Saturday, July 28, 2012

Meat Market Maui & The Puunene Factory

Cane - with the leaves burned off - waits to be processed

Still on Maui, and revisiting a spot I enjoy wandering around - the old school and sugar mill along the isthmus of the island which ties the two mountains together and provides a lot of flat ground for growing.

A friend of mine grew up next to what was then the Alexander and Baldwin sugar processing plant in Puunene, attending school in the buildings on the same plot of land. I'm guessing she'll be pleased to see these pictures, since it's usually Old Home Week for her when I send other shots to her.  Here you go, Rhonda.

Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company (now owned by Alexander and Baldwin) processing plant - exhaust stacks

The plant is at 20°52′3″N 156°27′16″W if you're of a mind to check it out at those coordinates with Google maps or another service.  It's just a handful of miles outside of Kahului, and quite near the airport.  Odds are good if you've arrived here by plane you saw the place from your plane on your final approach. I came in once on a cruise ship and saw it from a different angle.

Today, the town of Puunene itself isn't much more than the plant, the school, a post office, a Sugar Museum, a very fine used book store (the Maui Friends of the Library) and enough residents to claim a population of 50, give or take a few. Nevertheless, if the weather cooperates it's a comfortable spot to walk around and take pictures, as I've done a few times.

Cane burning -  a regular
In an earlier post from last October you may remember pictures of gathering the cane after the leaves are burned off in controlled burns; enormous towers of smoke rising as high as the usually strong wind currents across the isthmus will allow, carrying black cinders up to an inch or so into the sky.

Naturally, what goes up must eventually come down, and it's usually visited on everything in the form of what people here call "snow'.

You see it on the ground, your lanai, your car and even on the ocean, where it can wash up onto the sand, leaving what look like black dotted lines where it comes to rest.

The old school was built in the early 1920s by the company that ran the processing plant. Its usefulness was waning a few decades later, and now the two-story building houses some of the department of education's administrative employees.  Nevertheless, the buildings have been respectfully maintained externally; held together by memories, if nothing else.

What I'm told was the boy's lavatory now houses the used bookstore. There's probably a joke in there somewhere, but I've given in to a case of Polynesian Paralysis and don't feel like conjuring up enough energy to make one.  Use your imaginations.

Trees on the grounds, the unused Congregational church behind

So what about the meat market? Oh, I see what you thought I meant by that title today. Actually, the meat market on the grounds is truly a meat market. Built in 1922, closed after the demand moved away. Perhaps my friend will leave a comment or let me know when it finally closed its doors. I've long admired the building, though, so I'm sharing a panorama of it today.

If you want an 2012 Olympics tie-in, the canals that bring in almost all of the water used in the growing of the cane were also practice lanes for some Olympic hopefuls, including two-time gold medalist Bill Smith, now a resident of Oahu. In an 2007 interview Smith said "A lot of my training was in the ditch," and it's not difficult to understand why, when you see them.

One of several buildings now vacant and unused.

As the sands of time wear away at this once-lively community of Filipinos, Portuguese, Japanese and Puerto Ricans the spirits of the place remain for anyone who cares to come and visit them. While there are plenty of places to go on Maui already it's a visit I'd recommend - if you're on the Island and have enough time.

Don't neglect the rich history available at the Sugar Museum there, either.

1 comment:

krobbie said...

Particularly like the tress in the church grounds shot. Quite beautiful.

Thanks for sharing Bao-Bao. Relaxed yet?