Maui, Hawaii, USA
There is no way I am going to hike Haleakala crater, an extinct volcano above 10,000 feet. It is seven miles each way, fourteen miles round trip. First, you have to descend a thousand feet into the crater, hike seven miles and then slowly ascend for another seven miles. No shade, blazing sun and chilling winds. Hey, let’s be realistic. I am on vacation.
My plan B is to ride a modified mountain bike from the top of Haleakala down to the coastal plains using the paved park road. I decided on the all day trip which includes lunch. This is not cheap. A van drives you to summit, and with the bike they supply, you coast, race, zoom, or crash your way to the bottom. This trip costs $120. The one redeeming feature was they did provide lunch, which is very important, and would pick you up at your hotel.
I called to make a reservation and the conversation goes like this:
“Hi, I would like to make a reservation today for your all day bike trip.”
“Yes sir, where are you staying?”
“Uh, I’m staying at the No Name Hostel.”
“Is that on Maui?”
“What town is that in?”
“Sir, I have over 150 hotel listings, I can’t find No Name.”
“Really? that’s strange.” I hear him rustling through his lodging lists.
“Sir, are you staying by the Hilton, on hotel row, across from the beach?”
By this time he has his city map out. I tell him, “okay, draw a line three miles inland from the beach, I’m right on north Market, number 310.”
“Oh! but we don’t service that area.”
“Why not? I’m right in the city.”
“Yes, but it’s a residential area.”
I think, “well, I’m not exactly right on hotel row on the beach, but I think the area I’m in is a mix of commercial, residential and small businesses, creating a surprising diversity for the visitor and native alike.”
“Oh, you can take a taxi to our headquarters, and maybe at the end of the trip, our driver will drop you at your, er, hotel.”
Or maybe not. Or I’ll give the driver a really good tip and still have to walk home.
We decide to spend half a day hiking in the crater, and the afternoon at the beach.
Let me go into more detail about this hostel. The building is completely surrounded by dense vegetation – shrubs, bushes, vines, flowers, and fruit trees.
To enter the lobby off the main street, you have to walk down four steps. The office window is straight ahead. There are a few chairs scattered about. I often thought this was the nicest area in the place. As you walk down the hall, there is a small room with a pay phone, and directly behind another small room with two ancient computers. There are six or seven small co-ed dorm rooms on this level. Our room had no closets, dressers, or shelves to store our belongings. We literally lived out of our suitcases. The bathrooms were usually clean, but too many people used them. The back door had a combination lock, allowing guests 24 hour access – and probably half the neighborhood.
Morris, the building’s maintenance man, is Jamaican. Tall, black, and soft-spoken, he wore his hair in long dreadlocks. One early morning, as I entered the courtyard, Morris was busily cutting up small pieces of paper and chanting. He is trying to light the scraps with a match. I am staring and he looks up and meets my gaze. I avert my eyes and leave. I make a mental note not to cross this guy.
The hot tub did not look clean. Morris said, “Man, you’ll never see me in there! I see guys get in there, drink beer for two or three hours, and never get out!” One night, I saw a hosteler eat his dinner in there. Yuck!
The kitchen was also dirty, Pauline refused to cook. Every morning we had cereal, milk and fresh fruit on the patio. The television room also looked dirty, loaded with people smoking, drinking and talking.
I am using the courtesy phone for ten minutes, making flight reservations for Kauai. Suddenly, the phone is dead. “Hello? Hello?” I then notice the line has fallen out of the phone. I tell the receptionist. He replies “Oh that happens all the time, just push the line back in and wiggle it, it’ll work fine then.” I am fuming.
Ronny, my roommate, mentions I snore. Well, I caught her snoring a few times, too. One night, my snoring was really atrocious. Our room was stuffy, with no moving air. My sinuses were slightly congested. As I begin to drift into never never land, I am awakened by a loud snort.
“Holy Creepers, what was that, my mind asks?” Then I realize, that was me! I glance at Ronny who is still asleep. Dozing off again, I am again awakened by another snort. She’s still sleeping, which I find hard to believe. Three more times I am shaken awake by three snorts. This is ridiculous and it’s not even midnight. I decide to sleep in the lobby. I grab a pillow and blanket and leave.
In the lobby I push two chairs together. One chair is against the wall and I put a pillow behind my head. I lay my feet across the other chair. I am covered with a blanket. I am dozing, but every twenty minutes I “snort” myself awake. I wonder, am I snorting? snorketel? snorkeling? Is this a new island sport? Such thoughts occupy me as I drift off to sleep.
KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK. A group of people are trying to enter the hostel. I do not believe this. “Go away, we’re closed!” I shout. Someone knows the back door combination and they enter. The group is talking loudly and I ask them to keep it down.
One person comes over and introduces himself. “Why are you sleeping here? Don’t you have a room?”
Yes, I explain, I have a room, but I also have “issues.” I am becoming a little testy but I fall asleep, and am awakened by a loud snort.
“What was that?” someone from the group yells.
The groupies begin searching the hostel for this mysterious noise. Someone wanders over. “Was that you?”
“Yeah, it was one of my ‘issues’.”
I awoke at 7:00 a.m. needing a nap.