Newsflash: Tourists on Maui don’t pick up hitchhikers.
Caveat:John and I were picked up by two different tourist families from Australia in brand new rental cars on two separate occasions. (First off: Aussies and Kiwis don’t count because they are open-minded to hitchhiking. Second: The first time we were picked up was before we got completely comfortable with the area, and we accidentally got a ride for about 250 meters to our turn off. That made us feel…well, like an adequate reflection of what the Australians had expected from the typical sedentary, Ho Hos for breakfast, cookies for lunch, donuts for din-din type ‘merkans. [a ‘merkan is an American, pronounced with an Alabama or as I like to say, ‘Bama, accent]).
That being said, I’d like to ask why? Why is it that brand new Mustangs and Jeeps drive by constantly by the droves, a sort of slightly happier funeral procession, the pasty passengers either gawking at us like we are part of their vehicle tour CD thingy, “Oooh lookit! There be some Hana hippies!!!!” or completely avoiding eye contact like our unruly curls are reminiscent of snake heads and the consequences of meeting our eyes would be hard and cold? “If I don’t look they aren’t real…If I don’t look they aren’t real…If I don’t look they aren’t…” I understand some are in a hurry. Yes, I know… hard to believe…hurry on Maui? I said what I meant. They are in a hurry.
They rush from the airport in their rental cars, a clear list in mind. The day or two they generally dedicate to Heavenly Hana just doesn’t have enough minutes in it to spare on friendly chatting with a stranger when they could bicker with their family the entire time instead! That being said, if you don’t like each other…why travel together? They pack their 12 suitcases into their cars and immediately look for either the exact same types of restaurants at which they’d eat at home (burgers, fries, and ice cream…We ARE on vacation, right? Calories don’t count! Now where’s that Hard Rock Cafe?!?!), shop at the same stores that have a slightly different variety on the island (Oooh! Let’s get a Hawaiian shirt from Wal-Mart!!! I bet it’s cheaper here!!), and get set up in their “uniquely different” hotel room for $90 – $1,000 a night where they can watch movies after sunset if they aren’t still at Hard Rock, and sleep off their hangovers through sunrise.
They take lots and lots of pictures…mostly of themselves standing next to things, fully dressed, posing like they are going to do or just did something awesome. Some of them might not even get their toes wet with organic mud or ocean water, for that matter, but they’ll sure golf a lot on chemically treated, reef killing “rolling green hills,” and see the bamboo forest if they don’t have to walk too far.
I wonder what they are thinking why they pass us on the side of the road, rushing off to whatever sight they want to “see” for a few minutes to check the box.
Twin Falls? Check.
Black Sands Beach? Check.
Red Sands Beach? Check.
Hamoa Beach to burn a little more? Check.
Seven Sacred Pools to say we swam in a waterfall? Check.
Wait…what did the tour CD tell us to do next?
Dinner at the one restaurant in town? Check.
Bamboo forest? (Do I REALLY have to walk ALL THE WAY UP?) Sigh. Check.
K. Done. Time to drive back.
I actually stopped a car (accidentally) the other day by asking for a ride. They were all about rolling down the window until they realized I wasn’t just going to give them directions. They stuttered their way through awkwardly turning me down while still managing to ask snidely, “Is this REALLY the ONLY restaurant in town (insert sigh of distaste and judgement)? Is it any good?”
I had to reel myself back in before allowing myself to answer, “Yes. It is the only one in town. No, I don’t know if it’s any good. We haven’t eaten there. We eat at home.” They looked at me like I was a leper. (You mean you actually cook your OWN food? No easy restaurant fixes? No Ho Hos for breakfast?) Refer back HERE for reasons.
Watching tourists over the last six weeks here and over the last two summers in Haines has really opened my eyes. Maybe this blog will open yours. Do you travel with family just to argue with them about how quickly or slowly they are moving? Do you drive around and around trying to find parking closer to the door so you don’t have to walk anywhere? Do you find problems in paradise? Too many mosquitoes, too much heat, too much rain, too much sun, too many differences, too many lines, too much to do, too little time? Do you pass by hitchhikers in your rush to where everyone else is going, while your passenger stares at a guide-book or a Smart Phone because you think someone else will pick us up? Or is it because somewhere in some movie at some point in your life you watched a hitchhiker that looked just like me kill someone? Haven’t you seen car accidents in the news or in movies, too? But you still drive, right? Don’t you have nightmares? But you still dream, right? You’ve heard of drownings, but you want to ride a boat? Planes crash, but you still want to “travel?”
Did you ever consider what an interesting story a hitchhiker could have to share? That the person standing on the side of the road might have something in mind you could stand to learn? Or do you assume they are just bums with no personal drive to work hard enough to own their own car?
I’m a hitchhiker. Do you know my story?
Since you know me, I know you’d give me a ride, but if you didn’t, and you saw me on the side of the road with over 20 bracelets, five anklets, and four necklaces waiting patiently with crazy curls, a climbing backpack, a silly smile, one dimple, flippy floppies, and the love of my life, would you rush on by, driving in the far lane to avoid eye contact? Or would you meet my eyes, feel the consequent love build, and stop long enough to realize two of my bracelets are dedicated to Wounded Warriors, and the others are from incredible travel, experiences, and relationships. That I speak four languages, had a TS/SCI clearance for 10 years my life, and have learned the value of sharing, experiencing, and not rushing?
Tell me…I’m curious.