When life gives you coconuts, make new friends! - My Family Travels
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               When traveling to an exotic place like Hawaii, most envision days filled with a mix of relaxation and gorgeous tropical scenery. Those who think that are correct, but not entirely. The true gems of the Hawaiian Islands are its locals and their culture.

                When I traveled to Maui this summer with my family, I had a particular experience that led me to this conclusion. Our day started off with a drive up Baldwin Avenue, past the house my great great grandmother had lived in, to the secluded Makawao Cemetery. There, we paid a visit to the graves of my mostly long gone relatives, the Flemings and the Nicolls. Some of these folks had immigrated to Maui from Scotland in 1889 with the promise of a job in the ranching business.

                Our next stop was to Ho’okipa Beach Park, the windsurfing capital of the world, to watch the graceful swells, surfers, and windsurfers. It was here that I was introduced to the “Coconut Cowboys.” While at the lookout point, a dusty flower filled pick-up truck pulled up next to where we were standing. However, this wasn’t a typical truck. What immediately drew our attention to it was the lounge chair strapped to its roof, where a black dog was resting. The men who exited this truck caused my mother to cringe. One had long hair, dressed in colorful garb and a big hat. The other, head shaven, had on a large dirty cameo jacket, and had dusty bare feet. Neither appeared particularly clean. In fact, they resembled the countless homeless people that call Maui’s beaches their home. It was at this time that my 10 year old cousin, Tyler, graciously accepted the offer of a coconut from these strangers. The other two “little kids”, Lily and Sophia, did the same. My mom skeptically commented, “They use coconuts instead of candy to lure in kids on Maui.” Then, much to our surprise, these strangers got out a pick-axe, two round stones, several coconuts and got to work showing us how to remove the outer shell of the coconut and how to crack them open with the stones. In no time, we had all wandered over to the truck to receive our fresh coconut milk to be drunk straight from the coconut’s shell.

                At this point, probably noticing the parental concern, one man introduced himself as “Old Machete Marco”, directed his gaze at Tyler, and gently asked, “What’s the future of our planet?” He answered his own question, “You, the youth.” His message was that by living more simply and being more conscious of what you are doing to the earth, you can put a stop to our present cycle of destruction. He made it clear that we had to live the change because we would ultimately suffer the consequences if we remained idle. I found that I agreed with much of what Old Machete Marco had to say. I felt so inspired by his heartfelt message and his kindness that I want to share this knowledge with anyone and everyone. He also showed me that surface appearances sometimes belie the true inner spirit and wisdom of a person. This event showed me that I still have a lot to learn in life  and, of course, I do. Thank you, Coconut Cowboys! 

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