There’s Always A Show Playing On Kauai

Moloa‘a Sunrise Fruit Stand | Jane Esaki photo

Moloa‘a Sunrise Fruit Stand | Jane Esaki photo

I am driving toward the North Shore, singing with the chirpiness of a white-rumped shama thrush at dusk in Aliomanu Valley, and determined to reach my destination.

This irrational reverie is interrupted by a sudden impulse to take a break. I pull off the highway and into the unassuming Moloa’a Sunrise fruit and juice stand a hundred feet away on the right. I drive up to the far end of the lot and get out of the car to stretch.

Here I find myself surrounded by grand old fruit-bearing trees: lychee, mango, macadamia and guava, and others I can barely recognize because of their deep-green, mature leaves. Their potent energy is evident, though, and I feel them enveloping and comforting me under their cool shade.

In front of a large garbage bin saunters a multi-hued rooster nonchalantly going about his business, oblivious to me standing just 10 feet away from him.

Nearby, two tall, slim, white, unshaven, middle-aged farm workers dressed in red, dirt-stained clothes chew the fat at a picnic table, consumed with a conversation that is far more purposeful than what’s going on in the mind of an accidental bystander.

The Kauai bus drops off a man on crutches and without a leg, carrying a bulky canvas bag. Struggling, he makes it to the nearest picnic table. He heaves his bag onto the table and manages to wave a generous shaka sign to the departing bus as he deftly positions himself to sit down. He utters a few alien words to himself before gobbling down some prepacked food. He sees me watching him but quickly dismisses me, wondering what this weird two-legged creature is staring at.

Parked on the side of the highway is a work truck with surfboards on its rack. The driver hurriedly returns to his vehicle with a smoothie in hand, glances toward me but obviously has priorities, like focusing on an early pau hana so as not miss some afternoon swells.

Then emerging from the stand amid shelves bedecked with local bananas, pineapples, avocados and papayas are six tall Caucasian men with cold drinks in hand. They load into three rental cars, perhaps heading to the Princeville golf course, too preoccupied with each other and their destination to be enthralled by the grandeur of the emerald-green Kalalea Mountain spread before them across the busy highway.

Within 15 minutes, I watch a revealing documentary on Kauai: the venerable trees harking back to plantation days; the rooster that artists and visitors might adore but locals conspire against; the agricultural workers who dream of a more-fulfilling life on Kauai’s farms; the conscientious transient, perhaps a veteran of war, who impresses us with his arresting presence; the passionate surfer, who lives and works to ride waves; the visitors, who boost the island’s economy; the bounty of tropical fruits; and the majesty of the ancient landscape.

There’s always an entertaining or educational show playing somewhere, and if you decide to take a breather and pull off the main road, you just might find it featured there.