Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Maui, for 10 years of marriage

A few years ago, we talked about doing something big, monumental, to celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary. We let our imaginations run wild as we brainstormed: Historical tours in France and Germany! Hiking through Spain! Tea in England! When Rich's concussion looked like it was going to be long-lasting, we had to adjust course a little bit. We chose a week on Maui in Hawaii, to relax, run away, and the option to get out and do some adventuring, if he felt up to it. It sometimes seems like our whole lives are on hold as we wait for him to feel better, like all our plans revolve around his symptoms. You know what? Forced relaxation did us both heaps of good.

Plans were set in place years in advance: We started saving, and asking our parents to step in and babysit while we were away. We knew we wouldn't be able to enjoy ourselves unless the girls were in good, loving hands. It was so nice to have this trip to anticipate; the build up and excitement made it so special. We are now home from our escape away, and though these pictures and words will not do Maui justice, please believe me when I say that island is as close to paradise I've ever seen.

I loved how the island's whole vibe entered around nature: beaches, soaring green mountains, sunsets and sunrise rituals, trade winds and warm, sunny weather year-round. We spent our week doing exactly what we wanted to do, and our favourite memories came from activities that didn't cost a thing. We hiked up Waihe'e ridge one day, a four-mile hike that climbed 1500 feet into the clouds! It was tough at times, but the views of waterfalls, lush green forest and plants were like a scene from a movie. We hiked another day to Twin Falls, through flash-flooded trails and into ice-cold fresh water, but we were proud and thrilled to go beyond the safe/easy hikes to see extraordinary scenery. 

Each day I saw the sun rise and set, and we hardly ever were aware of the time. We put our phones away, and took great delight in asking the question, "So, what should we do today?" Some days we stayed close to our home base and lounged by the pool or beach for an entire day, reading, napping, drinking chocolate milkshakes, whatever we chose! We saw a lot of retired couples, or honeymoon couples, but noticed most of the people our age brought their kids. Our girls would have loved it there, and maybe if we'e lucky we'll all go there as a family one day. Doing something on our own, just us two, felt oddly against the grain, and extra indulgent.

I felt a thirst to learn as much as I could about Maui: the language, the trees names, the local wildlife (there are no snakes, how great is that?), the types of birds and the layout of the island. Our best learning experience was getting up close with a 75-year-old gigantic sea turtle while we were snorkelling on our own, one morning. We hovered in the water, watching him nibble at the coral, and when he surfaced for air, he ascended right in front of us, nonplussed by our presence. In fact, I think he even waved a fin at me, high-five style. Dude. 

We bought new sunscreen after learning that regular sunblock has been damaging the coral reefs over time. We could see evidence of bleached and dead coral when we snorkelled, and the array of colourful fish dependent on the reef for their habitat became hopeful beacons for a healthier reef in the future. I was so impressed by the efforts made to reduce environmental impacts all over Maui: the hotel recycled drain water to water the grounds, the island has wind turbines and solar panels everywhere for alternate energy, plastic shopping bags are outlawed, there were signs explaining responsible hiking practices to reduce harm, and there was a strong emphasis on eating locally-produced food as opposed to food shipped over from the mainland. 

We ate so well. I tried mahi mahi and loved it, we ate local pork and had pineapple with nearly every meal. We found cute surf shack burger joints, highway pie restaurants, and outdoor cafes tucked away from busier areas. We happily embraced the state's latest food trend: smoothie bowls. After climbing the mountain, we gorged on bowls filled with macadamia nut milk, blueberries, kale, protein powder, almond butter, bananas, berries and granola, doubtful it would satiate our ravenous appetites, but we were full for hours.

We were so in tune with each other. It was such a gift to know that magic is still there. Our ability to know and read each other better than anyone else reinforced how lucky we are to be married. We also took stock of how hard it is to be married. It is hard to have someone hold a mirror to all your weaknesses and faults, requiring you to be better, to try harder. That is also the gift, though, how much we have learned about the ways we can love each other, and love the other people in our lives, to the best of our abilities. I have learned to coast through lots of areas in my life with minimal effort, but marriage can never be one of them. I have definitely found you get out of it what you put in. There is so, so much more to learn, and that is encouragement enough as we celebrate our first 10 years and move onto the next. We're better together. 

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely post :) Congratulations and well done on 10 years of marriage!


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