Since 1981, Every Saturday morning, before dawn, locals pack up their cars, trucks, and tow trailers and head to Maui Community College campus in Kahului to bargain with their neighbors and visitors alike. Get there early to watch this sleepy start to another vibrant day on the Valley Isle. Everything is here!
From the commonly expected "Maui" written in 100 ways, to uniquely unexpected tee shirts. There is a woman who started an operation out of her home that makes teeshirts with Hawaiian style scenes for children that they can color on, complete with crayons. Shops hawk their wares at this gathering place, all the traditional souvenir type jewelry, decorative souvenirs that you can purchase in downtown Lahaina and across this beautiful island is brought right here to the Central Valley's door, alongside artisans hand carving customized figurines on the spot out of magnificent and rare Koa wood.
More gifts you could ever imagine are displayed on neatly arranged tables under tent covers from the sun, right alongside families emptying out their homes of items they no longer want which will be come a gem to some alert bargain hunter. One of my most prized purchases was a few pieces of rock that a very old gentlemen had painted many many years ago of a scene near his house in Hana. Might seem silly, but to me they are like gold. A certain 2 year old who calls me Auntie Lori LOVES to play with those stones :)
I normally stop at the art sellers stalls, drawn by the amazing amount of creative talent on this island with their ever changing splashes of color on display that unfold as people sift through the parade of canvas. A flourish of wind socks and all manner of colorful sarongs in every conceivable fabric flutter in the warm Maui breeze, long blocks of color split by dozens of Hawaiian flags, and melodic wind chimes that seem to sing out with the exhilaration of life. Some weeks an artist will show up with empty canvas and fresh palate to make the swap meet their subject and your reward is a personalized, signed gem along with a story that will always be freshly told for years later.
Some of the local farms have row upon row of tables holding fresh fruits and veggies, right alongside small tables or the back gate of a nephews truck with Aunties offerings of fresh made local style pastries, homemade jellies, varieties of the ever popular banana bread and try the mango bread! Every Maui made product you can think of, Maui made sauces and jams, canned and pickled local vegetables, roasted nuts and some of the best somosas I've ever tasted. Even the hugely popular Asian noodles, in ready-to-eat plastic trays with chopsticks secured by a rubber band keeping the delicious herb flaked strands contained is a Saturday morning dining ritual for many. From egg rolls, to Saimin (think won ton soup without the won tons) vegetable omelettes, fish cakes, even made to order pizza. Come with your appetite ready! There you'll even find fishermen with coolers stocked with freshly caught fish, set up beside the local housewife who dries it and sells it, offering samples that invariably end up with an exchange of money for that gold from the sea.
There are Hawaiian orchid growers that will take orders shipped, arriving home even before you do! Fresh flower stands that are mostly sold out within the first half an hour, as their regular customers make it a point to be there at opening to get the freshest selection,. There are even various types of massage therapy booths, including a very old and wise Hawaiian gentleman that climbs right up on the table with you, manipulating body parts until when you leave you're walking on air.
If you're on Maui on Saturday mornings, the Maui Swap Meet at the Community College is a must do!
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