Monday, February 5, 2007

Maui: The Cure For What Ails You

We felt a little guilty while getting on the plane for Maui this morning after glancing at the USA Today and seeing that the forecast high for Chicago was 4 degrees Fahrenheit. It just doesn’t seem fair for a city to have to endure brutal cold and Rex Grossman simultaneously.

Five and a half hours southwest of LA, we felt our excitement for the trip mount as we made our approach into Maui’s north shore. The sight of serene, deep aqua waters amidst a backdrop of volcanic mountains and lush greenery made us realize that we weren’t on the mainland anymore. It was half past noon when the distinctive reddish-orange roofs of Kahului (Kaa-hoo-loo-ee) Airport’s terminals and hangars came into view.

Vik’s head cold has turned into a scratchy cough that is only slightly less annoying than Anderson Cooper. Vik considers himself lucky that the folks sitting in front of us on the flight (incidentally from Boston) didn’t smack him around while we were deplaning. Granted, they looked to be in their 70’s and were a little distracted (they spent half the flight smooching, not that we were peeping Toms or anything).

The silver lining of our lost luggage was not having to wait around for baggage claim. So, we were able to sprint over to the rental car counter to procure an SUV (primarily to perpetuate the self-delusion that we’re actually outdoorsy). Soon, we were venturing out into the welcoming arms of Maui. After a pit stop for lunch at Da Kitchen, a local hole-in-the-wall restaurant recommended by the rental counter agent, we made our way past a couple of strip malls, a large sugar factory and grassy fields to our hotel.

Maui is shaped like a tortoise sticking his head out of his shell. We were staying in the town of Kihei, in the northernmost part of south Maui, or roughly just below the curve of the tortoise’s neck. Kihei is like any other beachfront resort town with seemingly tons of high-rise condos for rent.

In short order, we got to experience the legendary Hawaiian island friendliness firsthand. After being rerouted by a detour sign around construction on South Kihei Road, we pulled into a Longs Drugs parking lot to get our bearings. After a few minutes of headscratching, Vik walked over to an older gentlemen getting into his truck. When Vik’s mention of the hotel and street address didn’t register, he assumed that the conversation was over. Instead, the gentleman got out of his truck, walked into the Longs Drugs, came out with a local phone book and spent 5 minutes with Vik poring over a detailed South Maui street map. Vik was so stunned by this demonstration of genuine kindness that he responded the only way he knew how to as a native Bostonian … he stole the guy's wallet. So, the rest of the Maui trip was charged to Mr. Underhill’s American Express card. Want to know the number?

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