At least we are going to try to go camping. Not sure how things will go because with all the rain we have been having some of the spots we thought we might want to check out are being evacuated as we speak - but that's a whole other story. We will try to check in on FB from time to time, but no panicking if you do not hear from us for a few days. Mom, I am talking to you now, :)> .
I guess you could say this is our absence alert - for "Absence Alert"
Man, I am such a dork!
Anyways, speaking of camping, we have been meaning to share this little story with you for over a month now, but to be perfectly honest, we both needed some time to sort of process things. I don't mean to be dramatic, it actually wasn't that big a deal but...
For Karl's birthday (so yes, this is well over a month old) we decided to go camping. (See .... it kind of relates to what is going on now) We were still in Hawai'i, and originally we were supposed to be staying on the farm, and not that things were not great there ('cause really, they were) we decided we wanted to go check out the volcano. From where we were, this was a little too far for a day trip with a toddler, so we worked out bit of a deal with Steve and he loaned us all his gear for two more nights. The first night, we camped at Punalu'u - the black sand beach we already mentioned.
|Our tent, by the moonlight. The red light is from a headlamp, white is too bright and would have woken Hudson up.|
The thing about camping on a beach in Hawai'i is that you encounter a lot of homeless people. Some by choice, some by way of choices, some by circumstance. I think (I could be wrong but I am pretty sure I am not) that in Hawai'i the beaches are "public" lands, meaning you can not be kicked off of them the way you can be if you are a homeless person sleeping under a bridge in New York city.
At the parking lot on our way to the beach, Hudson and I stopped by a beat up old Astro van. The main attraction was a small little black puppy that was milling around. The owner of the van, I would later come to find out was Dolly. Dolly makes her living (she lives in the Astro van) by making and selling shell necklaces to the hordes of mainly Japanese tourists who come on to the beach in these huge two storey buses, get out for 15 minutes, snap some photos and then get back on. But I digress. I chatted with Dolly for a brief moment, asked her and her partner about the pup, where to set up our tent, made some small talk...
Off to set up our tent we went.
Once that was all done, it was time for dinner. I had made a stew the night before, so really all we were going was heating up some left overs. The beach has two shelters with picnic tables in them, one was already being used, so I started setting up in the other.
"You know you can turn on the lights in here when it starts getting dark" a heard a voice from behind me.
"And this here bucket has some soap water in it if you want to wash your dishes afterwards, you can use it. There is no sink here or anything so you'd have to walk all the way over there" the woman went on to tell me.
"Right. Soap" I thought to myself. We forgot to buy some. "Thank you"
We proceeded to chat a bit more. It turned out she that she, not Dolly was the owner of the small black dog. She drove a very well used 1980's (by the looks of it) Subaru hatchback. The back window was no longer a window, just a black garbage bag taped to the rusting frame of the car. The pup had obviously claimed the back as her domain a had chewed several holes right through the upholstery of the seat. She woman was from (I have no idea where, all Hawai'an places sound so strange to me I forget them almost instantly), but comes down to this beach most Fridays to meet her friends and have a little party. As we chatted a bit more, the party guests were starting to arrive. Most people came on foot, mostly from the direction of the more permanent camping spots further down along the shore.
Dinner was warm, and my boys came in from the beach. When we were done eating, I looked into the pot I had used to warm up the stew. About one serving left. This was our second night eating stew already, and I really did not want to have it for lunch the next day again. I emptied the content of the pot into a bowl, stuck a spoon in and walked from our shelter over to the one next to it.
"I made some stew the other night," I announced from " I have some left over if anyone would like it"
I felt a bit like an idiot. "I hope they don't take it the wrong way" I thought to myself as I looked around. No one seemed to pay me any attention. The woman I spoke with earlier was nowhere to be seen. Finally, a set of eyes met mine. I sat the bowl down on the picnic table next to a man with a long beard and thin, spindly fingers raising and lowering an unlit cigarette from his mouth. I did not hear a thank you, but maybe I was just peeling it out of there a little too quickly.
A few moments later, our eyes met again. This time, the eyes were smiling, his mouth was working away and his left hand was giving me a big "thumbs up".
" Thanks girl, that was really good. And, now, I mean that, I am not just sayin' "
Both Karl and I went on to swap stories with the party goers. Some were pretty funny, some kind of sad, some made no sense to me at all. Hudson chased the puppy around, gave high fives... When it was time to put the little man to bed, we said good night and headed off to our tent.
"Hey ehmmm..." we could hear someone walking down behind us.
"You don't want have your tent there" Fred went on to explain "When the tide comes in, it swoops around right here" he drew and imaginary curve around the bushes we thought indicated dry land "and comes all the way back here" Fred was not standing way behind our tent.
"What about those guys?"
I pointed to a tent less then 20 meters to the right of where ours stood.
|The original location of our tent|
"They'll be alright because the water kind of curls around this here" Fred was pointing to that bush we thought we were hiding behind again.
Saved by a local. Nice.
After picking out a "Fred Approved" spot we started to settle in for the night.
"Hey.... excuse me. Excuse me but are you that girl. Is this the girl with the red car?"
So that person WAS talking to us. Karl unzipped the tent, and a slightly intoxicated Dolly stuck her head inside our door.
" I did not want to give this to the wrong person, 'cause you guys are good people... "
In her hands Dolly held a heaping full plate of food. Rice, chicken, a salad... and sashimi.
"One of the guys caught that today and we have just cut it up. You don't have to eat that part, I don't know how you feel about raw fish... "
Karl and I were at a loss for words. And caught completely off guard. This was WAY better then our stew.
"Thank you" we finally managed to studder out, "It's completely unnecessary ... "
I don't even know what all we said to Dolly. We were kind of taken aback. Were homeless people really offering us food?!? And, like... really good food at that!
After Dolly left, we both just sat there in our tent and stared at each other. And then took pictures of each other with the plate. I don't know....
After we had finished our, at that point second dinner, Karl went back to the party to thank everyone. He came back with one of Dolly's necklaces - a black shell on a silk black cord.
"Dolly asked me to give this to you" he said as he handed it to me "She said it's a rare one around here"
We were both floored.
It was simple stuff, the stew, the kind hearted advice, the plate of food, the shell necklace... but it was an exchange unlike any other Karl or I had ever been a part of. One where we thought we were being the benefactors, but then...
The party went on late into the night. Actually, it went on early into the morning. And it was loud, and at times annoying. Quite annoying. But Karl and I did not dare to even attempt to get out and hush it. They were not exactly friends, but we knew each other now, there was a context, they were celebrating ... and that was alright with us.
The other family, the ones that set their tent up near our original spot did not, in fact, get wet but they packed up and booted it out of there first thing in the morning. We took our time, had breakfast, shared some coffee, chatted some more.
|Sunrise. And our dry tent|
We have met a lot of great people on our trip thus far, experienced a lot of fantastic things and yet for many reasons, that night in Punalu'u still stands out for both of us. Throughout this trip, the idea of "community" keeps popping up. We've discussed it over many a dinners, card games or glasses of wine...
Weird as it may sound, for us, that night at the beach was probably the best example of what a community ought to be about. Sharing, teaching, tolerance ...
Have a great week everyone!