I survived the Road to Hana! by Gerry Feehan
“…I’ve done enough beach holidays to fill a leaky bucket. Watching overweight tourists in undersized beach wear (throngs in thongs) has long since lost its lustre…”
The village of Hana is located on the quiet ‘windward’ side of Maui. Windward is a euphemism for rainy. Precipitation here averages three hundred inches a year. No person of sound judgment would live in a place where an inch of rain in an afternoon is considered a light drizzle.
Most tourists endure the gruelling drive to Hana as a day trip, rising early to negotiate the eighty-five kilometer journey with its six-hundred-plus curves, 54 narrow bridges and frustratingly slow traffic. They choke down a fish taco and lemon bar at a roadside food stand then snake back at a snail’s pace in darkness to the dry leeward side of the island, collapsing into bed at a fancy seaside resort in Kaanapali or Wailea, a checkmark on their Hawaiian holiday agenda firmly ticked off.
“… But as is often the case when one ventures off the beaten track, our choice was serendipitous…”
Some time ago a clever marketer began selling T-shirts with the caption: “I survived the road to Hana!” It really is a challenging drive, so that intrepid shirt salesman is probably now quite wealthy.
I’ve done enough beach holidays to fill a leaky bucket. Watching overweight tourists in undersized beach wear (throngs in thongs) has long since lost its lustre. We were looking for a change, an out-of-the-way Hawaiian adventure. There’s hardly a soul living out Hana way. So we decided to spend a week with the free spirits and addled Vietnam vets.
My search for accommodation in Hana was careful and meticulous. Not. I booked the first place I found on the net: Entabeni Cottage. Click here for their website. But as is often the case when one ventures off the beaten track, our choice was serendipitous.
We had absolute privacy, from the gorgeous ocean view to the solar-heated outdoor shower. The north wall of the cottage consists entirely of glass doors. Each morning we awoke to a 180-degree view of the ocean and the barely discernible sound of waves crashing on the rocky shore hundreds of meters below.
“Entabeni means the place on the hill in Zulu,” explained owner Terry Kristiansen as she toured us in morning sunshine through the horticultural wonder of her amazing garden. We meandered amongst gigantic Cook pine, African tulip and mango trees. She and her husband Michael maintain a tropical nursery. I tried not to blush when she mentioned that some of the flowering plants were viviparous.
Two dogs, a cat, a goat, a multitude of chickens and a raucous gaggle of guinea fowl followed our progress. Terry’s hens lay green eggs – organically of course. Each morning our doorstep was laden with a fresh coop-full of Entabeni’s emerald bounty.
Our Hana booking was for seven days. Perhaps a mistake? There’s purportedly nothing to do there. (A renowned friend of mine, Dr. D, who is intimately familiar with Maui, asked bluntly, ”You’re going to Hana? For a week?”) So, soon after arrival, we decided to scout out some adventure. We meandered into town and chatted up some locals:
“What do you do out here in Hana?” I asked Tyler, a mixed-blood Hawaiian of Portuguese pedigree.
“Not much” he replied, “sometimes we fish… when it’s not rough.” He looked ruefully out to sea, as whitecaps roiled in a sub-tropical winter storm. A lone humpback whale breached in the distance. I concluded that there’d be no fishing on this trip.
“Sometimes we drive into town and pick up mail,” offered his cousin, who was high on friendliness but low on wisdom teeth. “And of course there’s the big meetin’ tonight at the church to vote on the offal plebiscite.”
I’m not sure what offal is but it sounds terrible. I was about to excuse myself, vacate the cottage and head for dry, civilized parts of Maui when Tyler added: “What we really like is hunting wild boar. We’re going out tomorrow morning. You’re welcome to come along if you don’t mind getting a little muddy.”
My expertise as a hunter is renowned. I once shot a gopher – grazing it only slightly but deeply wounding its pride; and I’ve caught two fish – three if you include the goldfish I netted in my backyard pond. Still I figured ‘when in Rome’ and agreed to meet them in the morning at mile marker 26, near an abandoned, burnt-out pickup truck.
“It’s blue,” offered my newfound toothless friend, perhaps to ensure I didn’t wait by a red, abandoned burnt-out pickup truck at mile marker 26.
Terry drove me down at 7am sharp. We hadn’t waited more than a minute when up rolled a pineapple-yellow Ford crew-cab, loaded to exploding with Hawaiians, hunting dogs and guns. The truck, high on its suspension, teetered on two wheels before finally rocking to a stop. The occupants piled out and cracked a Budweiser. The humans that is. The dogs were content to slurp at the slough that had formed around the old blue pickup during the previous evening’s downpour.
Like most flora and fauna in the Hawaiian Islands, the wild pigs are alien. These invasive, destructive critters are a cross between the small Polynesian variety brought to the islands by the first human inhabitants a thousand years ago and larger European pigs imported in the 1800’s; the result is the large, black, elusive, ornery beasts that Hawaiians love to hunt.
By 7:30 a.m. we were a kilometre deep in the rainforest, up to our knees in muck. The dogs had sniffed out a promising dig. Fresh tracks confirmed that a large sow was nearby. Three hours later we were still zigzagging back and forth over, around and through jungle streams laced with invasive strangler figs and giant eucalyptus trees. The pigs were clever. On a couple of occasions the dogs bolted excitedly into the impenetrable jungle on a promising scent but near noon, with the tropical sun beating down and steam rising in the heated rainforest, we admitted defeat and called it a day.
“What happens if you get injured in here?” I asked Tyler as we began the slow hour-long crawl back to the pickup.
“Hurt is not a’ option,” he answered, tugging at a rubber boot sunk deep in a wallow of mud.
Back at the truck, with the last of the morning Budweiser, we conceded the feral pig’s victory over man.
“Why don’t you and your bride come down to our place tomorrow for Super Bowl,” offered Tyler, “there’ll be plenty of grind and bevvies.”
I assumed he meant food and drink.
We arrived fashionably late with a plate full of devilled (green) eggs and a cooler full of cold ones. After the game (quite exciting – not a Superbore) I asked if it would be okay were I to bring out my ever-present ukulele from its coincidental resting place in the trunk of the rental car.
“That’d be great bra’,” said Tyler, using the term of endearment that forms every second word of Hawaiian pidgin vocabulary.
When I returned, a slack guitar and four ukuleles were jamming on the lanai. Uncle Bobby (whose relationship with our hosts I never did quite grasp) was pouring himself a stiff concoction, lighting a smoke and settling into an over-worn armchair for what turned out to be a long night of music and laughter.
Later in the week, as we strolled Hana’s streets locals were honking, waving “hey bra’’” and inviting us for grind. Apparently we ‘haole’ (white people from another place) were a hit.
In closing I offer seven recommendations on how to pass a week in Hana:
- Walk awestruck as Terry Kristiansen guides you through the horticultural wonder that is Entabeni Cottage (whilst chickens peck at your progress);
- Shower outdoor at night in the Entabeni rain;
- Crawl on all fours for hours through steep, muddy rainforest with a pack of men, dogs and Budweiser on the hunt for wild boar;
- Enjoy a candle-lit repast of raw sashimi-grade ahi tuna, followed by lightly seared opaka-paka, served with a glass of white wine by your favorite fellow hominid;
- Get lit up with Hawaiian locals at a ukulele jam;
- Waste a day by shooting close-up photographs of the incredible rainbow eucalyptus trees;
- Snorkel at a ‘clothing optional’ black sand beach, oblivious to the nudity of those around you;
- Hike the seven sacred pools to Waimoku Falls or traverse the jagged lava cliffs of Waianapanapa State Park.
Did I say seven things? I guess there’s more to do in Hana than first meets the eye. So get off the beaten track, out of the th(r)ong and seek some adventure.
Gerry Feehan QC practised law in Red Deer for 27 years before starting his second life as a freelance travel writer and photographer. He says that, while being a lawyer is more remunerative than travel writing, it isn’t nearly as much fun. When not on the road, Gerry and his wife Florence live in Red Deer and Kimberley, BC. Todayville is proud to work with Gerry to re-publish some of his most compelling stories from his vast catalogue developed over more than a decade of travel.
Click to read more excellent stories by Gerry Feehan.
Running Reins Ranch in Red Deer County picks up $250,000 grant from province
Running Reins Ranch partners with members of the local Indigenous community to set-up teepee accommodations and host regular cultural programming for guests.
Tourism investment fuels growth in rural Alberta
Alberta’s government continues to support regional tourism opportunities across the province, generating jobs and new tourism destinations for locals and visitors alike.
Ahead of World Tourism Day 2023, Minister of Tourism and Sport Joseph Schow visited Running Reins Ranch to see first-hand how tourism investment grants are making a difference in the lives of Albertans.
“Alberta’s government is proud to invest in growing visitor destinations like Running Reins Ranch that celebrate the richness and diversity of Alberta’s rural destinations and provide a sustainable tourism experience for visitors to enjoy.”
As part of the Tourism Investment Program, Running Reins Ranch received a $250,000 grant from Travel Alberta.
“Our investment will support the building of additional unique accommodations at the ranch that will triple their capacity, emphasize their year-round offerings and create five new full-time jobs. This investment in Running Reins Ranch is a perfect example of how Travel Alberta is driving tourism growth in rural communities across the province.”
Running Reins is located east of Innisfail, offering cabin and teepee accommodations and a wide range of outdoor activities for visitors looking to combine the beauty of the Prairies with farm experiences for a one-of-a-kind getaway.
Right to Left: Minister of Tourism and Sport Joseph Schow, Owners of Running Reins Ranch Terry and Janice Scott, and team member Grace Finlan.
“This funding is a game-changer for us and our business. We are excited to bring our vision to life and provide visitors with unforgettable experiences while supporting the economic growth of the surrounding community.”
Tourism is Alberta’s No. 1 service export sector. In 2019, Alberta welcomed 34.6 million visitors, generating $10.1 billion in expenditures and supporting more than 80,000 full-time jobs. The Tourism Investment Program is Travel Alberta’s commitment to investing $15 million annually with communities and operators to develop the province’s tourism sector. Developing Alberta’s rural and agri-tourism sector is an essential component of the government’s efforts to grow Alberta’s tourism economy to more than $20 billion by 2035.
- In 2022-23, Travel Alberta funded 166 projects across 73 communities – about 75 per cent of the projects and 70 per cent of the funding were in smaller urban and rural areas of the province.
- In December 2022, Alberta’s government released its Economic Development in Rural Alberta Plan, with supporting initiatives that demonstrate the government’s commitment to building healthy and prosperous communities across rural Alberta and Indigenous communities.
Backlog of air passenger complaints tops 57,000, hitting new peak
A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., on May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
By Christopher Reynolds in Montreal
The backlog of air passenger complaints at Canada’s transport regulator has hit a new high topping 57,000, as dissatisfaction over cancellations and compensation persist three and a half years after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The numbers reveal that an average of more than 3,000 complaints per month have piled up at the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) over the past year, with the current tally well over three times the total from September 2022.
Vancouver residents Chad Kerychuk and Melissa Oei say they are mulling a complaint after they arrived in Halifax six hours later than planned on a flight from their hometown in August 2021 and found themselves separated on board despite buying pricier tickets to select side-by-side spots in advance.
The couple said WestJet has rejected their request for a partial refund.
“More than a year has lapsed since the departure date and the claim period has expired. As such, your claim cannot be approved,” WestJet told them in an email.
Kerychuk said the response “feels like a wrong way to treat loyal customers” after years of opting for that carrier over competitors.
“There was no effort made to support us, because we supported them during the pandemic. And I thought that was completely unfair,” he said in a phone interview.
WestJet said the disruption was caused by unplanned maintenance, an exclusion from compensation rules that the federal government says will soon be unavailable to carriers.
In June, the government passed legislation to overhaul Canada’s passenger rights charter, laying out measures to toughen penalties and tighten loopholes around traveller compensation as well as streamline the complaints process as a whole.
“There will be no more loopholes where airlines can claim a disruption is caused by something outside of their control for a security reason when it’s not,” then-transport minister Omar Alghabra told reporters in April.
The Canadian Press has reached out to the CTA and WestJet for comment.
While some reforms aren’t slated to take effect until Sept. 30, Air Passenger Rights advocacy group president Gabor Lukacs claims the transport agency could take steps immediately to up the maximum fine for airline violations and kick off consultations on who bears the administrative cost of complaints.
Their rising tally comes as no surprise to Lukacs.
“Those soaring numbers show the failure of the government to design regulations which are actually practically enforceable and provide meaningful protection to passengers,” he said.
He pointed to the Air Passenger Protection Regulations, also known as the passenger rights charter, that the government introduced in 2019 — in theory a legal milestone for Canadian travellers, but one that failed to live up to its promise due to loopholes and a lack of simplicity, Lukacs said.
“The government adopted a regime which is so complicated, so complex … that it takes inordinate resources to actually verify eligibility,” he said.
He also called out a “dismal record” of enforcement.
“The few fines which are being issued are for low-hanging fruit … and the CTA has not actually laid the groundwork to issue higher fines.”
The amendments to the passenger rights charter allow the regulator to ratchet up the maximum penalty for airline violations to $250,000 — a tenfold increase — and put the regulatory cost of complaints on carriers. In theory, that measure gives airlines an incentive to brush up their service and thus reduce the number of grievances against them.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 18, 2023.
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