If you're staying in Hana, and looking for something to do in the afternoon, say if you're working remotely and don't want to travel far, then I highly recommend a walk up to Fagan's Cross.
I enjoyed my walk up there, but that's not really what this post is about, now is it?
There's a great tradition of "the tourist attraction that gives the tourist a nice view of the place they're staying." I'm pretty sure that's the entire (real) appeal of Empire State Buildings and their ilk, quaint European belltowers and clocktowers, and trails to nearby peaks. The trail to Fagan's Cross falls into the third subcategory. Park near the Hana Hotel, and you'll find your way up.
The cross itself is a memorial to one Paul Fagan, apparently the person who started the hotel and cattle businesses up in Hana. It was constructed in 1960.
The there walk isn't too strenuous. It's sunny and uphill, well-paved and easily navigable. It's a pleasant stroll through ranchlands, past local plantlife and birdlife.
I was alone.
Alone in Hana.
Avoiding other people, trying to avoid COVID-19 (though I had just recently been vaccinated.)
When I reached the end of the trail, I was no longer alone.
There was a young woman sitting on the ledge, drawing. It would have been weird for me to meander around, very directly next to her, and take pictures without saying anything, so I said "hi." We had a brief conversation, and I felt extremely rusty.
Living in eastern Pennsylvania, staying with my parents, I couldn't remember having a conversation with a stranger since the Ephrata-Warwick trail. And I couldn't recall having any before that. In one year and two months, two conversations.
The pandemic has taken its toll on people in a lot of ways. It has caused death, illness (sometimes long-term), bankruptcy... It has ended (or paused) dreams and bruised well-being. This, then, is part of what the pandemic cost me.
It took me a few years too many to realize that I'm an extrovert. I get energy from social situations. I enjoy talking to people -- most of them, at least. One of the main joys of travel for me is interacting with strangers. Meeting people. Connecting.
I don't always try to meet people, but if I try and succeed or succeed without trying, my memories and experiences are so much richer.
After the pandemic started, I did little travelling, and moreover I had't just not tried to meet people. I had actively avoided conversations with strangers whenever possible.
I've thought about the vaccination rate. The likeliness that I am bringing a different strain of an illness with me, unknowingly. The likeliness that other travellers are doing so. The likeliness that there's something local that I can pick up, and spread around. Unknowingly. Unwantedly.
From 2020 through my present moment in 2022, I haven't stayed in a hostel. I've barely hung out in a coffee shop, a bar, or a restaurant. And so, there's a level of serendipity and joy that is missing from my post-2020 travel. A level of richness that is lacking from everything I describe from March 2020 onwards. And, it's precisely that missing richness that makes me most enthused about travelling, and about sharing my experiences in this blog.
Photos of badlands, caves, trees, birds and the ocean are just a lucky strike extra.
(In other words, if I'm suddenly recalling chicken sandwiches I ate six years ago -- you now know why! It's because I miss the before times.)
The conversation was not much more than small-talk, really.
We were both enjoying our stays in Hana. The view was beautiful.
The food is so good and so fresh. Especially the fruit: the guavas, papayas, mangos...
She said that the lychee were fantastic, and that she had never had anything like it before, and suggested that some of the nearby guavas looked ripe.
I picked a couple, and offered her one.
She left and made her way back to the town center, whilst I lingered a while longer, captivated by the expansive views and nearby birds.
The guava was delicious. Ripe and sweet.
But it was also full of hard seeds.
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