The Luck of the Hobos
We were four: myself, Kelsi and two Canadian girls, and each of us had our thumbs stuck out in sweaty desperation. The Canadians looked exactly as their names suggested. Candice – a hopeful Miss Hawaii – hadn’t removed the lei from her neck since landing in Maui three days previous. Her hair was freshly-curled and she’d applied false eyelashes for the occasion – which, by the way, was hiking Iao Valley and swimming in its pristine waterways. Meggie-Anne, on the other hand, was decked in a safari suit with bountiful enthusiasm and genuine calf muscles: the quintessential girl scout.
Aside from a few hiccups (setting off in the wrong direction due to the hostel receptionist’s inability to distinguish left from right), the morning had gone smoothly. We’d woken with enough time to check out Iao Valley before our flight, and I was still alive despite having breakfasted on non-refrigerated chicken from a Japanese convenience store. Getting to Iao Valley involved a three-mile trek uphill in the blistering heat, but we were assured that hitchhiking in Maui was easier than I was after a bottle of Cab Merlot. While this may be true when you are a party of two, Candice and Meggie-Anne had doggedly refused our suggestions to split up, so there we were, one mile up the road with no ride in sight.
Vans and utes with ample space for four sped past without even a shadow of guilt, but just as I’d resigned myself to laying down and dying on someone’s driveway, an American couple pulled up in a shiny BMW. Darryl was from Noo Yawk, and had clearly spent far more time at the gym that week than I had in my life. Karen was petite and charming, and looked like a celebrity compared to the four soggy females with boob chafe standing before her. They had absolutely no room for all of us, but were determined to help all the same, so insisted on squishing us in. And let me assure you: the breeze from that aircon was easily the best blowie I’ve received.
We hopped out at the national park and bade our saviours farewell, pledging undying gratitude. The valley itself was breathtaking. Once you passed the paved park that is mandatory in places designed to cater to fat Americans on mobility scooters, we were rewarded with thick, luscious jungle. After walking uphill for a good two minutes, I remembered that I only like hiking in theory, so convinced Kelsi to turn around and go for a dip in one of the valley’s Antarctic streams.