Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Baywatch Version of Christmas Day

A blonde girl gyrating to a drum circle. Three sets of slack lines, the younger cousin to tight ropes, but wider and looser, raised a couple of feet off the ground. People wearing Santa Claus hats and swigging beer. Oh yes, and smoking, not just e-cigarettes but old-fashioned paper joints. Some people were doing cartwheels and hand stands. Others took turns jumping onto a large body ball and twisting in the air. In broad daylight too.

Slack rope walking.
It was just such a party scene. Those song lyrics, “It’s all happenin’ at the zoo” came to mind. What a perfect place for singles to meet.  Anyone can go. It's free. All you have to do is show up. 

I had no idea.

This must be where the young and hip who live on Maui go to spend Christmas Day. Other people spend Christmas Day with families or close friends, or even windsurfing. We drove through Paia, which was shut down. Every single store and restaurant was closed, except for the uber-posh Mama's Fish House Restaurant outside town.

Windsurfers on the North Shore.

But this end of this beach was not full of BBQ grills and small children. I’ve never seen it so crowded. DH and I walked slowly through the north cove of Baldwin Beach because it was such a spectacle.

It was like, well, it was like Little Beach on a Sunday. Ahem. Which is a very unique Maui experience, like going back to the 60s. The only difference was, everyone at Baldwin Beach was dressed.

Christmas Day Drum circle
Maybe I should have guessed. There were cars lined up to the highway, spilling out from the parking lot along both sides of the long driveway. I’ve never seen it that packed. Until we got closer, we even thought the beach was closed and people had been forced to park outside the gate.

There’s something called the Coconut Wireless which has existed long before the internet. It’s how information spreads across the island, whether it’s real or just gossip. If the internet falls apart, the Coconut Wireless will still be around. I’m not always tuned into it, but I’m betting this Christmas Day beach party happens on this section of Baldwin Beach every year.

Is Christmas like that on other beaches on Maui? I really don’t know, or I can’t remember. Families who celebrate Christmas at the beach often have a big pavilion and coolers and BBQs and tables. There are family style beaches up and down South Maui, and lots of tourists sunning up and down the West Side. Maybe on Black Rock, there’s a Baywatch style Christmas party scene too. But I’d be surprised if people smoke pot so openly over there, since it’s right next to a big resort.

We ended up walking to the far side of the beach, away from the party. I found some tiny beach shells and talked with a young couple who were also fleeing the party.  

Santa Claus hats galore. 

When we came back, the party was still going strong. I can imagine that they lasted well into the night, with open fires on the beach. Totally illegal of course, but so is pot smoking and drinking alcohol on the beach. And going over the speed limit. All things that could be enforced, but rarely are. And probably not on Christmas Day.  

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

WHAT? Christmas Sucks?

"Bah Humbug" is not a phrase you hear on Maui, but obviously the Christmas spirit hasn't reached everyone. Despite disgustingly glorious, sunny weather and the joys of living in paradise instead of shoveling snow in 40 below, at least two people on an island of roughly 150,000 think Christmas sucks

Maybe they're right. Maybe Christmas is too darn commercial and stressful and depressing (especially if your family and friends live thousands of miles away).

This pillbox mural on Maui's north shore has been repainted, but it actually stayed intact for a few days, to my surprise. This picture has been censored.

The reindeer (or unicorn) is peeing on the Christmas tree, in a very flagrant demonstration of reindeer parts. 

No boxer shorts. 

I'm debating whether to post the original photo anywhere online. What do you think?

In the meantime, Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Story Behind the Haiku Santas

Haiku Santas and other figurines:
Dedt Moroz, Pioneer Santa, Motorbike Santa, Bishop of Myra

(Note: I'm reposting this post from last year.)

A few days ago, I stopped by to take better pics of the Haiku Santas than the ones from last year. This is a colorful and homespun exhibit of larger than life painted wooden storybook Santas on the makai (ocean side) of Hana Highway in Haiku, very close to the East Kuiaha Road intersection. The Santas are international, from different countries, folklore traditions, and eras, including Civil War Santas, Russian Santas, and traditional Santas. Just for fun, there are some other figurines tucked in as well. 

Santa's Workshop, Snowman, Little Mermaid and (again?) Bishop of Myra (snuck in twice while I wasn't looking)

To my surprise, there were some new Santas, ones that I didn't recognize. After taking several pictures, I worked up the nerve to see if anyone was home and if I could find out some history about the Santas. There was a garage door on the side, just past a gate with a big fish tail hung on it.  A loud vroom vroom and cloud of dust shot out from the open garage door. As I approached, a dog barked outside. Inside stood several motor bikes and a man walking towards me. 

Wassail Santa, Kris Kringle, Saint Lucia, and Tow-in Santa
(inspired by Jaws, the famous wave up the street)
Turned out, John Torres was very friendly and happy to share the story of the Haiku Santas. His father, Louis Torres, a retired engineer, decided to celebrate Christmas in a big way. Louis had an old children's coloring book with black and white pictures of Santas from around the world, and descriptions of each Santa. Louis made the first Santa which wasn't that big, maybe less than half the size of the ones now, and his son asked if dad could make them larger. So the Santas grew in size. John said it took his dad about a year to make them, which turned into a joint venture, since his artistic mother painted them all.

John says tourists stop by and take pictures, on their way to Hana or back, and are especially delighted to see Santas from their own country or culture. 

St. Nicholas, North Pole Santa, Black Peter, St. Nicholas (Russia), Nast Santa, Nomadic Santa, Nisse Santa, Civil War Santa,
Shaka Santa ("Howzit bra?"), and Victorian Santa

John said his dad passed away in '99, and he has continued to put them up every year, right after Thanksgiving. It's a big project and so he puts as many up as he can each day. John says he and his wife love Christmas and have even had as many as five trees in their home. This year, it's just two trees. But John managed to add two new Santas this year. He admitted it's been a longtime goal to add to his dad's legacy. 

John's Dirt Bike or Motorbike Santa.

John's Tow-in Santa, inspired by nearby surfing spot Jaws. 

I'm not sure if the Santas are still up right now, but as long as John's around, he will put them up for every Christmas. All he needs is a  guest book for people to sign (maybe protected from the rain)!  If you like the Santas, spread the word.  They look much better in real life because they tower above the highway. 

(John if you read this post, let me know if anything is incorrect.  I also forgot to ask what year your dad starting putting up the Santas.)

By the way, the weather has been fierce since New Year's. It's even rained in Pukalani, Kahului, and parts of Kihei. Today's been particularly blustery and rainy in Haiku.