Sunday, December 19, 2010

A New Opportunity

We found a new farm to try out! It's in the Puna district, close to some interesting sights including Lava Trees State Park, hot spring pools and tidepools. We went to check it out today and we were both impressed by the existing infrastructure and orchards.

The cabin we will be staying in is spacious and features a real bed! As a couple, it is fairly important to us to have space to be together and also not feel too crowded. I am generally happier and more productive when I have ample space to inhabit.

There are tons of mango trees, avocados, tangerines, pineapples and the list goes on. Lots of weeding and cane grass clearing to catch up on. The property recently changed hands so not much has gone on in the past little while. We will most likely get to do some carpentry projects while we're there such as building a chicken coop.

I'm looking forward to getting into the garden routine and exploring the area. Lots of calm nights reading by candlelight and playing ukelele.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Every Day is an Adventure!

We're back in Hilo again! I've adopted Bob (our couchsurfing host here) as my uncle because then I won't feel so bad showing up at his door and crashing on his futon when things don't work out elsewhere. He doesn't seem to mind at all. In fact, I think he likes us!

The place we went to check out today was outside of Pahoa Town in the Puna district, the eastern most point of the island. This is what they call the "Wild West" of Hawaii, which seems counter-intuitive because it is to the east but it makes sense because it is the newest part of the islands. An undeveloped final frontier made up of intermittent lava flow over the last few hundred years. This area is world famous for black sand beaches and proximity to the volcanoes but is locally famous for the amount of hippies, squatters and organic farms! Whoda thunk it?

We were picked up in Pahoa by the proprietor and he seemed like a nice enough guy but when we pulled into "the farm" it became very apparent that this was a worse situation than the one we had just left. On the ride there he mentioned just having gotten rid of a bunch of losers and scabies. That really should have been the tip off. We should have gotten out of the car and saved the next hour of our lives.

The "farm hostel" was a bunch of open air, thrown-together, shacks with tin roofs. Basically a garbage dump with a sort of kitchen. There was a lady there covered in what they call "haole rot" and scabs from a sun burn. (Haole is the local word for white person or mainlander.) Hoooooo eeeee! Our accommodation was a platform 6 inches off the ground with no walls and a futon frame covered in moldy pillows and foam. Did I mention that we were expected to pay $20 a night for three nights before our work trade would start?

As soon as we were left alone, I started to cry. I am not expecting a hotel here but this is squalor, this is an absolute sham of a hostel or farm. I can't even believe that this place is in the WWOOF book. I was appalled and totally grossed out. Jay was trying to get me to pull it together and I was really trying but after a good look around we both gave up, put our packs on and said goodbye. We hitched rides back to Pahoa and waited for the bus while a local crack head regaled us with tales of drunk-driving and a loveless childhood.

The bright side is that after seeing this place, the gulch looks like a four star hotel! We will continue to look for more opportunities but in the meantime it is nice to know that we have a place to stay that only expects 10 hours of us weekly.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What's next?

We are back in Hilo after a brief sojourn in "the gulch". We spent the last five days at the aforementioned farmstead, cleaning up after the previous wwoofers and building a shelter for our hammocks. Unfortunately, though I really like the couple and their daughter, we might not go back there unless we can't find anything else.

I would hesitate to even call it wwoofing. The deal here was working 10 hours a week basically for a place to stay but as there were no accommodations available for us, we would be working 10 hours a week for camping and some bananas, both of which can be found for free basically anywhere on the whole island of Hawaii.

It's hard not to see the potential in a place when you want so badly to own your own land somewhere and you can see all the possibilities for experiments and adventures in farming. But when it's not your land or your capital, you just do what you're told or you break your back working for a possible outcome that you may never profit from or enjoy the completion of. And, this is my vacation, so I'm going to do what I want.

Tomorrow we will go down to the Puna district where there are apparently lots and lots of farms. So we will check out our opportunities there and hopefully come up with something a little more suited to our needs.

Wish us luck!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Big Island

We're on the Big Island in the city of Hilo currently. Shortly we will depart our couchsurfing host and head up the road to a homestead we found on the internet and have been in contact with since September or something. We're hoping to help them in their farming endeavors and to get a nice place to camp in return. Sounds good to me!

We've spent the last two nights drinking beer and watching documentaries with our host, Bob. He's got a wide selection and knowledge of music so we've got an overlap of taste going on. We chatted about X, an early LA punk band and last night we watched two docs, one on New York Doll turned Morman, Arthur Kane and another on seminal Canadian metalheads, Anvil.

I'm looking forward to being out of civilization for a while, getting my hands in some rich, volcanic soil. Once we're settled, we shall go adventuring the island looking for rainforest and volcanoes and undersea realms.

Monday, December 6, 2010

More on O'ahu...

Lemme see... what's happened since my last update?

I bought a ukelele! I am so stoked to have something to play again. I painted two snails on it and it makes me very happy even though the strings haven't set yet, so every time I go to play it it sounds silly and I have to try to tune it. I never learned to tune a guitar by ear and have always been dependent on my electric tuner. This is good though, it is forcing me to develop an ear for tuning. I can hear when it's out of tune and can locate the particular string that is wonky but it's hard to get it tuned properly. I'm up for a challenge.

We've been spending a lot of time reading and going to the beach. I still haven't gotten on a surfboard but it will happen eventually. Jay and I are very much into snorkeling though. Yesterday he got to swim with a green sea turtle at Lonnie's(sp?) beach on the north shore! I only got to see them on the beach. They are massive and mystical. On the Big Island there is a place that you can swim with manta rays and we are both really excited about that.

We had shave ice yesterday. Pretty much a snow cone but with vanilla ice cream in the bottom. We also had poke, which is raw ahi (tuna) with various seasonings. It was a tasty belly filler while we were sitting at Waimea Bay in the afternoon. It's a beautiful spot well known by surfers by it's potentially huge waves. Yesterday was a perfectly calm day and the sapphire waters were crystal clear.

Today we were planning to fly to the Big Island but had not booked a flight yet due to the internet being glitch-y. We figured it wouldn't make a difference if we waited until the day of but the price went up $20 each! So annoying. So now I think we are waiting until tomorrow to fly to Hilo. Luckily, our host is sweet and doesn't mind us staying an extra night. We've been so lucky to meet Nick, his roommate Anne and all their awesome friends. Anne and her man friend, Alec, are coming to the Big Island after X-mas so we're going to hook up with them then and meet some punk rockers and farmers that they know.

Next time I'll be writing from the Big Island! xoxox!