I couldn’t resist finding a way to ride a bike here. The hotel boasted of over ten miles of horseback and bike riding trails. The process of finding a bike to rent unveiled something I’ll just call “the Hawaiian Thing.” It actually started the moment I got off the plane. Those of you who know me will understand that I’m a sign Nazi. That is to say I’m a firm believer in signage playing an important role for travelers, not just a way to decorate public spaces. So building upon what I said about this on day one, there became obvious a certain smugness about giving away information. It never seemed malicious, but always oddly familiar. When asking the clerk at the check-in desk of the hotel what there might be to do one night, she said “nothing going on here…you can go to the bar.” What she neglected to say was that on the night of my arrival the hotel was hosting a big Luau with dancing, music, fire-twirling, etc. And it was right there on the other side of the building. Just no one thought it important enough to mention.
Then when I tried to rent a bike, another clerk said “no, we don’t rent bikes, but you can drive to town and there’s a place there.” So I did just that… drove to town and right where she said it was, next to a Starbucks!, was a bike rental place. But it was closed up. Funny because the town was bustling otherwise. It looked like he just didn’t feel like opening up that day. So now, I get some groceries and go back to the resort, and this time as I’m walking in I see (less than twenty feet from the front desk,) about 15 bicycles all lined up. So I drop the groceries off in the room and call the desk, “no we don’t rent bikes.” “But really, ma’am, I just saw all these bikes right there near the front desk. What are those for?” “Oh, let me check.” Sure enough, of course they rent bikes! I just had to ask enough people several different times. Some of the natives I worked with referred to it as “Hawaii-time,” but it was more like some Hawaiian trick they play on us Ha oles.
Interestingly I dug a little to check into this term ha ole. It has both positive and/or negative connotation. I’ve always known it as the Hawaiian version of “cracker!” But I much prefer this etymology I found on a website, written by Cheryl Taupu. The meaning represented here clearly gets at the Hawaiian Thing I’m talking about. I love this:
“Ha ole originates from Ha meaning breath and ole meaning without and loosely translates into without breath. When western man first arrived in Hawaii the Hawaiians, being of darker skin thought that the whiter skinned westerner must be without breath (oxygen), thereby being of whiter skin. Ha ole is both good and bad depending on the contexts of which it is used. Ex. That ha ole chick sure can surf. as opposed to Stupid ha ole chick find another wave.”
A few years back Greg told me about the TV series LOST. Since I don’t have a TV, I can’t really participate, but waited until the DVDs hit the video rental store. You know the deal, group of travelers stuck on some deserted island and weird stuff starts happening. No, I’m not talking about Gilligan’s Island! Anyway, the show is shot in Hawaii.
As I rode the bike along the trail, marked in that Hawaiian Thing way, (a brick seemingly tossed along the trail here and there,) I first came across a beautiful little cove with almost no-one there. Walking along the beach I stumbled upon fresh green sea turtle tracks. Here’s a photo, (not mine.) But the tracks I saw looked just like this except they only went in one direction….towards the water. It looks like she made her way in the night before, the surf washing away her incoming tracks, and then must have left early that morning.
The north side of the Island is loaded with places like this. Guess that’s why they call it Turtle Bay.
Heading back into the jungle on the bike several interesting things came to my attention. One was the occasional erratic appearance of preformed concrete pillars. They were square, about 12 inches on each side. I first imagined them to be left over from the old military installation here. Maybe they were footings for an old building. But then as I investigated further I realized there would be a crop of five or ten of them in no real sensical order that I could see. Most bedeviling was that they were all of varying heights. One was buried in the ground so that you could only see its square top. Others were twenty, thirty feet tall, some hidden in the undergrowth, some out in the open. To top off the mystery there were signs all over saying Keep Off – Private Property, or US Government Property – Stay Out. But I was following that dumb trail! There was one of those little bricks with the arrow painted on it right there.
In the last photo of pillars in the field, the one on the left is about fifteen feet tall, the two in middle somewhere about twenty, and the one on the right at least thirty feet tall. No wires or other attachments anywhere on them. In total there were at least ten little collections of them around the property.
Then as I went further down the trail, just beyond a big collection of those pillars, there was this otherworldly set of trees. They were completely different than anything else around.
Ithttp://www.youtube.com/get_playerwas like a wall of thick whitish vines hundreds of feet across lining the path. There’s a few in Waikiki that look the same but it’s a small cluster, only ten or twenty feet across. They were identified as Indian Banyan Trees. Here’s a couple shots of them and a video, with one showing how the trees enveloped some unsuspecting boulders. Very Tolkienesque. Remind anyone of Ents?
All of this sci-fi deep in the foliage was already putting me on edge when out of nowhere this guy walks up with a huge Nikon camera and asks “Want me to take your picture?” Really! I started getting flashbacks to episodes of LOST, and Hurley’s numbers: 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42. Who is this guy? How’d he find me in here? Who put these pillars here and these weird trees, and why? Was I supposed to find them? “Jaaaaaaack!”
So not wanting to insult the Gods of the Island, I handed him my camera. I’m thinking the gloss white legs helped protect me. I must admit that I had a ball with this mystery, and I’m not sure if I care to find out the answers. Probably far too banal in reality.