I remember noticing in my conversations with my fellow plane passengers on the way here that after answering the initial question of where I was going, no one really asked me why. Who needs a reason for going to paradise? It’s no surprise that my reason for choosing Hawaii as my WWOOFing spot was because of its beautiful landscape. I wanted to have my breath taken away by nature and I was hoping to experience some of the not-so-touristy spots that I knew would have to exist.
Now I can see that this isn’t always easy. Some of the best places are hard to get to, either because 1) it’s on someone’s property or 2) because of the route there. If you are an adventurer like me, you’ll find the challenge somewhat invigorating as reaching the final destination feels as though you’ve just earned a gold metal for your efforts.
To get to Waipio Valley you either have to have a reliable 4-wheel-drive vehicle or hike down an incredibly steep hill (25% grade) that descends about 1000 feet in a mile. (the warning signs are all over, including the remains of demolished cars that had crashed off the road into the bottom of the valley).
The hike to Pololu Valley, which is at the other end of the seven valleys than Waipio, is a bit easier but still requires a 10-20 minute hike down an often-slippery trail from the common rain in this area. To the green sand beach it’s a 2 1/2-mile (although you would swear that it’s four) hike through strong winds and a powdery yellow dessert.
To the lava fields, it’s a 2-3-mile hike over a rippled black lava rock surface that stretches on for miles and miles. (However, I liked to imagine we were just walking across the skin of a giant elephant) As we got closer to the lava flow, we would poke the surface underneath us to make sure the rock wouldn’t give way to the scorching hot lava flowing questionably deep underneath (thank goodness for walking sticks).
To get to one of the best snorkeling spots on the island; the Captain Cook monument. You have to kayak your way in from a nearby bay.
-Note- when I say you HAVE to, I really mean you GET to-especially for those fellow adventurists
I sometimes will hear complaints about this and suggestions of how the Hawaiians should invest in building new roads or highways to more easily access these spots. I don’t think the lack of roads is because they haven’t thought of this themselves, but maybe it’s so that their land can be better preserved and not overrun by tourism.
The trespassing of private properties is another issue in itself. After talking to some of the locals I can see their frustrations concerning this conflict. Initial ownership is obtained by money; that we hope came from the fruits of the owner’s hard work in life. But does someone’s hard work mean it’s okay to own some of the world’s most beautiful sights? Imagine not being able to see the Grand Canyon because someone made it their own private property. Maybe it’s not necessarily the rich and snobby tourists that spark some of the native’s frustrations with the outsiders.
Perhaps it’s towards those who buy and deny access to places that the ancestors of the natives discovered, explored, and cherished. Maybe it’s from not being able to freely visit the places their parents told them about in their bedtime stories. On the other hand, perhaps a native Hawaiian owns it in efforts to keep the area from being exploited, and if this is the case, than is revoking the rights of others to experience the land justified?
As my time here on the island expands, my vision of the Big Island also expands as I learn and see it through the eyes of others. Seeing it through the eyes of natives can be hard as it challenges me at times to re-think my own culture and opinions on certain issues. No matter if I agree with them or not, I’m finding an open-mindedness is necessary in understanding the island as a whole. I’m opening my ears as well as my eyes and listening to the voices of the people on the island. I’m enjoying the process. With only one more week to go, we’ll see what more I see and hear.
Until next time…
Hawaiian Farm Girl
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