10 Nov 2008, 7:49pm
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regarding president-elect obama

a couple representative conversations i had while backpacking in europe last fall–

1.
“where are you from?”
“i’m american.”
“ohh, no one i’ve run into in all my very extensive travels has had anything good to say about america. no one thinks you are doing anything good.”

2.
“where are you from?”
“the states.”
“oh, ok, i thought so, but i didn’t want to assume in case you were canadian or something and got offended.”

how excited am i (as an america-loving socialist-anarchist pinko liberal american) to not have these conversations next time i travel abroad? SO EXCITED.

9 Nov 2008, 4:09pm
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on top of the world

i have lots of photos and some story to share from yesterday (when lauren and i stood at the top of the tallest mountain in the world), but i want to write about this morning first. i slept (dozed, anyway) late (’til 9 o’clock, yo, that’s like an hour or two later than i’m usually up around here–the mornings are too too beautiful!), got up, and was promptly offered the last seat in a car bound for maku’u market, the big weekly farmer’s-and-everything-else market between pahoa and kea’au (which is in turn about halfway between pahoa and hilo).

from the market we went to ecstatic dance at kalani (which i wrote about 2 weeks ago here). it is really the best thing to do on sunday morning ever, i think. on any morning. i felt so invigorated and good and sweaty and beautiful. and during one of the last songs, when i held my hands above my head, palms open, i swear i could feel everyone’s good energy in the air, vibrating through my fingertips down my arms and into my belly.

and after the dance we went to kehena, where the waves were ENORMOUS, and we stood in the surf and let ourselves be bowled over. i went nude (way too much sand in the suit otherwise, lemme tell you) and the sun on my skin felt amazing and i felt beautiful and whole.

i am just glad, and wanted to share my gladness. so.

yesterday–the mountain. our first glimpse of it, on our way to hilo:

we stopped in hilo to check out the farmer’s market and this sustainable agricultural event thing (where lauren’s grandfather was selling his goat cheese–more yum!!), and to get shave ice!

they do it right here, with ice cream in the bottom. yum yum yum. man we ate so much good food yesterday. summer rolls from a woman at the farmer’s market, anise-infused goat cheese samples, limeade with coconut from a shop in hilo, more rambutans, chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, thai food for dinner.

up, up to the mountain:

we drove on the saddle road, which runs between mauna kea and mauna loa (”long mountain”). this is mauna loa:

and this is mauna kea again. see the observatories at the top?:

we parked at the visitor center at 9000 feet and checked out the little silversword reserve area. silversword is endemic to the hawaiian islands, and i guess this particular variety grows only on mauna kea, and has a pretty small population. it really is silver!


(with a hawaiian heiau)

there was also this other crazy plant with really fuzzy leaves, which a little internet research reveals is mullein:

the view was everywhere–uncaptureable–here’s part of it:

we caught a ride up to the summit (lauren’s car isn’t 4wd) with two couples, one from kea’au and one (visiting them) from bainbridge island, washington, of all places! i actually ran into the second couple this morning at maku’u market! small big island. anyway, it was fucking beautiful, and a little otherworldly…


(check out the red on that cinder cone in the distance, oh my god, that color)

at the top, with the observatories:

i know the two in the middle are the “keck twins,” but i can’t remember who operates the others or what they’re called. there are several other ones not visible in this picture as well. lauren tells me there is some controversy surrounding them, because the mountain is very holy to hawaiians (every mountain in the world is a holy place). i am reminded a little of the stained glass window created by artist gerhard richter in the kölner dom in köln, germany–to quote wikipedia, “it is composed of 11,500 identically sized pieces of coloured glass resembling pixels, randomly arranged by computer, which create a colorful ‘carpet’.” the archbishop of the cathedral disliked the window enough that he refused to attend the unveiling; my friend who took me to the cathedral told me that the bishop thought the randomness did not adequately reflect the glory of god. i am not catholic and i am not hawaiian, but to me the window was very spiritual. the explosion of color brought to mind the random genetic mutations that have created everything that surrounds us–to me, that is (part of) god. i feel like it should all be able to exist respectfully together. the observatories at the top of mauna kea reflect a human yearning to understand the universe that surrounds us, and also (i think) the knowledge that there is more to the universe than we could ever possibly understand. of course this is all somewhat complicated by the fact that hawaiians have been historically oppressed and kicked off their land and all that, and the catholics not so much. i dunno; just a thought…

a guide who’d just finished up a tour was up there at the top, too, and though he had to get back down soon, he gave us a little mini informational session about the observatories while his boss waited in the car and laughed and honked at him to hurry up.

oh, and, uh, it was really cold at the top, especially coming from balmy hilo. our ride’s car had a thermometer, and when we got to the summit, it read 42 degrees fahrenheit. by the time we left, it read 38 degrees. bear that in mind when i share with you how monumentally stupid i was…

i think my logic was something like, “i’ve worn these shoes hiking in the jungle, clambering over lava rock at night, wading in tide pools, climbing over fences… why the heck wouldn’t i wear them up to mauna kea?” but, uh. my toes began to go numb shortly after i took this picture. i ended up wrapping my leg warmers (which i’ve been carrying everywhere, mostly because they are good for keeping mosquitoes off my legs–who’d'a thunk?) around my feet with the opening underneath them, making sorta-socks, like so:

and that helped a lot.

however, i am delighted to say that despite my fears (my mom and brother both suffer from it), i don’t appear to suffer from altitude sickness! i just got a little short of breath, which is all right ’cause it makes it more fun to say (many ways truthfully) that the summit was breathtaking.

there was a heiau on the next little summit over, and we walked out to it…

we hunkered down beside the heiau for awhile and watched the sun and the clouds and the light and the colors. and when i say hunkered i guess (based on the pictorial evidence!) i mean we jumped!–

that was lauren; this is me:

long shadows:

(the shadow at the middle left is actually the shadow of another cinder cone, not a building or a person)

bundled up:

and the sun began to set…

right before the sun actually set, the tour buses arrived. lots of tourists in matching parkas, provided by the tour company–but darn they sure did look nice and warm. the sunset itself was maybe a little too much for my trusty little camera, but it did its best:

the other side:

the gathered crowd:

and then the light got more and more beautiful, and my camera just couldn’t cut it anymore, and i tapped my head and said, “it’s in here” and it is. sorry. and it was night, and the stars came out, and we drove home, and slept, and it was morning.

7 Nov 2008, 2:03pm
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oh yes

these are my mandalas.

these are my mandalas on hawaii:

6 Nov 2008, 3:24pm
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white sand beaches and gorgeous gorges and tasty food, oh my!

did you all have a superfantastic election day & night? i hope so. i spent the evening hiding from my fear that mccain would win. uh, i mean, walking on a freakin’ beach and eating s’mores and communing with sea turtles. finally i texted a friend in portland: “is it over yet? if no, no details please.” she wrote back, “it’s just about over! obama made his speech and everything” and we had to call and ask, “ack! acceptance speech or concession speech?” then we breathed a sigh of relief and went to sleep in our tent ten feet from the ocean.

anyway, i’ll get there. this is a long entry with a whole ton of photos. fair warning. so, i went on a little camping trip with lauren, my high school friend. we left on tuesday morning. first stop pahoa, so she could vote! that accomplished, we drove north, to hamakua and beyond!

found this rocky beach:

underneath this pretty bridge:

drove through this green green gorge:

before arriving at:

lauren’s grandfather’s goat farm!!! we were given a lovely tour, met baby goats and a very large pig named otis

by far the best part, though, was this:

lots of delicious goat cheese. there is actually more in that little pile than you can really see in this picture. unfortunately, the mango is just for show and we didn’t get to take it with us–but is that not the largest mango you have ever seen??

onward to malasadas (!), then to waimea to buy s’more fixings at the grocery store, then to hawi. we got to town at about 2:30 to discover that bamboo, the restaurant i mentioned many entries ago at which i last ate five years ago, closed at 2:30 until dinner at six! we ate panini down the street instead and made plans to come back the next day.

we camped at spencer beach park. it was nice and uncrowded what with it being a weekday and election day to boot. this is pretty much the view from our tent:

that picture was taken at maybe 4:30, but it looks like sunset, doesn’t it? the air had a really, really strange hazy quality, which i think was vog (volcanic smog). when i got back to hedonisia last night someone explained that during the day the air blows in towards the island, and in the night it blows away towards the sea, which somehow explains why the air was clear and beautiful in the morning when we got up. the beach was nice regardless, almost dreamy in the strange light.

also, check out my sweet sandal tan:

the fact that the sand wasn’t black actually kind of threw me for a minute, hah. the beach ten minutes to the left (facing the ocean; i have no sense of cardinal direction around here) was even lighter, while the beach five minutes to the right was darker:

interesting! this beach (above) is actually a shark breeding ground. no swimming or wading, though the only sign mentioning that is a hike up a little hill–one of those informational signs, which also mentions that the remnants of a heiau (temple) devoted to shark gods is submerged in the area. i climbed up ’cause i was curious… i guess you’re just supposed to know about the sharks. lauren did anyway. we stood and watched for a while, and yes, we saw a bunch of fish flipping out and we saw fins. they’re reef sharks, i guess, and mostly not dangerous, but, uhhh, i still never got more than waist deep into the water at either of the other beaches. ’cause dude. sharks. pretty beach though…

lauren took this photo less than twenty feet from our tent, i swear:

i utterly failed to get any photos of the turtles ’cause i swear they know when you’ve got your camera out.

in the morning:

king kamehameha built this heiau, visible from our campsite:

we packed up our stuff and walked down the path to maumae beach, the whiter sand beach i mentioned above. a year or so ago, an arsonist apparently set fire to the trees around the beach, so what used to be a beautiful lush path is now a very different kind of striking.

starts out like this:

but then:

when i woke up i watched a bunch of people go by in outrigger canoes. kind of like the hawaiian version of a crew team, i think. we saw them coming back again on our way to the beach, and they actually landed at the beach for a bit as we arrived.

if you climb over some lava rock, you get to this little tiny beach right next to maumae beach:

anyway we had a great time being thoroughly lazy for most of the morning, sitting in the sand, wading in the water, lounging on an inflatable raft thingy, looking for sea turtles, et cetera. for a good chunk of it we had the whole beach totally to ourselves.


(picture by lauren)

we packed up around noon and headed back to hawi.

maui in the distance!

bamboo!

so, the best thing on the menu at bamboo is their chicken sate potstickers. i’ve become a vegetarian since the last time i ate there. hmm. i am a vegetarian for environmental rather than ethical or moral reasons, however, and so hey, i ate those potstickers… to celebrate obama’s victory. rigidity is for dogmatic republicans!! they were just as delicious as i remembered. i don’t think it was a hypocritical act at all. i still eat way less meat than most americans, and while i will explain my reasoning to anyone who asks, i’ve never been one to bully anyone else into giving up meat. so. yum. i also had a lilikoi margarita.

i’d never actually eaten a lilikoi (just lots of juice and lilikoi-flavored things and such) before this trip to hawaii. you cut them in half and slurp out the seeds (or, if you’re civilized, you use a spoon). sooo tasty, and tarter than i expected (most lilikoi-flavored things are somewhat sweetened).

in hawi we also bought a bag of rambutans, which i hadn’t tried yet, mostly ’cause i wasn’t sure how to eat them. basically you peel off the skin, pop out the fruit inside, and chew the meat off of the seed (you can just stick the whole thing in your mouth and then spit out the seed). they are freakin’ delicious and i pretty much devoured the whole bag between hawi and hilo.

i ♥ tropical fruit.

on the way to hilo we stopped at the waipio valley lookout. first, this:

then, the valley itself. breathtaking:

(i mean the valley, but check me out dudes i am tan!)

we also stopped at one of many bridges over gorgeous lush jungle valleys, and i took many many photos of this amazing jungle waterfall vista ahhhhh:

also, check this out:

i just like the way those photos look all in a row like that.

well, that’s all, folks. (i mean, except for all the other pictures i took, which you can look at here.) i hung out at uh hilo for an hour or so while lauren had class, and then we headed back to puna sweet puna. today i’ve mostly just been hanging out. and eating goat cheese. did some painting (the boring kind) for my work trade. next adventure up: mauna kea on saturday? if i can get the day off!

2 Nov 2008, 10:16pm
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playing with possibility

yes, that is a dolphin!! here’s some more:

= my pretty poor attempt at capturing the whole crowd of spinner dolphins playing and leaping all around us, racing the prow of our little boat…

so our neighbor, the guy who owns the property next door to hedonisia, hangs out with us a lot. he also owns a boat and runs a little whale watching business during the winter (or used to? not sure). today he agreed to take us all out on his boat in return for a couple hours of weeding on his property sometime in the future. we drove up to hilo and launched the boat there–went out into the ocean and found those DOLPHINS, rode up and down the hamakua coast–the colors there just blow me away!

the blue of the ocean! the red of the cliffs! the green of the jungle! the other blue of the sky!

the ride itself was a whole lot of fun. lots of holding on for dear life and laughing and oh my god the dolphins! i’m pretty sure someone got some video footage of, well, the dolphins, but mostly all of us flipping out about the dolphins and how flippin’ cool and amazing they were. i know you’re all just dying to see it, so i’ll see what i can do for you, hm?

maybe all my happy rambling about the beautiful things i’m seeing and experiencing here is starting to be a little, i dunno, redundant. i wish i could pull out all the stuff in my heart and my head and put it into neat, straightforward words (and pictures, sure) for you (and me!)–all the beauty and the lessons and the doubt and the possibilities and the people i miss–i miss people a lot, but without the painful useless longing that has sometimes cut me off from experiencing the present–and and and. i know i’ve joked here a couple times about buying land here in puna and living off the grid in a jungle hut and eating fruit etc etc etc… i think what i really need to get across (to myself) is that there are so many more possibilities than i allowed for before this trip. i assumed that because i have been happy and fulfilled in portland that that is where i belong. then, coming here and discovering that this place is so, so beautiful and has a lot to share with me, a lot to teach me and a lot of joy to give–i thought about here (albeit not really seriously) as the be-all-and-end-all the same way i did (and maybe do) portland. when, obviously, the world is huge, there are so many good worthwhile people to meet and know and love, and i’m pretty sure i could seriously (ridiculously) do anything i set my mind to. it’s just that there are so many things! and which do i want first?

i never quite succeed in getting across what i really mean when i try to talk about this stuff. here in puna i say “god, this is so beautiful.” then i pause. think. reflect. then i say “i suspect there is a whole lot of beauty in the world.” and yeah, of course there is! one nice thing about puna is that instead of looking at you like “duh” or shaking their heads at your vague new age-y babbles, people here’ll just smile wider, take another toke, and nod… “i hear you, man…” and for the most part, i think they do hear me. the parts of me that matter right now.

hey friends, you can change your life. i didn’t really believe it, but now i know it and i want you to know too. if you want to, you can change your life. that’s all.

the wants, the exploring

right now i am pretty explicitly on vacation. i’m having fun and recovering peace and joy. i am learning way more about possibilities than i am about living in hawaii, if you follow. if i did want to stay here and learn about that, i would be doing things a little bit differently. that distinction is important for me to be aware of.

1 Nov 2008, 8:49pm
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the infinite sky

i saw a shooting star tonight while staring at the sky from the bed of a pick-up truck. i also saw:

and more.

1 Nov 2008, 2:46pm
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the not-starving-at-all artiste

* kona brewing wailua wheat… wheat beer with passion fruit! tasty tasty
* chocolate & macadamia nut kona coffee with brown sugar
* katuk–grows all over the property and the leaves are nutty and delicious
* the LIGHT here in the mornings! indescribable and changeable and amazing…
* waking up early in the morning with no effort at all to eat my breakfast, sip my coffee, enjoy the light and the warm breeze or the rain…

i hope you all had a great halloween. we ended up having a sorta party here at hedonisia last night, mostly by accident. some of us were in costume but no one really felt like going anywhere, and even those with vague plans lingered and lingered longer and never left, and we drank beer and red wine and sangria and ate candy and listened to music and danced to “thriller” and “the time warp.” i’m living out of a suitcase and have nothing particularly costume-y with me here, but that’s what borrowed eyeliner is for of course:

i am salvador dali! sorta.

anyway, thought i’d share my painting projects! here’s the recycling signs that started it all!–

i mounted them to the various recycling crates as well, making me apparently the first female hedo volunteer to attempt carpentry (hah!). this is the first one i did and you can tell some trial-and-error was involved:

so, our floor! here’s what it looked like at the end of the day yesterday:

i painted the banana tree. can you see the embracing figures in the leaves?

and today:

i added more anthurium flowers on the right. close up (not sure they’re done yet):

i am pretty pleased… and having a lot of fun.