jen yu: hawai'i 2005 - day 3

hawai'i 2005 - day 3

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south point, pu'uhonua o honaunau, waipi'o
february 5, 2005
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My back hurt in the morning thanks to the crappy bed, but at least we were dry! We left by 6:15. The only people I ever saw up as early as ourselves were surfers and fishermen (and those annoying girls in camp). We continued south, this time with little to no traffic, the Friday afternoon phenomenon now gone. Our first stop was Punalu'u Black Sand Beach, just miles from where we were turned around the previous morning. We got there at 8 am and walked onto the beach, examining crabs in their burrows. The black sand was very crunchy and sharp on your feet. Not a good feeling. We looked at tidal pools among the lava rock when I began to notice little bobbing heads appear and disappear on the breaking waves. Turtles! They were very cute. Before long, we realized that some of the giant rocks swept by waves were huge turtles chilling out. We tore ourselves away at 9:30 to go see Ka Lae, the southernmost point in the US.

The tiny rundown town near the South Point boat launch supposedly provides "safe parking" for a fee. No one was there when we passed, so we continued down to the boat launch. I think a lot of people drive to this point and then leave. Plenty asked us about a Green Sand Beach, but when they learned they had to hike 2.5 miles or drive the 4WD road, they left. Come on folks - it's an olivine sand beach! We saw pockets of green sand near the launch. We figured it was safe to leave our rental car with three abandoned trucks (in various stages of decomposition) for a few hours. We set off on the orange mud road (mud because of the previous rainstorms). The tracks branched off in a dozen directions and were rutted and filled with brown rainwater - some pools were the size of, well, pools! It was hot and humid, but thankfully overcast and windy. We paralleled the shore spotting more splashes of green sand on the dirt road. People assume it is emerald green, but it's from olivine, which is an olive color. I think it is beautiful, although I'm sure some folks are disappointed when it isn't the color of a Jolly Rancher green apple lollipop.

There is an enormous amount of trash that washes up on the beaches: fishing nets, buoys, bottles, flip flops, cans. I eventually saw a large outcrop on the horizon. We hiked to the edge of the outcrop to gaze down upon the green sand beach. They should call it the olive sand beach, but it was beautiful regardless. A japanese couple who had driven there smiled hello. We contemplated going down the cliff to the beach, but the winds were very strong and the surf was rough. As we started back, the couple offered to give us a lift in their truck. We politely declined. We kept pace with them for the first 10 minutes before they veered off to a better track. As we approached our car, we encountered more people hiking in (not a lot of early risers), most asking about the "green sand beach". One fellow in leather girl sandals toting a wine bottle in a picnic bag said, "Is it really green?!" to which I could no longer contain what I was thinking and replied, "You'll never make it in those shoes." He was accompanied by a blond woman wearing skin-tight jeans. Blegh. Tight jeans in hot, humid weather is enough to drive me to homicide. At the car we cracked open fresh lilikoi and papaya, then set off for the real south point (another road branching off nearby) to admire the sea cliffs.

My last request of the day was Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park. I wanted to see the ki'i (guardians) at the beach. It is called the Place of Refuge. Jeremy calls it a "get out of jail free" card. People who had broken kapu (taboo) were put to death, unless they could get to the pu'uhonua first, sort of like homebase in a game of tag. Then they were absolved and could return home safely. Learning about ancient Hawaiian traditions and culture, I am quite put off by some of the myths. For instance, the god, Lono, whose wife was admired by another man, beat his wife to death. What a message... However, I absolutely love the tiki carvings.

We stepped out to a little cove where turtles were feeding on seaweed. We hit the cultural stops and on our way to see the giant ki'i, we saw a sea turtle napping on the beach. Jeremy thought it was dead, but it opened an eye at us and determined we were nothing special and resumed sleeping. We visited the palace where bones of the ali'i (chiefs) were buried. It is supposed to be a place of great mana. Out on the lava leading to the water, we examined more tidal pools where I took a quick, slick spill on slippery rocks! A bruised bum saved the rest of me and my camera. When my bleeding leg got to be too painful, we finished touring the pu'uhonua. I wish we had spent more time there, but we had to be in Waipi'o by 6 pm.

The drive north was quick. My favorite thing to do in Kona, is to drive past it. The road to Waimea was beautiful, sunny, and cool thanks to the higher elevation. Waimea has a lot of ranch land. We drove to the Waipi'o Valley overlook to catch a glimpse of the next morning's hike. Our stay at the Waipi'o Wayside B&B was not originally planned, but because the Cherry Blossom Festival was in Waimea that weekend, there were no vacancies. We opted for the B&B as someone had made a last minute cancellation. I've never stayed in a B&B, but I've seen my share. The lace and doilie thing makes my skin crawl. This gorgeous victorian house was set on an old mac nut orchard. There were touches of asian influence. It was decorated with elegant simplicity. Each bath has a wide assortment of organic and luxurious bath products. The proprietor is really in tune with nature, meditation, and all things oriental. She's a little eccentric - but quite a hostess. We showered (boy did we stink) and set out to Honoka'a for a delicious and affordable dinner at Il Mundo (part of the slow food movement) where a lot of locals were hanging out. We were so tired we gave up on doing any laundry in town and figured clean clothes would only get dirty in the first 5 minutes of a hike. I slept so well that night!

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