Less than a month ago I was driving Rick around in bumper-to-bumper traffic searching for a little shop I had read about in the Lonely Planet Travel Guide for Kauai. We backtracked several times on Kuhio Highway attempting to locate “Marta’s Boat.”
The gridlock was due to road repairs necessitated by heavy damages sustained when storms pummeled the island the week before. My fuse was short as we spent about an hour following vague directions with no visible sign of Marta or her boat.
“We only have this one exquisite day on Kauai,” I thought, “and we’re wasting it stuck in a car, stuck in traffic, looking for a business that may or may not still exist.”
My evil twin was behaving disgracefully, taking out her frustration on Rick, an innocent bystander who didn’t even know what Marta’s Boat was or why we needed to go there. Finally, as we drove out of the last shopping center left to search in Waipouli, I looked up to see the “boat” in all its yellow splendor.
Marta owns and operates a unique women’s and children’s boutique (built to resemble a boat). She and her husband, surfer/artist/poet/philosopher Ambrose Curry III, live in the yellow home behind the boat. Ambrose’s studio and surfboard rental business is on the same property. He is originally from San Francisco but has lived on Kauai about 40 years and crafts one-of-a-kind surf boards and paints vibrant, original designs.
Marta told me that when the economy began to slow down, she knew she needed to reinvent her shop. So instead of relying solely on purchased inventory, she began sewing original pieces from fabrics that Ambrose painted. She displayed beautiful scarves, purses and dresses (both for big and little girls) as well as a section devoted to Ambrose’s renowned “Surf for World Peace” T-shirts.
When Rick and Ambrose returned from exploring his studio, Ambrose explained to us that surfing wasn’t just about the ocean sport. “People surf the ’Net and channel surf,” he said. Surfing was a metaphor for moving through life. And our movement through life should be toward world peace.
Like he does often, Rick picked me up for lunch one day last week. We went to a restaurant during the noon rush and were seated in the back. A young man, maybe 30, and a little girl who had to be about my granddaughter’s age, about 2 and a half, were led to a booth across from ours next to a window.
The little girl was darling. Her hair was up in pig tails and she was dressed in a cute outfit. She was chatty and reminded me of my granddaughter Kayla so much I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She noticed the blinds on the window next to her and started to play with them. Her adult companion grabbed her arm, spanked her bottom and told her to knock it off.
My heart sank as I watched her tear up and cry. She hugged the man she called “Uncle” and told him she was sorry. The waitress brought crayons and some paper and soon the little girl was coloring and singing and talking to herself. Uncle told her she was too loud. He hit her again. Hard.
I stopped eating about halfway through my meal. I gave the young man a look — a look that said, “I see what you’re doing and it’s wrong.” But he stared back at me and in his eyes I read, “Mind your own business, lady.”
When we were paying our check the restaurant’s owner asked if everything was OK. I told him what I had witnessed and he said he’d walk back and check on them.
And that was it.
Every day since I’ve wondered how that little girl is doing and hope she is OK. I know she’s not the only one getting hit and I know that there are children out there experiencing worse. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. And the words of abused children are written on T-shirts displayed all over Del Norte County, including in the windows of the Triplicate office.
I love my “Surf for World Peace” T-shirt. Ambrose explained what “surf” meant and I understand the broader meaning of world peace. It encompasses that little girl who was in my world for an hour. It’s not good enough to work to end military wars. We have to stop human conflict. I should have kept my cool on Kauai, and that uncle needs to keep his cool with that precious little girl.