I am back in Hawai’i. Back on the Big Island, back in Puna. I am back at Bellyacres, our little community in Seaview. The sky displays varying spectacles: perfect bright blue domes, towers of white clouds interspersed with shocks of dazzling sunlight, grey squadrons of indefinable dark matter bringing almost daily showers of heavy rain, and often, rainbows. Rainbows also grace our outdoor showers in the morning when we rinse dream-soaked sweat off our tanned bodies, surrounded by large leaves, and squinting up through the giant palm fronds above to evaluate today’s weather prospects. The sea is a vibrant turquoise-green flaunting wild waves and white cusps of froth, filled with coral reefs and all shapes and colors of fish darting through them. The chickens give us eggs. The trees give us kumquats, avocados, breadfruit, coconuts, and other nutritious treasures.The two horses greet us as they chip away at their daily task of keeping the grass short and providing the ‘black gold’ that helps plants grow on the hard, volcanic matter we live on. The moon, the stars, and the milky way brighten the darkness of our nights.
Paradise? Yes. And yet, the jungle is forever rough around the edges. It is not like in the city, where everything is custom-tailored to human life. We need to rinse every little cut in our skin with hydrogen peroxide for fear of infection. We have to keep weeding and chopping away at the tentacles of the jungle as they constantly try to claim back the small islands we have carved out for ourselves. We have to keep jungle dwellers in check who will always regard every place they can physically reach as theirs. Rats, cockroaches, spiders, ants and geckos are daily visitors. We have to keep cleaning as dirt gets carried in from the moderately tamed road-free wilderness around us. Harvesting and processing fruit is work. We need to watch our resources carefully. Short power cuts are a regular occurrence, although they can usually be fixed with ease. We need to keep our water clean by adding monthly doses of hydrogen peroxide and sodium bicarbonate, occasionally cleaning the whole tank, or ordering additional water if rain catchment does not provide enough. We use large electrical appliances during the day, when it is sunny. Today, we vacuum, tomorrow we do the laundry.
Next to the Ocean and the Jungle, Pele, the Goddess of the Volcano, the powerful, lava-spewing personification of heat, passion, and volatility, seems to be another factor that exerts a major influence on life here on the Island. I am finding it difficult to develop a structure. In the city, it is easy. You visit scheduled events, work according to deadlines, check your diary daily, keep your promises and appointments. I have never found this difficult. Here, on the other hand, even writing a coherent sentence is a major challenge. Trying to identify material for my first Hawai’ian blog, I spent hours recounting the events of my first week here, and felt overwhelmed after I had written ten pages and was still nowhere near the end.
Days seem like weeks, and my arrogant preconception that life in the middle of nowhere might be boring was crushed as soon as I awoke and found that at least 5 corners I had meticulously cleaned the day before were now once again covered with the expansive artistic creations of local spiders. I had to readjust my thinking. It was not that I was living in the middle of nowhere. I was living in the middle of everything. As I reached under a bathroom shelf to clean it, I held a live gecko in my hand. Startled by the sudden sensation of another living being touching my skin I dropped him and watched his sides flaring in and out like a heartbeat, as if telling me: ‘You’d better get used to OUR rhythm. I for my part ain’t goin’ anywhere, bro.’ ‘Fair enough,’ I replied and helped the little creature outside, returning him to the cruel indifference of its native Jungle, moving on to the next shelf that needed cleaning.
While struggling to establish a productive structure within this new rhythm, looking back at last week’s events results in a more promising picture. I did in fact manage to attend several scheduled events, I worked according to deadlines, and I even brought Captain Ladle’s Waffle Island back to the Saturday market without skipping a beat. I had planned to allow myself a few days of rest before resuming the waffle business, but as I was greeted with bright eyes and salivating anticipation at the prospects of more Saturday waffles, I was flattered into a new bout of Ladling without letting a single week pass waffle-free. Thank you my faithful fans. You are the soul of my motivation.
Recounting the events of my first week back during this writing marathon whose finish line I can just barely make out now, I realized that not only each day, but each single event here deserves the space of an entire blog. I have therefore decided to postpone any detailed descriptions, including Captain Ladle’s comeback to the market, to the following weekly blogs, and limit myself to providing a brief overview this time.
During my first week back, I:
- attended the weekly campfire meeting held to discuss any issues in the community
- scheduled new aikido (Thursday 6-7 pm) and swing dance (Friday 7.30-9 pm) classes at S.P.A.C.E. for this month
- devised a delightful way of using chopped kumquats and tangerine juice as part of a salad dressing
- attended a potluck birthday party with a fully lei-ed out birthday girl, a view of the ocean, paper lanterns, a camp fire, tail-wagging dogs, and dancing green fairy lights
- harvested avocados, strawberry guavas, kumquats, lemons, tangerines, and pomelos
- attended the Wednesday morning aikido class with Barbara Klein in Hilo
- Saw a monk seal sleeping at Richardson’s beach
- compiled a shopping list for the week and did the corresponding shopping in Hilo
- heard two fruit names for the first time in my life: ‘eggfruit’ and ‘jackfruit’
- spotted a large black pig digging by the side of the road
- attended juggling night with hat and clubs
- was invited to an orgasm workshop
- drove the car a few times (need some practice to get back into the driving business)
- went swimming at the warm ponds, did yoga on the lawn
- Cooked a load of citrus-kumquat marmalade for this week’s waffle topping
- taught an aikido class
- spotted a dead black pig by the side of the road
- attended a fitness class at S.P.A.C.E. that forced me to take up the hula hoop
- taught a swing dance class
- completed a proofreading project for a Japanese market research company centered on a fragrance-free CHANEL whitening cream for Japanese women
- Sold waffles at the Saturday market at S.P.A.C.E.
- did some brainstorming and sent off the first ideas for a comedy writing project
- visited ‘Vacation Land’ and the ‘Champaign Ponds’
- got a slight sunburn on my back
- attended the Sunday night potluck
While it is still difficult to detect much structure in this potpourri of activities, there are several scheduled events that will form constant pillars of my routine here at Bellyacres, several empty spaces that will be filled in gradually with more scheduled events, regular writing, work, and practice, and enough variables to guarantee a constant influx of adventure. I look forward to introducing more of these daily wonders, stories, and oscillating facets of weird and wonderful to you each week. For now, however, I have reached the finish line and am quite out of breath. Mahalo and Aloha, my friends.