808s and Daybreak


Our time in Hawaii can best be summarized as this: make a fist, stick out your thumb and smallest finger, then turn your wrist from side to side. I’d always just called this the “hang loose” sign, but while we were in Maui, we learned what it’s really called - the shaka.


The origin of the shaka is funny. Legend has it there was a guy named Hamana, who worked at a sugar mill on the east side of Oahu. One day, he had an accident while working and lost all his fingers except his thumb and pinky. He's moved to working as a security guard, watching over the sugar train that kids would sneak onto for a free ride to the best surfing spot in town. Pretty soon, the surfers started mimicking Hamana's hand, using the gesture to signal if he was on duty or not or if the coast was clear. I have a feeling this is one of those stories that has been passed around for a while.


Our dive instructor told us to throw up the shaka whenever we saw something particularly awesome underwater, like a fun turtle or some gigantic manta rays. But you’d better believe Peter and I abused it pretty heavily during our entire trip - after those long days when we were too tired to speak, during quiet mornings sitting outside we didn’t want to spoil with words. We tossed it up to whomever else we saw navigating tiny hairpin roads in a camper, or discreetly to each other as we're about to board a rickety, eight-person plane ride from Maui to the Big Island, that we suspect might be our last.


We spent five days on Maui, in a van we picked up from the seediest/coolest workshop ever. The guy renting it seemed like he might have started his "Aloha Friday" a couple days early, but hey, it was a clear, cool night in beautiful Hawaii - it'd be a shame to take anything too seriously.

I wasn’t sure how I’d like living out of a camper, but we fell in love with that old bucket of bolts. The lack of showers was tough, especially because we were out hiking and diving and getting our dirty hands and feet across all corners of the island. But we made do with public swimming pool locker rooms, ten dollar campsite sinks, the hose they used to wash off the scuba equipment. It was messy, muddy, and it's not for everyone (especially days before your wedding), but there was a sense of excitement along with falling asleep somewhere new each night; next to a waterfall, volcano or beach. Choose your own adventure.


On the Big Island, we stayed in a renovated Buddhist shrine on the east coast of the island. It was a rustic, open, jungle home, where lizards ran through our bedsheets and roosters woke us up crowing at all hours of the night; the rain on the roof sounded like gunshots. It was the kind of thing that could annoy the shit out of you if it weren’t still such a novelty - you know you’re from the city when you spend ten minutes trying to get close enough for a picture of a damn chicken. But we had fresh eggs every morning and it was green as far as we could see outside our window, so we couldn’t complain.


We drove hours to get to the highest summit in Hawaii, only to have it be the foggiest day we’d ever seen. I was hoping to experience Mauna Kea's panoramic views, but there was a unique beauty in that opaque morning, veiled landscapes and shrouded peaks.


Jetlag becomes us. Hawaii is four hours earlier than home, but we never really adjusted, due to my insistence to stay awake for the sunrise whenever my body first woke (much to Peter's chagrin). Every morning, without fail, we were looking to the sky as the sun broke the horizon. Sunrises are a beautiful thing, every time, but especially if it’s been a while since you’ve seen a good one. Hawaii gave us ten.