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**Makalawena**

Written by danny. Posted in Hawaiian Experience

Makalawena, what a fairy tale! There is no other way to describe this B-E-A-U-TIFUL deserted beach.

The only way to get there is either to have friends that are willing to smash their car through a hiking road, or to leave the car by the side of the road where it can be broken in at any time, and then hike four miles down with all your camping supplies on your back. Gladly, Maddy and I opted for the first option thanks to Matt and Nate that bought “Bruce”, the car, in order to destroy it by venturing as much as possible. The steep and loose road that took us to our camping spot was extremely scary! It is amazing to see how differently guys and girls think. A girl would never “test” a car among this perilous road the way these boys did. Every unusual scary noise, every bump and every scratch only attribute to Bruce’s personality according to Matt. I cannot stress how risky this road was, but what matters is that I am here recounting my adventures. Matt, the driver, repeatedly stated “Bruce is smoking, isn’t it?” with pleasure, excitement and a desire to push the car to its limits. The girls and I were panicking in the back. We also envisioned the savagery of men; they stopped the car in the middle of the road and grabbed a rock in order to “nail a quail”, JESUS! The pleasant surprise was that Bruce successfully made it to the paradisiacal beach-spot where our crew, about twenty-five people, was stationed.

Makalawena is a long semi-circular beach that intermingles rocky areas and sandy beaches. It is not a touristic spot which is an enhancement to its beauty. The silky sand beach is perfect to lie down to tan or to contemplate the sky. The water is perfect for swimming and there are great snorkeling spots. In the rocky spots, the mixture of black lava and white corals allows people to show their artistic side, write their name or declare their friendship or love; the most romantic I read was a marriage proposal. The scenery of this beach is out of the ordinary, unbelievably exotic.  A small village consisting of about eight houses, a church and a school, got wiped out by the 1946 tsunami and only one house was rebuilt in Makalawena, that of Annie Una. Porto, her last husband still lives there and sustains himself out of the land by raising goats, chickens and by fishing. We offered him a beverage and had a conversation with him around the fire.  

Around the camp-fire, we had a great time with the crew; we made some ‘smores’, and ate burned chicken. Some of the boys went night-diving to go spear-fishing; I have not yet understood the fun out of this activity but I respect it. They actually caught a couple fishes that they immediately cooked over the fire and gave everybody a taste; deliciously fresh but a little nauseating to eat it after seeing it alive a couple minutes before.  We also met some really cool ‘locals’ that I joined for a while to go crab-hunting, their night-time hobby. It was pretty awesome, especially the sky.

After everybody went to sleep, some in tents, some on the floor with a sleeping bag, some by the beach and others on “hamacs”; I climbed on top of “Bruce”, the car, with my sleeping bag and contemplated the profound stellar sky for hours; this was absolutely my favorite part of the whole camping trip. At that point life made sense, not that I questioned it, but this sky only confirmed it. If I could, I would stare at the Milky Way incessantly. I witnessed lots of shouting stars, and I evidently made a wish for every single one of them. This peaceful moment was therapeutically relaxing. At that point I wished I had a greater astronomical knowledge. I could write endlessly and repeatedly about the profound stellar sky but you will eventually get tired of my obsession for the Milky Way. I ended up sleeping on top of Bruce and it was surprisingly comfortable. If you go to the big island, I definitely recommend Makalawena as one of the “MUST SEE” spots.

Maddy and I decided to go back to the Palms the next morning because we had plenty of responsibilities, including taking a hot shower and sleeping in a bed. We found a ride with a girl from Wisconsin but we had to hike back as she left her truck by the side of the road. Fortunately, a genuinely nice couple from Utah picked six of us, including a humongous but majestic dog, and gave us a ride back on the hiking road.  We got to our destination and rode back to Hilo in the back of the truck. On our way back, we went through all the possible ecosystems but tundra. The view was exceptional; from mountain to desert, to tropical, to forest, to ocean. It is just astonishing how the scenery constantly and suddenly switches; I think Maddy enjoyed more how the wind deformed my face throughout the ride though.

Unwinding wednesdays

Written by danny. Posted in Hawaiian Experience

[popeye] My Wednesday routine is pretty amazing. Maddy and I usually go to golf class, watch a dollar movie, grab lunch and then head to the farmers market. The Kress dollar movie theater was surprisingly nice. It does not have a huge variety of movies but they are pretty recent; some of them are still on regular theaters. The theater itself was unexpectedly nice and clean. It is definitely a good plan for students on a budget.

Hilo farmers market is really adorable. Wednesday and Saturday are the big market days. On one side, fresh exotic fruits and tropical flowers prevail all over with appealing colors; all for very reasonable prices. Dragon fruit, papaya, star fruit, rambutan, lychees, mangoes, avocados, ocra, white pineapple, Japanese eggplant, there is a taste for everyone. I do not have much knowledge about tropical flowers but I recognized orchids and adorable bonsai plants. The other side is dedicated to local craft, artistic items, decorations and jewelry from the island. You can even get a massage or grab a bite from “green papaya salad,” from the “Hawaiian Barbeque” kiosk or get a freshly made exotic smoothie.

We enjoy hanging out in downtown historic Hilo, but keep in mind that you have to do it before 9 p.m. because the town literally dies. There is an instrument boutique behind the farmers market where you can find ‘ukulele, ‘the Hawaiian mini guitar’, ranging from fifty dollars to unimaginable prices. Maddy bought one as a gift for her dad to relieve her own obsession of learning how to play the Ukelele, so far not so productive.

On the street stands a palm reader that off course read my palm. In my defense it was only three dollars. He assured me I was a really special person because I had a “world” in each of my fingers. According to him, only figures such as Jesus and Buddha had ten worlds in their fingers, fascinated he assured me that I was at their level; very entertaining. Besides the fact that I am almighty and have the power of healing, the guy was pretty accurate in my personality traits. 

Our hitch-hike skills are a failure. One of those numerous Wednesdays we were too lazy to bike and too cheap to take a taxi, so we decided to hitch-hike but completely failed and ended up walking over four miles. Our assumptions that because it is Hawaii it would be easy to find a ride were erroneous, at least that time.  It was a very fun walk though. I do not recommend hitch-hiking unless you are completely shameless.

I love my Wednesdays.

Waipi’o Valley “Curved Water”

Written by danny. Posted in Hawaiian Experience

Waipi’o Valley is so far one of the most beautiful places I have seen in a long time. We started with our descent on a really steep hike. It was quite challenging to stay upright and the unstable ground made it treacherous; a number of us roughly made it without falling. I sprinted my way down which freaked my coordinators out; but I found it easier than going slowly as I would stop and wait for them and then repeat my path. If you think going down was hard, imagine our way back up.   [popeye]

At the end of the steep road, the trail continues and turns into a muddy path where we carried on. At certain spots it got so muddy that we had squeeze to the border when cars were going by; or so that we would not end up mudded up front head to toes. We kept hiking and met a splendid creature; a wild, superb horse was standing in front of our eyes.  I know I am talking as if I had never seen a horse, but this one look particularly majestic. So did the other horses that we later perceived. The tropical forest scenery made us feel like in another island, country or world. The Big Island fluctuates in climates and possesses eleven ecosystems; you have to see it to believe it.

Once we got to the beach, the silver reflects on the black sand beach were hypnotizing and the view was incredible. The view of the immense mountains from side to side made us feel miniature in this massive world.

Although it is not recommended to swim in the ocean because of the strength of the currents; the whole crew ended up in the water jumping of the waves; this was an amusing workout. Alanna and I made it through psychological support; she saved my life by providing me with some water. We slowly dragged our way back up the mountain; what an accomplishment. It was a really fun and exhausting day. It is worth the hike down and up; although there is a shuttle that is provided if you really cannot do it.

SCUBADDICTION

Written by danny. Posted in Hawaiian Experience

Scuba diving is definitely my new hobby. 

[popeye]

Since I got PADI certified, I have dived a couple times and every single one of them has been one of the best experiences of my life. In the ocean, beneath the waves, a whole different world of serenity is opened up before your eyes.  Underneath the water, the stresses and preoccupations of your life vanish for a little while. My representations and depictions are not powerful enough to express this breathtaking sensation. Your eyes are captivated with the magnificence and splendor of the fishes residing in the open water. Gliding along the rocks, floating over and then gently descending on the other side of them is magical; you are weightless, you can fly.   Even if you do not perceive a crazy specimen, the beauty o f the natural world below is quite jaw-dropping.  I had not been so relaxed in a long time; the silence around me, only the sound of my own breathing in and out. It is a glorious sensation. We perceived an octopus, a blowing fish, all different kind of colorful fishes, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, brittle stars, turtles and much more.  The colors under water fade and the sounds are impossible to trace. It is another world.  The “A-L-O-H-A” sign welcoming us made “my buddy”, Maddy and I so happy that we decided to chant under water: “Pu’hala Pu’hale ea ea”.  We also created our own sign by necessity to express our ‘cracking up’ moments under water “L-O-L” with hand signs. We got 75 feet underwater although we were not supposed to go below 55 feet as we were not certified yet.

On September 25th, for the International Coastal clean- up Day, Maddy and I participated on the project AWARE Divers conserving Underwater Environments.  We got an unexpected certificate of recognition for our contribution to the aquatic environment that made us really proud.

Boiling Pots

Written by danny. Posted in Hawaiian Experience

Boiling Pots, my favorite spot in Hilo, is a magical place where bubbling, cascading water flows through the river. I heard many stories from Locals about people perishing in these waters that conceal long lava tubes, which suck up surface water and spit it out at the end. I still went there, jump out of every single cliff and repeated the action along with my roommate, Maddy.  It is located about 4 miles uphill from the University and 2 miles upstream from Rainbow Falls, another “Must see” in Hilo. 

[popeye] 

This place is referred as “Boiling Pots” because during the rainy season, the river churns through a succession of “pots,” resembling a steaming Jacuzzi. Some of the river water flows beneath a level of old lava and suddenly bubbles up as if it were boiling.

Although forbidden, we adventured there with my roommates: Alanna, Maddy and Genevieve. The “New Zealand” boys picked us up along with a local boy driving a truck. Gen did not jump, “not even for $5000,” but the rest of us did. We hesitated for a long time before jumping. The adrenaline rising to your head, your extremities shacking and your heart beating like a non-stopping drum is the greatest feeling. Once you let it go, you feel those “butterflies” stirring in your stomach and feel so alive. Just to mention, the first cliff was about 50feet, 17 meters.

This place is really delightful and mysterious. You can even find lobsters underneath a little cave; Maddy and I wanted to get one as a pet but it almost chopped her finger off. The panorama of the boiling pots is exceptional, serene and enchanting.  You have to be careful though because this fairy tale can quickly turn into a nightmare according to the terrifying anecdotes from locals.

Towards a New Adventure!

Written by danny. Posted in Hawaiian Experience

 I’m a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.  Thomas Jefferson.
Could not say it better. The harder you work, the more luck you have. I have been told that I am a very lucky person and I believe so, but my luck did not fall from the sky; I have built my path through hard-work and persistence. I will update this blog in a regular basis with the experiences I will endure during my journey in Hawaii.  
This fall semester I will be attending the University of Hawaii at Hilo. I cannot clearly express my feelings, they are a mix of impatience, excitement, anxiety and happiness! A dream becoming true. At the University Palms apartments I will be staying with Alanna Ferguson, Maddy Etrheim and Genevieve Normand; I am just way too excited to meet them and get to know them.
My flight will be endless yet, hopefully, entertaining. On saturday, Aug. 14, I will be leaving Ft. Lauderdale airport at 7:55 p.m. EDT arriving to Las Vegas at 10 p.m PDT.  The departure from Las Vegas will be at 2:45 a.m PDT towards Honolulu, Hawaii. where I will be arriving at 5:55 a.m HST. From Honolulu, I will finally get into the final flight at 7:44 a.m. that will be landing at Hilo at 8:35 a.m. HST. Quite a flight!
I would like to emphasize on the time variations: EDT Eastern Time, PDT Pacific Time and HST Hawaii-Aleutian Time. This means that when I will be landing at Hilo early morning Hawaii-Aleutian Time; at the location of my departure, Miami, it will be 6 hours later Eastern Time. Therefore, I will have an overnight flight for over eighteen hours. My journey will clearly start way before I put a foot in Hawaii.  I am impatient to discover what destiny has on reserve!