Saturday, January 16, 2010

4926 Miles Traveled

Jan 16, 2010
Sunny in the morning, overcast in the afternoon
Maui, HI

I could smell the sand and the sea from the open windows of the condo while we sat for three hours for class. Not that class isn’t interesting, but when there isn’t a cloud in the sky and we can see the ocean from the window, all I want to do is be in the water. We talked about the definition of the word sublime – which originally referred to an individual’s changing conception of beauty. The example David used was the Alps running east and west across Europe; they were once thought to be god’s punishment because of their harsh temperatures and rough terrain. However, the European romantics worked to change the perception of the Alps – they saw them as beautiful.
Sublime would be the perfect word to use as we navigated through the lava flows to find a perfect snorkel spot. From a distance, it seemed as if the ground was made up completely of tilled earth. When you got close, it became clear that the many acres were actually covered with sharp lava rock, with towers and swirls and patterns into which the lava solidified just over two hundred years ago. (The last eruption was in the 1790s) The deep teal water smashed up against the volcanic rocks, another sublime image but not ideal for snorkelers.
Before we took our hike through the lava flows, we had driven some distance over questionable roads. At the very beginning of the vast volcanic fields, a sign warned visitors that the site had previously been used for military testing and that there were unexploded land mines sprinkled throughout the area. Note: this is not where we walked.
Other creatures had met their demise on these rocks. Many crabs were smashed at intervals along the trail. Dried out limpets were stuck to outcroppings. This was not a lush tropical forest, but rather a semi-arid landscape which challenged creatures to thrive. A couple of wild goats didn’t seem to have a problem though.
Unfortunately, our walk yielded no results. All of the potential snorkel sites (with gorgeous clear water) either were plagued by shallow rocks or rough surf, and in one instance, hundreds and hundreds of sea urchins that prevented entry into the water. We walked back to the car, a little dejected. Fortunately, our next stop was a huge golden beach with gentle waves and dolphins and whales in the distance. After the dusty hike, we ran into the water thankfully and lazily rode the waves for about two hours.
Denny, Anh, and Mike went out to a more fecund spot to do some snorkeling. The visibility wasn’t that great, and both Anh and Denny had rough encounters with sea urchins. Denny probably had fifty spines stuck into his right hand, and the surrounding skin was slowly turning blue with the poison. I haven’t seen him since we returned to the condos, but I hope that he has taken care of his hand.
Tonight, the all-guys’ condo is cooking. We all expected a mac ‘n cheese night, but Clay, Jacob, and John have really impressed us by doing shish kebabs and polenta. Matt and Mike picked up a bottle of local Hawaiian dark rum for our condo. It came with its own lei. We have two lovely pineapples that we still have to cut up. Tomorrow we’re going whale watching, and judging by the amount of whale and dolphin activity we saw just watching from the beach, it’s going to be awesome. Let me leave you with this image – floating up and down in the waves and watching whales breaching in the distance next to two small green islands. Another gorgeous day.

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