Travel Stories from The Traveler at


Get more great travel writing, travel bargains, and great travel resources delivered to your inbox every month!

Subscribe to The Traveler



Back toTravel Stories




A Tale of Two Dawns: Waking Up on the Island of Molokai
by Thomas Schueneman


A quiet Molokai beachThe Day Begins...

Dawn in the Big City; it starts with the flashing yellow light of the garbage truck as it screeches to a halt in front of our building; Followed by the roll of the garage door below, and the sound of garbage cans being rolled around, lifted, dumped, and rolled back out again. Down goes the door and off goes the truck in a roar up the street. Silence usually follows, then slowly, the busses start to pass, about every ten minutes, straining up the street, and the traffic of early morning commuters starts the pulsating whoosh of traffic. An occasional click of hard shoes on pavement, muted voices talking on cell phones, and, on Fridays, the jangle of keys and the metallic clang of coins being emptied from parking meters complete the sequence of the city as it starts a new day...

It is different on Molokai -

The buzzing of insects dies away and the trade winds become but a barely perceptible brush of air across your face as the dark night grows deep. Throughout the night, all that is heard is an occasional throaty chirp, chirp, chirp, in rapid succession, from a bird, or insect or other exotic creature, I am not sure; Then silence, or sometimes the sound of something rustling in the brush just outside the screened-in porch that is now the bedroom.

Natasha the gaurd spiderPerhaps it is Natasha, our (rather large) guard spider who lives in the high beams of the ceiling above us, doing a perimeter check.

The green-numeraled digital alarm clock in the room is about seven or eight feet from the bed, so with my unaided vision, is completely worthless, other than perhaps as a nightlight when stumbling around in the middle of the night. In any case, I have no artificial clues; I only have to listen as nature magically unfolds deep night into a new dawn.

Bougainvillea on the morningIt starts with the cocka-doodle-doo of the rooster, a mile or so distant. If I were to stick my face in the clock to check the time, it would always be right around 4:00 in the morning - the first call in the cycle of a Molokai dawn.

For awhile, it is just the rooster and his intermittent call, the night remains still and dark. How the rooster knows that it is time, I do not understand.

Slowly, the air starts to fill with one, two, three, then many bird calls as the dark sky lightens just a little, the surrounding forest silhouetted in a silvery gray. A soft breeze picks up off the ocean, another hint of the approaching sun, bringing with it the cool fragrance of blossoms and salty sea.

As the first rays of the rising sun break over the ocean horizon, the air is alive with sight and sound and color and fragrance.

The start of a new day on Molokai, bright with the expectation of spring...


Tom lives in San Francisco and works as a sound engineer, freelance writer, and entrepreneur. He enjoys traveling, nature, reading, photography, and music.


back to the top

Published by TDS Information Service
©copyright 2001-2006. All Rights Reserved