Category Archives: Hawaii

Kalapana return, and discourse on falafel

I returned, as I said I would, to Uncle Robert’s in search of “Middle Eastern” food, which in my opinion, is some of the best food on the planet. What I had last night did not disappoint.

In order to work up an appetite, first I hiked out to the black sand beach that was created 28 years ago when lava covered this area, including many beloved beaches, parks, and homes; the Painted Church was hauled away to a safer spot, and sits there still. It was the summer I moved to Hawaii Island from Oahu. What an introduction.

For dinner I met up with a long-time and very-well-traveled friend. As we ate our dinner, she spoke of the best falafel she’d ever had, in Damascus (they put French fries in the falafel!), although Amman had some decent offerings, too. Hanging out talking about travel and adventure over a good meal with smart friends – it doesn’t get much better than that.

Here are some photos; hope you enjoy them. FYI, there is a strong sentiment of Hawaiian sovereignty in Kalapana. And delicious falafel.

Circle(ish) Island Tour

Took a mini break up along the northeast coast, then west, then north to Hawi, the most northern part of the island, traveling deep in horse country and later along whale routes.   It was great, although the many changes in terrain apparently muddled my brain: I ordered an $18 sandwich. It was yummy, but yikes!

Here are some images from the day. One mountain is Mauna Kea (hint: telescopes); the other is Haleakalā on Maui.  They can see each other.

The graffiti was discovered in a beach pavilion. The dogs had just finished a swim.  The horses I met were very friendly.  In the case of Truck v Nature, Nature won.  The house is an example of disappearing old Hawaii.

Night Market, Kalapana

Shamefully, after nearly three decades of Hawaii Island residence, last night marked my first visit to Uncle Robert’s celebrated Wednesday night extravaganza.  My immediate reaction: I’m going again next Wednesday!  The urge to revisit is prompted primarily because I discovered Lebanese food for sale after I’d already ordered something else – I’m a fool for baba ghanoush – and also because the delectable vegan ice cream folks from Pahoa, Nicoco, have a stand there, too.  But I also want to go again because next week I’ll include time for a hike to the nearby (relatively) new black sand beach, because the market is a visual delight, and because soon I’m leaving Hawaii for a bit and want to absorb what I can.


A few weeks ago, I said aloha to my privately-situated, day-time quiet, but cold and rainy Volcano home and am now ‘camping in a house’ near the ocean, where it is very not cold.  Here I can wear shorts, sleep without layers of clothing and blankets, and listen to the waves break on the nearby cliffs.  It is altogether different from my former home.  I like it. Very much. 


But back to the Night Market.  Besides an amazing variety of fruit for sale, I found the expected Lower Puna merch: tie-dye, herbal remedies, and unbreakable smoking pipes.  There were fairly lights and countless vegan options, but oddly no patchouli, perhaps a happy result of all the novelty soap available.  


Central to the event is live music, complete with Dancing Nancys (no relation).  In the crowd, there were many languages spoken and a respectable representation of human body types swaying to the music.  Some people wandered happily in their leather kilts or with feathers and sparkles in their hair; there was a huge assortment of food for sale.  It got crowded with both ‘local’ people who seemed very happy and out-of-towners who stared bug-eyed at the spectacle before them.  I captured some of it with my camera, but the photos don’t do it justice, of course.  


One of the groups of performers was comprised of mixed race folks playing uncommon instruments, wearing clothes of seemingly mixed origin, and singing in languages I couldn’t discern.  I turned to one of my common-table seatmates and asked what kind of music it was: Vietnamese folk music was the answer.  Um, that seemed way off, and the beer I had just finished encouraged me to respond “Are you bullsh*tting me?” He gestured towards to his comrade who was the source of this knowledge.  After a lengthy description of the types of instruments being played, the sartorial choices of the performers, and references to Ghana, East Asia, and the Caribbean, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “Hey, it’s Kalapana.”  That explained all.


Here are some photos of the market, as well as some of the Lower Puna coastline, for good measure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hawaii in October . . .

Live all you can; it’s a mistake not to.

Warning: This Post Contains Rants and Criticism

I have heard some pretty amazing statements in the last few days.  First, from a contender for either the World’s Calmest or Most Clueless Person: a Hilo-based Hawaii tourism official told a newscaster that it is a “shocker” tourists are staying away because the eruption “is really a normal occurrence.”  Wait, what?  Lava destroying communities is normal?  Would he think it normal if his home was on the street in the picture above?  Where exactly on the island does he live?  Perhaps in a community of caves with no internet access.  I totally get that the local economy (which depends excessively on tourism) is suffering because of the eruption, and that is an awful thing that must be addressed, but if he is going to serve as a public spokesperson, I would suggest he a) become more informed, b) learn new vocabulary, or c) not lie.  What is happening in Lower Puna is very much not “normal.”

There are other contenders for the clueless title: the people who refused to evacuate from an area that yesterday was surrounded by fast flowing lava on three sides and the ocean on the fourth.  In spite of more than four weeks of drama and warnings, they stayed put.  I get not wanting to abandon one’s home.  But doing so in sight of a huge advancing wall of lava, um, yeah, it’s, um, insane.  First responders had to risk their own safety to rescue those – sorry, I’m going to call a spade a spade here – knuckleheads.   Perhaps they are relatives of the tourism spokesperson.  Perhaps there is an isolated, cave-dwelling community that I am clueless about.  If that is the case, I am very sorry for being unaware of your situation.

How about this: a few days ago a resident told me the eruption is a “really good thing” because it is “cleaning out the cults, drugs, and prostitutes down there.”  Yowza.  Ok, this is an example of the kind of thing I call a shocker.  I can’t think of anywho who deserves this.  Nor can I think of anything to say about it other than it is a telling example of what I call “Aloha Spirit, Selective Version.”

In further news, authorities require residents to obtain government-issued placards in order to access evacuation areas and retrieve items from their homes; the checkpoints reduce traffic in case of a rapid flight situation.  In a strange instance of entrepreneurship – perhaps suggested by tourism experts? – some residents are using the placards to get by the checkpoints to make money guiding tourists into the heart of the devastation.  Other people are burglarizing vacated homes.  Other people are shooting or getting shot at.  Sadly, there was an apparent suicide near a shelter.

These are very difficult times.  Yes, humans are being humans and doing and saying things I can’t understand, but there are, of course, great people doing kind and wonderful things.  Most people I speak to are heartbroken and helping out, and I will write about them in future posts.  For now, I can say at least one public persona, a Hawaii Senator, spoke movingly and honestly of the loss and change due to the eruption.

I encourage people to come to Hawaii and bring their cash.  But please, don’t try to sneak in and gawk at people’s suffering.  Make a donation.  Stay in vacation rentals and eat at restaurants.  Consider volunteering at a shelter, maybe even one that includes addicts, cult members, and prostitutes.  Because, you know, aloha – the unrestricted kind.

Photo from Hawaii News Now.

It is not a photo of normalcy.

 

Green Lake is gone

From Hawaii News Now: After lava entered Green Lake, a 400-year-old freshwater basin in Kapoho Crater, around 10 a.m. Saturday, it created a massive steam plume that helicopters weren’t able to see through for hours. A Hawaii County Fire overflight at 3 p.m. reported that lava had filled the lake, apparently evaporating all of the water inside the basin.

Google Maps is going to have to do a lot up updating.