Friday, June 17, 2011

[Hawaii Update] Three weeks in...

Okay, I am finally sitting down to write a proper of my last 3 weeks. Hawaii! I'm here on the big island, Ninole to be exact, on the wet side of the island. I am working on a farm called Every One Grows- named after Drean (the owner)'s desire to help every one be able to grow their own food. He owns over 100 sq acres of land (most   of which he has left untouched) with about 50 chickens roaming free (talk about "free range"), a green house, and a large vegetable garden.

I am traveling through a program called Worldwide Opportunities for Organic Farming (WWOOF, pronounced like a dog would) which is essentially an online work exchange database that connects travellers who want to gain farming experience with farms. You exchange hours of farm work for free room and board.

I've been working 8-1 Monday-Friday since June 1st, mostly feeding chickens, collecting eggs, weeding, harvesting vegetables, planting seeds and starter plants, watering veggies in the greenhouse, and other odds & ends. Let me tell you, 25 hours a week is nothing. The amount of free time that I have is mind boggling to me. I am embarrassed to say that I have not been using my time wisely. Since I travelled out here 1 month ahead of my lovers and friends, I have not been Dora exploring as much as I should be. Instead I have been spending a lot of my free time eating and sleeping. But boy have I been getting good at my most recent hobbies! I'm averaging about 1 book every 2 days and 10-12 hours of sleep per night (much better than my typical 4-6 hours back home!).

My body has sunken into the lackadaisical summer-in-the-country lifestyle- rising and falling with the sun (and here that means getting drowsy at 8 pm and waking at 5 am). This country lifestyle also means (at least by my definition) that I only need 2 outfits- one for farm work and one for non-working times- and probably less showering that I should admit. Come and get em' boys!

Anyways, I won't lie about the fact that I am lonely. I miss my friends and my mom and brother a whole lot. I just wish that I had someone to enjoy this place with. It is so beautiful here that I should be soaking everything in but I am finding it a little difficult when I am in a rural area with no way to escape until the weekends roll around and we get access to a car. Oh well. 12 days until Abby is here! :-)

On a much brighter not, the amount of greens that I have access to is borderline appalling. Rows and rows of lettuce in the garden along with multiple kale plants (which look surprisingly like mini palm trees). The WWOOFer fridge is always stocked with freshly harvested veggies and if for some odd reason we're out of something, I just have to walk 20 strides and pull it out of the earth! I have been unquestioningly satisfying my salad fix.

Well I hate writing long posts (because I don't think people necessarily enjoy reading long posts) so I will stop after a few closing statements:

  • Macadamia nuts blow my mind
  • Mosquitoes were created by Satan
  • Showering via waterfall is well worth cutting your foot open over
And on to some photos...

[Hawaii Update] Meet Tomoko

This is Tomoko. She is a 33-year-old Hula instructor from Tokyo, Japan. I have now known her and have been working with her in Hawaii for 17 days. Tomoko left Japan after the earthquake hit because, despite the government's claims, she does not believe that it is safe there right now.

Today she watched some Japanese news broadcast on the laptop provided for us in a corner of the farm's potting shed. People in Tokyo have been reporting that they have been getting bloody noses and sore throats (and who knows what other serious health conditions) from living in an environment riddled with radiation. The health effects are especially obvious in children.

When Tomoko was explaining this to me at dinner this evening, my immediate emotional response was (and still is) sadness. Sadness that people do not have the choice but to live in unhealthy and dangerous situations. For Tomoko, there is also fear. Her 3 month visa is almost up and soon she will have to leave Hawaii and return to Japan. She says that she knows in her heart that it is not safe there but Tokyo is were she grew up, it's where her family is, and it is where her friends are.

It is easy to be an outsider and comment "Well of course I would get the hell out of there. It's a nuclear disaster zone." But not only are there legal/political obstacles for moving away, there are social barriers as well. Would you rather stick around and chance serious health repercussions sue to radiation exposure or leave everything you know/love?

Be thankful for the choices that you have because some people do not have the choice to healthy and safe.