Saturday, August 15, 2009

Hawaii Day 5: I fall in love

On Thursday we got up at 6am to get an early start on snorkeling to beat the crowds, only to find it pouring down rain. For breakfast I invented my all time favorite combination-- I took half a papaya and scooped out the seeds and then poured crispy brown rice cold cereal into the hole where the seeds had been and added soy milk. Then I ate the papaya "bowl" with the cereal. We ate this new treat on the balcony watching the rain hit the sea. By 7am the rain stopped and we were on our way to Keauhou beach, only about ten minutes from our condo. The guidebook said turtles are often found here. The water was cold and took my breath away when I jumped in, but it was also very clear. We saw lots of bright colorful fish, my favorites looking like something out of a 1980s music video-- florescent pink, purple and teal. Marc and I always snorkel very close to each other and often hold hands, both for safety and because it is easier to alert each other to things the other person might not have seen. Marc started shaking my hand with excitement and pointing in the distance. We were only two feet from a large green sea turtle! We spent what seemed like hours hovering very near our turtle friend, watching her graze on sea moss on the bottom of the shallow ocean, moving slowly in the gentle waves. It was an incredibly moving experience to be in the silence of the ocean, the two of us alone with this beautiful animal, who was likely much older than we are. We swam a little further and found another sea turtle-- this one had one of my favorite bright fish swimming all around it-- a buddy reminiscent of finding Nemo! We stayed with the turtles until the tide began going out and more snorkelers arrived-- by then my nausea had returned in force. We climbed out of the water and were about to leave when we noticed the outgoing tide had created tidepools to the left of the beach. We went to investigate and found three more sea turtles in the shallow tidepool. I waded into the tidepool in my reef shoes and spent close to an hour taking pictures up close of the turtles. In the picture above when I went to pose the turtle tried to turn around by pushing off the rock and found my leg instead. We saw a turtle in Maui once years ago, but it was in sandy, murky conditions. This day we saw so many so close-- it was like the kind of experience you'd have to pay for somewhere.

We finally left to drive up to the North part of the island (North Kohala Coast).
We stopped at a beautiful sandy beach called Puako. The water was clear and warm as bathwater-- the sand was so hot it burned my feet (and the sun was so bright my picture didn't turn out very well). On this beach we discovered there were evil spiny trees that had needle sharp thorns along each branch, which occasionally broke off in small pieces and lay on the beach. At different times each of us ended up with a painful pierced foot. We did not find as many fish here, though the water was the clearest we had seen. We spent a couple hours here, until the seasickness resumed-- since I'd already been nauseated in the morning it came back sooner here.
We hiked to Kiholo bay, which involved parking on the highway and hiking down a barren trail of red lavarock and the evil spiny trees. When we reached the bay, we got in to snorkel and almost immediately got back out-- the water was very sandy and visibility was too poor. On our hike back to the car we heard a strange sound that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. It sounded like a strange bird or maybe a child being tortured. We crept off the trail to investigate and came across a family of wild goats, whose kid was very loud. They weren't too interested in hanging out with humans and took off as soon as they saw us, the kid braying all the way.

The North road ends at Pololu Beach, where there is a pretty lookout. You can hike to the beach there, but it was getting late in the day and I wanted to see other things. Along the road to Pololu we visited several wind farms, which ingeniously share the land with happily free ranging cows-- I was rather smitten with these eco-cows, as well as two horses I befriended along the road, though I think they were hoping I had something to feed them, and I didn't think horses would want larabars, which is all I had with me.

We next drove on to Waimea, through beautiful ranching towns along the Kohala Mountain road. Somewhere between North Kohala and the mountain road I fell madly in love with this island and we started fantasizing about living there with goats and chickens raising tropical fruit and maybe having some kind of nutritional get away detox vacation destination. The northern part of the island reminds me of a cross between the small farming towns where my parents grew up and lush tropical rain forest-- possibly the best combination I could ever thing of.

As we drove along the mountain road we gradually left the lush tropical wetness and the land became dryer and more desert-like. We reached Waimea starving and ate at the first place we could find-- a Mexican restaurant in a food court. I ordered chicken tamales, which was kind of a strange choice since I've never ordered those before. It turned out to be a mistake, given that I've been having difficulty digesting corn lately and the tamales were a heavy dose-- I had a stomach ache the rest of the night.

On our drive back to Kona we found a rainbow which we jokingly tried to follow to it's end. We could see that it was raining at the coast but we managed to stay ahead of it all day long. This was our longest day, as we were gone for twelve hours, but one of my favorites of the whole trip.

We were also so salty after three trips and 4+ hours in the ocean that I had visible salt on my skin and clothes and I woke up the next morning feeling pickled!

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