The Olowalu Petroglyphs are tucked in a valley in the West Maui mountains. To get there, you take the Honoapiilani Highway to mile marker 15, where you turn right at the water tower (or at the grumpy-looking man who stares at you like he knows you’re about to die) onto an unmarked dirt road with chickens on it. Then you drive about half a mile or so on what seems like private property until you reach the most boring thing you will ever see in your entire God-given life.
Oh, if only the tour book companies would hire me. I not only would tell the truth about vacation destinations, I would also include little icons of witch hats to indicate where you and your spouse are most likely to argue. Maui Sugar Museum? The parking lot gets one witch hat. Waterfront dining in Lahaina? Well, look at that — no witch hats! Olowalu Petroglyphs in the West Maui mountains? So many witch hats.
The petroglyphs are 300-year-old lava rock carvings left behind by our Pacific ancestors. Some call them “amazing” and take what seems like thousands of photos of them. Others — me — stare at them for a minute and then wonder aloud to their husbands, “What should I be getting out of this?”
(Warning: This will lead to more witch hats. Turn back now.)
But it was a serious inquiry. Was I missing something? These were unprovocative drawings that told me nothing about the world we live in and yet my husband was clicking away at them as if he were on a photo shoot with Heidi Klum, practically meowing commands at the cliff like, “More stick figure, baby. Now give me canoe oar. That’s right, baby, show me ca— ... or is that a horse?”
He was angry at me for questioning his interest in the rocks (and also for suggesting we leave and try some, I don’t know, nice waterfront dining in Lahaina?) so I sat and quietly pouted while he documented his amazement from every angle.
But my inside voice ... it was a-chatter:
“He is so annoying. Who the heck is going to want to see these pictures when we get home? He can just Google all of this at any time and point to it and be like, ‘We saw this.’ To which our friends will be like, ‘Oh. ... Was the food good in Maui?’
“You know what? This is digital hoarding, that’s what it is. He needs help. Like some serious Nikon intervention. He’s never going to listen to me, though. I should get his family together. Yes. We can all tell him how his incessant picture-taking has hurt us personally ...
“I am going to break his camera!!! Why is he changing lenses? Oh my God! I just want a coffee and my iPhone to get reception again and some ahi tacos with tomatillo aoli. This is torture! He is torturing me. I hate SLR.”
And then I had an anthropological breakthrough.
My Polynesian foremothers!
They, too, sat on this rock 300 years ago, and they, too, watched the men they loved dawdle like it was their full-time job.
I pictured these poor women, sweating in the Hawaiian sun, thinking about the comforts of their hut and rolling their eyes. “Yeah, yeah. That looks exactly like a man expressing victory. Don’t quit your day-fishing, Lopaka. Good Lord! How much longer are we going to stand here? Nobody cares about this, Lopaka. You think someone’s going to walk by and be like, ‘That Lopaka ... what a genius. His vacation stick figures are the best!’ ”