crave them every day  at lunchtime. Same type of crackers on Maui? About six bucks.

    For those of you who live on another planet, Trader Joe’s is this cool, inexpensive food store that’s kinda gourmet and kinda hipster at the same time. There are NONE in Hawaii. And to think they have the nerve at Joe’s to have their employees wear those Hawaiian shirts! If you go to their website, here’s what they say about that:

QUESTION: “Why do you guys wear those Hawaiian shirts?”

ANSWER: Fun or fashion faux pas? It may not be runway model attire, but our Crew is unafraid to make a bold fashion statement. We wear Hawaiian shirts because we’re traders on the culinary seas, searching the world over for cool items to bring home to our customers. And when we return home, we think grocery shopping should be fun, not another chore. So just relax and leave your worries at the door. We’ll sail those seven seas, you have some fun with our finds at your neighborhood Trader Joe’s.

And Trader Joe’s will be coming to Hawaii about as soon as Costco puts in a “ten items or less” checkout aisle. People would flip out at what Joe’s would have to charge in Hawaii because of the shipping to get it all here. And Costco? My Stepdad was in a hospital bed next to a Costco Big Wig. So he asked him, “When are you guys gonna put one of those fast lanes in?” His answer: When hell freezes over (and the Eagles stop touring to squeeze every last dollar out of their Baby boomer audience.) The reason is that they WANT you to have to stand in line, “so you’ll buy more, to make standing in line worth it.” He actually said that, and also that it’s the number one requested thing in the “Suggestions” box. Ain’t gonna happen, folks, so just stop asking.

So, here was the minus side to coming back to Maui:

Grocery sticker shock. And gasoline sticker shock!!

My house and yard looked like one of those houses in a scary movie where the new tenants move in and you just KNOW bad things are going to happen. All that was missing were the giant cobwebs to tangle up the heroine and make her scream. But the yard became a jungle (even with someone keeping it up a little) and the house was filthy. There isn’t a window made that can keep out the Maui red dirt. (We have Andersen double panes. The dirt still stacks up in neat little heaps on the windowsills of the closed windows.)

And here was the down side to California:

The grey winter skies. I was just jonesing for the sunshine and warmth.

The crowds of people. And traffic!!

The godawful bridge tolls. It’s enough to make you not want to go anywhere. $5.00 a pop! Really?

The upside? All the restaurants my little heart could desire.

And Napa Valley. I’ll say it again. Napa Valley!

The sheer number of choices: Restaurants. Stores. Shoes. Experiences.

But here’s the thing that hit me, once I was back. Maui: it’s like no other place.

Mike came home from work (he Captains the “Scotch Mist”, a sail boat out of Lahaina) and told me this story: he was working the evening sail full of tourists, the “Champagne and Chocolates” sail.  It’s whale season here (December through March) and a mama whale came right up to the back of the boat. Mike has been on the water his whole life, and a Captain for 22 years. He said she was the biggest whale he’d ever seen, mainly because of her girth. She was about fifty feet long and twelve feet wide. He was blown away by her sheer size and figured she must be reeally old.

As the whole boat full of tourists looked on, the mama surfaced with her baby balanced on her nose. Almost like she’d been paid to put on the show. Mike could have leaned over and given her a kiss, she was so close. As everyone ooohed and ahhhed, the mama whale moved to the side of the boat and she and the baby just hung out for about fifteen minutes.

I think maybe she was waiting for someone to offer her a glass of champagne.

“You got pictures, right?” I prompted hopefully. “Lots of pictures?” And the reason there are no photos posted here of this event is because just like anything else in life, Mike takes the whales a bit for granted now. Only the tourists have cameras. It’s old hat for him.

Trust me, the camera batteries are charging as we speak. In the meantime, I will leave you with a photo my niece Laura took when she last visited Maui.(Photo credit: Laura Langendorfer Schuster)

Aloha till next time! Wishing you champagne whale kisses and chocolate caviar dreams.

Copyright Jamaica Michaels, 2012. All rights reserved. May not be reblogged or reprinted without express written permission of the author.