Homesteading in Hawaii
August 5, 2019
I write this after our first memorable day in Hawi, Hawaii, a small rural town on the northern tip of the island. We are housesitting for six weeks and as expected, it certainly feels like a new chapter in our journey.
Whereas Waikoloa Village offered a comfortable and familiar vacation setting to decompress, Hawi is going to provide more adventurous and perhaps challenging opportunities.
We did not wake up with many plans this Monday morning so we could get familiar with our new little home. It is a small, charming and quirky typical Hawaiian home set on two acres, only half of which is cleared. We love our jungle setting with the banana, avocado, papaya,
orange and lime trees. It is the opposite of our golf course condo view as the giant ironwood trees loom over the property. Today offered a steady downpour of rain which kept us close to home.
Our main job in housesitting is to let the house “breathe” and control the humidity—two contradictory objectives on a day like today as we debate how to stay cool with closed windows, no AC and the dehumidifiers putting out hot air. We spend a comedic amount of time moving around fans and dehumidifiers as we open and close windows trying to find the right balance. Maybe we’ll figure it out after the hurricane-induced rain ends later. Maybe not. (If you are an expert on controlling humidity in a tropical jungle, please leave comments below. We will pay you in chocolate covered macadamia nuts.)
Once that was settled, we were underway with some online schooling when the power went out. We thought we blew a fuse (again), but it was the entire area out of power. Then we lost cell service. I guess it’s hard to keep the towers working up here. Everything came back up in good time, but it was another reminder of island living: we’re not in control and must be flexible. (Shaka!)
As the day progressed and the rain gave us openings, Lucas’s frontier wish came true as he learned how to wield a machete. (Sorry, Grandma!) He and Dad cleared some fallen banana stalks in the driveway, then later he had fun forging more path out back (with homeowner’s permission and parental supervision, of course). Mom cleaned out the fridge of old food left behind and got to work on the compost pile. Then we picked some fruit to enjoy later. We also took a trip to the “transfer station”—the town dump where each resident takes their garbage and recycling. (No trash pickup out here.)
Dan is still waiting to do is use the “centipede knife:” the butcher knife placed in the garage/lanai specifically to kill centipedes that crawl in. Apparently, these are the only poisonous creature on the island and reportedly a sting hurts somewhere between a “bad bee sting and a bad gunshot wound,” depending on the centipede size. (They won’t kill you but locals recommend to stay drunk for three days to survive the pain until it subsides.)
Yup, we’re homesteading. It’s going to be a lot more work to live here. That’s a good thing. Lucas is already thrilled to be here and explore, get dirty…and wield a machete like a local Hawaiian boy. I’m enjoying the simple pleasure of washing dishes by hand, feeling the warm water and chatting with my boys as they help dry. We’ll play some cards later. I may start calling Dan “Pa” pretty soon, though this is certainly not the setting I pictured while reading Laura Ingalls. No prairie here, just Hawaiian jungle. This is not the tourist’s Hawaii. This is real Hawaii. Now our adventure begins.
As I type this, the sky is clearing and I know we will have some amazing stargazing tonight. This makes me smile. In the previous post I was struggling (in a lighthearted way) to “define” what we are doing. But it doesn’t really matter—whatever it is, it’s wonderful. Especially these simple days with those I love. Just like the Ingalls family taught us.