Friday, December 28, 2007

10 Maui fun facts

Rather than share all my vacation details, which would likely make my readers jealous who are suffering through the cold of winter, I’ll instead post a few fun facts about Maui. Things visitors are unlikely to read in any guidebook.

1) Temperature changes with elevation rather than with the seasons. At sea level its 80-90F, 500-5000ft its 65-80F, and if above that you are probably going to the top of the Haleakala volcano (10,000ft). Snow/frost has been known to happen from time to time at the peak. I heard on the big island (larger island to the south) this winter someone surfed in the morning and snowboarded during the afternoon. I don’t know if there is any other place in the world other than Hawaii where you can do that.

2) Seasons only impact the waves. In the winter the waves are on the north and west shores and in the summer, the south. Freaks swells happen from time to time, but not often. And speaking of waves - lifeguards are almost nowhere to be found. If they are there normally they are there for the surfers, not the tourists, who get towed back by jet ski. The surfers are usually the ones who pull out drowning tourists and get upset when they have to because it means they missed a nice set.

3) Tourists can be found on either the west or south shores as these are the dryer and warmer sides of the island. Lots of hotels, resorts, shopping, and golf courses. I don’t recall many residents who actually golfed so that must be primarily a visitor thing. The rest of us are on the beach on the north shore.

4) 99% of the thousands of people who move to Maui every year catch something called rock fever whose symptoms cause them to move back within the first 12 months. You see, Maui is a small place with not a lot to do for most mainlanders. There are no pro/college sports games, theme parks, nightclubs, or anything like that. Those who are not REALLY outdoorsy who enjoy the beach, hiking, fishing, hunting, and a lot of the same everyday will catch the fever. Their stay on Maui will have been just an extended vacation.

5) Maui residents culturally don’t understand the concept of a 2-week vacation. - you know, where you go somewhere to get away from it all. I had no idea what it was when I got my first job in California when I was 19. Accruing time off? WTF!? No one from Maui really does that. I mean, when you’re from Maui, where are you really going to go? Oh right, Vegas, but that’ll be a very special trip and only once in a great while. When employees need time off it probably means the waves are up and they are not going to show up anyway.

6) Dressed up is considered closed toe shoes instead of slippahs (sandals), button down (aloha) shirt rather than of a faded T, and unripped jeans or pants of some kind versus surf shorts. And that attire you probably only where to a wedding, funeral, or hmmm, not much else. The rest is natural wherever you are or what your are doing. I don’t think anyone on the whole island actually owns a suit except for maybe the lawyers and then only worn in court.

7) A good car is one that runs and is street legal - the rest is basically luxury items. If a car doesn’t have any rust or dents, that’s considered mint. Lifted pickup trucks, hatchbacks, and minivans are the vehicles or choice. And driving distance is always measured in time, never miles. As it could take you 3 hours to go 15 miles depending on where you are.

8) Local food is NOT Hawaii food – BIG difference. Local food is an odd fusion of ingredients inspired by the Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese, Filipinos, and of course the Hawaiians. Consist of a lot of spam, sausage, chicken, and steak which has been breaded and deep-fried or baked in pools of teriyaki sauce and covered in gravy then served with tons of white rice and macaroni salad. These dishes are referred to as plate lunched and yes this stuff will kill you, but slowly and it’ll taste good. :). Hawaiian food, which I’m never been fond of includes poi, Lau Lau, and kalua pig & cabbage.

9) Lingo, Maui – well Hawaii – has it own very unique dialect. Anything on the east side of the island is referred to as “upcountry”, unless on the extreme backside which is called “hana-side”. When going to “town”, that’s almost always Kahului. Town names are rarely spoken and travel plans are typically described directionally. For example “going to the south, west, or north shore.” And when one side of the island, to travel to the other, you are going to the “other side”. When some one yells at you and says “Eh Brah”, that’s the equivalent of “hey man”. And when someone asks you if you want to go “grind”, they’re not asking you to dance provocatively, but instead if you are hungry and want to eat – a lot. Oh, and don't try to blend in by trying to speak like the locals, it'll just make you look really dumb.

10) Yes, Hawaii is a state. This is for those so many people across the U.S. that I had to convince that my Hawaii drivers license was valid and not a fake. Trying renting a car in Alabama with one of these, I dare you.

5 comments:

Steven Andrés said...

HA! I laughed really hard at #10. The better question is: should Alabama really be a state? I think statehood should be revocable. I'm jealous you had such a great vacation!

Alex said...

Great picture ! You didn't forget me. :)

Tim said...

Stuff Jeremiah missed (I lived there for five years...):

1.1) The "most rainfall on the planet" record is periodically held by one of the islands.

1.2) There's two rainy seasons. One where it sprinkles every day at 3:30 and one where tourists have drowned (or claim they did), trying to cross the street in downtown Waikiki.

1.3) Locals are known to wear heavy winter coats (okay, with shorts) when the temperature gets down to 65 degrees.

2.1) The north shore is also famous for tourists' attempting to get that really good picture of Billy-Bob standing on the beach as a really big wave comes in, thereby providing first-hand education in what Darwin meant by "survival of the fitest". And yes, the surfers are cursing you as they drag your soggy butt back to shore.

2.2) Visitors to the north shore should leave the cute wahini surfers alone. There's usually at least one large boyfriend floating nearby. (Hint #1: you may need one or more of them to drag your soggy but back to shore, not throw you in.) (Hint #2: The current on the north shore (at last the north-west side) flows from left to right as you face the water. If you are going to get thrown in, try doing it as far to the left as possible. It'll give a fighting chance to swim back to shore, or at least drift into an another out-of-earshot group of surfers.)

2.3) That cute life guard probably lives at the right-hand side of the beach. You will see him/her swim out about 30 feet at the end of their shift. It's better than a bus 'cause you don't have to wait for it and it's less work than walking a mile or so home.

6.1) This dress code extends to the other islands. Business formal consists of the aloha shirt and slacks. Business casual means aloha shirt and shorts.

7.1) A roof is optional. If you get rained on, you'll dry off shortly or you were going surfing anyways...

8.1) Bastardization of mainland food (for the tourists mostly) includes putting pineapple on chicken (Hula Chicken), pineapple on burgers (Hula Burgers), and you get the idea....

8.2) A company picnic is a family effort. How else are you going to make a laundry basket of lumpia? Oh, and guess which disappears first at the picnic?

8.3) I miss bento boxes.

9.1) For the tourists, "mahalo" does NOT mean "trash".

11) If you're Caucasian, you're definitely a minority.

12) You can recognize when you're in the hotel section of Waikiki (even with your eyes closed). It smells (permanently) of coconut oil (sun tan lotion).

13) Politics is considered a form of entertainment (at least on Oahu), where the Chief of Police has been indicted of ticket fixing, the Mayor of Honolulu has been arrested for drunk & disorderly (picked a fight on a flight back from the mainland), the Marcos's ended up here, the hotel workers will go on strike if the bus drivers get a pay raise & they don't, and school teachers will protest because they're not allowed to teach in pidgin. Disclaimer: this doesn't necessarily mean the people current holding those positions. These incidents have occurred in the past.

14) Samoan people are quite large. Most are friendly though they like it if you stay out of their hangouts on the north shore. Also, it is not a joke when someone describes an entire Sizzler salad bar being blockaded by three Samoan women.

15) 99% of the State's population lives on one side of one island. Hint: from the mainland, you'll fly into Oahu but you really want to vacation on one of the other islands. Waikiki is to "island life" as Buesch Gardens is to Europe.

16) Customs is absolutely freaking paranoid about any live animal you bring with you.

17) Be prepared (have ice on hand) for power outages. It may be the 21st Century but there isn't a hydroelectric or nuclear power plant anywhere in the State.

18) Remember the three stages of hangovers? (You know: 1) Tell the ants to stop stomping across the front yard, 2) I-know-I'm-gonna die, and 3) Oh-God-please-let-me-die). For tourists, only stage 3 hangovers exist. Why? Because the beer contains a certain amount of a preservative that the tourists are not acclimated to. (Hint: formaldehyde.)

19) Wildlife: Call 'em cockroaches or Palmetto bugs, they're still creepy crawlies that will eat just about anything, including soft plastics. Gecko's are pretty much everywhere, especially where you least want/expect them. You hope the cane spiders are nowhere nearby. Those aren't snakes, those are leg-less lizards!

Tim said...

Oh, and if you're departing for that Hawaiian vacation from somewhere that has 3 feet of snow, be prepared for a surprise. The air will be noticeably warmer and much "thicker" than you're used to breathing. You'll notice it as you depart the plane.

Think of it as having to get used to gravity after spending a few years in outer space. The OMG-I-can't-breath feeling goes away after a few hours. (heh)

Jeremiah Grossman said...

OMG Tim, those are brilliant. Well done. Especially the food and people size ones. AHAHAH!