Our first few weeks on Hawai'i
The first night of the program, we all talked and got to know each other at Pineapple Park Hostel in Kona. Then we had a birthday party for Anna, except there was a mixup and it wasn’t really her birthday, so we celebrated the birth of the group instead. We did orientation for the next few days and played getting to know you games. We got to go to some beaches too! One was a white sand beach, and two were rocky and perfect for snorkeling (one of the places we snorkeled was Captain Cook Monument Bay, to and from which we had to hike). The water was always so beautiful and we saw a lot of fish. We also got shaved ice, picked avocados, and bleached each other’s hair!
We spent the next few days at Wood Valley Farm on the other side of the island. There were a bunch of adorable dogs and cats there! Matt, an ex-professional-chef, runs the farm. We helped him weed, harvest carrots, set up a community garden, and plant Mamaki tea, for which the farm is known. Small groups took turns making lunches, and Matt and his wife, Andrea, cooked us delicious dinners every night using produce from his farm and meat from his neighbor’s—we even got to help cook one night!
For our outings, we went to Punalu’u Bake Shop, the southernmost bakery in the USA, a few times (they’re famous for their malasadas, or donuts, and rightfully so!); a black sand beach, where we saw turtles; a coffee mill; and Green Sands Beach. We spent nights singing songs while Peggy played ukulele, playing games, talking, and we slept in tents. It was a really fun and productive week!
The next week was a whirlwind of service mixed with exploration and beach time. At wood valley farm, we spent our mornings tending to the crop and land while the afternoons were spent at the beach. We went to a beautiful black sand beach for the first two days at the farm, and then headed to a green sand beach a little farther out. It was a long walk to get to, but well worth it. In the evenings, Matt (farm manager and ex professional chef) would whip us up some delicious dinners made from vegetables grown on their farm. On Wednesday the group set out to Hilo, where we are now staying at Aaron’s cottages (a luxurious experience after so many days sleeping in a tent). We spent Thursday and Friday restoring a local fish pond, which was a lot harder than it sounds. We cut away California grass and moved it into huge piles to expose a large cove for the fish. This weekend we are taking some time to slow down and enjoy our surroundings before Monday, when we will be setting out for a long and hard hike in Waipi’o Valley. Luckily to prep for this hike we have yoga on Saturday and Sunday night. So far our program is going incredibly well and the group is feeling more and more like a family each day - we can’t wait to see what’s to come!