Day 8: Kailua-Kona to Kilauea
|Plumeria and Jacaranda|
|Japanese barbie dolls|
Today we venture back into the World of Camping, abandoning showers, beds and basic luxuries. Our biggest fear is that the next beach site Punalu’u Black Sand Beach will be as uninviting as Spencer Beach. We find that The Big Island beyond Kona is full of white “hippie” burnouts and their children. Much like Boulder without the cold weather, so their are many, many, many free-spirits leeching-off society and unnerving us at the same time. Alternatively, what is nice is that most all the parks, beaches and lava-sites are free of charge, but that goes for the riffraff, too.
Notwithstanding, we stop along the way for the tourist sites. Obviously, Kona is famous for one thing: Coffee. Volcanic soil is perfect for the coffee plants due to the pumice stone that is fertile yet porous, much like a cheesecloth. Since KJ and I are not big coffee drinkers, instead of touring a high-production plantation to sample flavors, we go the historical route and visit Kona Historical Society Living-Farm.
Notes of interest: most the coffee farms were established by Japanese Buddhist immigrants fleeing for religious freedom. Many single men arrived and sent back for “Picture” Brides. This meant that relatively old men sent back young pictures of themselves to traditional japanese communities, who then sent over young brides (who were very dismayed to see what they married), the old men further lied and promised princess-type living and the poor girls ended up working their asses-off AND having upwards of 11-12 children to work the farms. (Ugh!)
Much of the production today is done with the same machinery and hand-picked by Mexican laborers. Interesting commentary: a very fit male 40+ Iron-Man athlete tried to move a 100 pound bag a few feet and struggled; shortly after, a late-teen hispanic employee came along, slung-it over his shoulder and walked away. Talk about performance-specific conditioning.
Heading south, lunch found us at Keikos Cafe in Kealakekua. This looks like an easy "no thank you" pass, but it was the freshest (meaning caught that morning) Fish’n’Chips in Hawaii, at least thus far. Our kids each ate a full, adult-sized plate on-their-own. Keikos staff were super friendly and gave us complimentary pygmy bananas. You must also buy Donkey Balls here; macadamia nuts dipped 50 times in Ghirardelli chocolate.
Satiated full bellies rolled us to the City of Refuge a.k.a Pu’uhonua o Hanaunua. During Kapu laws (liken to Hindi caste system) those who broke the law were immediately killed. No questions, done. And if a family member caught you, they were expected to kill you, or they themselves should be killed. The area was surrounded by royal land and ocean-front. To have even your shadow cast across royal land was to commit kapu (or taboo, yep, that’s the Hawaiian contribution to the English language). So, the only hope was to literally swim for your life. If you made it to the City of Refuge your crime was forgiven, then you had to swim back. During Kamehameha-the-Great's reign some 40 Pu’uhonua o Hanaunua existed throughout the islands. His son, Kamehameha II abolished kapu law and over time (mostly by christian missionaries) these locations have succumbed to various stages of dismantle. This being the last intact site.
Our travel takes us around the windy-point of the island into the land of true black sand beaches. True black sand is made by the explosive nature of molten lava hitting the chilling waters, shattering the flow into granules. Versus “false” black sand created by the break-down of volcanic rock by erosion, wind and weather. True black sand is finite, limited to the amount of sand created at the time of the volcanic event. This is the real deal sand you should not remove from the beaches. (You inadvertently get plenty in your swimsuit lining anyway.)
|City of Refuge Junior Ranger|
Punalu'u Black Sand Beach is our scheduled camp site and there again are all the creepy burners we were hoping would not be there. Again, this free-for-all camping design was absolutely not what we wanted. Unfortunately there is not a Hilton on this side of the island; in desperation, we head towards the nearest town Volcano Village. However, between here and there, we find Namakani Paio campsite, across from the Kilaulea Caldera Observatory and Jaggar Museum, Valcano National Park. It’s at 4000 ft and more like what we are use-to in Colorado. Pull-outs, BBQ stations and fire-rings. Ahh, it’s like Tutu’s fried chicken and Easter chocolate - comfort food. So here we camp. And I hate to say it, everyone here are haoles.
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