People come from all over the world to Kauai for quiet and relaxation but have you ever wondered where those who live here go to “get away from it all?”
When the crowds, traffic and hectic pace of life on Kauai finally get to you, consider Molokai; this sleepy nub makes Kauai downright urbane.
There aren’t many people living on Molokai but the census bureau still has to count them so off I went to wander the dirt roads looking for plywood shacks and asking the friendly residents for their mailing addresses. That’s a more complicated question than you might think on Molokai. Folks may not be too sure about such details as house numbers or names of streets, but if the UPS driver is your cousin and the mailman used to date your sister, what difference does it make?
There are no stoplights on Molokai. The airport runway is too short for jets so it’s propeller planes only. Outside the airport an old man forwent any greeting or introduction and spoke to me as if we had been traveling together. He was having trouble opening the door to the car that a friend had left for him in the parking lot. The windows were broken or stuck open and the interior had been stripped. I reached inside and pulled a heavy-gauge wire that looked like it might open the door. I helped the man with his suitcase and sent him on his way. His friend had left the keys in the ignition.
Even the minimal formalities we observe talking to strangers on Kauai seemed to be unnecessary on an island where you might bump into the same person several times in the same day. So I was only mildly surprised when using the computer at Molokai’s only library, a man sat next to me and without even looking in my direction started talking to me about the online surf report on his screen. I studied it with him and we discussed surfing conditions for a few minutes before he actually looked at me and realized that I was not his friend David Garcia. I was just someone who looked a lot like him. We both got over the surprise soon enough, however and it really didn’t seem to matter much to either of us that I wasn’t who he thought I was. I imagine the conversation would have been pretty much the same if I were David Garcia.
There weren’t even really very many tourists there, actually. Most visitors to Hawaii stick with “the big four,” Oahu, Maui, Kauai and The Big Island. I did see hula dancers one evening as I dined on a garden burger at one of the island’s few restaurants, but they didn’t have costumes. They were just a couple in the audience who knew the guitarist playing that evening and got up to do a little dance they knew.
I ate a lot of garden burgers, actually. The woman behind the counter at Molokai Burger treated my vegetarian order no differently than any other. She told me that she would call my number when the food was ready. She looked down at the receipt and informed me my number was “zero.” There was one other customer in the restaurant at the time. I guess when you get a crowd of that size, you better start giving out numbers. I wonder what the other guy’s number was.
So why the picture of the phone booths? It just struck me that they aren’t many phone booths left. These ones on the wharf have probably been there a long time. They never got worn out. They never got vandalized and no one ever bothered to remove them.