When almost 5 months ago I arrived on the Big Island of Hawaii, I came with barely any expectations, hungry for the unknown marvels that accompany exploration. Thanks to workaway.info I had a vague idea of where I was going to stay and what I was going to do, but the rest was a mystery, including how long was I going to stay. I am still here today…
After a wonderful first workaway experience, four months ago we switched hosts and have been living at an incredible 3.5 acre coffee farm south from Kona. The ocean views from the front lanai are absolutely breathtaking and the wispy mist that drifts by and envelops the coffee fields up the mountain slope in the afternoon is simply mesmerizing. Every morning starts with a smoothie (these days a variation of banana, pineapple, mango, papaya) and freshly brewed coffee (today we even roasted some green beans from the farm – looks like it will be the new ritual), then we feed the pairs of cats, dogs and sheep and tend to the greenery that surrounds us. As I walk around the property, picking mac nuts, checking for ripe pineapples, weeding, or just going about my day I keep looking towards the vast ocean below being reminded of where I am at. I still find it hard to believe that right now I am living in Hawaii.
It’s amazing how easy it is for a person to get familiar with a place and establish a routine. We have a favorite beach that we go to every week, bringing with us the same snacks almost every time. The people at the family-owned grocery store nearby greet us as locals and we know almost every vendor at the Sunday Farmers’ Market. We still visit with our previous wokaway host and every time she makes popcorn with Liquid Aminos and nutritional yeast (definitely give it a try) and treats us fresh ginger tea. Sometimes I bake walnut-raisin scones for her and her husband and we share plant-based meals. She gives us limes and bananas to take with us, and we bring her avocados. During the rainy afternoons we have coffee and cookies on the lanai (we do that when it’s not rainy too) and then I read a book/catch up with e-mails or simply stare at the clouds. When somebody talks about bugs, the changeable weather or things rusting and getting moldy quickly we shrug our shoulders and reply “It’s Hawaii…”
When we came here four months ago we built a couple of garden beds and filled them with plants. Not after long we were picking arugula, kale, lettuce, peas and tomatoes for salad, the broccoli was almost ready and so were the daikon and the eggplant. All the veggies were looking wonderful and I was excited at the thought of future salads and vegan dishes. Last week, after a couple of days of heavy rains the garden started turning yellow and dying. Everything quickly got completely burnt, due to a disease caused by a fungus that lives in the soil. The only possible solution was to pull it all up and throw it on the fire, then solarize the soil. As I was pulling one by one the same plants I had carefully laid in the soil as seeds or starters some months ago, I could not help but think that this is what life is. A continuous ever changing flow, an uncertain yet harmonious cycle of living and dying, a beautiful symphony of repetition and renewal.
“It’s like the people who believe they’ll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, but who learn it doesn’t work that way. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you. If you see what I mean.”
― Neil Gaiman,
“Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.” I came to Hawaii not running away from anything or anyone familiar, including myself; rather in search of everything unexperienced before, including parts of myself I have not uncovered yet. Traveling has always fascinated me, the kind that gives you a glimpse of how people at other places live. What is important for them? What do they believe in? What is the food that they eat? What is the scenery like? How does it feel to be living in the middle of the ocean? By the way, it’s true that all Hawaiians get excited about shopping at Costco and cherimoya is officially my new favorite fruit.
“Real travel requires a maximum of unscheduled wandering, for there is no other way of discovering surprises and marvels, which, as I see it, is the only good reason for not staying at home.”
― Alan W. Watts,
Last year in April I was booking spring photo sessions, this year in April I learned how to plant pineapples and had apple bananas for the first time, and next year in April… who knows? 🙂 I still love photography and Washington, MO. I also love where I am now and what I do. Life is an unfolding process of exploration where everything is possible if you believe/allow it to be. The intent makes all the difference. When you think that things are going to be hard, they prove to be; when you think that things are going to be easy, they are.
“It’s not because things are difficult that we dare not venture. It’s because we dare not venture that they are difficult.”
– Lucius Annaeus Seneca
When you dive in the unknown, not everything is perfect. However, it gets much easier if you abandon the expectation that it needs to be. Get this – watermelon is insanely expensive here and cherries, apples, peaches, apricots or berries do not grow good on the island at all. However, the tropical fruit is amazing when you wait for it to ripen and eat it when it’s about to fall from the tree. Downtown Kona is sunny but always hot, while up in the mountain it is much cooler but more rainy too. Most businesses close earlier here and when the surf is up nobody works. People on the island are so much more laid back and smile a lot. I do not own a house or a car and I do not have a “real” job, yet I live at an incredible place and have an abundance of fresh tropical fruit. Life is full of dualities which together comprise a whole.
“…for there is nothing either good or
bad, but thinking makes it so.”
– “Hamlet”, Shakespeare
As I am typing this, it is raining yet I can see the sun rays coming out from underneath the clouds and illuminating the surface of the ocean. How long will I stay here? I don’t know. Where am I going to go next and what am I going to do? I don’t know. All I know is that I trust the flow of life and that my desire for exploration is stronger than the pull of the familiar. Also, black bean burgers with oven-baked fries and cabbage/carrots/cucumber/tomato/avocado salad is what’s for dinner tonight.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
– Mark Twain