Is it really this beautiful?

Trip Start Apr 15, 2008
Trip End May 17, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Hawaii
Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I just got back from a full moon celebration....from bathing in a warm pond fed by hot springs and the cooler waves of the ocean.  This community that is new to me but I feel very welcomed within, gathered with song and drums to call the moon into the clear night sky.  This is Hawaii....this so far is my experience of Hawaii....the word Paradise has been used to describe these islands....I can clearly see why. 
I arrive into Honolulu after a 9 hr flight from Chicago...pretty painless except for the lack of food service on the plane.... I've gotten used to food being served because I've been taking international flights... thankfully I grabbed a few bagels before leaving the airport.  Mid-flight I'm thinking- it sure is a long way to Hawaii...wouldn't want to have to cross this ocean too often - and I'm anticipating dealing with the claustrophobia that being on an island in the middle of a huge body of water can bring.   I'm excited to be heading to a place I've heard so much about but I'm thinking that this'll probably be my one and only time I travel to this place...and now here I am, trying to figure out some way to spend a hunk of my life here.
I get out of Honolulu's a big city and I'm here for a different experience....I  head immediately to the Big Island...of course, first I have to get over the minor obstacle of my airlines having gone out of business the week before.  But I rebook on another flight and head to the island actually named Hawai'i but commonly called the Big Island.  I've rented a car...the bus service in the US is nothing like that in other parts of the relying on public transport here...I wouldn't get where I want.   So I grab my bright red rental car and follow directions to a house outside of Pahoa.  I've been given someone's name...lets hope she's happy to have company.  Well she totally opens her home to me...this is the beginning of being welcomed into a community that makes me feel so at home...
I meet all sorts of people...I get introduced to the warm pond which seems to be quite a social scene in the area.  I get loaned everything I need...snorkeling gear, a towel, a tent, all the essentials.  The warm pond has quite an array of tropical fish...I even see an eel peeking its head out from under a rock and then scurrying across the bottom to hide under another rock.
And then there are the tidal pools.  I sit by them for a bit just enjoying their beauty.  But when I finally put on my goggles, I'm pretty much shocked at the diversity of life in them!  At first I actually have this fleeting thought that they must be somebody created a lovely tourist spot by constructing coral on the rocks at the bottom and painting it an array of colors.  But then I get over my momentary disbelief and simply take in the beauty in the pools.  A whole world in there!!  Ive never snorkeled tidal pools as magnificent as these.  
So between the warm pond, the tidal pools, and watching the bright blue ocean crash against the lava rock, I'm pretty busy.   And then it's time to celebrate Earth Day....lots happening all over the island...the newspapers focus on sustainability...I go to the celebrations at the University of Hawaii in Hilo and I make lots of connections...I interview radical vegans promoting animal rights...I speak with the people in charge of the recycling program on the island and make plans to visit the recycling center...I visit with trash awareness activists who are promoting trash as fashion...I make lots of contacts with people and get a good idea of what's going on here environmentally.   It seems like the biggest concern here is on trash disposal.  Just as there are passionate promoters of recycling and wise waste management, there is a lack of programming in place to assure the participation of the entire community.  And on an island, good trash management systems are essential.
My first week here comes to an end...I'm already feeling rushed by only having a month here.  And then, when I'm planning all the things I'll do while I'm here, the knee incident occurs.  I'm scurrying down the lava rock trail from this cabin that I've moved over to and bam!! I crash to the ground...maybe a little hyperextension, maybe a slip on the torn cartilage...but the right knee has ceased to function.  Now I'm really fortunate to be in the company of an excellent care-taker who not only rubs healing oils on it but also finds me a pair of crutches and a knee brace to borrow.  And this starts the beginning of all sorts of alternative treatments...healing Pahoa style.   Magnets, hands-on energy work, anti-inflammatory oils, and even toning some deeply pitched sounds right into the joint.  I'm pretty much a believer in traditional medicine...but at the same time I think there's lots of merit in other ways of treating illness/ injury.  It's all really interesting to me, plus I like the incredible attention and the care I'm getting.  And I have no intention of going to a medical facility at this point...I've dealt with lots of knee injury and I'm not feeling too  hopeful about going that route.  So right now I'm putting my faith here in what I'm offered.  And with the warm baths being an essential part of the treatment each morning, I'm totally on board. 

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