The Road to Hana, designed by nature to encourage a slow, full journey.

April 12th, 2012, 11am

“I survived the road to Hana.”

You can buy t-shirts emblazoned with those bragging rights, gaudy cotton testimony that you endured the long, winding road into the remote village of Hana and lived to talk about it. It’s meant to be funny, and literal. There are soft, sweeping, gentle turns and quick, impossible, hairpin turns, with miles of razor thin shoulders abutting cliffs.

You pass supple waterfalls and torrential ones, creep past shallow valleys and dark, cavernous gulches. To one side there is nothing but blue - the sky, the ocean, forever racing towards one another; and then, to the other, a field, a wall, a blanket of deep green. And you drive along the thin black strip of roadway, the line separating blue from green, winding forever until you reach Hana.

Surviving that journey with senses and lunch intact is, in fact, a feat. Going to that magical town should be an adventure. It should take some time and effort and energy.

To those who’ve gone before there is another route, a less serpentine road that you travel along through the upcountry, one that meanders softly through flat, open fields and arid rubble. Taking this route often means cutting an hour off the travel time to and from Hana. There are no hairpin turns, no vertigo-inducing switchbacks. Just long, straight stretches with nary a cliffside in sight.

But the upcountry road doesn’t always gift you with time. Among the emerald fields there are, on occasion, herds that cross your path. Generations of steer often pick a spot to graze or rest or simply gather. You have little choice, then, but to stop and wait patiently, as if this upcountry road is trying to remind you that you are, after all, going to Hana. The journey to such a still and sacred place shouldn’t be a race.

The journey there should remind you of the destination, to show you in small, steady doses, exactly what awaits you at the end of the road.

Peace. Tranquility. Beauty.

John said thanks.

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Matthew Nagato

Just a country boy doing my best to save the world.

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