Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Aloha Hilo~

June 27, 2013 :: Hilo Bay, and no rain~

We were in Hawaii... the Big Island. It was wonderful. It was a long time coming... our last visit was a difficult, sad time, yet sweet, too, and we were not sure when we would return, how it would feel after changes, and the passage of time.

This was our first time flying into the old, quiet, and lovely town of Hilo. It is on the wet side of Hawaii. And by wet, I mean anywhere from 130 inches to 200 inches of rain per year! Rain and sun give you banyan trees, orchids, waterfalls, and lots and lots of rainbows. It's a worthwhile exchange, I think. Hilo is beautiful.

Because we had such a good experience, three places around the Island, I am happy to recommend Airbnb, where you can rent from people in over 34,000 cities and 192 countries. Why did I like booking our stays through Airbnb?
1. We were able to find places away from resorts, and in neighborhoods and places we were familiar with and eager to know better.
2. We found places we could afford to stay in, with the convenience of kitchens, plenty of beds, and home comforts.
3. Airbnb takes care to assure that details and issues (should any arise) are addressed promptly, and securely, so I felt like we had a nice safety net... a good feeling when you are on vacation!
4. We felt welcome, and enjoyed a more personal, relaxed travel experience that was comfortable for us.

Waking up in Hilo was kind of magical. No, seriously. It had rained through the night, and the sunrise light was soft and the air fragrant. Geoff, Maria, and I went for an early walk. Our place was just close enough to the airport to be very convenient for our late arrival, but far enough from the center of town to feel like we had arrived in a truly new place, a special place. Down the street, around the corner, and suddenly we were in country, in old Hawaii. The rooster led his hens away from the road, and into the safety of tropical growth. We were seeing orchids, and tropical fruits, farms waking, the sun rising, mist rising, too.

How to express this? We make these plans to go to new places, and see new things, and suddenly I recognize that my heart and smile is in the same places... with farms animals, me, gazing across green hills, stopping to admire every hen and chick, visiting a diabetic goat, making friends with donkey. Ahead: two visits to a fabric store, and the lovely step-back in time at Keauhou Store, because no matter how far I roam, I find the comforts of home in new places. It makes me laugh, knowing this about myself.

Queen Liliuokalani Park and Gardens~

Rain or rainbows, we always visit the Queen's pools and garden, where little bridges dot the ponds, and the banyans beckon explorers.

The Japanese gardens are tranquil. And in every direction you can turn there is something beautiful to observe.

They've grown. Why do we say that? This makes me laugh at myself, too... knowing something so obvious, like children growing over five years, but still feeling the surprise and delight of it. They have grown! Max sat in this same banyan's aerial roots, when he was nine years old. This time he climbed into the banyan. Going up as much as twenty-five feet, into the heart of the tree.

In their game of hide-n-go-seek, Geoff couldn't find Max, and when Max replied to Geoff saying "I give up, where are you?"... it sounded as though the tree was talking. But I guess I already talked that story.

Back at our landing spot, Andrea and Bruce greeted us with an invitation into their garden. There was so much to admire, so much to harvest! Back at home we've just put in a lilikoi vine, and when we left there were three flowers in it. Now we have three passion fruit maturing, but three is nothing compared with what we see here! Look at all those smooth, green egg-shaped fruit! When ripe, they turn yellow, and smell as fragrant as their flowers.

Our first fresh-from-the-tree lychee! Underneath the spiny husk is a translucent and tender, sweet fruit. The texture is almost like a firm bite of jello... it's moist, tender, and quite refreshing.

Andrea's white pineapples are growing quite nicely, and will be ready for picking, soon. I love how obvious they are, sitting in the plant, like a market display: Aloha, I am a pineapple! But those leaves are sharp, and pineapple picking is a hazardous undertaking.

Do you see the papayas? They grow up and down the trunk of the tree, ripening a couple at a time. Papaya + lime juice + a few roasted mac nuts = delicious meal~

Bruce gathered all the ripe lilikoi he could find, and took them inside to prepare a drink for us... fresh lilikoi juice! A whole pitcher, and we enjoyed every bit. They also cut lychee branches for us, and filled a bag with papaya, and more lilikoi for us to take along to our next destination. It was generous of them, and something we continued to enjoy for days.

The rest of our Island visit took us to Volcanoes National Park, the District of Puna, then Kailua-Kona, to Kohala, Waimea, the peak of Mauna Kea, and the bottom of Pololu Valley, around to Hamakua'a, and south again, to Hilo.

July 10, 2013

Our last day in Hawaii. We were missing our own farm, and pets, and ready to come home and share our stories with friends and family. And we were also feeling very much at home in Hawaii. From our place in the little town of Kukuihaele, we drove the winding coastal road through sugar cane country, and further south into more and more tropical places. Then William and I enjoyed a long anticipated stop at the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden.

Aptly named: Beehive Ginger~

Because of its unique history and the personal care that went into its creation, and the work it takes to maintain the Tropical Gardens, it is a worthwhile place to visit... if you like a small hike, a fee, and a heady amount of tropical flora! William and I wish we had more time, and more camera memory. I think we might even become pass holders if we lived there. William loves tropical plants and flowers. Loves. I was awestruck... the varieties, and profuse-ity (is there a word?) were staggering.

The colors are saturated. The number of plants is amazing... and they are growing thick, and abundant, and on top of each other. It amazes.

Do you recognize this delicacy? If you love chocolate, this is where your fondness is born.

At the bottom of the hike into the garden, views of the rugged coast. The surf was pounding, and it was not hard to imagine the ancient Hawaiian village that once stood here, at Onomea Bay.

As I mentioned, we were painfully low on camera memory, and counting photos left on the camera, even deleting ones that were not too great. William was eager to capture the whole feel of the environment. The vines. The giant leaves, and towering trees. The depth and density of tropical growth, that he finds so captivating. I was amazed by the shapes, the patterns, the textures. There is a wealth of details, and grandeur, in those gardens.

And we were both taken by the fragrance of ginger. We could smell it, and then it was almost like a steaming dish of something spiced and marvelous was before us... a ginger banquet that we were inhaling with all of our senses. It was lovely and poetic, and worthy of higher thoughts, but mostly I was overcome with a serious craving for Thai food!

I think he would have stayed here... longer. Maybe days.

We never stopped being wonderstruck by what we saw.

Old, and rustic, quiet and quaint, Hilo makes me happy. I like its downtown, the Bay, the rivers, the ferns that can find a crevice and grow anywhere. Even if it were raining, I would have to stop at the Hilo Farmers Market. It's easy to find, and a treat to explore. And again... I find myself far from home and feeling right at home. I think the Mexican markets that I knew so well from my childhood, make this a comfortable place for me.

It's place to take in local color. To get acquainted. Let someone break open a coconut for you, and trim you some sugarcane to gnaw on. Try a papaya. Share a flower-lei with someone you love.

With hardly an inch to spare in our luggage, we had no business stopping to sample these local jellies and butters! But the magic of the Menehune worked on our senses, and we were gone! First we tried the apple-macnut butter... one jar, mahalo! Then she suggested something with lilikoi... one jar, mahalo! We could not pass up the pepper jelly... one jar, mahalo! It just kept going like that. Every sample was too good, and we would add one more jar to our growing stash. Les' Menehune Kitchen, they take online orders, too! Nice.

Good food is a Hawaiian tradition, and leis are too. We were very happy to meet this woman in the Hilo Farmer's market. She was weaving hala, pandanus to make traditional style head leis. Our luggage was bursting full, but there was just room enough on Maria's head to bring home one more sweet memory from Hilo.

Another beautiful day on Hilo Bay. Looking out to Coconut Island. Moku Ola... "healing island."

A hui hou kakou... until we meet again~


judy in ky said...

So much beauty and nature. It's a magical place.

Sylvia said...

I really enjoyed my "trip" with you! You've really captured the loveliness of Hawaii.

Jennifer said...

Ah, exactly the post I was hoping to see! I will dream of someday going to Hawaii, to Hilo, but in the meantime I can totally immerse myself in this story that you've told so beautifully. I am so deeply delighted that you were able to make this trip, this return, and be so rejuvenated by it~~~

Theresa said...