I apologize for my lack of updates for the last few weeks. I have been keeping myself very busy and have only now found the time to adequately update you on my endeavors abroad. Being that this is my first post in over a year, and my first one on this trip I am hopeful that my readers are eager and anxious again to hear about my travels.
I landed in Honolulu on the evening of the 19th of May. My original plan to WWOOF fell through when I called the night before I took off and found out that the place I had planned on staying at would not be ready for another week or so. So my plan became finding a cheap place to stay or at least find a place to park my bags until the next day when my travelmate Ariel arrived. However, both of these plans failed. I wandered the streets of Waikiki with my belongings, and stopped to sit against a wall on the beach to sleep. After some time had passed I was awoken by a strange European man who felt compelled to tell me his life story and why he was in Hawaii. After this interruption I wandered a bit more to try and find a place more suited for that of weary wandering hobos like myself to lie down in a quiet place for some rest.
I came upon a fairly empty stretch of beach and laid down under a life guard stand. The waves were breaking in the background and the ocean wind was howling, but i managed to fall asleep despite the sounds. I kept waking up, fearing that I would get mugged, so I positioned my bags so that if anyone tried to steal from me I would immediately wake up and stop them. At one point, I woke up in a frenzy grabbed my bags and sprinted away from the ocean, because I was convinced that there was a tidal wave coming in and I thought I was going to die. I must have been dreaming about a tsunami or something because when I gathered myself I realized how ridiculous it was (the sounds of the waves and the wind really put me off). I fell back asleep and sure enough I was woken up again, except this time by a cop who was very friendly and politely asked me to move along. Before I reached my next resting point, I met a fellow hobo named steve. He stopped and wanted to talk to me because I was sitting down and I guess he wanted some company. He starts telling me his life story, and how he ended up in Hawaii and some of the things he shared with me I dare not repeat. One example of his crazy is, he says that he is writing a book that he sent in to President Obama, which he claims that President Obama is now using in his speeches and other things of that nature. He also shared with me his drug use history at which point I politely excused myself and started wandering again. By this time its about 2am and I finally found a quiet place under a palm tree on the beach to sleep. I only woke up once this time to put on sweat pants and a sweat shirt because it got a little cold.
Woke up the next morning to the sound of tourists taking pictures of (me?) the beach and the sunrise (which was beautiful). I ate breakfast at McDonalds and went back to the beach. It got really hot out and I wanted to swim but couldn't because I did not want to leave my bags unattended. So I brought my things as close to the water as possible and went swimming alone. When I got out I decided to take a nap, which was nice, except for the part of me getting severely sunburned.
When Ariel flew in, we went to every hostel on Waikiki in search of a cheap place to stay. In doing so we found out about a hostel work exchange, where one can work for their board. We called and visited every hostel but none of them were hiring/none of them had reasonable rates (in our price range). There was one more on the list that was not answering their phone, and just before we were about to check into a hostel I suggest we go check out the one that is not answering their phones. We walk to Seaside Hawaiian Hostel, and inquire about work exchange. Sure enough, this place was looking for people to help out. We got set up on cots in the managers room however, which was still better than nothing.
Hostel life is/was amazing. We'd work for a few hours a day doing construction. What started out as dry walling a room turned into a complete remodeling project because as we dug deeper in to the structure we found an insane amount of termite damage, so much so that I was surprised that side of the building was still standing. So we essentially knocked down an entire wall, rebuilt it from the ground up then put the siding back on the house. The whole process took about 3 weeks to complete but it was great being able to do something and see the fruits of your labor.
When we weren't working, we were meeting new people from all over the world (lots of Canadians for some reason) and the turn over was so constant there was never a dull moment. It was always fun because the other staff that we met there and our boss, who was an ex-pat and served 8 tours of combat, made sure everyone was enjoying themselves (which is hard not to do here).
On one of our days off we rented scooters and went to the windward side of the island, which truly lived up to its name and at some points almost blew the bike over while we were riding. On the way to Kailua, we stopped at Hanauma Bay which is famous for its snorkeling.
I had been there before as a kid and remember it being a lot more colorful, but I suppose over time all the color faded with so many tourists treading on it. But all was not lost because I saw a SEA TURTLE!!! Once I found it I followed it for a solid 20 minutes just watching it gracefully glide through the water. I got really close to it and he/she didn't even seem to mind that I was hanging out with him. We stopped at a couple scenic view points and the surroundings were magnificent. Mountains, ocean, and forests, all within a 360 view. We climbed to the top of this one mountain/cliff (realized later that a few scenes from LOST were filmed where we were) and found a concrete bunker at the top. We hung out there for a bit and enjoyed the view then had to head home because it was getting dark.
We stayed on Oahu until our third and final travelmate, Jeff, arrived. He spent a couple days in Oahu with us until we shipped out to Maui. Saying good-bye to the hostel and everyone there was sad, in the three weeks there a lot of us had gotten close and by the time we come back, everyone will be gone.
When we booked our tickets to Maui we looked at one factor: Price. Unfortunately for us, we failed to take into account departure time, which in this case happened to be 5:15am. We stayed up and out all night until around 3am when we took a cab to the airport. We arrived in Maui 30 minutes later, and realized that our contact was not going to pick us up until 12-1pm. So we parked ourselves in a nice corner and I stood watch over my companions while they slept on the floor. We wandered around the airport and just watched the clock until noon rolled around. When it finally did, we met our WWOOF host Eileen and her daughter Danielle. They own and operate Hana Herbs and Flowers. They had picked up 2 stray kittens on their way, and it just so happens that these are the cutest kittens in the world (seriously, in the world). We embarked on the 2 hour drive to Hana and drove down the famous Hana Highway. I, however, was asleep for most of it because I slept very little on the plane and in the airport.
We arrived at the farm and I instantly get swarmed and eaten by mosquitoes. Other than that, walking onto this farm was like walking into the garden of Eden. Exotic fruits growing on trees all around and flowers I have never seen before all made it a bit overwhelming to take in. We were shown to our cabin, which is more of a shed that we put little mats down on, and got settled in. My work here includes picking flowers and Pahole as well as clearing patches of land. And every morning for breakfast we pick our own fruits to eat and for dinner we pick veggies to put in our meal.
Hana, as I found out, is a very small countryside kind of town. With a population of 2000 and the average graduating class of around 20 I found out quickly that everyone knows everyone here. We got to know some of the other WWOOFers that have been here a bit longer and know their way around. But the easiest form of transportation is hitch hiking. Because its such a small town, if someone passes you on the road and they are going into town they'll just pick you up. Some times you don't even need to flag them down they'll just stop for you. Hana is home to some very unique characters, most of which resemble a combination of a country hick and a hippy. But they are all friendly and as long as you respect them, they will respect you.
Being that we live with locals, we are privy to knowledge that most other tourists are not. The tourists only know what their guidebooks tell them, but the locals know the real good things. We were shown this pool that was more of a salt water lagoon, and the water was really deep, with a 30 foot cliff perfect for jumping off of. So naturally, we all take the plunge and have a grand ol time. The next day we were shown a "Secret Beach" where we literally had to scale the face of a cliff to get down to it. This beach had incredible fine black sand and huge waves, enough to knock us down a few times over. The beach truly was secret and was so secluded. One of the most amazing (in a unique way) beaches I've been to.
Within the next week we plan to go to Molokai and Lanai, which are small islands off the coast of Maui, as well as hike Haleakala. We have started planning our next move and are leaning towards spending a few days on Big Island to see the active volcano.
Lastly, we have collectively decided to extend our stay, not only in Hawaii but out in the world. We will push west to New Zealand/Australia (hopefully in time for the wine harvest) and then north to South East Asia. Our goal is to circumnavigate the globe, doing work exchange enough at each place to buy our ticket to the next. No telling how long this will take but I assure you I will do a better job of keeping up with the blog. Until next time: