It's Hawaii but It's Not Paradise

Trip Start Sep 29, 2009
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Trip End Ongoing


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Where I stayed
Hedonisia Hawaii

Flag of United States  , Hawaii
Friday, April 9, 2010

(This is Heather writing...)

With our vacation and visits to the east coast behind us, we headed to Hawaii for more volunteer travel and work exchange opportunities. Ahhh, Hawaii. What's not to love? Well...on the rainforest side of the Big Island that would be the daily rain, the mosquitoes, the coquis, and the every-present dampness. That aside, we've had a good time here this month.

We are staying at an eco-hostel in Pahoa. We have a nice cabin to sleep in, which includes shelves for our stuff and a decent bed. The cabin has 2 bamboo walls and 2 screen walls. Around dusk each night the coquis come out to socialize. Coquis are LOUD tiny frogs. Loud enough that I wear ear plugs every night in order to fall asleep. Charles can sleep through them somehow.

We have a shared kitchen, patio area, and indoor living space with a TV and DVD player (no TV watching, just DVDs.) That's a nice break sometimes and one of the girls here rents movies on a regular basis so we have a nice variety.

We work 2.5 hours per day for 6 days a week with Sundays off. Our work has been primarily manual labor such as breaking up large pieces of lava into smaller pieces of lava. Shoveling dirt into buckets and moving the buckets to a very particular spot on the property. Cutting down vines in the volcano crater. Pulling weeds. Uprooting and replanting guava trees in other areas. For most of these tasks, we don't ask "Why?" we just do it.

We've been sticking with our mainly vegetarian diet that we started in Nicaragua. We're not vegetarians, but eating this way is easier and more economical here. We also find that by sticking to a basic diet with fewer choices keeps us from getting upset stomachs during our travels. We have had the opportunity to try a variety of new fruits and vegetables such as:
soursop (ugly but delish); star apples (yummy, creamy taste); jack fruit (ew); edible hibiscus (it's like chard and I love it - Charles doesn't); and a few things I don't remember. Tonight we're trying breadfruit. We also have fresh mangoes, strawberries, mulberries, avocados, tomatoes, hot peppers, tangerines, bananas and more.

One of the highlights of this month has been having to hitchhike everywhere. We were really hesitant at first and didn't leave here for a week. But then we had to get to town for food and were forced to give it a try. At first, we felt like idiots. We agreed that we felt like we were panhandling or something. You just stand on the side of the road with your thumb out waiting for a ride -- it feels like you're begging. But hitchhiking is very common here on the Big Island and getting a ride is never much of a problem. Case in point -- we were out last night for dinner and didn't leave the restaurant until around 9:00 so it was dark. It was also raining. We thought we were doomed - who is going to stop at night and let a couple of wet strangers into their car? Luckily, someone did -- within 5 minutes of us standing there. Not only did he pick us up, he went out of his way to drive us all the way to our street.

We've noticed a pattern to who picks us up -- generally speaking:
- Pick-up trucks driven by a local (we can hop in the back of the truck legally.)
- Locals in any SUV even if they have kids in the back and it's Easter and they are going to the beach.
- Jeeps. Jeep drivers are more than likely to pick us up.
- Old stoned hippies driving VW or other brand vans.
- Anyone with a filthy car interior. (Okay I don't know this for a fact since I can't see into the cars that don't pick us up, but it is a trend among those who do.)

Who doesn't pick up hitchhikers:
- Yuppies in family cars or caravans -- we KNOW you have the room, we saw in the windows when you sped by.
- Teenagers. But that's okay I wouldn't want to drive with them.

We're heading to Oregon next to work on a ranch -- yeehaw! We're very excited and can't wait to get there and bring our new-found hitchhiking skills with us!

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