If you’re a first-time Maui visitor -- and it's time for you to head home -- you may be shocked by the ad-hoc fruit devouring area next to the Agricultural check station. You may think you're in the clear... after you've cleared the baggage scrutiny by the TSA and almost reached your gate. That papaya or rogue banana in your carry-on luggage will be doomed to the waste basket after the Ag check agents discover your devious smuggling operation... intended or not.
Returning home, many Maui visitors try to bring pineapples, local mangoes, or other
banned fruit back to the Mainland. While certain certified and checked fruit can be shipped home -- on the airplane or after your journey -- most walk-on items cannot. It’s not uncommon to see entire families of homeward visitors devouring the banned fruit only feet from the Agricultural Station workers.
There’s no sign for the area, but you’ll
see it right away... if the juice on the floor doesn't give it away
first. Leaning against the hip-high concrete aggregate wall in the open-air airport breezeway, looking across the urban landscape of Kahului toward the West Maui mountains and the Iao Valley -- it really isn't a bad place to finish off that tropical treat. A last taste of the island, if you will.
Personally, I think the State of Hawaii or County of Maui should provide a table with hand wipes, eating utensils, or even those tacky lobster-joint plastic bibs. I know I speak for a lot of visitors when I say that we'd all really be happy with a community blender and some kind of debit card mini-bar where travelers could make one more tropical drink to enjoy before the long flight home.
When you do make it to your plane seat, and find the person sitting next to you has sticky juice on his face and all over his tee shirt – he probably was one of the last minute papaya eaters. Viva la papaya/banana/mango revolution!