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17.7.11

There and Back Again: A Nomad's Tale

Aloha Friends,

Maui

Our WWOOF stay on Maui is over, and it certainly did not end on good terms. Coming in, we were under the impression that room and food were going to be covered by the farm (as is the case with most WWOOF farms) however, we had to keep going out and spending money to buy food, money we needed to save up to continue our journey. We approached the farm owner and explained our situation of not being able to stay as long as we had planned (we planned to stay until the end of July), but offered to stay as long as we could which we deemed was until about the 2nd or 3rd week of July. We were met with a tirade filled with "F-bombs" calling us names, mocking us, and childish remarks. Naturally, we were taken aback by this unprofessional and immature reaction to our situation. We walked away because we realized that no matter how much we tried to explain we could not rationalize with an irrational person. That night, I received and email from the owner (yes, she emailed me when we stay 50 yards away from each other) virtually calling us names all over again and telling us how if we want we can leave. Over the next day or two we weighed the options of staying or going, ultimately we decided to go and left while the owner was out of town because anyone who would have the audacity to talk to 3 adults that way is not worth staying and working for. So we wrote her a note and left.




We collected some souvenirs before we hitched out of town. Took the Hana Hwy. up to Haiku, then had to walk a ways before we were picked up again and taken to Paia. From Paia we hitched into Kahalui to go to the Wal-Mart in town. We picked up a tent, sleeping bags, food, and some other essentials for our next few days of roughing it. Our original plan was to go back to Paia and camp in the same place we did the time we went up Haleakala but it was dark, and we tried hitching back for about 2 hours before we gave up and decided on something local. We explored the wooded area behind K-Mart, but that was already inhabited by hobos, we explored an open field on the side of the road, but that was too exposed. I remembered hearing about a beach that was near the airport, and decided that we should check it out. We stumbled across an abandoned cart, which was a blessing, and started our trek to the beach.


It took about an hour and a half to get there and it lead us down a dark, post-apocalyptic looking abandoned industrial road. It was late, dark, and the whole time i actually thought Zombies might dwell in these buildings, and our cart was making so much noise as it rolled down the street. Once we reached our beach we pitched the tent, battling the wind every step of the way. The steaks had nothing solid to hold on to so the wind ripped them right up. Again, I found myself paranoid, and not wanting to fall asleep for fear of getting killed by "tweekers" in my sleep. We slept in the next day and after we packed up camp to move on, we realized someone had stolen our cart. So we walked with our stuff until we found another one. We had to kill time before our flight to Big Island the next day, so went to a Starbucks and hung out for about 6 hours, which I'm sure the staff did not appreciate as we had all of our bags, smelled bad, and took up about 4 tables. We got bored of sitting around and looked up a movie theater and went to see X-Men and Green Lantern. After the movie we went back to our campsite, started a fire, made smores and went to sleep.





The next day, Ariel and Jeff went back to the mall to look for Ariel's camera and I volunteered for cart duty (meaning I push the cart to the airport). It wasn't too bad doing so until I got to the uphill parts and the round about at the terminal. Once I got to the airport terminal I was approached by an airport security guard. He immediately threatens to arrest me for having a cart on airport property and took down my info. I told him my flight was leaving soon and would not be able to return the cart to which he replied if he found the cart on airport property he would circulate my description to other airports and have me arrested there (which I think is unlikely, but unsettling all the same). I called the cart's owner, Costco, and they said they would come pick it up and not to worry. Once the other two came back, we waited in the "commuter terminal" for the plane, which ended up being 20 minutes late. The pilot, who is from NJ, also doubled as the check-in counter guy. Our plane was a small 8 person prop plane, which I had never been on, that had to get the prop spun in order to start up. The flight was great, and it only took about 45 minutes to get to the Big Island.




Big Island

We flew in to Kona and started looking to rent a car, we negotiated with one lady who would give us a car for 3 days for $120. Unfortunately, she did not realize we were under 25 and therefore would have to charge us an extra $150. When we got back outside to start walking, it started to rain, just our luck. I was able to flag down a car to pick us up and take us into town, only I did not realize what kind of person picked us up. It was evident after about 5 minutes in the car that the man driving was severely intoxicated. He crossed into the other side of the road multiple times, he would take his eyes off the road to talk to one of us, and to top it off he was about 6'5" 235 lbs, so I did not want to be the one to tell him to stop driving and not drive. Despite the hitch hike of death, we made it into town and stopped at a Starbucks again and desperately looked for a place to stay while we were on Big Island. Nothing. After a few hours of trying, we got food from the mall next door and brainstormed places we could sleep. We settled on the roof of the mall, but the problem was that we had all our bags and had to get around security. We strategized and planned but ultimately gave up and just hit the hitch hiking road. Nothing. After 2 hours we decided to walk to the nearest beach, Big Island is not like the other islands in that it is mostly rocky volcanic terrain with beaches a little bit more scattered. The nearest one was hotel property, but caught wind of another beach that was a little further away. We walked for a long while and again down dark sketchy roads, and before we got to the beach we found a press booth for a school baseball field. I scoped it out and decided that it was better than walking the rest of the way to the beach.



Surprisingly, we slept undisturbed until about 10 am when a kids summer camp started up and played music and had screaming kids. We encountered a hobo, whose turf we were apparently intruded on. He turned out to be a nice guy just a little weird, telling us that he "is not a nobody" in the area and that that was his spot to sleep in. From there we packed up and headed back into town, we stopped to get food and ended up back at Starbucks to plan our next move. We were trying every available resource on the internet to find a place to stay when Jeff found a Craigslist ad, posted 1 minute before he opened it, asking for help working on a farm. The only thing is, the farm was in Hilo, which is on the other side of the island. We scrambled to find a way over there, and discovered a bus that would go direct, but it was leaving in 20 minutes from a place about a 25 minute walk away. We packed up quick and hit the road again. We walked and had a little trouble finding the place we were supposed to go. We sprinted the last straightaway to the bus which started to pull away as we got there, but we caught it, and luckily we were the only ones on it so the driver was understanding. Turns out the bus was free and took about 3.5 hours. The drive was very scenic and took us through the country side and coast all the way to Hilo.

Once in HIlo I was reminded of an old abandoned industrial town. With the exception of the main road, everything else was rundown and looked sad and lonely. We made our way to the spot where we were supposed to meet our farm contact which ended up being 3 miles away that we had to walk with our bags/push cart. I was pleasantly surprised when I got to the farm office because it was in a residential area with apartment dorms for the WWOOFers.

We had our own room and shower with sink and toilet and felt like kings! We got up early the next day, as requested, for work and ended up sitting around for 3 hours before we headed out to the actual farm. We brought along all our bags because we were going to camp in the cottages they had out there which turned out to be tree house type places that were pretty grimey. We signed on to work 2 days worth of work in one because we stayed the night before and did not work for that so we wanted to make up for it. At the farm we had 3 hours to kill before we actually started working, but once we did we realized what we were in for.










The farm harvests, processes, and sells "noni" juice. We started at the factory, where we took the bags of noni, a foul smelling fruit, and piled them into a juicer. After we did that for a few hours we had to pile bags of noni into huge industrial size containers for them to ferment. From there we went around to different farms and collected another truck full of noni and then had to unload that into the containers. We finished with that around 6:30pm and were promptly picked up for the double shift we signed on for. We were driven out to a noni field where we were handed machetes and told to clear the vines off all these plants. We worked all night and at one point saw a red glow on the horizon which turned out to be fresh lava flow from the distance.










By 10pm we were exhausted and tried to find places to hide so we didn't have to keep cutting vines off the trees. We worked until about 12:30 and did not get back to our place until 1:30am. We slept in the next day, packed, ate lunch, prepared some sandwiches for the road, then started walking back into town to catch a bus. We wanted to go see the volcano and the lava but we missed the bus and did not have time to wait until tomorrow to catch it. Similarly, we also missed the last bus to Kona, where we needed to get to so we could fly out the next day. We walked to the edge of town and stuck our thumbs out. Our luck had been so bad with hitch hiking since being on the Big Island I was very skeptical. But after 20 minutes or so a truck stopped and said he was going to Waimea which is half way to Kona. There is nothing more satisfying than hopping into the back of a pickup after a long while hitching. The nice man dropped us off near a park and actually got out and talked to us for a while. We were soon picked up after and taken by a nice lady to the intersection where the road only leads to Kona. Despite it being the only road around, we were stuck there for a little while, but it was not too bad because we got to watch the sunset over the water which was pretty incredible. We finally got picked up and taken into Kona.

























Back in Kona, we were dropped off at the Starbucks again and decided to walk up to Wal-Mart, stocked up on supplies (cheeze-its, sour patch kids, etc) and then walked across the street to another Starbucks that was open later.
We stayed there until they closed, and got to have some free coffee because they were going to throw it out. We couldn't find another place to stay so while we decided what to do we sat outside Starbucks and used the internet. Before we knew it, 5am rolls around and the opening crew arrives and lets us into the store to get coffee. We hang out there for about 5 hours and then decided to head out early to the airport. We hitched out and arrived at our terminal and waited for our plane. It was about 10 minutes before our plane took off that we realized that we were in the wrong terminal. The people who worked there told us that was our terminal and when we missed our flight we argued and got another flight free of charge.







Oahu

We arrived back at the hostel with everything just as we had left it. Our boss Richard took us out for a nice Costco pizza dinner our first night and then it was right down to business. If you will recall the first post when we were working on renovating the hostel, you will remember that when we left it the exterior had just been completed. So for the last week or so we have been working on the inside rooms doing things like hanging dry wall, sanding, painting, framing, etc. and back to working full days. It feels great to be back in civilization and meeting new people again from all over the world.
























One highlight would be the 4th of July party we had here, where there was a 20 year reunion for people who stayed/worked in the hostel 20 years ago.



It was great hearing their stories and seeing how many of them kept traveling or met their spouses while out here. We invested in guitars and ukuleles to play for the party and have since played on the street at night to make a few extra bucks on the side.



On our days off we find ourselves renting scooters and going around the island. Most recently we took a trip up the coast, despite Ariel crashing his scooter in the driveway of the hostel and then having that same scooter break down in the middle of the highway. We went out to Kaiulua beach park and Lanikai beach, which is two famous beaches that I thought I had never been to. But when we started driving through I realized that I had in fact been there and it was like I was reliving a dream or just in a very intense deja vu experience. Lanikai beach is my new favorite, it was empty and beautiful.


















Sidenotes: I joined a flag football league which has been a great outlet for my competitive side. Right now our team stands at 0-2 which is a little frustrating but I suppose its part of life. Also, I now know why there are so many people here (or in any tropical place) with long hair or beards, and that is because all inhibition to groom oneself slowly seeps away the longer you are out here. All the sunshine and water makes one not really care for what ones facial hair looks like, or how well one does his or her hair. But this is just one man's theory.

Until Next Time,

M@

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