“There’s our WWOOFers!” I sing out to the Bearded One as he drives us through the main curve in Highway 132, halfway between Pahoa and the Kapoho farm where we are staying until we can move into the Hippie House on June 2.
“Is that the Skipper?” The Bearded One checks the rearview mirror and flicks our right blinker, which is on the fritz and buzzes loudly. Rough roads and torrential downpours are notorious in Hawaii for causing car malfunctions and jarrings-loose. We are just returning from helping our friend Tom, who was stuck up in Volcano with a broken brake line.
“Yes!” I’ve turned around in my seat and add, “And he has practically the whole farm with him!”
The Bearded One waits for cars to pass, makes a U-turn, then drives up behind the Skipper’s car – a Toyota 4-Runner like ours only 3 years newer, and its hood is up. The Skipper, who is 24-years-old and a former Marine and tattoo artist, waves happily and jogs to our window. He and his girlfriend Ginger are transporting 3 of our small web of friends on the island – organic farm workers who work for lodging but no pay (“WWOOFers”) – Gilligan, Thurston Howell III and Mary Ann – into Pahoa, and a hose has busted. Do we have any duct tape?
No, but a plan is hatched to get some at the farm, and then the Bearded One will return the Skipper to his truck. These hardworking, adventurous, optimistic people in their 20s and early 30s are all so nice, I feel like I’m in the right place, doing the right stuff, at least when I’m not going insane with itching from mosquito bites.
When we are on the road again, I offer the Skipper and Gilligan some Benadryl anti-itch cream, which Tom, who is a former nurse, gave me after I was savagely bitten up in Volcano.
Volcano is the town near the top of 4,090 foot Kilauea, an active volcano just a half hour drive from the Hippie House.
Tom is building a house there for a lovely woman named Kay who is also a fern expert, and today it was cold and wet and I was reminded of Seattle as Kay and I talked and drank tea in her little temporary shed/house and the men worked on Tom’s truck. Seattle has mosquitoes, too, just not this time of year. Hawaii didn’t have mosquitoes at all until 1832, Kay tells me, as I scratch my ankles into swollen red welts.
The Skipper and Gilligan rub cream on their own bites. The ocean breeze blows across the lava field at Four Corners, the Bearded One turns left onto Highway 137, the bumpy part of the drive, then it’s just a ways down the Mango Tree Road (the sign calls them Exceptional Trees, and they are) to the farm.
Gilligan helps me haul groceries and ice to our jungalo, and the Bearded One leaves with the Skipper and the tape. A gecko hitches a ride on the windshield, and the Bearded One opens his window at 55 mph and lovingly encourages the little lizard on his trip across the glass and finally into the car.
Geckos are on our side in the Mosquito War. They are bug eating lizards, bright green with blue and orange markings, or brown to blend in, and we love them, even when they poop tiny poops from the rafters down onto the bed. No biggie.
I load the ice into the cooler and store the sandwiches, salads, Cokes and cream cheese there, then pack the instant oatmeal, chips, raisin bread and cookies in the ant-proof Tupperware. Well, pretty ant proof.
Finally, I run cold water over two wash cloths and lie down on the bed, under the white mosquito net of in-itchability which protects our sleep, lay the cool cloths on my ankles and rub more cream on my bites. Bliss.