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island, pt 2

January 6, 2012

The kids are catching up on the last 30 years of pop music since we’re spending more time in the car (and blasting the radio) than usual. Dan and I play: “name that song.” He is uncannily good at nailing hits from 1982 despite currently being more attuned to the subtleties between our neighborhood deer than any music produced in the last decade. “But what does that mean,” Rose asks, “when they say, it’s a long way to the top if you want to Rock and Roll?”

On our morning walk to see the sea turtles and humpback whales.

This island is teeming with feral chickens who apparently were blown free from their coops during Hurricane Iniki in 1992. They’re considered pests, but it’s hard not to secretly love them.

Handsome rooster.

My friend Kristi (who makes the most amazing jewelry – have you ordered some with your 10% off coupon, 6512GROW, yet?), told me she couldn’t really picture Dan in Kauai. True, his idea of vacation is more like blistering up his feet in the San Juan mountains following the musky scent of elk herds. (On Christmas, while the kids and I were in Berkeley, Dan found a cougar-killed deer in the woods, and while the rest of America was tearing into a glazed ham, Dan cut out a small piece of the deer’s backstrap, took it home and ate it. How many people can say they shared Christmas dinner with a mountain lion?).

But don’t you worry about Dan. He’s finding his groove.

He’s also using his hunter’s eyes to scope out fallen coconuts while we’re cruising at 40 miles/hr belting out, I’m gonna keeeeeep on loooooooving yoooooooooooooo. (REO Speedwagon).

Injured baby chick that Col begged to take home, along with a sand crab, baby gecko, pocketful of shells, stinky crab claws and gecko skeleton. Col really is such a friend of the animals. Today, after visiting a beach outhouse, he announced cheerfully that a rat peeked into his stall.

The ocean is amazing – sometimes it feels like this gentle amniotic sea rocking and swaying on the big Mama Earth. Other times, it’s frightening – its depth and power unknowable. The craziest part is gazing out on the horizon and imagining the curve of the Earth, all those oceans sloshing on this sphere and not spilling into space. “Gravity,” my dad shrugs. But still. We swim everyday.

Besides swimming in the ocean, my favorite part of this trip has been visiting the local farmers markets. The vendors are primarily elderly Hawaiian women who sell fistfuls of japanese eggplant for $1, heads of butter lettuce for $1 each, a pound of ginger for $2, or avocados the size of nerf footballs for $2. Some of them are “all business” about their tables of food, others seem like they picked some extra fruit from their backyard and are hoping to make a few bucks while visiting with friends. Those are the ladies that laugh when I ask them what the small, tomatillo-like fruit is. “Filipino cherries. Too sour! You try, you try!” They slip tangerines into Col and Rose’s hands and joke with me, “that’s too much! You can’t eat all that!” when I pile 2 bunches of apple-bananas in my bag.

We bought a stick of sugarcane from this beautiful 80 year old Filipino farmer who told the kids to call her “Grandma.”

She demonstrated how to peel the sugarcane.

And then gave the knife to Dan to finish up.

And then promptly took it back. “No, no, no! Like this young grasshopper!

Have you had sugar cane before? It’s like chewing sugar water, which is not unpleasant. (And the ethnobotanical claim that chewing on it strengthened kids teeth sounds like something Rose might have made up).

The plant-life here is outrageous. The conditions are so fertile that every bit of space is colonized. The trees are like tenements, housing every botanical life form with a will to live. Epiphytes, mosses and fungus grow along their trunks, ferns sprout from tree crotches and vines encircle their canopies.

From the botanical garden:

Kava kava: the roots are chewed to give you the feeling, as my herbalist teacher Melanie Rose used to explain, that everything is going to be alright. Mmmm, love kava kava.

Theobroma cacao! Pods of chocolate.

It sounds crazy, because I love the beach and the kids are as happy as seal pups here, but I’m looking forward to getting home, back to the drudgery of tanning hides and fermenting vegetables (and I may or may not be coming home with a bag of local ginger and pineapple peels to make Hawaiian ginger ale and pineapple vinegar!).

See you from back north soon,

Rachel

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. abozza permalink
    January 7, 2012 4:24 pm

    Rachel, I think you guys are enjoying the island like few people do. Love to read about your adventures there, and got a giggle out of Dan on a boogie board…definitely a bit of cognitive dissonance for me! Enjoy what is left and have a safe trip home!
    http://amysreallife.wordpress.com

  2. January 7, 2012 5:15 pm

    Another wonderful post…thanks for sharing and safe travels back home. :o)

  3. January 7, 2012 8:21 pm

    Yup, Rachel your crazy. Certifiable. How could you love the Colorado Plateau as much as indigenous Hawaii?

  4. January 7, 2012 8:24 pm

    Yes, I know exactly what you mean. Pretty much my experience in Hawaii to a tee. You feel like if you stopped moving for more than a minute, something would start growing on YOU. Apple bananas! What I would pay for an apple banana “stateside”. Glad you are having such a wonderful time.

  5. January 7, 2012 10:48 pm

    I often think what a wonderful thing you are doing for your children, capturing all of these moments in such vibrant and real ways!

  6. Anonymous permalink
    January 8, 2012 2:13 am

    I love the way you capture these fleeting moments with geographical specifics! Enjoy Hawaii and a smooth transition home to Durango (we have been watching Rango and he takes his name from Cactus juice “made in Durango” and it made me think of you all). xo

  7. January 8, 2012 8:06 am

    Oooh – love the sugarcane story about the Filipino grandma. She is absolutely beautiful.

  8. January 8, 2012 11:31 am

    It looks like everyone is having such a good time..I’m glad your sharing :o) Blessings to the providers :o)

  9. January 8, 2012 6:31 pm

    Wow! It really sounds dreamy!! My husband and went to Hawaii pre-kids and I remember the whole time everything felt really surreal!! Private beaches and fresh coconuts…fruit trees like you have never seen before in people’s yards like our apple trees…the world sure is an amazing place. Have fun with the rest of your trip and enjoy your return home! My oldest son is like your Col…always wanting every animal as a pet and trying to get me to allow the stinky crab shells to remain in our car:) sweet silly boys. xo, pennie

  10. January 9, 2012 1:15 pm

    What an incredible visit for your family. I’ve so enjoyed my trip there, virtually, through your vivid prose. Fabulous pictures. It’s amazing how y’all fit right in. Beautiful, just lovely.

  11. Anonymous permalink
    January 9, 2012 10:39 pm

    Rachel and family,
    We are nearly neighbors! Steve and I have been having a parallel universe experience over here on Maui! Just returned from 3 days in Hana and fell in love with similar experiences….alohaaaaaaaaa…..Enjoy your travels! We have one more week! Yippee!
    -Nasha

  12. January 10, 2012 11:51 am

    Aloha! I’m definitely living vicariously through you guys as there’s no vacation in sight for us. I remember loving sugar cane when I was little. So glad to see a slice of my childhood in this post, as it’s very similar, growing up in Malaysia. Enjoy the rest of your stay!

  13. Chi-An permalink
    January 10, 2012 3:39 pm

    Thanks for sharing the gorgeousness of your trip. My dad tells stories of buying sugarcane with his pals while growing up in Taiwan.. something about if you could split it all the way down with one whack of the knife, you got the whole cane.

    Sadly, I think you may not be able to bring the ginger & pineapple home. The last time I was in Hawai’i (6 years ago) we bought a lot of fruit for the plane ride home- and then sat in the airport just outside the security checkpoint, eating most of it as they wouldn’t allow us to take it out of Hawai’i. And that was just berries bought at the supermarket.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      January 10, 2012 8:50 pm

      I smuggled the ginger and the pineapple peels home! I don’t know how. Dan checked the bags and I told him to make sure to declare the ginger (I might have left out the pineapple). Anyway, there’s going to be some potent ginger ale making soon!

      xo Rachel

  14. January 10, 2012 9:06 pm

    This reminds of a line I just read “cholorophyll proliferates with a patient aggression”.
    (Charlotte Gill)
    Also, I love Col’s socks.

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