Greetings from Hawaii-- where time means nothing and I've forgotten what day of the week it is.
I arrived in Honolulu last Friday (June 26) and met up with Alex and her friends Stephanie (who lives in Tucson) and Rachel (who lives in Honolulu). Rachel was gracious enough to let us stay in her tiny Honolulu apartment for a few days while we explored Waikiki (above) and Waimanalo Beaches (below).
Here is Alex strolling out to the Pacific Ocean with a boogie board. At right, we're waiting for the bus to take us to the beach.Waikiki was nice, but strewn with tourists snapping photos and watching the locals surf and boogie board. Waimanolo was much prettier and less crowded-- far more locals than tourists.
On Sunday, we flew into Hilo Airport on the Big Island, where I rented a house for 10 days. The house looked gorgeous on the Internet. It is very pretty and well-appointed in real life but also very close to the lava flow-- which is probably why it was so cheap to rent and also probably why there is a for sale sign in the front yard. The location was not what I had expected; I really wanted a view of the water from the porch. The only view of the ocean is from the second story meditation room-- and only if you're standing up. (This seems like a real architectural mistake. It's a great meditation room, but while you're seated, all you see is the wall.) The house is very comfortable and the location-- at the edge of the lava--is very quiet. It was a bit disconcerting when we first drove to Kalapana and found the road blocked with lava and an "enter at your own risk" sign. I haven't walked out to the lava flow yet, but my vacation mates have.
Our first day here-- after we found the house-- we went to the drumming circle on Kehena Beach, a black sand clothing-optional beach. (I was really surprised to see so many clothes on the clothing optional beach but whatever.) The drum circle was the quintessential old hippie meets young hippie experience. There were probably 20 or more drummers and other percussionists plus some random other musicians-- one guy on a flute, one on the ukulele, and one on trumpet. Alex and I and a few other women danced around some while they played and others watched the drumming, the dancing, and the ocean waves.
The drumming started to wind down as the sun began to set, so we decided to try to find the Hare Krishna Farm for the regular Sunday night feast, gathering and inspirational message. Again, we drove and drove, but finally stumbled upon the right one-lane country road to take us there. I wish I had had my camera for these two events, but I didn't think pictures would be appropriate.
The kirtan was awesome! I had always wanted to go to one of those in Tucson but have never made it. The Krishna band -- led by the main guru singing and playing guitar-- really rocked. In addition to the guitar player, there was an Indian woman on electric keyboard, an electric guitarist, a ukulele player, and a conga player. The guru led the all-ages crowd in several call and response chants. Everyone danced, swayed, hopped and/or meditated to the music which filled the room. There were a couple of short prayers-- with everyone kneeling with our heads touching the floor-- and a short Krishna lesson about karma, past lives, and the unity of all living things. (It went right along with the Buddhist Tantra book that I had just finished.) Afterwards, we had a giant vegan feast-- lentils, rice, greens, homemade pizza, chocolate cake, and water. I was stuffed. Alex introduced Stephanie and me to Guru Greg (who has a Krishna name which I have forgotten and probably couldn't spell anyway). He and King Coconut-- one of the main men in the drumming circle-- both remembered her from when she lived here six years ago.
On Monday, we went to the warm pond to swim in the morning. It was a luxurious thermal pond right off the ocean. After swimming, we went to Big Ed's Farm, where Alex lived for six months, six years ago. That was an eye-opener. Since she ran out of batteries not long after arrival, I had not seen many pictures of the place. If you look up "rustic" in Wikipedia, there will be a picture of The Farm. It is basically acreage of weeds, trees, lean-tos, and abandoned vehicles. People find The Farm through Willing Workers on Organic Farms (WWOOFing). The idea behind WWOOFing is that people volunteer to work on organic farms in exchange for room and board-- no pay. There doesn't seem to be much work going on on Ed's Farm. Mostly college students hang around and live on meager rations until they're tired of eating rice, beans, and mangoes, taking showers with a hose, washing their clothes by hand, and swatting flies by day and mosquitoes by night. A rustic lifestyle in paradise is an experience that they will talk about for the rest of their lives, though. (Above, Alex and Stephanie pose in The Farm's open-air kitchen.)
After The Farm, we went to Lava Tree National Park, which was very beautiful but paled in comparison to the farming adventure and swimming in the warm pond. We ended the day with a drink a a dive bar in downtown Pahoa.