Sunday, April 26, 2020

Strange and wondrous things I have seen on Maui during the Coronavirus lockdown:

The cute beachy town of Pāʻia (often spelled Paia) is now boarded up with plywood on most of the stores and restaurants. We drive through Pāʻia to Kahului to go grocery shopping about once a week. Some creative people have painted street art and messages of inspiration. I have not been anywhere farther than Kahului so I do not know if other places are similarly decorated. Or if it’s just Pāʻia.

What a great quote: Are we really waiting for a return to NORMAL or are we ready to build something different? By Eliana. Photo at Soha Living.

Original paint job at Nuage Blue.
Updated paint job at Nuage Bleu about a week later.

The other side of Nuage Bleu, painted a week later.
Wings Hawaii painted storefront.

Seascape with Day of the Dead scuba skeletons, at Jammin onʻ Maui.

Existential threats do no care about our biases and dreamed up boundaries. This challeng is asking us to divorce ideologies dedicated to separation and give a damn enough to stand still and save lives. Stand still. Breathe. We are all connected. John Blackshear. 

Painted on a storefront - maybe San Lorenzo Bikiniʻs. 

Hi Techʻs storefront with hashtags.

Painted outside Milagroʻs. Love like a hippie. 

Also at Milagroʻs.

Original paint job at Jamminʻ on Maui before some artist painted dolphins, octopus and swimming skeletons.

Storefront near Nuage Bleu.

Storefront at Paia (Pāʻia) Mercantile 

Storefront at Lilikoi (Lilikoʻi) Maui. 

My favorite street art in Paia: I want to hug you when this is all over. Artwork by Eliana. 

Itʻs actually quite amazing to see lots of free parking in Pāʻia! Usually it requires divine intervention to find a space. Mana Foods has reopened the bulk foods section, unlike Safeway and Whole Foods. 

The new Safeway in Kahului, bulk foods section.

So at Mana, one can fill a plastic bag with flour or beans or rice or spices, but there’s a maximum of 5 people in the bulk room and only 1 person in the spice area. If you are waiting for the slow person ahead of you to figure out what they’re doing, it can involve a lot of patience and waiting.

Mana Foods bulk room during COVID-19

Our post office in Hāʻiku (anglicized version is Haiku) is quite small. It’s maybe 6 feet from the counter to the wall, and yet there is this sign:
The tiny post office in Hāʻiku.

Sign at Fukushimaʻs, a mom and pop grocery store across from the post office. 

Most of the rental cars are not on Hāʻiku the road anymore and have been parked along the back road to Costco. It’s staggering to see how many cars there are. The video clip below is only 5 seconds long but the rental car stockpile continues for another minute in real life. 

Maui car rental stockpile. 2 rows on each side of the back road towards the airport. It doesnʻt go on forever, but there are so many unused cars, itʻs unusual and strange!

Traffic has been one of the nice improvements of our lockdown time. Without all the traffic from tourists and commuting to work, driving to Kahului seems to take about half the time! A friend says it reminds him of his childhood on Maui, back in the 80’s, when one would hardly see any cars on the road.
Typical beach closed sign, this is at Baldwin Beach.

I got a little tweaked at a tourist family that had stopped at a roadside stand in Maliko Gulch at the beginning of our lockdown. They were obviously visiting – because of their rental minivan. I talked with them briefly while wearing my mask and they said they had been staying in Kīhei (often spelled Kihei) from California for about a month. They had just bought some apple bananas, a type of bananas, and other fruit. Thereʻs no rule against buying food, but if you have to drive all the way from Kīhei to Hāʻiku, thatʻs a pretty long drive to buy 1 bag of local bananas when weʻre all supposed to be sheltering at home. 

Tourists cruising Hana Highway during a pandemic. Luckily they are the exception not the rule. There has been a 14 day self-quarantine for all visitors, which wouldnʻt apply to them since  they had already been here for a month. 

Please donʻt tell me itʻs because you canʻt find bananas in the grocery stores. We actually have plenty of food on the island to buy - and everyone I know is planting a garden. There was a two-week period at the beginning of April when it was difficult to find toilet paper and there were  signs limiting the quantities we could buy of certain goods, but the stores are almost normal now, except for the social distancing procedures, masks, protective plastic shields, and lines. I even found toilet paper in Costco last week!

Costco Maui pharmacy counter encased in plastic. 

Outside tables at the new Safeway in Kahului, encased in plastic. 

Almost everyone is wearing a mask in public. I’m pleased about that because last month, just before the lockdown, usually I was the only person in the store wearing a mask. Mine was a Vogmask that I had bought a couple of years ago but hardly used. Some stores like Foodland and Down to Earth now require masks. We’ve all become used to waiting in lines outside the store, standing about 6 feet apart from each other. In a line for Costco, I noticed two women in front of me, had some really pretty masks. I complimented them – 6 feet away – one of their masks was made out of kantha cloth. The other one was upcycled from a bag made of a pretty fabric.

Pics donʻt do these masks justice. My excuse - I was too far away with an older model iphone.

The Upcountry Farmers Market has radically changed since the end of March. I went on the last Saturday in March and the market was surprisingly festive and there were a lot of people interacting, with some people being more cautious. I saw two people who apparently hadnʻt seen each other in a while give each other a hug. I saw one person doing a headstand next to two people sitting on the edge of the sidewalk. Two young women were sniffing roses from the rose vendor. I decided this was not the time to buy pre-sniffed roses.

Upcountry Farmers Market on 3-28-20, before people fully adjusted.

Some vendors wore masks and had hand sanitizer available with signs requesting that people sanitize hands before touching any produce. Some stalls also had signs requesting people to practice social distancing and wait for service 6 feet apart. My friend Becky was selling homemade cloth face masks and infused herbal sprays but was told not to set up the following Saturday because her booth was “not essential.” 

Face masks by Becky Weeks

I went again in mid-April and there were only about 8 stalls and a long line of cars. It had converted into a drive-through farmers market. I was tempted to stay in line, but the line was moving very slowly so I turned around. 
Upcountry Farmers Market near Longs.

Waiting at the end of the line for the drive-through farmers market.

Another friend told me later, that her daughter stuck it out and waited in line that day. What happened is they finally got to a booth where they were asked to write a list of produce items that they wanted to buy, but all of those items were sold out. So it was a waste of time. The Hawaiʻi Farmers Union just launched a Maui Food Hubs project – like a farmers market but one in which you place the order ahead of time. Then on certain days, you can go to a pick up location to get your produce. When I checked it out, most of the items are sold in bulk quantities so it was not good for only 1 head of lettuce.

The new sign at Pukalani Superette.
Last week there was the strange incident of the golf cart that showed up in our driveway. Our neighbor wanted to open his side gate but couldn’t because of the golf cart. I thought it belonged to the boyfriend of one of the other people on our property, but it wasn’t his. After texting everyone on our property and next door, we discovered that the golf cart had been stolen from Sprecklesville, about 10 miles away! Someone had driven it on the highway all the way to our driveway and left it there, then destroyed the electrical system. Through the magic of Facebook post, our neighbor realized it belonged to his friend. It is now restored to its owner.
Random golf cart stolen from Sprecklesville during the lockdown.

The Hoʻokipa pillbox has not been decorated with any special Coronavirus art, but on 4/20 day, it was painted. 
Happy 4/20 at the Hoʻokipa pillbox mural! Was it 4:20 pm? 

Beaches are still technically closed, although there are always cars parked along the Hana Highway outside Hoʻokipa. The County does not want anyone sitting or enjoying the beach – one has to actively be exercising meaning walking, jogging, swimming, surfing – not eating or drying off or changing clothes.

We saw a large stuffed animal wearing a big mask on top of a car the other day. Well, why not? Itʻs been a strange time for us all. Stay safe, everyone. 

The masked monkey in Kahului.

P.S. One resource for Maui residents who need assistance paying rent is the Family Life Center, 808-877-0880. They have access to different grants for rental assistance.

You may also want to read: Entering Coronavirus Lockdown on Maui