Last week, Luca and I went to Kauai, and for five glorious days time slowed to a crawl. It's amazing how quickly one can go from being a dedicated planner and appointment-keeper to not knowing (or caring) what day it is.
(View from the house, Kauai, July 2010)
We stayed with some good friends who own an estate called Namahana Plantation just south of Princeville on the north shore. Five acres of lush vegetation surround the property, and the resplendent privacy made me feel like a Hawaiian Isak Dinesen -- instead of "I had a farm in Africa," I would intone in my best Meryl Streep voice, "I had a plantation in Kauai."
Days were deliciously lazy. In the morning, my friend Gabrielle and I would stroll the grounds...
...and fill a pail with ripe offerings from the macadamia nut, lychee, banana, avocado, grapefruit, lemon, lime and starfruit trees that grow so abundantly everywhere.
In a clever horticultural move, there was an awapuhi bush right next to the outdoor shower so that you could palm a little of its sudsy juice for an instant conditioning treatment.
Luca and I had our own guest house tucked away underneath an arbor of tropical vegetation, complete with our own waterfall pond.
The views from the main house extended across lush pastures toward Mount Namahana in the distance.
One day, we gathered up the troops and went on a hike to a secret garden Gabrielle and her husband discovered that isn't located on any map or accessible from any road.
(Gabrielle and children)
After about a mile, we spotted a bamboo hut half-hidden in a clump of trees that signalled to us we were almost there.
Just beyond it was a dirt track leading down to a hidden valley and veritable private wonderland.
...tiptoed respectfully past a Buddha in a blue shawl...
...stepped nimbly along a rock ledge up to a waterfall...
...and over a lush wooden footpath...
...to our own private lagoon. The stillness was spiritual.
The boys found a bamboo fishing pole and immediately set to work.
Turns were taken dragging the pole back and forth to see whose angling style was most effective.
Turns out that pretzel innards are irresistible bait to locals.
And so the days continued....
In the afternoons, there were beaches to explore, each one with its own soothing charms. Even an avowed non-tanner like me couldn't help but succumb to the spell of sun, sand and sea.
(Hanalei Beach, July 2010)
For lunch, there was the Kilauea Fish Market, an unpreposessing shack just off the main highway...
...renowned among locals for the freshness of its just-caught fish and healthy, delicious meals. If you ever go there, order the cajun ahi sashimi salad. You can thank me later.
No night was complete without a local trip to the nearest shave ice stand, Hawaii's gourmet answer to a snow cone. Pineapple, lychee, coconut, li hing mui (plum), dark cherry -- as you can see, the flavors were always thoroughly slurp-worthy.
Therein lies the essential ingredients of our brief Kauaian idyll. Add some shopping, some napping, some reading, and shuffle and repeat.
On our last night, we had dinner on the terrace of the St. Regis Princeville and watched the sun sink slowly over Hanalei Bay. Really, words fail.