A travel memory come to life

4 years ago
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Since I was perhaps nine years old I have had a vivid memory of the most incredible pool I have ever visited. In my memory this pool opens up at one end to a dark water slide. I can hear the rush of the water as it begins to turn into a water fall beyond where I can see. The water slide pours out into a slow river that slithers through a jungle and giant stone lizards peer down at me as I float under rope bridges and past yawing caves. All around me brilliant mosaics of sea turtles and mahi are set into the bottom of sapphire pools and shimmer up from below the lapping water. I can remember winding the film reel on my waterproof Kodak (my pride and joy at 9 yrs old) and trying to dive down deep enough to take pictures of the tiled sea life set on the bottom of the pool.

In the memory, the pool was a magical place with hidden hot springs steaming at the peak of small volcanoes and with rope swings and sandy beaches.

“Over the years I even began to think that perhaps the pool was a fantasy. After all I couldn’t even remember where I was when I visited it.”

This is burned into my mind. Now that I’m 30 I know how childhood memories can distort like a water stained picture left in the flooded basement, becoming grander than the reality we see as adults. Over the years, I even began to think that perhaps the pool was a fantasy. After all, I couldn’t remember where I was when I visited it. I used to tell Tawny about sliding down lava tubes and riding a giant inner tube up the caldera of a volcano as it filled with water. She approached these memories with an acceptable level of skepticism.

Two years ago, we were invited to come stay at the Grand Wailea on Maui. The property is so intricately designed and thoughtfully laid out that you feel like you’re entering a dream or a work of art. The resort begins with a waterfall as you pull up and a massive statue of King Kamehameha, spear in hand. As you enter the massive open air complex you are surrounded by water and a lush jungle. The sky pours into the courtyard and bronze figures of Hawaiians blend with the shadows. The real magic for me though began when we turned the corner and saw the pool.

As we came over a small river studded with languid koi, the pool began to take shape. It was instantly as if 20 some years melted away like cotton candy in the rain. It was all there. The river, the bridge, the pools, the mosaics. Not as I had remembered them. They were even grander.

As it turns out, my mom had brought me here over two decades ago for a medical conference she was attending. The pool was as real as I had imagined it.

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