Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Words of Wisdom

"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all." Oscar Wilde

My dad is living right now. He is so inspirational. Right now he is on a backpacking trip in Europe, by himself, hiking hut to hut.

If you haven't seen his blog, check it out: www.alpinebliss.blogspot.com

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hawaii: Lava

Another Hawaii highlight: Seeing lava flow into the ocean.

First we bypassed the tourists by tagging along with Nairei, a free-spirited woman who knew someone who lived in one of these houses. These lots are extremely cheap. Ten years go, lava flowed here.

We parked our cars and started walking across the lava. We had to cross a portion of forest, so we brought glowsticks and tied them to the trees as markers so we could find our way back.

After trudging along for 10 minutes, heat started to seep up beneath our feet. In the distance you can see steam rising from the cracks.
There's our team approaching the lava flow. From left to right, there's Jeni, Kimber, Chris, and Nairei. Chris is a local 17 year old. Nairei has lived here for 8 years, the first 7 spent living in a tent. A photographer, she makes cards that she sell at the weekly farmers markets.

Stepping across crackling lava was like hiking on another planet, a long-forgotten moon of Saturn. It is beautiful in an eerie way.

Then we reached the lava, and some brave (but stupid) people like me and Jeni went down to the beach to get a closer look. The water was warm.

This is what it looks like from the beach. You can see Chris walking towards it.

Notice all the smoke coming up from it!

Boatloads of tourists came by to view the unification of the four elements. If you think about it, that's what's happening here: fire, earth, water, air all coming together as the lava hits the water. My friend was telling me that the lava comes from the center of the earth. To be in its presence made me forget that I was a human; instead I was just part of the earth.

Chris was a little too close, if you ask me.

It got darker and the colors changed.

We watched for a long time.

Another flow opened up as we were leaving. We stumbled through the darkness with 2 flashlights for 5 people. We found our way back through the forest with the help of our glowstick trail markers.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hawaii: The Exotic Fruit!


First you get someone to open a coconut for you.

Then you pose pretending to whack open the coconut.

And then you have a coconut!

No but seriously opening coconuts with the machete was loads of fun. I felt like an authentic Hawaiian. We usually ate one or two coconuts per day between the three of us. They had a special tool to twist through the outer skin to make a hole for pouring out the coconut milk. Then you put it on the wood and WHACK WHACK WHACK and pretty soon there's a sizable crack and it splits!

The age of the coconut determines the consistency of the fruit inside. For instance, a younger coconut will have tasty water but not much meat, just a flimsy membrane to slurp up in one or two bites. Older coconuts have meat that's a little mushy or hard as candy. With the more solid ones, we made coconut fries:


Jeni's friend Wade picked this ripe one off of Anne's tree, sliced it open, and...

Voila! You take out one of the little pods, remove the seed, and eat it. It has a smooth, slimy texture and is quite chewy. Jeni says it takes like juicyfruit bubblegum. With the extremely potent smell and peculiar taste, I didn't particularly love it...
(photo borrowed from http://www.skyfieldtropical.com/encyclopedia/images/id,32/)

This is what they look like on the tree. They're HUGE, bowling ball sized or bigger. They can sell for about $15 or $30 bucks depending on the size.
(photo borrowed from http://lycheefruitstore.com/pictures/100_0023.jpg)


Mom thought this was a sea urchin when she first saw the picture.

But really it's a dragon egg! It tastes like lychee.

We also ate lots of lychee, strawberry guavas, guavas, pineapple, and apple bananas. It's fun finding fruit along the side of the road and eating it.

Hawaii: Anne's House

Anne lived across the street from Jeni's old farm where she WOOFed two years ago. Her property was a jungle with quaint buildings nestled into the trees.

She has a sweet deck with a quaint koi pond. There were lots of mosquitos, but they didn't bother me too much.

This white ginger flower makes water taste better.

Check out her outdoor kitchen!

What it's like on the inside. Notice the propane containers for the stoves. All the stoves we encountered in Hawaii you had to light old-school style.

Anne also had an outdoor shower with mosquito netting around it. So while you were taking your warm shower, shampooing your hair, you could look around and feel like you were really in the jungle.

Also, the stars were MAGNIFICENT.

Hawaii: Mermaid Pond

Mermaid pond, where you go to be a mermaid for the day.

The trail to mermaid pond. I like these trees.

Our friend Charles came too. He is a semi-retired professor. Here he is pretending that the van we found on the side of the trail is his sweet ride.

Bonus photo: Space Market on Sundays features local produce and products. This woman sells uber healthy juices. We tried both. I liked the green one better.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Hawaii: Rainbow Falls

Jeni picks us up from the airport and takes us to Rainbow Falls, complete with a beautiful waterfall and ancient banyan tree!

Magical orchids sprouting along the trail

The three girls

Lush greenery

Climbing the Banyan tree was like being on another planet. Roots wrapping every which-way, reading down, up around, suddenly deciding branch out two, three, four separate ways...

Jeni lookin good!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Hawaii: One Week


  • black sand melts underfoot, until it remembers that it is sand, in fact, and cannot consume your entire foot.
  • a tree, lonely and leafless, stretches out of the sand, standing on its tip-toe roots, a sprawling foundation
  • a root dangles down the cliff, begging to be climbed. I watch a man climb it, long hair swaying behind him, and decide I can do it. Minus shoes, I grab the root and walk up the cliff, leaning back and supporting myself with my arms and shoulders. I pause to turn and look at the ocean, dark bluegreen and waving, and the naked butts on the beach smiling sideways. I continue up and reach the top. Tip-toe across sharp lava pieces, say aloha to three dreadlocked dudes, and meander down the rocky path back back to a relieved sis and aunt.
  • the flowers! plumerias, white with a gleeful yellow gradient, deep pink with while, orange, yellow, purple... and they smell like a perfect Hawaiian summer.
  • living in a high-ceilinged one-room house, matresses and pillows comfortable on the floor, a perpetual sleepover.
  • lizards creeping about, at first surprised us on the window screen, but now our indoor/outdoor pets, as Jeni says.
  • Puna, the sad-eyed basset hound, always longing for a belly-rub

Hawaii: A Sustainable Dinner

We biked to feed the chickens and water the garden, picking fresh chard and tomatoes. We nibble strawberry guavas on the way home.

Kimber incorporated her newfound love of French cuisine and made crepes. Cooked the kale, sauteed and onion, and feasted on whole-wheat crepes. Yum! For dessert one with Jabotiecaba Jam.

Hawaii: Kehena Beach

We are in another world. A yellow ant just crawled across the page. I'm on a black sand beach made up of volcanic ash. Watching the palm trees sway in the breeze, I breathe in the untainted natural beauty of Hawaii. There are no tourists here, only locals.

This beach, Kehena, is clothing-optional, and filled with creative spirits playing the flute, drums, guitar, basking in the glorious Hawaii sun, rolling with the waves. Aunt Jeni comes here almost every day. It is a pocket of paradise, black sand and shiny volcano rocks, treacherous waves smashing into cliffs on either side of our haven.