Pau Hana in Haiku – Haiku, Maui, Hawaii, USA

Pau Hana in Haiku
Haiku, Maui, Hawaii, USA

It was Saturday, but the 5:57 a.m. silent alarm awakened me regardless. Who needs an alarm when you have the Maui sun? It’s our good fortune that demi-god Maui lassoed it and extended the daylight hours, yet, I might have been annoyed at the uninvited wake-up call were it not such a special day – a long-awaited garage sale in Haiku.

Having recently unpacked our belongings after two years in storage, we were amazed to find so much we no longer need or want. Since we aren’t allowed to have garage sales in my neighborhood, a friend generously offered her Haiku home to host our surfeit of discards.

Haiku: A different side of Maui
Haiku: A different side of Maui
I hustled, determined to meet my 7 a.m. departure deadline. While loading potential proceeds into the back of the truck, the phone rang.
“Don’t hurry. It’s wet here. We have to wait.”
“Now you tell me.” I took a swig of coffee.
“You know the way, yeah? You go past Pa’ia, turn right at the Haiku community center – just at the recycling bins.”
“Um-hm,” I said, but couldn’t picture it.
“Turn, then go up, up. No turn, no nothing. Just up. You pass Catholic Church, old cannery and just keep straight. Turn by blue house, yeah? Oh! Nev’ah mind. Come now. Sun came now.”

I’d never been to Haiku, but I’d heard everything grows wild there. Situated on the northeast slope of Haleakala, the rains and winds visit the community with regularity. Orchids grow spontaneously by the roadside. One local writer suggested Haiku residents buy WD-40 by the barrel – since everything rusts.

Along the road to Hana, Haiku sings, Verdant, luscious, wet, wet, wet…

We shoved a few more boxes of outdated clothing into the truck. Fortunately, in Maui one man’s discard is another man’s “I’ve-been-looking-everywhere-for-this!” Fashions here are ridiculously oblivious to the times, and recycling is a time-honored necessity, making garage sales exceedingly successful and nearly qualifying as community service.

“How much you think we’ll get?” the boys speculated.
“Hey, the swell’s up. Check it out!”
Distractions like this cause accidents. Driving now around Launiapoki, a cadre of surfers enjoyed the waves.
“Naw, that’s no bigger ‘n 3-5.”
“Still looks fun!” the younger insisted.
“The valley’s so clear! You can see clean through.”

‘Round the point headed toward the pali (cliffs) we took note of the remarkable clarity in the notoriously rainy West Maui mountains. Instead of layers of clouds blocking views down the mountain corridors, wisps of steam rose from deepest gullies like panicked smoke signals.

Haleakala wore a unique cloak that day as well. Typically the clouds settle around 4,000 ft. rising upward but today the they swooped clear down to the sea casting a mysterious veil over the entire south of Maui.

“Ooh, Wailea tourists must be steamed now! No sun on da uddah side.”
“Wailea’s too hot, anyway. They should be happy they won’t turn into shah bait,” the boys chuckled, practicing their best haole pidgen.

“Cane fire!”
We had just started down the long stretch of flat, open highway, the singular route in Maui that you can safely drive 60 m.p.h. when we spotted the long ribbon of white smoke traversing the valley and out to the sea from the isthmus.
“Can’t believe they still do that.”
“I hear it’s the best way to get the cane.”
“Why’d they close the sugar mill in Lahaina?”
“Stinks too much for tourists.”
Indeed, the air in the valley was ripe with the scent of charred marshmallows.

In no time we’d enter the charming old town of Pa’ia complete with traffic lights, schotzke shops and a tourist-induced traffic jam.
“All the hippies live here, yeah?”
“Why do all these people like this hippie tie-dye stuff?”
“Hey, let’s stop at Charley’s on the way back, yeah?”
“Sure thing. If it’s good enough for Willie (Nelson) it’s good enough for me.”

Haiku – 10 miles
The scenery changed abruptly as the road starting its infamous curves and dips outside of Pa’ia.

“Oh, no! We aren’t going to Hana, are we?” the boys said, fearing the stomach churning drive.
“No, no. We turn at Haiku.”

Up, up, up, no turning. Past the Catholic Church, the cannery and five more miles past the Memorial Park. Our ears popped, we caught sight of the distant coast, and the landscape exploded with beautiful growing things everywhere we looked.

Shoppers were already arriving for the sale. Commerce was brisk. I promised a massage therapist I’d return tomorrow with more king-sized sheets. I could appreciate her need on an island that sells only queen and cal king. We worked out a barter – sheets for a massage – the deal of the day.

After that, I watched with consternation as my hard-earned personal goods flew off the shelf for two bucks each.

The ocean just north of Ho'okipa
The ocean just north of Ho’okipa
“Think we should charge more?” I ventured.
“You pau now. Bettah go,” my friend said, dismissing me. I was turning Haole on her. Having an laundry list of errands the length of my arm, I was not entirely heartbroken.

It was lunchtime but I simply had to stop at the yet-to-be-explored Haiku Marketplace before heading to Kahului, suspecting they might have some of the very things I on my list.

Inside True Value I stuck pay dirt. I only needed a watering can and storage boxes, but who’d have ever expected I’d find an antique Japanese screen? For $1,500 an old grand piano would be mine, broken soundboard and all. As for that antique carved Thai carriage and driver, I wanted it, but it wasn’t yet for sale. I asked to be notified when the restorations were finished. The owner, apparently, is both a collector and handy man.

Across the street at the second of Haiku’s main markets a familiar logo grabbed my attention. “Vasi’s Gourmet Foods and Deli”. Could this be the very same Vasi who makes that indescribably delicious mango-curry dip my family is crazy for? Or the blueberry muffins and banana bread so good it rouses die-hard sleepy heads up early for breakfast?

I peered through the side window to see a woman hard at work at monstrous mixers. The little storefront adjacent to the workshop would reveal the truth. Indeed, this Vasi churns out some of the island’s best treats and confections in a cardboard hideaway in Haiku. They were open for lunch.

It didn’t take long to decide on the authentic spanikopita and Greek salad with a few dolmas tossed in for good measure. While I waited for the cook to warm my lunch, I chatted with the counter girl.

“It’s a little warm out there today,” I offered, fanning myself slightly.
“Ha! A little?! I’m from the east coast and it’s darned hot. I’m not used to this. I mean, I’ve been here three weeks and the trades have barely blown once. Hard enough to sleep on a farm with all that blasted quiet — except for those animals making their odd noises, then there’s the wind and the heat. I mean, I’m used to city noises, but this! I had no idea it would take so long to get used to the quiet!”
“Yeah, people don’t believe you when you tell them what’s it like living here. Too hard to explain…”
“I send emails home and they think I’ve gone crazy, think I’m making this stuff up,” she chuckled.
“Think you’ll stay?” I asked.
“Absolutely!” she grinned handing me the best spanikopita this side of Athens.

True Value - Haiku's Authentic General Store
True Value – Haiku’s Authentic General Store
Down the road, I turned off at Ho’okipa, unable to resist the enticement of snapping some photos. The colors in the sea and sky were phenomenal. The sight of pineapple fields dropping into the Pacific ocean was breathtaking. I stepped out of my truck and heard a strangely familiar sound. “Mooo-ooo,” came a baw deeper than any dairy cows I’d spoken with. A bull quickened his pace behind a wire fence across from where I was standing and headed expectantly toward a cow and her calves. At the awesome sound of those thundering hoofs, I beat feet to the other side of the point where the world-famous windsurfing beach proved up its windy reputation. Tourists loitered or wandered, eyes glued to video cameras. Young brides snapped photos of seabirds and palm trees, crashing waves and sea blues of every hue.

“Yep, not a bad place to stop on the way to K-Mart,” I told myself, feeling as contented as the old cow in the meadow, bull or no bull.

I was headed toward the K-Mart garden department when I heard the intercom announced, “The garden section is closing now.” I pushed my cart toward the entrance, hoping I’d heard wrong. Why close the garden department at 2 p.m. on a Saturday?

“You take break now, yeah?. You no pau ’till seven. That fa-a-ah away,” the manager coached a young employee.
“Are you really closing now?” I interrupted in disbelief.
“Garden pau, now, sorry,” she grinned.
“Come back lattah, yeah?” she nodded.
“Anuddah day,” I agreed, knowing by now not to argue with pau hana.