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Saturday, 30 December 2006

Living off the land in Hawaii - Page 2

Written by Jason Ference
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Just getting to this remote tropical island paradise was exhilarating in itself. The specific location of said paradise I shall not divulge per the request of our hosts, who prefer to choose their own guests. The hosts in question were my brother in law and his girlfriend and they have been living a Robinson Caruso-esque life on a Hawaiian island together for the past two years.

gardenIn a setting such as this, one’s garden takes on much more meaning than in ordinary civilization. It is what one grows that determines one’s vitality. No stores, no electricity for refrigeration and only the occasional trip for supplies make a competent gardener out of most anyone. And with a year-round growing season they are never without most of what they eat. Needless to say, they have planted numerous vegetables and fruits and if they don’t grow it, there’s a good chance the jungle does all by itself.


In fact, six months before they had discovered a well established orange tree within a quarter mile of their property. Within minutes of our arrival, we picked enough to supply juice for our entire stay. This is of course, not necessary if you would rather have fresh guava, which literally grows like weeds all over the island. And if it’s protein you’re craving- this Garden of Eden offers free-range deer, fish, crabs and prawns.

Dinner was prepared on a propane stove with supplies we brought in from the main island. In order to bake, they placed the batter in a pan, placed the pan in a larger iron pan with a lid and surrounded the pan with coals. Half an hour later we had cake. They make bread in the same way. Afterward, we sat and talked each evening as the sun set, eventually finding ourselves in the dark.


Conversation never ran dry as we had so many questions about life in the jungle, and they, in turn wanted news of their mainland-dwelling friends and family. Sometimes we listened to a rather expensive battery-powered radio they had for music and news, the latter ceaselessly confirming them as living the more civilized life, not us.

We stayed apart from our hosts, in a house built by a couple who share an interest in the land, but who teach on another island most of the time. houseOur guest quarters consisted of a “kitchenette” area, which included a water source, propane burning stove, a table with two chairs, and some shelves and a bed built on a bamboo platform. A large piece of thick foam made for a perfect mattress.


The structure itself stands on about 100 square feet of cleared jungle floor and is comprised of a couple large tarps snugly secured over a frame of bamboo and coffee trees-the latter being of such firmness that they are difficult to drive nails into when dry. There are no walls to speak of, just sheets of screen going from floor to ceiling. The house has seen some wear and tear from rainstorms and wind, like the one that graced us during our first night, but still provides more than adequate shelter from the tropical elements. Our hosts’ residence is at least three times the size and boasts a kitchen complete with a stone floor, ample storage space and a king size bed.

Showers, which are enjoyed weekly, are had by heating a large drum of water by fire and then attaching a hose to it which gravity propels down to a spigot. They have pristine artesian well water thanks to a source naturally occurring upstream from their property and a series of larger pipes extending to smaller pipes and eventually to hoses running to several points on their property, providing a never ending supply of clear, perfect water. They even brought in a sink for their home, so although the water is always the same temperature, the convenience almost makes you forget where you are.

During our days we hiked the mile or so to the beach, eating the fruits of the jungle along the way. We swam as the waves lapped against the black sand beach and a backdrop of hundred foot cliffs - a typical afternoon in paradise. There were a couple temporary tarp and bamboo structures about the beach – temporary in that if you leave it there during the winter, it won’t be there in the spring – as the “cold” months bring up to 40-foot swells that reshape the entire coast along this side of the island. We sat for a while in one, uninvited but surely welcome guests of our absent neighbors, and watched the ocean.


(Page 2 of 3)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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