In December, our family loaded onto a tiny plane owned by Mokulele Airlines and took off for Hawai’i’s Friendly Island, Moloka’i. The trip served to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary and the anniversary of Caleb’s adoption. What better way to celebrate our personal lifetime adventure than with another adventure? The adventure began with a windstorm, of course.
After a sleepless night of mighty whistling winds and slapping shutters in our rented west Moloka’i condo, we loaded the car with a plucky c’est le vie attitude and headed for the east side of the island to hike to Halawa Falls with our guide, Kalani Pruet. Our phones hummed with high wind advisories for the Hawaiian islands and the skies promised to pummel us with rain as we drove the country roads through Kaunakakai. As we neared Twenty-Mile Beach, the rain began falling in gusty patches. We figured the hike was canceled but decided to plow on just in case. The road narrowed and the winds blew with greater ferocity as we slowly navigated the tight curves to Halawa Valley.
We rounded the final bend and encountered a lovely green church surrounded by coconut palms, noni, and java plums. Several of the trees in front of the ruins had cardboard signs tacked to their trunks announcing canceled hikes due to weather though none of them were dated. We decided to explore but kept a wary eye cast on the swaying coconut palms and creaking branches of the towering trees above us. High winds are dangerous in most places, but high winds carrying coconuts (imagine bowling ball-sized hail) are deadly.
Just as we decided to head for the beach cove we spotted from the overlook, Kalani pulled up on his bicycle and told us that the he needed to cancel the hike but invited us back to his flower farm, Kuleana Workcenter, for a tour. We gladly accepted and followed him along the noni-fruit and java plum littered driveway to his property. Magically, the skies cleared and the winds calmed to reveal a spectacularly beautiful place.
Tucked into the valley at the seat of Ho’oula Falls, Kalani’s three acre flower farm was bursting with life. Upon discovering our love of lilikoi and papaya, he promptly harvested some for us and told us that when he cleared a small patch of land in hopes of cultivating taro, volunteer papaya trees sprouted up. Can you imagine? We had volunteer tomatoes when we lived in Georgia and though I adore tomatoes, having papayas pop up unexpectedly sounds pretty spectacular.
The tour continued through patches of torch ginger (many varieties), heliconia, and calathea. He showed us his cinnamon tree and cacao harvest, too. All along the way, Kalani climbed into the flowering plants and used a machete to cut flowers for us. He built the most incredible bouquet that I have ever seen, bathed it in water, and then he handed it to me as a present along with as much fruit as we could carry. To supplement income, Kalani supplied the local country store with fresh bananas. Have you ever seen a truck bed full of bananas? I actually live in Hawai’i and this was new to me, too. He explained that the ripe ones couldn’t be sold and to help ourselves. Not only were they the most delicious bananas we’ve ever consumed, they were remarkably fragrant. Bananas were absolutely everywhere on Kalani’s property: laid out on the lawn, stacked on railings, and even serving as pillows for slumbering sunning orchid-framed cats. Banana trees have interesting and surprisingly underrated flowers. I love the curled Elvis-Presley-lip-snarl petals and shock of color. There’s also a lovely curtain of golden banana-yellow fringe which gives the whole arrangement a dramatic curtain feel.
Ooo… and we found ducks! We love ducks and these were particularly friendly ducks living in a large shady puddle in center of the property beside a massive fallen tree. Along the puddle, a bamboo grove caught the high breeze and whispered a soothing shushing song known only to bamboo thickets.
After feeding Kalani’s ducks, the winds picked up once more and storm clouds darkened the sky. We raced to our rental car through a torrential downpour which felt very much like walking directly into a wall of water falling diagonally and with such force that it hurt my skin. I’m not sure that I can adequately express the severity of the wind/rain storm or just how quickly the weather changed. Even Forest Gump couldn’t describe this rain! We returned to our condo to endure a second sleepless night, but more on that when I get around to writing another post.