Star Date: October/November 2010
Hello Dear Family & Friends!
(Hello or Good-bye with Love - Hawaiian)
" ....Sometimes we go so fast that we lose our true selves. To be healthy you must slow down until you catch up with yourself again. "
(paraphrased from an old Hawaiian story)
Hawaii. Our beloved islands called to us, like the beckoning sirens, in the tales of Homer's Odyssey. Having lived here over 15 years, raising families, building houses, camping and fishing on her shores, swimming with her whales, dolphins & sea turtles, riding her waves, hiking to her summits, backpacking into her valleys, walking within 10 feet of molten lava from Kilauea Volcano, organic gardening in her fertile soil, we were part of Hawaii. Hawaiian 'mana' flows in our veins.
Working with Hawaiian children and embracing the culture of their parents in the villages, learning hula in the schools for May Day, sailing together on the large Makali'i voyaging canoe, paddling smaller carved outrigger canoes in her oceans, meditating on her shores, learning bits of wisdom of the 'hunas' (spiritual leaders) and 'kahunas' (elders); we were no longer 'haoles' (foreigners/without sacred breath or 'ha'). We instead blended in the soft rhythm of the islands and were embraced by the Aloha. Many experiences were shared and many friends were made. In New Zealand, when we were staying in a Maori morai, we were told that in the Polynesian language Hawaii means "the lonely one". Geographically it is the most remote point on the planet - taking 6 hours to fly from the West Coast United States or endless weeks to reach by boat. After almost 8 years of traveling we were welcomed lovingly into the homes and lives of our cherished friends for a month's plus visit. It warmed my heart to make new memories with our dear ones and once again step foot on the islands which will always remain our home in our hearts.
Hawaii is made up of 7 main islands: The Big Island, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Oahu, Kauai and Niihau with yet another island being formed by lava under the ocean as we speak. Racism has melted away with the blending of all the races migrating to the islands. It is a pleasure to look out over a classroom of children, like a rainbow, with skin every color possible between white and black. Much can be learned from this tolerance. Pidgin, a local dialect created from early settler's English, Chinese, Japanese, Pilipino, Spanish and Portuguese can still be heard in local communities. A sign in Hilo said "If can, can. If no can, no can."
The laid back, gentle "Hang Loose Hawaiian Style", slowly oozes in your very being and your engine revs less the longer you stay. The energy of Pele, goddess of lava, sorts out those who can't rid themselves of the high speed mainland stress, and spits them back to the rat race in less than a year. Unless one learns how to adapt and live by Joseph's formula for success, " Spend less than you make" the high prices (equaling B.C. or Europe) can make life here difficult.
The natural beauty makes Hawaii a paradise and it can be enjoyed for free; perfect weather, orange sunsets, white sand beaches, clear blue oceans. Large 'ohanas' or extended families take pleasure in the simple outdoor activities such as making a picnic 'luau' (b.b.q.) or sharing rice, 'poi' and fish along the shores of the ocean while fishing and swimming. Once our car was blocked in at a beach and I went to one such 'ohana' gathering to see if it could be moved so we could leave. They calmly told us, "No problem. Don't know who's da kine (truck) it is but we have plenty 'kau kau' (food) so sit down and eat with us until they come back."
A one-way flight from San Diego to Maui for $149 brought us further around the world on our way back to Africa. Wishing to reconnect with as many friends as possible in Hawaii, we first flew to Maui, the Valley Isle, to spend a few days with our precious friend, Sandia. She is living in a beautiful tropical setting on the slopes of Mt. Haleakala with her beloved friend, Windcloud, and several other families. We caught up after over 7 years in the lovely gardens, shared food together, discussed life & love, and enjoyed singing and drumming. We spent a day exploring the stunning coast around the whole island. The windy road to Hana is full of over 50 one way bridges, waterfalls, and lush tropical vegetation. Quaint little Hana, a former whaling/ranching area is over in a blink of the eye but we managed to catch the tail end of a parade complete with visiting vintage cars. We had a lot of island to cover so we took only a short hike up to Seven Sacred Pools, waterfalls with beautiful pools cascading down the side of Mt. Haleakela. Once around the eastern tip of the island green turns to golden and the sky opens up. Dry, barren slopes met the ocean, with only a few cattle and us under the strong sun, as most people retrace their steps at Wailua Falls. We circled through the eucalyptus forests on the western slopes of the now cloud shrouded volcano. Dropping back down to the ocean at Pauwela to we made it back in time to grab some of the vegan delights at the famous health food store and to sit by the ocean licking our lips. The beaches of West Maui are where post cards are shot and Lahaina is an old whaling port where tourism has exploded. Busy or serene it is easy to find what you are looking for on Maui.
The diverse Big Island is home to 20 out of a possible 22 world climate zones. If you don't like the climate just move until you find one that suits you. Our homes on the slopes of Mauna Loa, about 1600-1800 ft, were at a perpetual warm spring day. Higher it is possible to grow apples in the misty chilly nights, the mountain tops it snows and along the beach the tropical days are warm & sunny 360 days a year. We have been paddling outrigger canoes in the mid-day heat of Kawaihae Beach and shivered hours later as we camped high on Mauna Kea's 14,000 ft slopes under the snowy summit, where it is possible to ski before viewing the galaxy from one of the massive Keck telescopes. The Big Island earns its name rightfully as it takes over 12 hours to drive around and could easily fit all the other islands twice within its shores.
We were kindly welcomed into the stylish home of friends, Bob & Coral in Mauka Keahou, on our rural home island of Hawaii, or the Big Island. It was lovely to catch up on their recent activities and travels. We spent several days exploring our old stomping grounds of South Kona: Milolii fishing village (still without electricity), our very special ancient sacred City of Refuge (Puuhonua o Honaunau'), Napoo'poo' Beach Park with the monument to where Captain Cook was killed over a misunderstanding, Ho'okena where I worked and the kids attended school, the mountain slopes of Kealakekua where the famous Kona Coffee is grown. Dropping down towards Kailua-Kona after checking what's new in Oshima's Store (a small old Japanese store where "If they don't have it - you don't need it!") we caught a keiki (children's) hula show before stopping at Kahalu'u and Magic Sands Beaches.
In 1989 Joseph closed his successful business in San Francisco and moved to Hawaii to retire at 39. He built, by himself, a massive 4 storey home in the S. Kona forest in less than eleven months. So much for taking it easy. He returned to Hawaii for the first time in the 7+ years of our trip and was excited to drive down his former gated driveway once again. Although in disarray the house and yard were in ok shape. As we drove away, saying goodbye to all the 70 plus fruit trees he had planted, it was a completion to his life on the islands.
As a single Mom with 2 teenagers I had built my home in 1997 up in the ohia forest with views of the ocean. An owner-builder we completed it in 6 months, with me as the 'third guy' on the job dry walling, laying tile/wood flooring, landscaping and decorating. We were fortunate to have a quick visit in my former house, reminiscing about the good times in my little piece of heaven in the Hawaiian forest, on the slopes of Mauna Loa. I was going to stay there the rest of my life, then I met Joseph at a funeral 3 years later. Life is what happens while you are making other plans. Kaboom! Now we are half way around the world, exploring the remote corners of this fascinating planet together.
We spent a day hiking into beautiful Makalawena Beach. Later in the week after swimming at Hapuna Beach on the Kohala Coast we drove to the end of the road for the spectacular views of Pololu Valley Lookout and Keopkea Beach Park. Walking around Hawi we then ended up spending the night with our good friends, Bob & Kije, enjoying the golden sunset from the lanai of their new home along the wind swept coast.
We took off exploring the rest of the island first crossing from Waimea and the expansive Parker Ranch over Saddle Road, past idyllic, pristine Waipio Valley lookout, hiked to 416 ft high Akaka Falls, finally arriving to quaint Hilo, home of the bustling Saturday Farmer's Market. We stopped at our favorite little Thai restaurant and they greeted us loudly as if we had never left, wondering where we had been. No trip is complete to East Hawaii without walking the eclectic streets of Pahoa, in Puna district, lined with shops frequented by 'punatics'. Always someone interesting to talk to, some of these great hippies came here decades ago and never left, instead tucking themselves into the forests along Red Road. We spent a glorious afternoon swimming in the buff at Kahena, the local clothes optional beach, before searching out our old friend Aaron, hidden back in the jungles of Pohoiki. Asking everyone where his new place was, we finally met someone outside the health food store who had his number. Before we knew it we were sharing a Mexican taco in Pahoa then a fruit breakfast at his gorgeous new sustainable farm filled with plans, hopes and dreams amongst giant old mango trees. Down one of our favorite drives through the tunnel of trees on Pohoiki Road we watched surfers dodge the rocks at Isaac Hale Park. Red Road (now paved) is a quiet country road that takes you through the jungle, past the crashing waves of McKinnley Park and the relaxing ancient Hawaiian hot ponds. In the evening the red glow of Kilauea's flowing lava reminded us that we were sitting on the world's most active volcano. We have hiked many times over the years to witness the lava 'fountaining' over 2000 ft into the air or past exhilarating orange molten rivers flowing to the ocean at the rate of 1,000 gallons every second. Thus far 2 billion cubic yards of lava rock have come from this eruption - that's enough rock to pave a 2-lane highway, 1.2 million miles long, encircling the globe 50 times. This lava has covered great stretches of the national park, 8 miles of highway and over 200 homes since first exploding in 1983. When the boiling lava hits the cool Pacific Ocean a black sand beach is often formed, such as Punaluu, home to nesting green sea turtles. Back around towards S. Kona is 'Ka Lae' South Point, the southernmost point in the United States, which lies about the same latitude as Mexico City.
The highlight of our visit to three islands was spending time catching up with dear friends. We have all kept in touch via email but nothing rivals a dinner at sunset along the ocean or up 'mauka' (mountains). Spending time in their homes and having a taste of their lives helps me know them better and how life has changed in the last 7 years. Priscilla and Rob welcomed us into their cozy apartment to just hang out and it was there we flew my Mom in from Wisconsin to join us. As she deserves, we treated her like a Queen for the next 3 weeks while we visited sights and friends. We even celebrated her 86th birthday with 2 different gatherings of friends! She loves a party. Pleasant lunches/dinners were shared with Mary, Mo, Gloria, Betty, Precille & Michael, James & Paula and Kelli before flying to our third and final island, Oahu.
Oahu, the Gathering Place, is home to the state's capitol, Honolulu, and famous Waikiki Beach. The majority of the one million state residents live on this island, where they are joined by millions of tourists annually, our major industry. Honolulu is a green city filled with sumptuous restaurants, Asian bazaars and international shopping between Pearl Harbor and Diamond Head.
It was so much fun to spend time with our friends Barb & Jay and Sasha & Robert, being once again warmly welcomed into their lovely Island homes. Many meals were shared along with walks on the beach, hikes along the windy ridge tops of the velvet green mountains, swimming in the warm turquoise water, shopping, lunch, contra dancing, meditation groups and a long awaited sharing of the Silence with Quaker Friends at Honolulu Friends Meeting. We joined Art & Bunny, Yukuri, Kal and Kaimanu (who has grown so fast), Sandy, Ona and Ana, for fun lunches or sunsets, enjoying the time to catch up until our orbits collide again.
We drove around Oahu from Makapu'u Beach, past Sandy's Beach, to Kaneohe, and up to Laiea, home of the Polynesian Cultural Center. We walked the beach and swam at the world famous surf spots of Pipeline and Sunset on the North Shore. Another day we drove out to Waenaie on the western shore to have a picnic, go swimming and painted water color masterpieces in the shade of the coconut trees. A family tradition of sunset along the ocean with Hawaiian music and hula dancing, under the banyan tree at the elegant Sheraton Moana that has graced the shores of Waikiki for almost a century, was a real highlight. Following the music we walked through the International Marketplace to watch the show and eat at the large food court. Over a hundred people sang "Happy Birthday" to my Mom during the show. What a celebrity! We swam then danced and danced to the lively tunes of popular Hawaiian artist, Kapono, at Dukes on the 'Beach at Sunset' two Sundays in a row, clearing our heads and letting the Hawaiian beat soak right down to our souls.
We had met Mike, born on Oahu, traveling on a remote island in northern Vietnam. An enterprising young businessman in China he was diagnosed with an immune disorder which put him in the hospital on strong steroids and almost completely disabled him. While in bed browsing on his laptop he had the time to check out our 'Thoughts on Health' and figured if the lifestyle changes had cured me of cancer why not give it a try. Slowly he changed to a vegan diet and lifestyle and weaned himself off the debilitating medicine and a year later is strong and healthy again. When hugging us he said that, "You saved my life". We reminded him that he had healed himself through perseverance. He wrote, "You two are the most inspiring and interesting people that I have ever met in my life, and I believe that we meet certain people in life for a reason." Mike brought along his Aunty who was close to being in a wheelchair from crippling arthritis, which she has suffered with for over 30 years. Making changes along with her nephew, she now walks 1 1/2 hours through Ala Moana Park every day, previously lucky to make it from her car to her house. It takes years of bad habits to make ourselves sick and we must be patient when choosing alternative methods to heal. Mike and his Aunty are the most recent examples we've seen that lifestyle changes really help. You are an inspiration to us! Health is the major determining factor to the quality of our lives. We each make choices and live the consequences. This is a positive scenario. The exciting thing is that we are each able to break free of the negative time consuming, expensive cycle of 'doctors, diagnosis & prescription medicine' to give our bodies and minds the necessary tools to heal ourselves. (Check out 'Thoughts on Health' on our homepage under our picture for some ideas. Every little bit helps). We can live a happier, more vibrant life just by making some simple, inexpensive life-style changes. Self responsibility. Our health. Our choice.
And so it goes.........................................Next month continuing around the world to the far east - Thailand & Cambodia. Until then let's remember to slow down and Hang Loose, Hawaiian Style! Glad you stopped by. Please share our site with all your friends and family. Get the word out what a great world we live in. Thanks for keeping in touch - we love getting your emails!
Love, Light & Laughter,
$1.00US = Less every year
expensive, whether living in the islands or visiting. Check out the
Lonely Planet for some budget options. 'The Bus', on Oahu only,
is still a great deal. You are able to travel around the whole
island for $1.00. Camping in the scenic county campgrounds of
the Big Island is the best deal going - only $2-$5 a night.
The trick is you must book ahead at the County Parks and Recreation
office, first come first serve.
The Big Island (Hawaii):
The best Thai food on Oahu: Phuket Thai, near Ward St. Try their gourmet dishes and excellent spring rolls.
Drive around the whole coastline from Waikiki, past Diamond Head, around past Makapu'u Beach and up the Windward side to the North Shore. A spectacular drive with lots of pretty beaches and parks to explore. In Haleawa there is a funky little health food store with the best homemade vegetarian plates. Go Back down the highway to Honolulu through the center of the island and there you are. Takes all day, morning to night , so get an early start. Do the west coast another day. The Polynesian Cultural Center is worth a visit once to get a taste of all the Polynesian Island cultures.
In Honolulu spend a day exploring Ala Moana Beach Park, stop by the shopping center for a look and a lunch in their massive food court; walk around China Town and stroll down Fort St Mall. Govinda's Restaurant, run by the Hare Krisnas has good lunchtime food (M-F) until they run out and right up the walking mall is the best Asian food at a low price, Fort Street Cafe, (because this is next to Hawaii Pacific University). Continue walking around Queen Liliokalani's Palace, etc. Check out Waikiki in the afternoon and then catch the sunset along the beach.
For a divine taste of old Hawaii, visit the courtyard of the Sheraton Moana on Waikiki Beach, for hula and music at sunset. You can park in their parking lot for not much; validated parking for up to 4 hours (or park at the zoo for free).
Drive the scenic ridge top road to Tantalus Lookout for great views of Honolulu.
Thanks to the media, people from other countries believe that all Americans are rich. The grass isn't always greener..... "The United States lags behind other developed nations in educational standards, social welfare programs, infant mortality rates, marriage rates, legitimacy rates, public safety, and other measures of family well-being. Crime, violence, drug abuse, and homelessness (millions live on the streets in America) are problems that arise from these situations and also weaken existing families. Some of the problems with family life come not from a rejection of the family or from stresses on the family, but from the high and idealistic expectations that Americans place on their marriages, sexual relationships, and parent-child relationships. Many Americans hope for a perfect spouse and a perfect family and will experiment until they find satisfying lives for themselves. (Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 2010)