Vic's Jet Ski and its truck full of windsurfing toys were at Kahului airport to greet us. They had just arrived after a morning of frolicking in the massive surf for which Hawaii is famous. Vic was in the loo, probably changing out of her wetsuit but her lovely friends, Emanuel and Marinesse were on hand to make sure we were properly welcomed and shepherded into the right vehicles with our luggage. Thus, the tone of the holiday was set. Charlie arrived through the airport back door some days later and had to come looking for his fan club that were waiting at the front door.
''Watch me windsurf Jaws'' says Vic. Well John and I remember the original film release so naturally we were worried. Apparently, this Jaws is one of the famous big waves of the world with a reputation for biting surfers. 'Watching' was not a passive activity. It involved John actually launching the Ski packed with windsurf kit from a dodgy jetty down some dirt track and then parking the truck. He's been around a bit, so some dicey Jet Ski launching was a piece of cake. Starting the car was a different matter because he didn't know about the weird American clutch interlock; you have to depress the clutch to start the engine. "Why can't you just put the car in neutral like a normal person?" He hates scrabbling about under cars in the mud and getting all oily; especially, for no good reason.
Apparently, to dice with death on the face of Jaws you need to get well psyched up by watching from the safety of your anchored Jet Ski. On the cliffs above, we watched hours of fantastic wave sailing by the worlds best whilst keeping an eye on the psyching up process. At last, Vic and tow buddy, Felipe are taking to the field and our excitement and nervousness builds. But wait! Catastrophe strikes. The poor lonely jet ski is sinking. We dash back to the dodgy jetty to assist with the recovery and, days later, with installing a seal to stop the thing filling up with water. We met Vic's tow buddy, Felipe, on Christmas day, so I gather he got a lift home from Jaws after being abandoned by Vic in her haste to save the ski from Davy Jones' Locker.
Of course, John couldn't resist the lure of the Jet Ski. It wasn't long before he was riding pillion for the hour ride to Jaws from the main harbour. I watched with some trepidation as they kept vanishing amongst the pounding surf only to reappear cresting the next massive roller. Huge grins and smoking tyres accompanied their return up the steep slipway. Little was said about his sore bottom but I could tell it hurt. How the truck survives all the abuse I will never know. It only gets attention when things are desperate. The Ski is the pampered pet having us all run round making his house clean, feeding and washing him, usually in the middle of the night when he gets back from playing in the waves.
Maui is famous for its surf, particularly the north shore. Its not so famous for its rain but it should be. I'm surprised residents of Haiku don't rot through overwatering. They're continually wet either from the surf or the rain. Vic provided John with a pick and mix assortment of kit, allowing him to join the throng of windsurfers blasting about at one of the slalom beaches. He seemed in his element with the howling winds until he put his head through a sail whilst tearing across the water; still, it was a very stylish wipe-out. The world renowned Hookipa beach is the daily surf spot for the soggy Haiku residents. Here, enormous waves are all too eager to smash you onto the rocks. Huge turtles adorn the beach and meander the surging shore zone ready to upend unwary swimmers as they sideswipe your legs from under you; I know this from bitter experience and large bruises. Charlie, realising that a nice holiday tan was not going to result from Haiku rain, drove his blue, battered, borrowed truck to the sunnier south and west coasts of the island and surfed the more forgiving waves. Then again, Vic continually enticed him into risking his well being by joining her in the Hookipa heaven for surfers.
In fact Vic did a lot of enticement. Quite unexpectedly we ended up on a 25km hike into the Haleakala crater. We were freezing at the top but it became pleasantly warm during the 2500ft descent and we had a lovely sunny afternoon meandering the floor of the crater. We were late starting because of some mincing. Charlie decided he would prefer chilling on the south of the island rather than endure a famous Abbott expeditionary hike. We planned to be back for the sunset but missed it even with an energetic ascent up the 'Switch Back' trail and arrived back at the car as dusk settled. We were frozen again. Warmer activities were in order so we went for mud hikes and runs, saw the latest films, walked Vic's 3 legged dog named 'Little Boy', and went to beaches and stuff. Indeed, Little Boy featured very heavily in our activities. He's so cute even when he tries to pee on beach towels but at the ripe old age of 10 he can be pretty bloody minded.
I fought off predatory packs of mosquitoes to pick tropical fruits growing wild in the overgrown rainforest of a garden; avocados seem to taste better freshly picked from your garden. With the abundance of mosquitoes it was no surprise to find chit-chats by the dozen. They would fall out of window blinds, scamper across the window panes in hot pursuit of the dreaded mosquitoes and, in a scene that could have come from Harry Potter, one tried to take up residence in Charlie's beard and was not keen to be evicted.
Christmas traditions are important and I was delighted that Vic started two for herself. You need a tree for Christmas and it's open season on these invasive plants once a year on the slopes of the Haleakala National Park. It's a festive morning with kids roaming everywhere trying to bag the best and biggest tree whilst the parents try and pick something that can actually be felled with the small hand saws that are the only tools permitted; mixing kids with wildly swinging axes and chain saws would be irresponsible. John races Victoria up the wooded slopes fighting the vegetation and the juvenile competition for the best trees. John's wildly swinging axe makes short work of the thick trunks and he soon has a pile of trees scattered about him; oddly, other people seem to detour round his patch of hillside. Vic goes for quality not quantity, probably due to the dinky little folding saw she uses to sever the thick trunk of her prime specimen.
Soon the borrowed car we drive is loaded underneath a massed forest of trees and, with a small gap through which the driver can peer, the forest sets off for the cautious ride home and subsequent delivery. A couple of days later, Charlie chopped ours to size and I decorated it, then bought more lights and baubles to finish the job; it was a surprisingly big tree. It looked really festive and I wish Vic luck in continuing the tradition.
At 10,000ft the peak of Haleakala sits majestically above the clouds. Watching the sunrise from the freezing summit is a 'must do' tick for any self-respecting tourist to Maui even if it does require a 3am start to drive the hairpin ascent to be in time for the spectacle. There are plenty of tour companies eager to part you from your money to help you achieve your goal but Vic was eager for us to accomplish it independently. A family event. To watch the sunrise from the top of Haleakala warmed by each others company on Christmas morning. What! Stop! Wait! What did you say. Are you effing nuts!!! John and I have done some stupid things in our life (well John mainly) but that is not one of them. Better luck with your next idea for a Christmas tradition Vic. Well actually, we did all see the Haleakala sunrise on Christmas morning. I got some very pretty postcards for us all.
And a few days later, the family saw the sunset with the crimson glow on the clouds.
New Year's Eve we had a little family day at the beach with surfing, yoga and an evening Bar-B-Q.
I've no idea what happened at midnight. John and I were safely tucked up in bed again. It was a complete contrast to Christmas Day when we had a big get together with some of Vic's many friends where we ate and drank too much; such is Christmas. Actually, eating and drinking too much seemed to be a recurring theme. Marinesse and Emanuel entertained us on many lovely occasions and we thoroughly enjoyed being spoilt by them and their family; I'm also relieved they keep a parental eye out for Victoria.
Three and a half weeks after greeting him, we were saying an emotional goodbye to Charlie. Before we knew it, our two months were up and we were Tahiti bound for our 5 day trek back to Shiraz on the hard at the remote atoll of Apataki. I take wonderful memories of our trip to Maui with our family all together for such a brief period. I do hope we will be back some day.