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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Our First Week in Hawaii


I know I've only been scratching the surface of our stay here in Honaunau, Hawai'i. After our first two days of blissful relaxation near Kona, arriving at the farm where we will be living and working for the next two months was a bit overwhelming.

Frankly, our first week was utterly exhausting. 

There have been time zone challenges (my on-line workday begins at 4:00am to accomodate an 8:00am Central Time job); culture shock; living condition challenges (125 square feet of living space, composting toilets, no hot running water, shower-in-a-bag, clothes line dryer, foods we've never heard of much less know how to eat).

There have been hours upon hours of exhausting work picking ripe coffee cherry, and the mental and physical challenges of realizing all amenities are at least a mile or more away (by foot) and a decent grocery store is more than five miles away (by bus - when the buses run, which is normally NOT when we have any free time).

The nearest beach is over three miles and 1000 feet downhill from the farm, with the return trip being an hour and a half by foot. The farm does not provide transportation to any of these places.

I had a slight emotional breakdown when, on our second day of work, we were asked to prepare and bring a dish for a collaborative dinner, made of things we didn't even know how to pronounce much less prepare, for strangers.

All of this stuff takes some getting used to.  Mentally, emotionally, physically.

Our bodies and spirits and feet ached all of last week.  I thought of quitting several times. 

And then, bit by bit, things started to improve.

We had our first visit to Honaunau Bay, where Papa Bear got to try snorkeling and came out of the ocean breathless not from water in his snorkel, but from his first experience seeing the beatiful reef fish exploring the amazing coral mere feet below where he floated.

{And, he floats here!  Something he can't do in freshwater.}

We found a tiny natural foods market within easy walking distance and had our first real restaurant meal (fresh Ono fish and burgers).

We started figuring out the bus and rideshare process (locals learn who the farm WWOOF'ers are and will stop and give you rides when you are walking somewhere).

And Sunday, our first full day off since we began work here, we caught a ride to Honaunau Bay and we both snorkeled (my first time) and were joined by pods of spinner dolphins who come into the bay to rest and tend their young.

OK, so maybe moving to Hawaii to work and live on a farm this winter wasn't such a crazy idea after all.  Despite the rat that scurried down the outhouse wall right next to my thigh at 3:30am last week.  Despite the swarms of ants that cover our arms while picking coffee.  Despite the lack of hot running water and a decent shower.

Maybe, just maybe, we can get used to this simplified version of living.  Where there is no large house, no garage, no car, and not much "stuff." There is also no rent, no mortgage, and no heating bills.

There is fresh air, clean water, organic fruits and veggies, and lots of opportunities to use our muscles, every single day.

And if you're really, really lucky, maybe a dolphin or two.

Aloha -


Anonymous said...

Sounds like you have found a slice of heaven.
Janine Varra

Jess said...

So it's similar to boot camp, except you get a bit of time off during the day... I think I'd be sitting in the corner crying after that first week. Sounds like you're adapting quickly though!

jenlarson said...

It sounds difficult, but beautiful in the simplicity! Glad to hear you guys are adjusting. I hope you have more fun days than not! Thanks for sharing your adventures!

Lewis said...

Wow....What an adventure. Thanks for sharing. Can't wait for more!

Victoria Strauser said...

Thanks everyone! We're hanging in there! Some things have gotten easier although some days are still rough.

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