Written By Emily & Andrew
Wednesday the 23rd, our morning started out by leaving our campsite at the refuge with a gorgeous rainbow shining above our heads, good luck before taking on the long, windy road to Hana. During the three hour drive, we stopped at Ke’ane Peninsula to watch the waves crash against the large rocks, sending sea mist into the air before it landed on us. Our next stop was the Garden of Eden where we explored the variety of plants and trees ranging from an 100 year old mango tree to a mystical bamboo walking trail, saw the Keopuka Rock, featured in the opening scene of the original Jurassic Park movie, and had lunch under a veranda from handy cooler Uncle George. In the midst of the cool Hana breeze and top music hits, we were overjoyed to find a stretch spot on the side of the road. Some of us hula hooped or attempted pull ups on the slippery bars, others played frisbee, and the rest stretched or practiced capoeira. Arriving at a long, rocky driveway lined with bamboo which clacked softly with the wind, we knew we had reached our destination: Whispering Winds Bamboo.
The next day, we headed to Kahanu Garden, a national botanical garden. During our tour, we chanted E Hō Mai in front of the heiau, a sacred structure made by Hawaiian ancestors, comprised of stacked rocks which they believed would bring them closer to the heavens. In addition to learning about the existence of breadfruit and about the journey of a garden worker who navigated a two year canoe trip, we split into groups and worked in teams to remove invasive species. Our reward for the long day was a trip to Hamoa beach which Peter, another employee of the garden, recommended to us. While the majority of the group enjoyed spending time on the sand reading or taking naps, a few of us swam in the powerful waves, seeing who would be the first to get swept back to shore.
On Friday, we were given a tour of Whispering Winds from the owner of the property, Ryan. We feasted on fresh fruits including mangosteen, star apple, and fresh cacao seeds. We ended the morning by lying on the ground in silence for a couple of minutes, simply letting ourselves feel the energy and love through our planet earth. In the afternoon, we got our hands muddy weeding the growing bamboo pots before heading to Haleakala National Park for one of the two hikes. We returned the next morning to complete the other hike which led us through narrow paths, into a bamboo forest, and across a river to reach a massive waterfall. We then drove to another waterfall on the side of Hana Highway. Lana, Delia, and Emily indulged in the freezing water while the others enjoyed the sounds of laughter, rushing water, and nature around us. We chose to end the day by visiting the Venus Pools which was a trek through tall grasses, prickly plants, and down a steep, rocky incline. We swam in the warmer water and explored a cave before the rain started pouring and we dashed to the cars, but not before opening multiple coconuts that we found along the way.
As Sunday was more free, Mara and Cahill surprised us with delicious oven baked pizza for lunch. We lay on the grass at a nearby closed church and reflected on our journey thus far as we are now halfway through this trip. We then walked to a black sand beach that a kind Hawaiian lady let us utilize for an hour while a guitar player serenaded us as the sun set. We were treated to a nice dinner at a restaurant to celebrate our last night in Hana.
As the next morning came, we dropped off Ryan’s card and the paper crown we made for his son’s birthday, and then we were off on our way back across the treacherous Hana road. On the way, we stopped to volunteer with Pat and Napua. Andrew, Mikayla, and Wynn weeded around the taro patch while the rest of us worked to clear branches from a mud patch. Gigi and Lana climbed the trees and handed sticks down. Delia and Max yanked roots out of the ground, handing them over to Omer, Emily, and Luke who tossed them into the forest. The rest of the drive went smoothly and we arrived to our new campsite on a permaculture and regenerative farm. Evan, the owner, gave us an orientation and we were thrilled to have Christmas lights, a fridge, a sink with a drying rack, and a stellar hot shower. On Tuesday, we started work with Evan and his interns. We began with classroom time which included a slideshow teaching us about permaculture and earth stewardship. The hands-on work after the presentation consisted of weeding and preparing plant beds, as well as harvesting collard greens which we cooked and ate with dinner!
Overall, the road to Hana was incredible with spectacular views of the ocean and cliffs on one side and lush greenery and waterfalls on the other. Though the past week consisted of lots of driving, it was filled with funny moments, deep conversations, and extensive engagement with our surroundings. We’re looking forward to more farm work and establishing closer connections both within our group and with our partners!
A hui hou! (Until next time!)
Emily and Andrew