July 22, 2021
Submitted by traveller Camila
I suppose no one imagined that a solo traveler such as myself, in a small rented car and clearly unprepared, would attempt such a feat. In my defence, I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into. So I found myself, in a Chevy Cruze, bumping along the gravel road full of potholes, perched on the edge of ocean-facing cliffs, windows open for some much-needed air, dust choking me, white-knuckeling the steering wheel and wondering why there were no other cars in sight. That particular question was soon answered.
It all started on my last day visiting Maui’s beautiful and remote eastern edges. I spent the morning hiking the popular trails at Haleakala National Park Kipahulu, a fun experience despite the giant black wasps that hovered near the muddy path, forcing me to sprint past. Sweaty, happy and only slightly freaked out, I returned to the car to resume my journey and decided, since I was already about thirty minutes south of Hana, I should just continue onwards instead of doubling back to take the more popular Road to Hana along Maui’s northern shore. Besides, I had already done the famed Road a couple of days earlier and, while its breathtaking views as it winds through lush jungle are certainly worth repeating, I thought seeing another part of the island would be cool. That, at least, turned out to be true...Maui’s windswept, isolated southern coastline is glorious to behold, if a bit perilous.
As I inched my way forward -- going back the way I’d come was not an option -- I subconsciously deepened and slowed down my breath. I was zoned in, hyper-aware and fully present. It was one of many mindful moments that I would experience over my time on the Valley Isle. In that moment, my mindfulness practice kicked in and saved me from utter panic at finding myself alone, in a rented car, on an almost non-traversable, single-lane road carved into the side of a mountain, with the very real possibility of never being heard from again. I was nearing the end of a solo trip to Maui, planned as a mix of mindful adventure and rejuvenation in an attempt to counteract the effects of coronavirus lockdowns and get comfortable with traveling once again. I had set a very clear intention for this trip; get out of my comfort zone, lean into the moment and see what happens. Well, I was getting a first-hand look at “what happens” as I cautiously made my way back to civilization.
Later that night, having recovered my composure with a glass of pineapple wine and settled into my cozy hotel room in the charming town of Paia, I had some time to reflect on my days spent on the Valley Isle; days that were nothing short of magical and filled with discomfort. From deciding to travel during the pandemic -- albeit very cautiously and following all safety protocols -- to driving by myself all over Maui in a rented car -- a first for me -- to hiking sketchy “trails” to reach hidden beaches and secret waterfalls -- though Red Sand Beach was well worth it -- to getting hopelessly lost in the dense forests of the Upcountry -- searching for my next B&B -- to waking up at ungodly hours for snorkeling tours... While my most uncomfortable moment was definitely that drive back from Hana, my trip was filled with the kinds of moments where you can choose to doubt or to trust, to stay in your comfort zone or to step boldly outside of it. I chose to trust myself a little bit more; to trust my intuition, to trust my experience, to trust my resourcefulness and to stay open to wherever that trust would lead me and to that glorious sense of freedom that only travel can deliver!
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