Written By Louise & Eli
Our last week at Kipuka Olowalu and our few days in Hana were filled with so many tiny moments of pure joy, laughter, adventure, love, and deeper appreciation, not only for each other, but for the amazing contacts we’ve had the opportunity to work with. Having spent two weeks at Kipuka, we were able to gain a better understanding of Hawaiian culture and practices while also learning more about the lives of Ua, Lizzie, Jackson, Ekolu, and the rest of the staff at Kipuka.
On our first free day, part of the group went out for a morning surf session in Lahaina. We rented our boards from a local surf shop, carried our boards across the street, and paddled out into the break. Most of us got tossed around in the waves, but Lauren and Natalie represented our crew by crushing it. After the morning surf, the whole group met up to get bagels at Amanda’s highly recommended Bagel shop. We spent the rest of the day exploring the shops and art galleries of Lahaina.
Sunday, the group put together a yummy easter brunch. We cooked french toast, eggs, purple potatoes, veggies, and enjoyed some store bought cupcakes with tiny easter bunny rings on top. We spent the rest of our day relaxing at Makena beach.
Tuesday afternoon we visited our good friend Uncle George again for some “arts and crafts”. He greeted us with fruit bowls and a crazy adventure in store. We gathered food to feed the animals, picked fruits and vegetables for our meal, met three cowboys, helped weed an enormous field of weeds, and dispersed cover crop seeds. All of our hard work was worth it because we got to experience an imu, a Hawaiian technique used to cook meat and vegetables underground, and be a part of the ceremony by removing the leaves and cloths. We enjoyed pork, chicken and taro from the imu along with salad, fruit and tofu for the vegans. After our long day of “arts and crafts” at uncle George’s, we headed back to Olowalu and moved into the tentalows!
Wednesday, Ua was kind enough to show us one of his favorite hike spots in Olowalu Valley. We crossed rivers, acquired walking sticks, and walked through the lush and green valley. We stopped by the stream for lunch and took in all of serenity and beauty the valley had to offer. It was the perfect spot to escape and appreciate the tiny nuances of nature. When we finished our hike, we made our way back to camp and started making our Kiheis for our ceremony on Friday. We used old hotel bed sheets and dipped them in red mud and washed them off to create a rustic tie dye. Everyone’s Kihei had their own unique look. We also had ended the day with some of us getting haircuts done by our own aspiring fashion designer, Jane.
On Thursday we spent our second to last day at Kipuka perfecting our hula and putting the finishing stamps, designed by Lizzie, on our Kiheis. At night we celebrated Anabelle’s 18 and 11 month birthday with a chocolate cake and a killer dance party. Eli made a surprise guest appearance with his performance of Bad Romance followed by his electric encore rendition of “Born This Way”. You could tell hula practice really paid off because his hips don’t lie.
Our last day at Kipuka Olowalu was bittersweet, but all of our work came together at the Ho’Ike. There was a stage set up with speakers, a microphone, and a camera. We each went up and shared a speech about something we learned either about ourselves or about the Hawaiian culture over the past two weeks. Everyone put together incredible speeches and some of us even performed a song. Eli sang his version of Shiny and killed it. To end all of our performances, Genevieve sang a beautiful version of “How Far I’ll go” from Moana. She has the voice of an angel. In between a few of the speeches, Ua played his Ukulele, and Anabelle blew us away with a song on her fiddle. The ceremony ended with us dancing the hula we learned and Ekolu’s mom singing a chant to close it out. That day was memorable because of how much Kipuka impacted our lives and the ways in which we made an impact on theirs. It was incredible to see how much each of us had grown.
Saturday we packed up our camp at Olowalu and said goodbye to the tentalow life. Our first stop was at the food trucks for some Acai before we headed out on the road to Hana. The windy roads on the drive to Hana were met with breathtaking views of the ocean and islands at every turn. After a few close encounters with some crazy drivers, we made it to Whispering Winds Bamboo Farm.
On our first full day in Hana, we started off our morning with some great news from Eli about the birth of his nephew, Oliver (congratulations) followed by a refreshing dip at a waterfall down the street. We had lunch at the local beach and tried to see the highly talked about black sand beach, but we weren’t able to get in. After being turned away we ended up going to the local lava tubes. We explored the insides of the cave and crawled under this opening in the lava tubes to get to a little lava room just big enough for our group. We told scary stories with our flashlights, sang e ho Mai, and formed the lava tube gang (LTG). When we emerged from the tubes we made our way through the taro maze. It wasn’t what we planned, but sometimes the best things in life happen when you least expect it.
On Monday, we headed to Kahanu Gardens where we met Mike, the director of the Garden. He gave us a tour of the garden where we got to see the different species of canoe plants and learn more about their functions and uses. Not only did we get to enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the garden, but we also got to walk along the coast and see the ocean in its purity. Kahanu gardens is truly a magical place. In the afternoon we helped Uncle Peter weed the invasive vines, weeds, and trees from the property. It was a hot day of work, but we were rewarded with fresh coconuts on our way out! To cool down even more, we stopped at the beautiful Hamoa beach for a quick dip followed by a stop at the local food trucks.
On Tuesday we got the opportunity to learn more about Whispering Winds while also helping Ryan out with maintaining his property. In the morning we weeded along the driveway, and had a lot of fun doing it.
In the afternoon, Ryan took us on a trek across his property where we got to walk through the bamboo forest, say hi to the cows, and enjoy some handpicked fruit Ryan grabbed from the trees. He gave us all our own mangosteins to try. When we got back from our walk, we ran into Ryan’s good pal,more importantly the narrator of Kiss the Ground, Woody Harrelson. Most of us had no idea what to do, so in our classic Ohana group way we awkwardly said hi and walked away. Things got even crazier when Woody Harrelson’s wife brought us this giant fruit that we scooped out with our hands. Later on when we were back at camp, Woody and his wife drove past us in their golf cart, and Eli was (surprisingly) very excited to see Woody Harrelson, maybe a little too excited. (and he still has no idea as to why). Hana was nothing short of spectacular. The views and the overall richness of the land is truly one of a kind.