People say they cry when they leave the Big Island. They say that they left a piece of themselves here while they fly away. I have never cried leaving Kona, but felt damn close leaving Hana. And it was not as much as leaving a fine resort, or some magnificent trails and waterfalls and crashing waves and rolling green hills, it was the people. You can go find beautiful landscapes around the world. I know, I have seen them. But the connection the people in Hana have to one another is the essence of Hawaii and really the Aloha spirit.
There is VERY little tech connection in Hana. In fact, Travaasa, the resort we stayed at, has no TV sets and the airport has no wifi or cell service. This leaves time for talking story around the fire pit near the pool at the resort with other guests and also chatting at length with the registration staff and concierge. We met three people who have six kids, and they themselves grew up in Hana with large families. They help each other drive the kids 90 minutes to Kahalui for sports and hang out at each others homes. They are CONNECTED and you feel it. That connection is like roots reaching out to you, too.
The Best Coffee Ever -With Aloha
As we were leaving Travaasa after a 24 hour island hop, I told one of the front desk ladies that I loved the coffee that was in the room. I went into the gift shop to get some and they don’t sell it, so I bought the same ceramic mug that I had in my room. I went back to the front desk and shared that I would buy the coffee from the hotel and even the farmer who grew it if I could. Selma, my new friend, said, “Here, let me see your bag”. She then proceeded to reach under the counter and put packets of coffee in with my mug. While she was doing this, she was smiling and slightly giggling, because she knew it would make me happy. I was ecstatic. Seriously…yes, it is THAT good and seriously, how cool was that? I wanted to hug her.
Ohana Means Family
Then on the shuttle ride back to the airport the driver told us about his daughter getting a full ride to a college in Alaska and life raising kids in Hana with basically not much wifi and it had to be about the sports to keep the kids out of trouble. As my husband was grabbing his bags from the driver at the airport, he handed the driver a tip. He refused to take it.
At the airport, the Mokulele Airlines registration staffer was an older Hawaiian woman who had to let us know that our connection in Kahalui back to Kona was full (we still do stand by) and that we would not get out until the next morning. We then spent 45 minutes talking to her (again no wifi) and she raised her six kids next door to the shuttle driver’s six kids. She was just as genuine and warm as all the other people we met.
On the flight out of that tiny little airport, I felt like I was leaving a hidden “old world”. The world we all let slip away when we took the pill of technology. There is really no way to explain the blanket of connecting with people like that.
My phone rang in the airplane on the way along the cliffs back to Kahalui. I didn’t know it was the same woman trying to reach me to let me know that she had done a bit more research into our flight and found out that although the 7:30-9 pm flights were booked, that the 6:30 still had two seats. By the time we landed, the flight crew said, “Oh, don’t worry about your bags. We will put them on the next flight to Kona leaving in 40 minutes.” Saved my entire Tuesday morning.
By 7:15, in the air on the way to Kona, my heart was full of gratitude for this weekend. I looked down at my bag of coffee, and looked out the window to the eastern shore of Maui and thought I could live in a shack to be closer to THAT paradise.
I know people move here to the Big Island for much the same experience, but Hana takes it to an 11. If you ever get a chance-stay at Travaasa and fly with my buddies at Mokulele Airlines. Kindness is part of the adventure.
(My friend Gail Armand wrote this as a comment about my experience: “Where the world is less densely crowded, where the wild is at hand, where devices are not inserted between us moment by moment, there is the life we lust after, just waiting to be had. Thanks for sharing the beauty.”