I sit on a lanai (covered porch) in a towering edible forest jungle of mangos, bananas, coconuts, papayas and palms, watching spider webs catch raindrops and listening to the doves and roosters. We are far removed from the tourist stuff here.
The roosters start at around 4am, but it’s not so bad since we go to bed at 7:30pm. In Hawaii it gets dark between 6 and 7pm no matter the season. And like the lava grit in my sandals, the rain comes and goes, an excuse to stop and sit.
We landed in Hawaii eleven days ago and spent six days in luxury at Kalani Retreat Center, electricity and internet in our room and all meals included.
We picked up the truck in Hilo. We considered the real estate in Sea View next door to Kalani, a neighborhood started by retired circus performers, who continue their mission of performing arts in the schools and community.
It’s right on the ocean, but the lots are just lots, and the Bearded One has got to have some kind of acreage. Heck, an acre would do, especially near the ocean. We love hearing the surf crash at night.
Then on Sunday we went to the Maku’u (Ma – koo – oo) Market and met up with Tom and Deborah, our friends and off-the-grid mentors. Tom built the first Farmlet house on the mainland, which we bought in 2006. Deborah has lived in Hawaii for 20 years working at the U of Hawaii, Computational Linguistics, publications. She’s the Professor here on Gilligan’s Island. She makes her barefoot, balmy, high-tech, two-screen graphics world work in a hut.
We drive through their rural neighborhood, stop at the labyrinth on 4th (4/10ths mile from the ocean) just to see it, then swing by the Hippie House on 8th, which entrances us all over again.
Less than a mile from the ocean, an acre of glorious jungle landscaping, and an off-the-grid island house with a lot of soul. It’s not for sale anymore. The owner, who may be even more of a hippie and a hermit than the Bearded One, took it off the market because of the hassle…but maybe, we joke, he would be interested in selling if we left him a note? Maybe —
Monday we moved here from Kalani, to this little jungalo on an organic farm on Papaya Farm Road, surrounded by coconut and banana trees. Little bananas called apple bananas. Best we’ve ever had. $1/pound.
The jungalo has no electricity, a communal toilet and shower, and a camp kitchen on the corner of the lanai.
A hen lays an egg on the dish shelf every day.
Internet is usually available on the main farmhouse porch (shared with the enormous black pig Eore)
but it’s been out for a few days, so Tuesday we drive the 10 miles to the town of Pahoa and the bakery. Where we can also get phone reception and call our real estate agent, Glenn, who listed the Hippie House last fall.
Before we moved in here on Monday afternoon, though, we went to Hilo to get the Bearded One his first pair of sandals in maybe three decades. On the way, we decided to drive by the Hippie House again, really slow.
Maybe the owner will spot the Bearded One getting out of the truck and looking at the neighboring property for sale? Maybe the Bearded One will wave and introduce himself and the owner will remember our intense long-distance interest two months ago, before he got tired of all the lookers? Maybe he’ll invite us in and give us a tour? Yeah, right.
Be careful what you imagine, at least on the Big Island. The cause and effect loop is tight here, with instant repercussions. The owner appeared with a huge bulldog, was guarded, then receptive
then gave us an honest and leisurely tour. It needs new solar panels and wiring, new catchment system liner, tenting for termites, kitchen refinement, and an additional lanai — and sent us on our way to try and find anything better.
The bakery is open air and full of locals on laptops. The Bearded One orders a hot chocolate and goes out to the parking area to try and get a phone signal. I get the Wi-Fi password and log on.
“Glenn’s office is right next door!” the Bearded One says when he returns. Another connection made almost effortlessly.
We spend Thursday with Glenn seeing five houses. I reject the last two before even seeing them, the roads are so atrocious. Borderline impassable. My friends and family would never make it here.
The others that we can afford are either shacks on really rough jungle acreage or pristine Western houses on 2/10 acre lots.
Friday, the Bearded One takes the cell phone over to the corner of the farm where we discovered reception, calls the owner of the Hippie House, and makes an offer. The owner will talk to his wife and the Bearded One will call back on Sunday morning. There’s no way he can send us a message.
Then Easter Sunday morning, I watch from our screened-in cottage as the Bearded One calls. He gives the thumbs up that it is ringing. And then it starts to rain. Hard, torrential, pounding Puna rain. I can’t even see the Bearded One anymore.
A few minutes later the Bearded One emerges from the jungle, smiling. I greet him at the hut door. “We have a deal,” he says.
I squeal with delight. “I can’t believe the phone connection held through that storm,” I say.
“That banana tree was real good cover,” he says.
Suddenly, Eore comes screaming out of the jungle. A smaller wild pig has chomped down on the base of Eore’s tail and is hitching a high-speed recreational romp around the place – both of his front hooves riding high on Eore’s butt while his back legs churn furiously to keep up with Eore’s long panicked strides. It seems plain to me there’s a huge grin on the wild pig’s face.
A good day for all. Well, maybe not Eore.