Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Braving the Elements at Makapu'u Tidepools

The path to the top of Makapu'u Point is paved. It's one of the first stops "off-the-beaten-path" when leaving Honolulu. We cruised up the gentle slope, only the heat from the midday sun causing us to break a sweat. I wondered why weren't in the jungle on a secluded path destined for some mighty waterfall. Several minutes in, I couldn't yet see the appeal... just tourists and children.

Then he bounded away from the asphalt and over to the edge.

"You have to see this!"

I followed. We climbed up the face of a natural rock wall, slightly sloped so that if you were agile you could perhaps scaled it with no hands. Of course, he did. I crawled up using my hands and feet, occasionally my knees and butt. Every once in while, he knew to turn around and offer me his hand.

At the top, the breeze could reach us and it cooled my sun baked skin. The view was that of infinite ocean but then he pointed out a low, light shadow on the horizon which was the island Lanai, maybe Moloka'i. I was taken with the view when he pointed to where we were headed. Straight down.



"Don't worry, there are sort of switchbacks."

At the bottom was a collection of tide pools. Some the size of a bath tub and others like an olympic swimming pool. The massive oceans waves crashed into them and sent a surge of smaller waves rushing through the pools.

There was a sign posted at the top of the ridge above the tide pools informing us that people had died there recently - a father and his young daughter.  A wave simply took them out to sea and they could not survive. I wanted to stand at the top and watch for a moment to get an idea of what I was about to experience but he assured me that high tide was not until 2 o'clock and it was still morning. We would be fine.

I basically crab walked the whole way down. It didn't help that once again I was wearing the wrong shoes. I tried to follow his path but I've learned now that when he says, "This way is easier" it really means that way is more fun and interesting to him and he wants me to try it too. I'm just trying to survive here.


The closer we got to the pools though, the faster I climbed down. I began shedding my clothes on the final stretch. At the bottom, we hid our belongings and walked over the warm stones to the edge of a small tide pool. The wet rocks were covered in a slippery layer of algae. I slid into the perfectly cool water and all around me I saw periwinkle snails, gobies, damselfish, ear seaweed, and a couple of zebra blenny.


We quickly graduated from the small tidepool and climbed over the rocks into a larger one closer to the shore and the crashing waves. This pool was actually quite deep; I couldn't touch the bottom in the middle of it. I dove down and opened my eyes but the salt was concentrated in the pools and it stung badly. 

Then we saw a massive wave preparing to crash over the pool. I had no idea what this would actually mean for us. Would it be like a smooth but mighty ripple or something a bit more turbulent? He dove forward toward the wave and into the deepest part of the pool. I tried to anchor myself to the rocks at the inland edge. He was under when the wave hit and according to his retelling... everything went black. The massive wave tried to force my body into places it couldn't physically go, into the rocks. 

It was over in seconds and all I got was this lousy scrape. 


After that I stuck to the smaller pools that are more protected from the angry surf. It was peaceful then. Floating in the still waters with the sun gleaming off my skin was like a dream. I was beginning to drift off when I heard him calling me. 



God, is that you? I thought. 

Just kidding, it was Ian. He was perched on a high rock, calling for me to come over. Something about a secluded tide pool. We hiked a little ways up the coast and around a bend...

It was magnificent! The biggest of them all; it was deep, clear, and mostly sheltered from the brunt of the waves. Just a tiny swell washed over the pool every couple of minutes to keep it fresh. The best part, no people! The worst part, totally inaccessible! 

From where we stood, the tide pool was 15 feet below. The cliff was slightly inverted too, so we needed a rope to get down, which we didn't have. 

It didn't matter though. The sight of it was glorious enough. So spectacular that I forgot to snap a single pic. So please enjoy this pic of me sunning myself on some cliff, somewhere, that is not there, but very near by.


Monday, October 3, 2016

Travel Journal: The Journey to Ka'ena Point

I left Big Island when the moon was full. I took the death of two lambs and the disappearance of a cat as my cue to go. I packed all my belongings and hitched into town where I eventually found a host for the night. In his cozy bungalow I booked a one-way plane ticket to Oahu, leaving in two days.

Superstitious and impulsive, I won't deny it.

My first two nights I stayed in a hostel in Waikiki - towering resorts and luxury boutiques, fancy cars and packed beaches. Everyone was on their honeymoon or family reunion trip. Not my cup of tea but worth seeing.



The next four nights I stayed mostly with this guy, Dax, who was my seat mate on my initial flight out to the islands. We stayed in touch and he was happy to host. I stayed one night with my friend Ian, who is the brother of a past housemate of mine. Then I found my farm...

On the westside of Oahu in the Makaha valley about one quarter mile from the shore is a small farm where I've temporarily landed. Not many people come to the Westside. It's a local's place. I heard it was dangerous and full of meth heads but I haven't seen any yet. Lots of small family homes, pitbulls, and junkyard boats and trucks. The beaches are never packed and the sunsets are beautiful. Makaha valley, where the farm is located, is too stunning for words.



The farm is close to the end of the main road that almost encircles the island. It stops though and you can't reach the north shore unless you turn back, drive east, and then north. Or unless you hike. From our farm to the end of the road is only a few miles and then from the trail head to the western-most point is only a few more. 

So my friend Abby and I decided to hike to the point from the westside. At the same time, my friends Ian and Beth hiked there from the north shore. We made camp at the very tip. Like so...





Ka'ena Point, according to Hawaiian mythology, is known as the leaping point to the spirit world. This is the place where Hawaiian souls came for judgement. If one's earthly duties are complete, the soul may cross over and be guided to po (heaven) or the soul is sent back, or possibly stuck out of body and left to roam the jagged coast as a monk seal or crab.

On the hike out we noticed where the trail narrowed and sloped toward the shoreline; a few vehicles were not able to make the pass and rolled down onto the rocks below. Now there was nothing left but rusting sheet metal and an engine. Sometimes two feet beat four wheels.

We hiked straight on into the sun, the ocean glittering alongside. I could not have been more excited for our adventure. My mom told me that my smile is always its biggest when I've got on my hiking pack and boots. Too accurate.





After a while, we approached a huge fence with a double gate. There was little information about what the gate was for and if/when it would be locked, but we were set on camping at the point so we went through even if it meant we couldn't get back out until sunrise. Turns out the impenetrable fence was to protect young shearwaters from dogs and other predators.



The other side was covered with dozens upon dozens of holes where the baby shore birds were nesting. Even as babies they were the size of footballs, fuzzy grey footballs. The little guys need to rest because as adults they spend 8 months at sea. At night the fully grown ones soared all around our sandy camp spot. To me, they look like pterodactyls.


Abby and I reached the point about half an hour before sunset. It was so beautiful. Big waves from the north and a light current from the west converged ahead of us. The last remaining people there, besides us, were about to hike out. The point was our playground. There was a tower to climb, old military pillboxes, and lots of sandy paths leading to different rock formations and tide pools. 



Sunset was a dream. I thought we would see the elusive green flash but the last centimeter of view was obscured by far-away clouds. Ian and Beth (reportedly) arrived about 30 seconds before the sun appeared to touch the sea but they stopped to watch the show from the tower, while Abby and I were down at the beach. I thought maybe they weren't coming but right after the sun disappeared we found each other. We toasted to our night ahead at this magical place with swigs of tequila and some herb.


Later on, Ian and Beth got out there fancy cameras to take pictures of the night sky. The milky way was dense and spectacular. We saw a few shooting stars, the kind that burn orange and last for more than a millisecond. 

In the early morning before dawn, a light rain fell so Abby and I took to the tent. It was quite cold and windy; the rain fly on the tent was whipping around and making so much noise. I hardly got any sleep but it was worth it! 

The next morning, Abby hiked back to our farm on the west side and I went with the others. Hiking back to civilizations wasn't nearly as exciting but I had good company so I was still smiling. I feel like another night at Ka'ena point is happening soon. It's hard to stay away from that place. It's magnetic even though I know my soul is not ready to depart. 




Sunday, September 18, 2016

Travel Journal: Cliff Jumping at South Point

What do I look for in a health insurance plan? Apparently, one that covers activities such as cliff jumping. I never thought I would jump off a cliff - but now I’ve jumped off two! I sure don’t have the desire to end it all and the only other reason one would willingly jump is for the thrill of it and that’s so not like me. Alas, there are only so many things to do in Hawai’i and cliff jumping is just one of the things people do for sport around here. As terrifying as it can be, I’m not going to start sitting on sidelines now.


The first time I jumped was at South Point, which is the southern-most point in the 50 United States. It was a long dusty drive through horse and cattle fields to get to the cliffs. Adrenaline junkies in trucks and jeeps sped past us on the glorified one-way road that led to the ocean. When we got there, me and two guys and one pup, we cracked a beer and passed it around. Step one to cliff jumping: liquid courage.


I told them I was going to go ahead because I needed time to psych myself up. A couple steps away was the southern edge of the entire landmass that is Hawaii. This edge is 40 feet straight down into deep blue ocean. Dotting the edge were fishing rigs, like the kind you use to haul an 400 pound animal out of the sea. The effect was kind of ominous. I imagined the sea or some inhabitant of it getting revenge on me after my abrupt disruption of the peace.


Then I peered over and the sight couldn’t be more welcoming. Several happy people floated on the calm waters below. They jumped, they survived, and the adrenaline wasn’t even enough to keep them roused. They just floated and bobbed peacefully in the water like it was nothing at all. Step two to cliff jumping: visualize the reward.


Shortly, my friends made there way over. They wasted no time. One did a gainer, which involves running forward and then flipping backwards. The other dove head first. They did it over and over. The pup whimpered on the edge presumably because she wanted to play too. Step three to cliff jumping: FOMO.


Before I even knew what was happening, I was standing in my bikini on a little ledge with a crowd of people around me and cameras shooting video from every angle. I knew the more of a big deal I made this, the more attention and expectations would surround me. My friend started lecturing me about his phone battery draining fast. I swear, I hadn’t been stalling for more than 10 minutes. But the faces all around looked either bored, annoyed, or just as freaked out as I looked. Final step to cliff jumping: peer pressure.


I pulled my arms back and swung them forward; once, twice and on the third swing I was in the air. Two seconds later my toes pierced the water and I plummeted down into the salty blue. It was exhilarating! I mean other than the instant wedgie and deep sinus cleanse, it was such a great feeling!

10 out of 10, would play again, would recommend! I liked it so much, I did it twice!





Monday, September 5, 2016

Travel Journal: Nine Hours at Makalawena Beach

I was at a dinner party recently with the friends of my host and one couple kept raving about this particular beach. They had lived in Hawaii for years but now resided in California, so on their trip they were mainly visiting old friends but they made a point to visit this very special place. It's hard to access, they said, but it's the most beautiful secluded beach on the island. It's a long rocky hike or a turbulent ride by jeep or truck down to this pristine, white-sand oasis. I ask him to repeat the name twice.

That night I changed my tinder bio to read, "Looking for someone with a 4WD to take me down to Makalawena Beach."

Nothing wrong with expediting the manifestation of your desires, am I right? I talked to a few people but most wanted to hike it (no doubt because their vehicle was not fit for the job). I could have hiked it, sure. My birkenstocks and I can hike anything, this we know! Apparently you can even hike in from a nearby beach and it's not too strenuous or you can take the rocky road down from the highway and it's less than a mile. Fine but I started reading reviews about what it's like going down there in a jeep and I wanted that experience.

One night I was sitting alone at a local bar in town, sipping a Shirley Temple in recovery mode from the sun and excessive day drinking. A guy and a girl sat down next to me and noticed my beverage...

"What are you drinking, Tang? Can I buy you a beer?" said the guy in a Spanish accent.

"I'm Juan and this is Susie."

We shook hands and exchanged stories. They were both chefs at 5-star resorts on the island. Hard workers who played even harder. They drank like fish - the good stuff too.

Juan had been on the island for a little over 2 years. He lived in Florida before and was originally from Columbia. We talked about the lay of the land. He sketched Big Island out on a napkin and told me about the different regions. I'd heard it all before so when he skimmed over the Kona-Kohala coast, I grabbed the napkin...

"But right here, north of the airport, there's this beach..." I chimed.

"Makalawena. Yeah, wanna go?"

"Yesss..."

"Cool. I have a jeep, we can go tomorrow."

!!!

The next morning Juan raised the blinds at 7AM. I groaned and stretched over the sandy sheets. Apparently his enthusiasm for a Makalawena beach day exceeded mine, at least at this hour. We hopped in the jeep and after two breakfast burritos and a gallon of coffee, we were at the turn off for Makalawena.

Windows down, Rihanna blarring, we plummeted down the first couple of ridges sending every one of my limbs, including my head, smashing into the walls and ceiling of the jeep. Holy hell. This was going to be an insane ride.



I learned quick the key to not getting thrashed around is muscle control - you gotta engage your core and hang on for dear life. Once I got the hang of this, the journey was like a rollercoast ride, like on wooden one built in the 1970s.

If you showed me a picture of the terrain I would not have believed any vehicle could traverse it, except maybe a monster truck. The road was basically made of boulders, cliffs, and holes the size of a sedan. But we made it, very slowly and strategically, all the way down to the beach. Not gonna lie, it was the sexiest thing I've experienced in quite a while ...and my life has been pretty sexy lately.

Then I saw the beach! It was even better than I imagined. As close to a beach paradise as you can find on this earth and we had it almost all to ourseleves, minus a few people who had camped there that night. The water was so clear with a bright teal hue. The waves were massive and crashing one minute and then calm the next.



We set up beneath some trees and that's when I realized Juan was the perfect companion for this particular adventure. Out came the hammock, beach chairs, towels, mask and snorkel, tropical fruit, chips, salsa, water, and most importantly, a cooler full of beer. Winning!

We spent the next NINE hours at this perfect beach... swimming, tanning, playing in the waves, climbing trees, talking, drinking, etc.. I asked Juan if he needed any sunscreen, knowing full well he would laugh, cite being Columbian, and turn me down. The only sunscreen he got was on his palms from rubbing it all over me and I hope that was worth it because he is now a lobster!

Luckily we had a big breakfast, because at the beach our only nourishment was the juiciest of mangos and one dragonfruit. I made a mess of both all over my face.

In the late afternoon, we heard thunder in the distance and the sun started to disappear. While Juan was packing up, I sprawled out in the warm sand. That feeling was pure joy, my happiest in a while. I rolled around and buried myself. I put my ear to the sand. I laid tummy down and made sand angels. Even though today I'm finding sand in every crevice of my body, I don't regret playing like a five year old.

Makalawena beach proved to be everything I hoped it would be. If I'm lucky, I'll go back many times. It's worth the journey and if you like thrill rides, the journey is half the fun!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Travel Journal: Kilauea Lava Flow into the Ocean

I was still in California with 7 days until my one-way flight to the Big Island when I heard that the lava from Kilauea had reached the ocean for the first time since 2013. The Kilauea volcano is the most active in the world but still this news made me eager to arrive and see the magic of those two great forces - lava and water - collide. I could not wait to witness the birth of earth's newest land.

Yet when I arrived, I did wait. Weeks went by and I found myself too busy or too tired to journey to the flow. Not to mention, my nanny car wasn't really up for the almost 3 hour journey south so I needed a more reliable ride. Lucky for me I met someone visting from Portland who was just as eager to get there and he had a rental car. Perfect. 

We decided to go in the evening. Instead of heading straight south, we drove accross the island to Hilo and then down so we could approach the lava fields on the side closest to the active flow. We were just searching through #lavaflow on Instagram and seeing where the photos were geo-tagged in order to have a spot to aim for, but we had no idea if the flow had rerouted or what roads got closest to it. Basically our shot in the dark was exactly right though because we ended up where everyone else ended up... at the Greatest Show on Earth.

Seriously, it was a scene! The paved road turned to gravel and we were directed by a man in a reflective orange vest to park at the end of this massive line of vehicles. We parked and walked in the direction everyone else was walking and after a while the cars gave way to tents. There were vendors selling food, water, glowsticks, bikes, etcs.. 

Then we saw the traffic flasher, the message read... 

4.25 MILE HIKE AHEAD
ONE WAY
LOOSE TERRAIN
ONE GALLON WATER PER PERSON
NO SANDALS
PREPARE FOR A DIFFICULT 8 HOUR HIKE (ROUNDTRIP)

Of course, we had one small bottle of water and I was wearing sandals. Oops! Everytime. Please send sneakers. 

At least we weren't without resources thanks to all the vendors. We stocked up on water, fruit, and decided at the very last minute to rent bikes. $10 per bike per hour. Not bad. Worth every penny! If you go ask around for Kimball Trump, unfortunate name but he's got the goods: solid, sturdy bikes with big tires and good brakes. He'll tape a flashlight to your handlebars, adjust your seat, and send you off with an extra water bottle and all the good juju for spotting lava. He swears it's better than a Pink Floyd light show.



The gravel road isn't too difficult by bike if you stick to the beaten path. The last mile is a bit looser and you may want to walk it, but we were fine - mostly. The bike ride there was a breeze because we were riding on pure excitement and adrenaline. We knew we were getting close when we could smell the sulfur in the air. We arrived just as the sun's light was beginning to disappear.



We walked to the edge of the jagged black cliff to see the burning molten lava pumping out over the black sand beach and into the crashing waves. It took my breath away. It was chaotic and rhythmic all at the same time. The spurts and gurgles of the lava and the fast rising steam were the chaos; but the ocean waves rolling over the lava, pushing it up and then pulling it out was the rhythm that birthed the new land inch by inch.



At the cliff looking down and ahead at this sight was overwhelming. I needed to sit down, to catch my breath. The ground was made of harden lava but it was still relatively new and unworn. It sparkled like blackened pyrite. It cut like glass. It made a thousand little indentations in my thighs. We spent a while gazing in awe at the magic of it. The sun set and the lava glowed the brightest, purest orange. The stars all peeked out one by one.

It was mesmerizing in a way that called me closer. I wondered if we could access the flow at a point before it came spilling out of the cliffside. While I wanted to be closer to the lava to pay my respects to all its beauty and glory, I was worried how others would behave. Many Hawaiians regard the lava as the physical form of their goddess Pele. Yet still, people will prod the lava with sticks and trash to watch it burn. This would upset me but we ventured closer anyway. It was worth the risk.



Turns out, everyone there that night wanted to respect and admire the lava just as I did. The only risk in getting closer was, of course, the lava and the conditions surrounding it. Imagine a river of molten lava with several layers of hardened black lava surrounding it forming a tube and this tube slopes down and cascades down the side of a cliff into the ocean.

We approached the lava river about 30 yards before it started to plunge downward. The heat rose up around us, we could even feel it through our shoes. Pretty soon we were standing on the lava tube and smoke billowed out from vents all around. The minute I stepped down wind from one of these vents, I felt my throat tighten. I started coughing rapidly and, in a panic, I ran back to breathable air. Every hurried step, I was worried I would step through a soft spot in the lava tube.



It felt like another planet entirely. Yet this magical place is the very essence of our planet earth. The water of the ocean, the fire of the lava, the air of the night sky, and the surrounding black rock of earth. I felt so small.

On the way back, we walked the bikes for a while under the blanket of the milky way. It was so visible against the midnight sky - a milky, star-saturated arm of our spiral galaxy. I barely blinked and my reverence was rewarded by a fantastic shooting star! It streaked downward, a bright white light followed by a glittering orange tail until it burned up and out of sight.

For the rest of the walk back to the car, I saw a warm glowing orb off in the lava field at the exact point where the meteor had fallen. I don't know if it was really a meteorite but they do occur all the time. So in my mind, it will always be.

Because there is no such thing as too much magic for one night.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Travel Journal: Sleeping on the Beach and Swimming with Spinner Dolphin





5:30AM. I woke up on a blow-up mattress on a strip of sand between the ocean and a fish pond. The thick white branches of a fallen tree were our only bit of privacy. I sat up causing the air in the mattress to shift and my friend pulled the sheet over his head.  With the sun still behind Hualalai, I looked around in awe of the pale morning light on the water.







There is nothing like falling asleep to the sound of real ocean waves but waking up to them is just as nice. The honu would agree! By nightfall, dozens of them dotted the shore. Only the silhouette of their enormous fins, beaks, and protruding eyes are visible in the moonlight but by morning you can catch them cruising back into the surf, butt ups to chomp some algae off the rocks.






We packed up and left our seemingly secret spot and headed into town. There we took a kayak and some snorkel gear out onto the bay. This part of the ocean is heavily trafficked with fishing boats, tourist submarines, catamarans, jetskis, kayakers, and chartered snorkel tours. Which happens to be ideal for attracting attention-loving spinner dolphins.


The bay was a deep cerulean blue on this morning. With the sun still low in the sky, it was hard to see anything below the surface; I couldn’t even locate the reef. At this point, I doubted I would get in… bodies of water that I can’t see through have been a huge fear of mine for my whole life.


But then I saw the fins pierce the surface just a couple dozen yards away. There were already many snorkelers in the water, so I hopped overboard not wanting to miss my chance.


A boat captain told me to swim past the starboard side of his vessel, which separated me from the other people in the water. I wasn’t sure why he gave me this direction but then I looked underneath me and saw about 25 spinner dolphins in the deep. Following the pod, a group of three large dolphins passed below me. The middle one suddenly broke from the group and shot straight up into the air and did at least three full twists - not more than 10 feet from my face!



I almost cried. It was too perfect! All in all there were about 45 dolphins, mamas and babies too. Underwater they just glide, slow and steady, but every once in awhile they surface with a spin or a flip.

It’s one thing to see it from land but when you’re in the water, spitting in your goggles and coughing salt water through your snorkel, it makes you appreciate the magnificent of these sea creatures and how well suited they are for their environment. Fortunately they seem to like sharing their home with us visitors and showing off too!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Travel Journal: Big Island's Ka'awaloa Trail to Kealakekua Bay

Think twice. Those are the words of warning posted in red on the sign at the trail head off Napo'opo'o Road. Many hikers have suffered injury or required rescue here. I read most of the sign, didn't think much of it, and carried on my merry way.



After all, I can handle 3.8 miles. No big deal. It's all downhill and when I get to the bottom (after a leisurely swim) I can just hitch a ride or have a friend give me a lift out. There must be plenty of roadways leading down to the Bay, it's a popular attraction with the Captain Cook Monument being there. This is what I tell myself as I hike along through the tall grasses.



It certainly was hot, around 80 degrees and humid. But I had a bottle of water and a meal bar, plus I had about 22 oz of fresh coconut water on tap from the drupe. So what's the worst that could happen? Probably not death by dehydration.



So I remember very distinctly the sign at the trail head said it was 3.8 miles down to the Kealakekua Bay... but I passed (what I thought was) mile marker 1, mile marker 2, mile marker 3, 4, 5 and now 6! The sign even said If lost or injured, make note of the distance marker along the trail, stay put, call 911. So what else could these far spaced out numbered posts be except mile markers? But if they are mile markers why am I coming up on the 7th one?? When is this going to end?!!



But there was no 7th marker. Eventually after many cuts, stumbles, and mosquito bites the trail descended into the perfect splendor of Kealakekua Bay. Even though I was utterly exhausted and sore I broke into a jog toward the pristine blue waters.



I stripped down to my bikini, hung my belongings on a nearby tree, and slid down the algae-covered lava rock into the water. I rubbed the sweat and sunscreen off my skin and wet my hair. Then I gazed around at the majesty of the high cliffs and the deep cerulean water. Right then, it hit me...

There was no road. There was no path along the edge of the Bay. There were plenty of people but they all had one thing in common... a boat. I panicked.

It took me almost 2 hours to hike down so it was probably going to take me 4 hours to hike up the steep grade. My feet were blistered from my sandals. I was almost out of water. I only had energy from one protein bar to fuel me. I knew it would not only be miserable but quite dangerous to attempt the hike back.

After the panic subsided, I sprung into action. First order of business: procure more water. See that charter boat in the above photo, I swam out to it.

"Hey, do you guys have some extra water for me?" I shouted from blue.

"Yeah, come aboard!"

Easy. The crew was just two rough looking older guys. They filled a plastic bag with two water bottles and an electrolyte drink for me. One guy jotted down his number and slipped it into the bag as well. They wished me well but they couldn't bring me back with them because they had a whole boatload full of high paying tourists to take back to town. Picking up a straggler would look bad. Whatever.

I swam back to the shore with my plastic bag full of hydration in tow. Some kayakers were now on the rocks near my stuff and they saw me haul in the water and gulp some it down. Lucky for me they were curious.

They were a dad, mom, and daughter visiting from Southern California. They came in on one kayak to snorkel the reef. I told them about the trail and how it seemed longer than advertised. I told then about my footwear situation and how little I had eaten. They took pity.

Yet, with only one kayak, what could they do? Turns out, that one little kayak would carry us 4 adults all the way across the deep and choppy Bay to the wharf on the other side. It barely worked. We took on so much water I thought we would sink and every time we hit a wave I thought we would tip.



It was not easy. These people were novice kayakers and we zigzagged all the way across the bay. Two people to paddle, two people to bail water. I couldn't let myself think about capsizing. The bay is so deep and dark, plus we had all of our dry clothes and electronics on us. Finally, we made it to the other side! I was so thankful for these people going out of their way to help me. Seriously, if you stumble upon this blog post... THANK YOU!!!

Lesson learned. Pack extra water, plan ahead, and maaaaybe think twice. 

Nah!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Travel Journal: My First Day Off

Okay, I'm settling into my life here. I'm beginning to understand the lay of the land. I know I rise with the sun and pretty much fall asleep before 10PM. I know where to get a $3.99 lunch and the fruit stand with the most free samples (even though a walk down our jungle road yields me at least one massive avocado and some lilikoi along the way). I know my routine: work Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday; off Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. Mostly work involves playing with the boys on the beach but sometimes it's weed whacking, painting, gardening, cooking, and cleaning. Days off I'm free to explore and boy, do I!

The first day was smooth sailing. I woke up early, brewed some delicious Kona coffee - which is so good, by the way, I broke my sugar habbit and sometimes even forgo cream - and then I went for a yoga sesh at the local gym. After that, I headed to the little white sand beach by the surf shack where I get free unlimited use of all the toys and gear, thanks to my host being the owner.

After 12 full hours the previous day spent watching the boys, I was ready to hop in a kayak and paddle off into the horizon for some peace and solitude. But with surf shacks come surfer dudes and their remarkable sense of hospitality and graciousness means the owner's fresh new nanny never travels without an escort or applies her own sunscreen. Haha, thanks boys! So yeah, I had company.

Which was actually great! Because that meant I could hop off and snorkel without needing to worry about the kayak floating away or using a leash. I could dive deep and swim around carefree, except for my lingering fear of jaws.

Before I got in though, we noticed a pod of about 30 spinner dolphins ahead. We paddled closer trying to intersect with their path but they were more interested in the larger boats further out to sea. We got pretty close though. One day, I can't wait to hop in the water with them.

Back at the reef, I scooted off the kayak with my snorkel and mask and was rewarded with a crystal clear view of dozens of different kinds of tropical fish: tang, angel, trigger, trumpet, butterfly and one of my favorites: the psychedelic colored parrot fish. I followed a huge one around watching him take giant chomps of coral until I swam up on a honu!

Honu is the Hawaiian word for the green sea turtle. These creatures are magnificent! Only 1 in 1,000 baby sea turtles survives into adulthood but once they do they seem to achieve nirvana. Seriously these guys emit maximum chill vibes just flying through the sea, slow but steady. I dove down and glided just over top of him, my tummy about a foot from his shell. It was a magical experience for me, though he seemed unfazed.

After a little while of cruising around the reef and practicing my free dives, we went back to shore. The beach cozies up to a pretty fancy hotel. So of course I rinse off, order a pina colada, and get in the hot tub! I spend a few hours at the hotel until the guy with the clipboard starts coming around asking for room numbers. That's my cue to go!

They might rule the pool, but the beach belongs to everybody! Really. Fun fact, none of the coastline in Hawaii can be privately owned. So I head back out to the beach for an hour or two of dedicated tanning time (as exposed to all other time, where I'm likely just burning).

Now I've got no transportation out here. I have a nanny car for taking the boys to and from school but I'm not really suppose to use it for myself and if I do I have to fill up the tank which is not exactly in my budget. So I wing it! Hitch hiking is popular here and so are friends with cars!

The same guy who took me out on the kayak let me hitch a ride with him once he got off work. Thank you! Actually we went out for Indian food (my favorite) and then hung out at this amazing hotel pool. It was all cliff side, sprawling lagoon pool, hot tub, tiki torches, and cabana beds. To blend in, we pretended it was our honeymoon! :p

After our swim, we laid out under the stars and he told me stories about the Night Marchers, spirits of ancient Hawaiian warriors who still haunt the trails at night. We dozed off and when we woke it was almost midnight, way past my bedtime. So we hopped in his little yellow beater car named Sunshine and rode with the top down all the way back home.

Good times!