Written By Lana & Luke
To begin the week, we said goodbye to Pineapple Park Hostel, heading south of Kona. An hour long drive and serene views took us down to Miloli’i, the last fishing village on the island of Hawai’i. We arrived to a barren landscape of jagged lava rocks, all of which formed from Mauna Loa erupting one hundred years ago. The change of scenery was drastic. Dry, extremely rocky, not much vegetation — not what we were used to on Hawai’i. We settled into our campground, taking time to reflect on our new surroundings into the evening.
In the morning, two fishermen of the Miloli’i community met us at our campsite and taught us how to throw fishing nets. The nets were massive, weighing a whopping thirty pounds, however we managed to get the hang of things. We then took a short hike through fallen trees and mesmerizing flora to the secluded Honomalino Beach. We snorkeled for a couple of hours, seeing boxfish, parrotfish, and the state fish, the humuhumunukunukuapua’a (reef triggerfish). A fisherman taught us how to scale and cut a freshly caught fish, which would then become Hawaii’s favorite dish, poke. Afterwards, we went back to our campsite and spent the rest of the day playing group games consisting of captain, ninja, the pattern game, and a quirky game of sardines.
On Friday we awoke to some meditation practices lead by Cahill. Auntie Momi, an educator of the local garden, came to instruct us on how to effectively make a tincture with Hawaiian herbs and plants. We made a tincture that would help us with cuts, scrapes, cramps, bee stings, headaches, and sore throats — many of which we unfortunately dealt with. We ground together noni, mugwort, ginger, turmeric, mamaki, honohono, and uhaloa, straining them into a jar of coconut oil. Auntie Momi was kind enough to leave us with clary sage, too. Shake shake shake… our tincture was complete! After lunch, we returned to the water, learning how to spearfish! Lana ended up with a successful bounty, bringing back fish that she proceeded to gut, cook, and enjoy later. That night, we moseyed on over to Miloli’i’s very first Passover dinner. The community welcomed us with open arms, gifting us two dozen avocados the size of our heads. Needless to say, we will not be buying avos anytime soon!
The arrival of Saturday came upon us without warning. This would be the day of Miloli’i’s school trip fundraiser. This will be the first time some of the kids leave the island. The community area was filled with locals who had all gathered to display a colorful array of crafts, homemade treats, and live music. Keiki (kids) ran around bearing ear-to-ear grins while playing games and sipping freshly squeezed lemonade. Over on the basketball court, Andrew and Emily balled out hard. After the phenomenal live band trio was ready to take a break, they invited the whole crew up on stage for a hardcore jam sesh. Our group’s signature song “Royals” by Lorde was finally debuted to the public. After a fabulous day, we wandered back to camp for dinner and nighttime games.
Sunday? More like FUNday! A day of awe. We set off driving, oblivious to the fact the we were headed to one of only four green sand beaches in the world. When we arrived at the trailhead, we officially set off on our journey. We tromped around plains of long silvery grass until we arrived upon the grand destination, Papakolea Green Sand Beach. The swelling ocean was as blue as a ginormous pool of blue Gatorade. In said Gatorade, Delia and GiGi went head to head in an intense game of chicken fighting — they made like Dory and just kept swimming. Meanwhile, on the shore Wynn found a sick perch on the rocks and became a sun bathing model. After the trek back to the cars, we set off to our next destination: the southern most point of Hawai’i (and the United States). Here, we enjoyed the breathtaking spectacle of the sun sinking beyond the horizon as Omer serenaded us with even more breathtaking music.
On Monday it was officially time to get back on our working grind. Parking the car just a little ways from camp, we were then whisked off into an almost surreal area in the woods. First, we were given a tour of the area. We learned about the newly discovered petroglyphs that were found during restoration of the area, which was previously an old Hawaiian village fostering hundreds of people. The goal of the organization Malama Miloli’i Kipuka is to restore the historical, scenic area and hopefully begin cultural classes including hula dancing and weaving. Max broke up the mud of a filled-in pond like a beast and we set up an assembly line of people to move it out. Mikayla used her stellar art skills to paint new signs marking the property. Others of the group cleared an area, heaving rocks and branches out of the way. This developed into a fun game of coconut football that Luke absolutely slayed. Touchdown! After our hard work, we were rewarded with a fantastic spread of homemade breads, freshly harvested produce, and kava (a traditional Hawaiian ceremonial drink). We had another small jam sesh, then we headed off to the next activity with full stomachs AND hearts. Next up, we were given a presentation about traditional Hawaiian fishing and how the people of Miloli’i still implement those methods to this day. By the time we made it back to camp, we were all ready for dinner joined by a local friend, a game, and then to retire to our tents (or for some, to their cots beneath the stars).
Ahhh, yet another Tuesday — the closing of this week. Today was opened up with a very chill morning. We hung out and played games until we were surprised by a very special guest. Auntie Linda, a very skilled artisan, stepped in to show us how to weave bracelets out of lau hale (hale leaf). First, we molded the moist leaves to fit our wrists, then we split them down the middle and softened them with coconut oil. Next, we learned how to weave a basic pattern and how to elaborate onto the pattern. We all walked away with outstanding reminders of our time here: handwoven bracelets of our own creation. As soon as everyone had a bite eat, we set off on yet another adventure to help piece together several thirty foot tents, move picnic tables, put up LED lights, and fix lightbulbs in preparation for a very important event for Miloli’i (tune into the next blog to find out…). A celebratory basketball scrimmage with the community team was then held. AGAIN Andrew and Emily scored an ungodly amount of points. Now, back at camp, Lana and Luke are sitting in Ezekiel (one of our cars) writing away and being divinely epic group leaders (Lana and Luke = us). Through the glass windows of the car, we can see the warm lights glowing in the darkness and the smiles of our Ohana as they exist in the same place and time together. The warmth beckons, and now we must depart.