Last week at the farm:
When we got back from Kona, our new coworker- Brooke, was waiting, kinda put-off by the owners not being there to welcome her. She had spent the last six years traveling and doing work aways, and said that this behaviour was quite rare/rude. We worked hard the next week, I dug more holes for a pumpkin patch, pulled never-ending vines, and shovelled composted dirt. By the end of week, Brooke and Sam were swell friends, sharing many common interests. She opted to come with us around the island. Next stop: Volcanoes National Park.
After saying goodbye to our coworkers (owners had left – again), we set out. We had only been walking for 1/2hr (longer if you listened to the girls 🙂 when we were picked up by an Israeli tourist “I am going to Volcanoes too!” We all loaded in to his compact rental and set off. He introduced himself as Yigal (like the bird, but not) and provided excellent company throughout the trip. Of the few scenery stops we made, none were as memorable as visiting with the lazy sea turtle on the black sand beach. “Wise Wilfred”, as Sam called him was so chilled, the girls could go up and pet him without him batting an eye. Myself, on the other hand, respected his space, man to man.
We arrived at the park shortly after noon and decided to stick together for the day. Yigal was on his way to Hilo afterwards, same as us. We picked a route that would lead us along the rim of the collapsed summit of Kilauea, but first through a prairie landscape of rolling hills that spewed sulphur smoke. As we walked along the amazing views of the main crater just got more and more awe inspiring. Our pictures don’t do justice to the sheer immensity of the cliffs we overlooked and the distance of lunar-like landscape to the fuming crater. The sights were truly inspiring – how did I get here?!
At the apex of the hike we were able to view (through a telescope) lava bursting from the crater. From there, we hiked 3 hours to “The Thurston Lava Tube”. A nice hike with more immense scenery, but the payoff was basically an underground tunnel carved by lava. Oh well, as advertised I guess. We finished the day shortly after 6pm, 6 hours of hiking for 21.7kms (entire days total) according to Sam’s phone-a-ma-jig!!
The three of us had arranged to couch surf with a fellow named Maurice in Hilo. Our friend, Yigal, had no accommodation plans and would fall back on sleeping in his rental. As he was nice enough to drive us to Hilo, Sam said she would phone Maurice and ask for a “plus one”. Without hesitation, Maurice said “Sure!”. We arrived late, chatted for a bit (Maurice was a very intelligent and personable guy who had moved to Hawaii for a management job 5 months ago) and passed out.
Maurice was kind enough to include us in his plans for the day which included: the farmers market, an “Ecstatic Dance”, and then the Beach! First, he made us breakfast sushi, and afterwards, Yigal departed. At the market we all enjoyed another cup of Kava (called Awa this time), and got to know each other a little better. Brooke: a earthy girl fixated on destiny, maintaining no destination. Maurice: A smart and hardworking water company manager, upset with current politics and corporate exploitation. Sam and myself, similar to different aspects of our new friends.
The Ecstatic Dance was a rave of sorts, except at 10:30 am, and especially hippie-ish. Not my thing for nearly 15 years, but what the hell – I’m on vacation! After the dance we met Emely, who approached Brooke looking for help eating a papaya. Emely was a French Canadian transplant with seemingly boundless joy for life and love for all – a literal ray of sunshine! Five new friends onward to the beach!
Past a steep decent down a small cliff was a real hidden jem of a beach. Clothing optional, with a bongo drum circle and freely moving dancers, waves crashing powerfully against the black sand. Initially and unnoticingly we set up 15ft away from a yukelele playing transvestite, who’s pink one-piece bathing suite had no hope or attempt of containing his/her manhood. Sam and I went for a swim and I practiced some more rock jumping (15ft this time). I think the island wanted me to give up a prized possession in exchange for this strange paradise and took my wedding ring away while we were playing in the crashing tide. I was initially quite upset but, oh well, just a thing! A fair trade for a truly magical place and time.
Driving away from the beach as a group, we found curious the fact that we had all wound up in the same place at the same time – the fate of friendship! Suddenly, Maurice pulled over and suggested that we go see the lava meet the ocean tonight/tomorrow morning. Spurred on by Emely’s optimism and Brooke’s belief in fate, the decision was made! (Sam was initially pecimistic about the wake-up time, and I was characteristically indecisive). We first drive to Rainbow Falls for some sightseeing. The falls themselves paled in comparison to a nearby tree exuding ancient growth and energy(see the pics!!). Next on the list was home for a shower and off for a group dinner. As we ate the delicious food, conversation flowed freely and beautifully. The synchronicity of our thoughts and feelings was almost beyond belief. Full bellies and good friends. What could be better than this?!
I set my alarm and woke the next morning at 1:30am the next morning. Brooke and Emely had fallen asleep on the couch holding hands. They awoke with glowing smiles as I touched my hand to theirs. Maurice seemed a bit zombie-ish and returned to bed after I woke him. Eventually he came around – what incredible hospitality! Maurice drove us an hour down the highway, and we began what would be a 2 hour hike lit only by the stars. A beautiful night punctuated by frequent shooting stars. The hike ended with what is the most amazing thing I have ever witnessed. A perfect cliff side view of red hot lava meeting the powerful tide of the ocean producing a perfect, massive cloud of mist. (Have you ever seen an imperfect cloud? Me neither, but this one might have been the most perfect.) We sat speechless and transfixed on this beauty of creation for hours. The stored energy of the sun bursting from Mother Earth after centuries of waiting was then met by the rising of The Source. As the clouds in the East lit in warm colours my/our speechless attention became focused on our Fathers own display of artful majesty. Enough to move anyone to tears.
As we walked back to the car, Sam and I started the “thankful game” and were eventually joined by our whole group – each of us taking turns listing what we were grateful for (it was Canadian Thanksgiving after all!). We hike flew by and we were off to eat breakfast at “The Tin Shack Bakery” in Pahoa – a nice cafe, constructed of sheet metal, filled with hippies and Rastas. Good friends and full bellies! What could be better than this?!
After arriving back at Maurice’s place, Sam and I felt the urge to hit the road again. We had originally planned to go to Umama Falls Zipline but had missed the last bus and would not make it in time by hitchhiking. We decided to bite the bullet and call a cab, feeling that we would regret not following our plans. After an expensive cab ride and an uber-expensive zipline tour, I realized the real regret was in not spending more quality time with our friends (they had gone to the beach instead). Oh well, the zipline was fun, and the scenery, although fast-moving, was beautiful. I suppose anything would have paled in comparison to the mornings events. Wanderlust, is, apparently, sometimes a cruel mistress. We will miss our friends dearly.
After the zipline, Sam and I hitchiked to Waimea, a rainy town close to our next planned stop: Waipio Valley (reputably the most beautiful spot on the island). We were let off at the Starbucks – expensive coffee in exchange for free wi-fi. Unable to find any couch surfer hosts, or hostels, we booked the cheapest hotel room we could find. The hotel though, did not have any cheap rooms available and we were upgraded to a virtual mansion with two queen beds and a kitchen! The bill was lessened by a gift of $40 from Jan – a kind older lady on vacation with her husband that we had met at the zipline. Jan told Sam the story of how she had met her husband at age 13 and they had been an item ever since! She gave Sam $40 and told us to have a nice honeymoon dinner. So nice of her! We were full of gratitude for everything that led us to this point as we ate a meal of veg-wraps made with groceries left over from our time at the farm. Passed out hard afterwards – we had been awake for over 20 hours. What a day!
The next morning we met up with Brooke, (who had taken the bus to town) bought some groceries and had a picnic. It seemed like ages since we had seen our friend. We devised a plan to hitchhike to Waipio Valley, set up camp in Brooke’s tent (her home for the past 6 years), and spend the next day in the valley. We met up with Cyrus (a construction worker with a heart of gold and a remarkably short attention span) through the couch surfing site and he offered to give us a ride to the valley. The 1 mile hike in was a very steep decent, and we we happy to get picked up by a hippy with a full pickup truck, dreadlocked beard and even shorter attention span. After a harrowing ride downhill in the back of his truck, he stopped to show us his community garden, treating us to bananas and sugar cane – yum! By the time we got down to the valley it was dark, rainy and apparently no camping was allowed anyway. The hippie went for an ocean swim and we, seeing no other option, set up an illegal campsite hidden as best we could. Safely and snuggly inside Tent de la Brooke, we once again feasted graciously on veg-wraps and went to sleep.
We awoke the next morning to rain and mosquitoes and stunning scenery. High cliffs, lush jungle, and a river flowing to meet the ocean dissecting the black sand beach. There were others there early as well, boogie-borders and hikers. Most were wading across the river to the other side of the valley, Brooke and I decided to do the same. Sam just wanted to hang on the beach and avoid getting wet. Brooke went ahead on her own and I started out with a dip in the cold river – very refreshing after all the hard hiking previous. Crossing the waist deep river mouth, I was instantly greeted by a twofold increase in beauty and lushness. I walked along the beach a short while and then cut into the jungle – wow! As I walked in amazement I came across a sign: “Burial Ground, No Camping”. As I looked upon the beautiful site, I felt a surge of unfamiliar energy in my hands. Normally, the energy I feel in my palms wants to exercise through yoga handstands, boxing, etc. But this feeling felt different, more intense but hollow somehow. Call me crazy my friends, but the feeling was unmistakable. As I walked further down this jungle paradise with my new “passenger” I came across Brooke, who had a similar smile of amazement. Before I had a chance to mention anything, she asked “How do your hands feel?” We both agreed that the magic was real and went back to retrieve Sam. To no avail! Sam was having a fine time meditating on her side of the river. Brooke decided to wade up the river to get a better view of a distant waterfall and I walked along the beach to a far off cliff face. I stopped along the way to play in the gigantic waves. Far bigger than the ones that took my wedding ring at the hippie beach but somehow much gentler. The “hollow” energy in my hands somewhat fulfilled by the flow of the ocean, I continued on towards the cliff face, coming across a few curious stone monuments along the way. As I stared in amazement and gratitude at the cliff, I felt compelled the lay my hands upon it. Then felt unable to let go! Whatever you call it, the energy of Waipio Valley is real. Some places are just magic. After, prying my hands away from Pele’s creation, I returned to the campsite where we had a picnic lunch. Brooke recounted a similar experience to me when she had previously reached the cliff face and her magic feeling was reinforced by her journey up the river. After lunch, we began a 1 mile accent up the extremely steep access road with our 40 lb packs! Whew!! Exhausted, we started hitchhiking our way to Honaka’a Town. We were picked up along the way by some guys who worked at a Taro root farm down in the valley. They explained that the valley was the traditional home of Hawaiian royalty and the site of a massive battle – hence the “Burial Ground” sign and monuments. They offered Brooke a closer tour and a days work and she decided to stick with them. Sam and I checked into a hostel – we leave Hawaii tomorrow!
We woke up and went for a delicious breakfast at a local cafe – Hina Rae’s. Eggs, bacon, coffee and an Acai bowl (acai smoothie topped with granola, fruit, etc). Delicious! We took the bus to Kona and, after being treated to a cab ride by an elderly tourist couple from Australia, spent the day drinking Kava, walking the beachside strip, and eating a delicious vegan dinner (burrito, lasagna). Had to splurge on a cab to the airport because we took our time saying goodbye to our gracious host of an island. We will miss you Hawaii, you are a very special land and we are forever grateful for your embrace!