Hawaiian Getaway on Road to Hana


 

Far from Kihei and Lahaina rests another side of Maui. A remarkably picturesque three-hour drive leads you into the heart of a rain forest, and an astounding number of bridges, waterfalls and lookouts punctuate the trip.

Known as the Road to Hana, the route is so popular it supports a small industry of audio tours that narrate the journey and serve up the island’s history. The Hana Highway dates back to 1926, when much of it was constructed with cinders. It wasn’t until 1962 that the state paved over it with asphalt, but countless potholes helped coin the phrase, “I survived the Hana Highway.” Only in the early 1990s did major upgrades make it a much more pleasant experience.

Although the drive now is quite smooth, it still inspires numerous stops at charming one-lane bridges. It’s almost impossible to resist the amazing photo opportunities, the mouth-watering papayas and bananas sold roadside and the chance to explore fascinating sites along the way. (Remember to exercise caution when driving to Hana. Safely pull over and let other cars pass if you’re holding up traffic — locals use the route to commute.)

Among a plethora of gorgeous parks and beaches are these highlights:

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• The Ke’anae Arboretum boasts the popular plants and flowers of Hawaii. And the Ke’anae Peninsula offers great photo ops.

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• The most picturesque waterfall on the way is Wailua Falls. (Don’t get too close to the edge of cliffs or waterfalls. Sudden changes in weather can put you in danger.)

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• Walking tours at Ka’eleku Caverns, near the Hana Airport, guide visitors through one of the largest lava tube systems in the world. A series of massive underground tunnels, these bug- and bat-free caverns reach 40 feet high in some sections and include some fantastic skylights. Chocolate lovers, bring along a candy bar: the cocoa-colored volcanic rock bears a remarkable resemblance to hot fudge, brownies and Nestle’s Crunch.

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• The Wai’anapanapa State Park’s stunning black sand beach boasts striking volcanic outgrowths in the surf. It also features a trail along the shore that stretches almost all the way to Hana.

When you finally reach what the locals call “Hana town,” you’ll also want time to view the hills near the Hotel Hana-Maui, where cows lazily graze, and Hana Bay, the one safe snorkeling spot on the drive.

You’ll need at least an hour or two beyond Hana for the truly spectacular Haleakala National Park at Kipahula, home of the “Seven Sacred Pools.” The Waikamoi Ridge Trail includes an easy hiking trail loop for families, but the waterfalls and pools are the real treasures.

We began our trip to Hana from Kihei at 8:30 a.m. By the time we arrived at the Kipahula National Park at 4:30 p.m., we were very ready for a swim. After a short hike we left our shoes and cameras behind, jumped into a freshwater pool and swam straight for the falls. We stood on the rocks under the fall, screaming with exhilaration, letting the water pour over us. We were up for more adventure, so we continued our trip around the east side of the island beyond Hana.

Eventually we drove through the outposts of Maui’s civilization, off paved roads, at the island’s very edge. At times, little more than a few inches separated us from the cliffs below. Most rental car companies forbid this route for anything but four-wheel drive vehicles. Our Hana audiotape also tried to dissuade us, but we were determined.

As it turned out, the drive along the “back way” was among the highlights of the trip. There were hardly any cars in sight, although cows occasionally blocked parts of the seven-mile unpaved stretch of Kaupo Road. They only added to the appeal of the vast, rolling green hills set against the breathtakingly blue sea. With the waves practically breaking under us and the sun setting off ahead, I was overcome by Maui’s incredible beauty.

The experience reminded me of a teaching from Rabbi Chanan Feld of Beit Midrash Ohr HaHaim in Berkeley. As he explains, such astounding natural wonders are actually an expression of Hashem’s anivut, or humility.

“Hashem is so great you can’t comprehend Him,” Feld said. “The fact that you can even appreciate this aspect of Creation reflects Hashem’s humility in the form of a zimzum, a contracting of Himself, so that you can at least comprehend such amazing beauty.”

When visiting Ka’eleku Caverns at the 31-mile marker along the Hana Highway, children 9 to 17 must be accompanied by an adult. Call (808) 248-7308 for reservations or visit their Web site at www.mauicave.com.

For more information on Maui, visit

Israel Prepares for Fence Court Case


Israel claims that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has no jurisdiction to rule on the West Bank security barrier, but at the same time, the government is preparing detailed legal, security and diplomatic arguments and an intensive public relations campaign.

The government also announced this week that it may make significant changes in the fence’s route, ahead of the Feb. 23 proceedings at The Hague.

In the run up to the hearing, two major decisions will be taken that could have a bearing on the case: Whether it’s better to dispatch an Israeli legal team to appear at the ICJ or to rely on a written affidavit, and whether to alter the fence’s route for humanitarian reasons.

Most top Israeli officials are against sending a legal team, on the grounds that it would imply the very recognition of the ICJ proceedings that Israel is at such pains to deny.

As for the route of the fence, there could be changes before the issue reaches The Hague. In an address Feb. 8 to the 40th Munich Conference on Security Policy, Giora Eiland, Israel’s new national security adviser — who has been given a free hand by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to draft a new route for the fence — declared that Israel had not fully taken into account the way the barrier could disrupt Palestinian lives. Israel will do what it can — possibly even changing the fence’s route — to avoid causing unnecessary suffering, Eiland said.

Following Palestinian claims that the fence, which is being built in places on West Bank territory, is illegal, the U.N. General Assembly passed a resolution in December asking the ICJ for an "advisory opinion." The United Nations followed that up with a 600-page affidavit that, according to Dan Gillerman, Israel’s U.N. ambassador, ignores the basic reason for building the fence: Palestinian terrorism. Israel responded by questioning the competence of the court, the wisdom of a court action and the neutrality of one of the 15 judges, an Egyptian who previously has expressed anti-Israel views.

The legal-diplomatic brief, drafted by British-based international law expert Daniel Bethlehem, rejects the court’s authority, as well as "the propriety of the process." In a 131-page affidavit, Bethlehem maintains that the court has no right to rule on what is basically a political dispute, and that doing so will undermine political efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A court ruling probably would drive the parties to adopt more radical positions and thus would make political negotiations less likely, the argument goes. It will undermine diplomatic initiatives like the internationally approved "road map" peace plan and cause more suffering and hardship, Israel will argue. In other words, Israel says, the court is an inappropriate forum for dealing with a political conflict.

This argument already has struck a receptive chord. Several dozen countries, including the United States, Russia, Canada, Australia, South Africa, all 15 European Union members and the 10 waiting to join have submitted affidavits rejecting the court’s jurisdiction, on the grounds that a hearing would do more harm than good.

To back up the legal-diplomatic argument, Israel also is preparing a detailed security brief. A team under Brig. Gen. Mike Herzog, the defense minister’s adjutant, is putting the finishing touches on a three-part document that describes the terrorist onslaught that led Israel to build the fence, explains the thinking behind the route and outlines its effectiveness at preventing terrorism.

Noting the number and nature of Palestinian suicide bombings, the document invokes Israel’s inherent right to self-defense according to Article 51 of the U.N. Charter. It also defines the Palestinian intifada as a "hostile confrontation" that entitles Israel to take forceful measures, such as building a fence in disputed or occupied territory.

Israelis’ right to life, the document argues, takes precedence over Palestinians’ right to freedom of movement.

In his Munich address, Eiland explained that Israel decided to build the fence in the spring of 2002, after 135 Israelis were killed in 17 suicide attacks in a single month. He underlined how effective it already has proven: In the sector where the fence is complete, only three Israelis were killed last year, compared to 58 the year before.

Even if Israel decides not to dispatch legal experts to appear in court, it will send a public relations team to The Hague. There also will be an exhibit recalling the June 2001 bombing of Tel Aviv’s Dolphinarium disco, in which 23 young Israelis were killed, as well as the gutted hulk of a bombed Jerusalem bus.

The main thrust of the Palestinian case is that the fence is not being built exclusively on Israel’s own territory, and that it causes humanitarian problems for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.

On the territorial issue, Israel has developed a two-pronged legal argument. First, Israel argues, the U.N.’s use of the term "occupied Palestinian territory" is questionable, because the West Bank never legally belonged to the Palestinians. Rather, Israel argues, the land should be considered "disputed territory," in which Israel, one of the disputing parties, has rights. Moreover, Israeli officials say, even if the term "occupied territory" is granted, an occupier facing armed hostilities has the right to take defensive measures.

On the humanitarian issue, Israel has another two-pronged claim. The argument in principle is that saving human life takes precedence over nonlethal hardship. But Israel now adds that it intends to do all it can to relieve Palestinian suffering, even if that means building the fence closer to the pre-1967 boundary between Israel and the West Bank, known as the Green Line.

Eiland is working on a new route that will take the fence closer to the Green Line and not snake around some Palestinian villages, cutting them off from both Israel and the West Bank.

The problem of the "ringed villages" is most acute in Jerusalem. Human rights activists contend that it is not only inhumane but self-defeating. The misery it causes will spawn even more suicide bombers, they say.

Eiland and others in Sharon’s circle now say that the rings will not be built, alleviating humanitarian problems and reducing the length of the fence by as much as 125 miles.

The bottom line is that for all its detailed preparations, Israel sees the ICJ more as a public relations battle than a legal one. If the court decides to proceed with the case and ultimately deems the fence illegal, Israel almost certainly would ignore the nonbinding advisory opinion and would go on building it.

The detailed preparations and presentations, then, are mainly intended to build understanding for Israel in the international community if and when the court rules against the fence.

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