Personal note: I've been bouncing around and VERY slow at uploading these Hawaii posts, but there is at least one more ready to go. Expect them to slowly trickle online as time permits.
Whenever I travel to a new place, I try my best to have as few expectations as possible.
But because the act of getting there itself is often some combination of stressful, tiring, long, and/or expensive, and because it takes some time for me to find my bearings and adjust to my surroundings, there's usually a bit of mental and emotional gymnastics involved.
Case in point, Hana.
At first glance, Hana hardly registers as a town at all. It's the largest settlement for miles, but it has no sidewalks and no traffic lights. It's a place that tourists pass through more than they stick around. The tranquil silence of the early morning and evening are broken by a steady stream of traffic as tourists visit during the daytime hours, leaving to avoid being caught in the dark on the Hana Highway.
If you spend more time here, the town both more and less than what everyone expects. It's cloudy, and subject to bursts of quite frequent rain. Its beaches are small, rocky, and filled with rough surf -- not the best place for a beach holiday, but starkly beautiful in their own way. Its restaurants are almost entirely food trucks -- I think there's maybe one sit down restaurant in the whole town (which boasts two churches, a bank, post office, and general store.)
It's a town whose most highly-acclaimed barbeque shops are only open on opposite days of the week. If you want both Huli Huli Chicken and a visit to the nearby National Botanical Garden, you'll have to stick around for a day or two -- and in doing so, acclimatize yourself to the slower pace of life.
A town where high school graduation is marked with parades of cars, fireworks, and honking.
Some things are the same as anywhere else. The local post office has the same matte boxes, the same glum faces of surly postal workers, and even the same scant hours as others that I recall.
I decided to spend a little over a week in Hana, because I was looking for a quiet spot where I could do some remote work, where I could be close to nature, and which would be less crowded than other towns in Hawaii if the pandemic worsened. In all these respects, Hana delivered.
Moreso than in other tourist destinations of Maui, it's possible to have a beach to yourself, to feel a bit separate from the crowds, and to acclimate yourself towards a special sort of tranquility.
My favorite moments were cooking on the porch or grabbing a bite at an eatery in town, chilling on a beach at the end of the day, when the crowds thinned out, and getting the lay of the land through a walk up to Fagan's Cross.
Or, hell, even moongazing.
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