Written By Anabelle & Genevieve
Aloha! Over these past two weeks we have had the opportunity to work and connect with many new people and landscapes. At the end of our time at Evan and Danielle’s farm, we got to spend a day with George Kahumoku Jr. or, Unko George, who is a Grammy Award winning musician and sustainable farmer. After waking up for a 6:00 am departure to his farm, our van overheated about 30 minutes into the trip. Luckily we were saved by Krispy Kreme and early morning taxis. Despite the rocky start to our journey, the rest of the day with Unko George was incredible. Our morning consisted of touring the land, feeding the animals, weeding, and working on structural and maintenance projects, followed by a fantastic feast Unko George prepared for us. Afterward, he led us in a sing along where some of us got to play his guitars and ukuleles. Just being in Unko George’s presence was uplifting, and he had so many valuable, compassionate, and funny words to share with us. Some group members remarked that it was their favorite day of the trip, and we made sure that we could see him again before we left.
The day after was our final morning at the organic farm. During our closing circle, we took an individual walk of the farm to say goodbye, and expressed our gratitude to Evan and his family, the interns, and the land. We were able to reflect on all of the experiences we shared and what learning we hope to take with us. While it was sad to say goodbye, it was heartening knowing that we made contributions to the land that may sustain generations to come and that we could depart with so many meaningful memories.
That afternoon we returned to Camp Olowalu where we started our semester. We had to do a quick camp set up though because Unko George invited us to attend his concert that night! It was a really exciting experience for everyone, but especially Eli since it was his first concert! Seeing Unko George again was wonderful and it was really amazing to see live music- for some of us it was the first time since Covid!
The next day we started at We Paddle Maui, where we were able to learn to surf, stand up paddle board, kanoe. On the water we had the great fortune of encountering a monk seal, an endemic species which the guides told us are not common to see, and of course many sea turtles. With our extra time we learned the inspiring Brazilian martial arts by the name of capoeira. Our teacher, Fabio was eccentric to say the least. As we all rainbow kicked and cartwheeled across the lawn we were met with memorable lines such as “Come on! My Grandma could do that!” We spent our afternoons practicing our new capoeira skills and practicing our spike ball skills. We ended our We Paddle Maui experience with one more round of surfing and a trip to the local Capoeira Gym where we were able to showcase our skills with Capoeira students of all ages.
Sunday was a day off and we all discussed the desire to have a chill relaxing day but ironically all ended up participating in a hike up the side of Maui right along a windmill farm. Riddled with exhaustion, thirst, and hunger (and well deserved smiles!), we drove to a brunch restaurant. As we walked in we were met with an adorable shop filled with trinkets and a map where we were all able to add a pin to our home town. Though we had our doubts the sweet couple who worked there cooked up some incredible food and we all had a wonderful feast of omelettes, pancakes, hashbrowns and much more! As we left we where all presented with beautiful flower hair clips.
Monday was our first day at Kipuka Olowalu where we would be working and learning for the next 2 weeks. As we passed multiple signs warning us not to enter this sacred area we knew we were in for something special. We were greeted by Ua, a talkative passionate man who led us in a morning protocol consisting of traditional Hawaiian chants and the blowing of a conch shell. We spent the day weeding a small area where we were told was going to be a classroom space one day. It was incredible to hear the enthusiasm the staff expressed about the area we had cleared. At the end of the day we were able to go swim in the Olowalu river, a beautiful crystal clear river filled with refreshing enchantment and joy.
Wednesday Ua had the idea of taking us all the Eau valley, a beautiful valley that previously with only accessible to the kings and queens of Hawai’i. The valley was absolutely breathtaking, we walked through a thick and vibrant forest and as we where attacked by mosquitos we picked Ti leaves that we would make in leis the following day. We ended our adventure with a swim in the river where our joyous laughter could be heard for miles.
Thursday was April fools and to celebrate we planned a prank against our leader Peter. The idea was to hide the game of spike ball and convince Peter the other gap year group nearby had taken it. When we pulled into camp the group stalled asking many questions while Lauren ran to camp and hid the spike ball in her tent. Peter had already questioned where the spike ball had gone so when the group got to camp it wasn’t hard to convince him that the other group had stolen it. In a stroke of pure genius if I do say so myself, Genevieve took the opportunity she saw and slyly convinced peter the other kids had two spike balls (Which they didn’t). Sweet sweet Peter approached one of the other group’s students and questioned him about where our spike ball had gone, by the time we got to Peter to tell him we had the spike ball it was too late and the spike ball tournament had been set for the next day. Though we spent many minutes refining our skills the tournament did never happen.