Previously: Infrequent Flyer (Part 2)
My mother was only going to be with us for the first weekend we were in Hawaii, so she and I had tried to plan as many fun adventures as possible while she was on the Big Island. Unfortunately, that meant me going back on my promise to Ray that I wouldn’t plan anything during our stay.
Technically, though, my mother planned the tour to Waipio Valley, so I can’t really take responsibility for that. All I had asked was that we have a tour in the afternoon, rather the morning, so that we could recover from our plane ride.
Being awake for 24 hours must have reset me in Hawaii time, though, because I was wide awake at my normal wake-up time, 7:00, even though I had only gotten about 6 hours of sleep the night before. Ray was asleep, though, so I left him in bed while I went to find breakfast.
The guest house was much different in the daytime. My mom (who is also a morning person) was up, and the two of us read through the welcome binder and noted all the signs around the room about preserving water (the entire water supply was through a rain catchment system) and how the solar water heater worked.
Our instructions said that breakfast was “in the greenhouse,” but we couldn’t figure out which building it was from our windows, so we went outside to investigate. Sure enough, directly opposite our building was a greenhouse, and we saw some people inside eating breakfast.
Fresh papaya and bananas were the first things I saw, and I took full advantage of the available fruit. The rest of the breakfast fare was typical: juice, cereal, milk, coffee, as well as assorted bagels, cream cheese, and other spreads.
We chatted with some of the other guests until our hostess, Bonnie, arrived, and my mother introduced us (my aunt went to high school with Bonnie, so we got a good deal on the rooms).
Later in the morning, after Ray was up and dressed, we headed east to Hilo for lunch before continuing up the coast towards Waipio Valley (the Valley of Kings). It was an hour and a half before we got to our destination, but we had left plenty of time, so we stopped at the Waipio Valley Lookout before starting the tour.
Our tour guide was a young Hawaiian by the name of Douglas (but everyone calls him “Toki,” since that’s his middle name), whose family owns some of the taro fields in Waipio Valley. He showed us a lot about local plants and their uses (the stinky Noni fruit with a smell that rivals Camembert apparently cures everything from a stiff shoulder to cancer, but if you’re suffering from nausea, you should chew on some young guava leaves), and he spent a great deal of time explaining that the King Kamehameha Bishop Estate, which owned Waipio Valley, lease land at very reasonable rates, but only to Hawaiians who are willing to farm taro through traditional means (no equipment other than your own two hands).
With electricity only running to the first five houses in the valley and only two roads into and out of the valley (one of which being a footpath only wide enough for one person on the face of a cliff, the other being a poorly-paved winding road built at 25% grade), it’s no wonder there are not people lining up to take advantage of the good rents.
But the valley itself has a very magical quality to it, and it certainly feels like paradise there. It’s just that the price of this particular paradise is manual labor, no electricity, and commuting from work to home via the river road (no really, it’s a road that’s also a river).
After the tour, we headed back down the coast towards Hilo. It was getting to be dinner time, so we stopped at Cafe Pesto, which had been recommended to us by my dad (apparently the owner is a son of one of his Peace Corps buddies).
It was a nice enough meal, but Ray and I were exhausted again, so we drove back to Volcano (at night, again…only this time approaching it from the opposite side of the mountain) to fall instantly asleep as soon as we got back.
Next: Volcano Day (Part 1)