The One with the Goddess Pele, Part 2

DAY 1, cont’d. a.k.a Angering the Goddess Pele

We last left our plucky but determined heroine riding down the Haleakalā volcano on a small bicycle while wearing a large helmet. (Cue dramatic music.)

Haleakala Horse

Bobble-head Me with my new friend, before Pele got to me.

We’d watched a serene, breathtaking sunrise from the top of Haleakalā volcano on the island of Maui, then amped up the “fun” by hopping on bicycles to catapult ourselves the 10,000 feet to sea level. We fishtailed around hairpin switchbacks and were nearly mowed down by cars sharing the narrow road. On one muddy turn, I braked too hard and my bicycle wheels slid out from under me. I skidded across the pavement and ended up pinned under the bike with one of the pedals digging into my skin.

Except for a few cuts and torn pants, I was no worse for the wear, though it was a little difficult righting myself wearing the bobble-head helmet. I checked to make sure I hadn’t lost anything, frantically searching my pocket for the little rock I’d picked up from the top of the crater. There it was, all smooth and polished, just where I’d put it. Whew! I thought as I rinsed my leg with some water from my canteen. I was fine to continue the ride, though it did occur to me that most people come to Hawai’i to lay about on the sand. Why wasn’t I doing that??

We took a break for lunch at a roadside cafe with picnic tables under the trees. The proprietor, a sturdy Samoan woman, made us a plate lunch. As we took our seats, she noticed my torn pants, so I told her about the fall. Her eyes got kind of squinty, as if I’d just confessed to stealing candy from a child, but she got a bandage for me. She pushed it across the counter and mumbled something like, “You’re out of sorts.”

Somehow we made it the rest of the way down Haleakalā without incident and gleefully returned our bicycles and helmets.

DAY 2, a.k.a. Pele is still after me.

We decided to tour around Maui, taking in the warm ocean breeze and salt air. We had rented a convertible solely for this reason. Except the top would not release. We pushed the button again and again like fools while the motor whirred uselessly. We resigned ourselves to the lesser experience of driving around with all the windows down. But the longer I sat in the passenger seat with my arm hanging pathetically out the window, the more annoyed I became.  I was going to get that roof down if it was the last thing I did.

While we were driving along, I kneeled on the seat and tugged the roof with all my might. Maybe there was a manual release option. That didn’t work, so I climbed into the backseat to look at the well into which the roof was supposed to retract. Maybe something was blocking the mechanism. I was maneuvering the gears and  pushing on the levers. So obsessed focused on the task was I that I didn’t see the blue lights flashing from behind. Nor did I think he was referring to me when the police officer said over the loud speaker, “Please ma’am, get out of the car.”

Pele, Goddess of Fire and Volcanoes

Pele: the goddess of fire and volcanoes, among other things.

DAY 4, a.k.a. Pele really wants her rock back.

By the fourth day of our trip, things had settled into a nice rhythm of slathering on suntan lotion and wading into the ocean. We had talked about doing more…lively activities, so we mustered the enthusiasm to take a drive (top up) to a black sand beach near the town of Hana.

I wish this was my photo... but Pele got to my camera. Via Wikimedia Commons

Black sand beach near Hana. I wish this was my photo… but Pele got to my camera.                              Via Wikimedia Commons

Black sand is actually fragments of lava, created from the reaction of the molten flow and sea water. We took off our shoes and made our way over the sharp rocks to the water. I pulled my camera out of my pocket. The wrist strap got caught on my belt and before I could react, the camera fell to the sand just as the surf washed over my feet. I grabbed it within seconds, but already droplets of condensation had appeared on the lens.

“Give her the rock!” my friend yelled maniacally.

“What?” I was mourning the loss of the film and quite possibly the camera itself.

“The rock! The rock! Give Pele the f**ing rock!”

I took the little rock out of my pocket, the one I’d picked up from the volcano’s crater to mark the beautiful moment I’d had watching the sun rise. “You don’t really believe…”

“Get rid of it!”

I took one more look at the lava rock and tossed it into the surf. We drove directly to the West Maui Electronics shop where Mr. Brink was able to repair and clean my camera.

Miraculously the rest of our trip was uneventful.

Business Card

Have you had a run-in with a local legend?

Have a great weekend, everyone!



  1. Glad that you listened to your friend’s screaming on Goddess Pele’s behalf. I shudder to think what she had in store for you next. She might have been saving her best for your flight home: the ejector seat.

    The closest I’ve come to crossing paths with a local legend was last year when the Film Society of Lincoln Center honored hometown girl, Barbra Streisand. Milton and I were in the audience. But that was a very pleasant evening. On the way home, we refrained from warbling a duet of “People” possibly because we did not want to court any ill consequences with our favorite diva.


  2. Thank god the camera could be saved. Must admit that I had a run in with something or someone on a volcano here in Ecuador last week. Hope to post about it early next week. CRAZY story. But then you know me! LOL Have a wonderful weekend, my friend.

    Hugs from Ecuador,


  3. Wow! All that would make me superstitious too. Can’t believe you had to wear that awful helmet . . . looks like it weighs 5 pounds! No wonder you fell off the bike.
    The camera near-disaster gave me chills. 🙂


    1. That helmet was terrible. I had no peripheral vision. When the bike started to skid away from me, the weight of the helmet just brought me crashing down. People go into battle with less gear.

      I knew the camera part would get you. 🙂


    1. I swooped down to pick up that camera faster than kids eating cake at a birthday party, but it wasn’t fast enough. The camera still had moisture in the mechanisms. At least it didn’t get washed out to sea.


  4. I loved reading this conclusion to your adventures and thank goodness you gave the rock back to Pele 😉 This was perfect timing, too… my current WIP has one scene in Hawaii and your posts have really taken me there (I’ve never been!). Thank you!


  5. Holy Crap! I can’t believe that happened to you. Pele don’t mess around, glad you were able to save your camera and that the rest of your trip was not life-threatening or disastrous in any manner. Your friend had some very wise advice there 🙂


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