What I have learned so far is that I have so much to learn. As with anything, living in paradise comes with benefits and challenges. In just a few days, the lessons have come fast and furious.
Lesson 1 - Herding Chickens
They are everywhere here in Upcountry. They are not afraid. There is no need for an alarm clock. The chickens will guarantee you are up at sunrise. Every. Day. Old Dog doesn't much care about these creatures as long as they aren't in his yard. The minute they cross the fence line, he returns to his sleeping self. Miss Monster...well, that's a different story. Each evening we take our "little" girl to the big yard shared by the three houses under our landlord's purview and do a bit of training. She's not quite ready for the typical off-leash beach adventure enjoyed by the fine canines of this island quite yet. Or I'm not. Either way, to keep her safe, we'll keep training and practicing until everyone's confidence level is high. Short trips to less populated beaches, lots of commands at a distance, and amping up the distractions are our focus at the moment.
Yesterday, she faced her biggest challenge yet - Mrs. Chicken. While Miss Monster was trotting around the big yard, head high and proud, Kong in mouth, Mrs. Chicken decided it was a good time to see what snacks might have popped up from the earth in the early evening hours. Usually she travels with a few other hens, but today was a solo mission. Little did she know the aerobic exercise that was in her future. Miss Monster and the hen locked eyes. Mrs. Chicken opened her beak, sass pouring out. Miss Monster smiled wide, tongue lolling out the side of her toothy grin.
Then the cartoon music began to play in my head. You know the music I'm talking about. The joyful, but frantic, tunes that fill the air when comedic chaos begins. It was on in an instant. Miss Monster was playing the greatest game of chase of her life. Mrs. Chicken, wings beating frantically, was zooming through the yard screaming in protest. The landlord's dog was vocally expressing displeasure about being left out of the game. My landlord was waving her hand telling me not to worry, if she gets the chicken she gets the chicken. Husband returned to the house shaking his head. Old Dog watched in amused silence, for once.
After several attempts, I was able to get her attention and she responded to my recall command. No, we're not ready for beach visits just yet.
Lesson 2 - Mud Makeup
April begins the dry season in Maui and it runs through October. Those are the two seasons - wet and dry. In Upcountry, it tends to rain a bit more than the rest of the island. In a drastic change of attitude, I could not be more thankful for that fact. The rain is refreshing. It cools the air. It invites deep sleep in the night. It creates rainbows. Every. Day. The most spectacular rainbows I've ever seen. My relationship with rain has turned around 180 degrees. I used to hate it. My mood would depress on the cloudy, wet days and a deep longing for sun would eat at my soul. That doesn't happen here - at least not so far. It's miraculous. It's also added another layer to what I wear.
I wear mud. A lot. It's impossible not to up here. I'm not just talking about a bit around the feet. I'm talking about walking around like I've just had a mud treatment at a spa. It gets everywhere. How the mud can get on my face when I did not, in fact, put my face near the ground, I don't know. But it does. Each night, I wash off the mud mask from the day. My skin could not be happier.
Lesson 3 - TV Doesn't Exist
We have a TV and cable. Better service and more affordable than what we had on the mainland, in fact. But we don't really watch it. We'll flip on the news while making dinner, but the list of "our shows" has been erased. It takes some effort to remember what we were so excited to watch before. Even though it's only been a few days for me (many more for Husband) I find that addiction has just disappeared with no effort on my part. Maybe after we're more settled there will be a bit more TV watching in the evenings? Maybe not. If not, I don't think I'll mind. There is so much to see and do!
Lesson 4 - Cold Showers
In order to take a hot shower, we have to walk outside and turn on the hot water. This saves money, for sure, and is an inconvenience we're getting used to. Occasionally, it's an inconvenience we don't care about. I'm more concerned about turning it on to wash dishes than I am to shower. As the days get hotter in the dry season, the temperature of my showers decrease. This is amazing. I'm one of those people that would steam up a bathroom with scalding water that could put a grimace on most faces. I've always loved the hottest of showers. Not anymore. I've traded those hot showers for the hottest of days. It's glorious.
Lesson 5 - I Want to Know so Much More
I find myself with a list of things I need to investigate. There is a church in Haiku that is not only the most colorful I've ever seen, but seems to have a varied congregation. It's different, intriguing. I need to know more - especially what's on the other side of the heart-shaped gate that leads to...what? A sanctuary? My imagination is on overload.
There is a man that carries a life-sized cross up the Hana Highway to Paia every day. He seems to be the friendliest fellow, waving at every single car that passes. I need to know his story. Where does he begin this journey? What is his intended purpose? Is he really as jolly as he appears? So many questions.
Then, of course, there is the curiosity about the island itself. I want to know more about the history, the Hawaiian culture, the traditions, the food. The list is a mile long. The local political spectrum. We've found the public access channel is one of our defaults for the aforementioned dinner-making TV sessions. There are some really interesting conversations and we're learning more with each viewing.
Lesson 6 - Don't Joke About Spam
It's a serious thing here. Jokes about Spam was actually a topic discussed on one of the shows on the public access channel. For some, it is as revered an ingredient as Indiana Sweet Corn in the state of my birth. As pizza is in New York or Chicago. BBQ in Texas. It's a thing. While the wide variety of options of this often dismissed ingredient may be shocking or funny to some mainlanders that visit, don't be too quick to judge. They do some amazing things with it here. And many aren't likely to laugh at your Spam jokes.
Yes, in just a few short days I've learned some stuff. I can't wait to learn more.