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Fasten your seatbelts it's going to be a fun ride

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Big Island Hawai'i and falling coconuts

It's no joke actually, the danger of falling coconuts. 

One dropping right on your head will probably kill you but luckily for Mikey (a guy that lives here completely "off the grid" and builds Hawaiian wood canoes with young kids from the local schools) it might just break your nose.

I've been on the Big Island Hawai'i for a few weeks now and have had numerous adventures but decided this one was worth blogging about. I figured most of you probably don't really want to hear about my making Pina Colada's with fresh sweet pineapple and coconut in a blender as you are trying to finish a powerpoint or close the books. See those big smiles! (just add rum)

The one on the right is Sloba from Serbia, he's going to help me get my favorite lemon toothpaste when he goes back and Jamie on the left is from Texas and makes a mean peach cobbler. 

Edie next to me, came out to visit for a very short, action packed day.

I digress....being the grade 'A' hipster that I am, well I just had to do something no one else would.
The idea began after I went to an ABC store and successfully resisted the incredible assortment of cute souvenirs (like a Hello Kitty beach towel) and came up with the idea that I wanted a cutting board, made out of a Hawaiian wood and made by a local craftsman.

I have invested close to $400 in 3 Henckels knives and I cut on a $5 plastic cutting board. For shame!

It all began with BBQ. Beef brisket to be precise with plenty of fat, 2 kinds of slaw and 3 kinds of BBQ sauce. Heaven.

Yup a food truck on the side of the road.

See that business card board on the right? I found a card for Gary Young who builds environmentally friendly surf and paddle boards out of bamboo and other interesting things from the islands. Left him a message and heard from him a week later. (whew, good  thing I'm here for a month) 

Turns out he lives in the adjoining neighborhood and offered to come pick me up. Transportation on the island is interesting. I made the decision to skip renting a car or scooter and just use the bus or hitchhike. 
Yes, you heard me right, hitchhike. 
It's the norm here and pretty fun. 
Usually in the back of a pickup and often with very excited, slobbering dogs.

 It's a fun way to meet some colorful people. I've met about 30 people this way and made a few friends and learned a lot of interesting things about this island from all of them. 

My favorite beach on the island is Kehena. It's a black sand beach about 12 miles from where I am living. Actually it's the ONLY beach on this whole side of the island and pretty small at that. I hitch there every day that starts out sunny. 

Back to the story....we drive out to a lava field that looks pretty inhospitable and voila, a collective of creative and benevolent souls. They built homes out of miscellaneous materials and scrap, run their own solar power, water system from rainfall and would make an excellent witness protection program spot.

Meet Mikey! And the plank of Kamani wood that we are going to use.

So we agree on the section, price, and he tells me to come back the next day at noon and it will be ready. I want to watch and document the process of turning a raw, barked piece of wood into a cutting board and he says, OK I'll pick you up.

Gary and I leave and he offers to take me down WaaWaa road to the next town of Pahoa since he needs to get gas anyway. Sure!
This turns out to be a narrow, dirt road through the jungle, lined with different types of trees and just breathtaking. We throw the  truck into 4WD and head down this creepy, narrow, horror movie set road to a  secret fishing spot. Remember, I just met this guy an hour ago.

Then stop off at Sand Hill, a cinder cone from an eruption a long time ago, one false step...I repeat, known this guy for just a little over an hour. 

It's been cleaned up and turned into a beautiful park area.

We get back into town and the really funny part....he runs out of gas a 1/2 mile from the station. No problem I said, I'll have someone stopped in 5 mins to help us. Tina comes along and picks us up, educates Gary that it's just as easy to keep the tank more than half full as it is to keep it less than half full and after a $15 gas can purchase, drives us back. We decide to finish off the night with some excellent Thai and he takes me back home. Thanks Gary!

The next day Mikey arrives right at noon (impressive, everyone here operates on Hawaiian time) and off we go to his workshop. 

First he saws off the end piece I want.

Then he hammers off the bark on each side. The first chunk flew right at my eye.

Then he scrapes off the layers down to the hardwood. Yes, that's Sloba striking a pose in the background.

Next he uses a steel brush spinner to buff it down even smoother.  

Then once he's happy with the edges, runs it through the planer to get the two sides perfectly flat. 

Next he cuts the 2 ends flat too.

And then it's about sanding with increasingly fine grit sand paper.

Mikey is happy with it, I'm nearly giddy with excitement as it's turning out more amazing that I had imagined.

Last step, oil.

And Voila! A Kamani, locally made cutting board worthy of my knives.

Here is a great shot of the original plank and the finished product. 

Some other fun stuff that I've done here on the Puna side is to attend a breadfruit festival.

This nice lady Sonia Martinez explained it all to me and then I ended up at her son's castaway birthday party just a couple weeks later. It's a 'small' island when it comes to population and you run into familiar faces often.

Not sure what he's going to do with this whip but he only spoke Hawaiian and so a translator was present. It was pretty awesome.

Then I went to what the locals call the hippie fashion show. (The seaside village farmers market) Here I found beautiful picture cards and coffee picked by lesbians. (seriously)

I also went through some lava tubes. 

And walked through the national park steam vent area. 

Volcano for a sunset glow spectacular!

Also worth mentioning is all the colorful and unique flowers.
Orchids. Spitting distance from an active volcano crater.

Flowers on my walk to the hot tide pools where I snorkel.

My first lei. Jade flower. When I saw it on the table at the hippie fashion show, I thought it was made out of blue, plastic, lobster claws. I couldn't believe it was a real flower.

Some really weird looking flowers on a waterfall hike.

Guess I should show the waterfall too. AKaKa falls. I swear, I'm not making this up.

Pee Pee falls. Yup. P.P.

These shrivel up overnight if you pick them. Red. Pink. Yellow. Orange.  Guess I should stop picking them. 

And this one smelled amazing!

This flower is my favorite. Pulmeria.

Then there are the bugs. And the spiders. Oh and the flying cockroaches. But I'll spare you the visuals.

This little yellow bird was very timid and wouldn't let us get close (but he lives right next to an active volcano), good thing I've got a super zoom lens. There are also bright red cardinal birds here but they can't stay put for more than 10 seconds in one place. Arrrrr!

Went over to the other "touristy" side of the island Kona and stayed at this very cool hotel called the Manago (3rd generation Japanese owned).

They have a TV room and were playing a black and white film.

Then found beach 69. At milepost 69. Original. Then again it's easier to pronounce without sounding like an idiot. All the Hawaiian names take getting used to. Try pronouncing these....
Makalawena (ok that one is easy)

Stumbled on the Ironman starting point. (Literally, flip flops on uneven sidewalks)

The next day after Edie left, Sloba and I hitched to this beach.  We lucked out with a ride all the way back to the other side of the island. 

And in closing, this is my home for the past month.

The situation room.

The bedroom, complete with the stow-away from Switzerland for those of you who read my post on my motorcycle ride to Portugal this past summer. 

My first sunrise.

The view from my lanai.

You DON'T want to see the kitchen.