Tuesday, 7 October 2014



I really wanted to label my retreat-from-routine a Sabattical cause I think that's a cool word but technically, a Sabattical is a span of time measuring two months or longer. My almost 4 weeks doesn't qualify. Next time.

The day finally arrived and I transported 2500 miles to an isolated world in the middle of the Pacific ocean. Destination: the east side of the Big Island of Hawaii. Barely two months ago Hurricane Iselle roughed up the area and currently the dance of Madam Pele inches lava towards Pahoa town. A catastrophe unfolding in slow motion. Life will change again in this magical part of the world as it always has and always will.

I love flying. I think everyone should have the opportunity to gaze upon Mother Earth from 30,000 feet. I’ve made a personal vow never to be blasé about the opportunity to soar above the clouds to get the perspective on how insignificant and vulnerable we humans truly are.

I've planned for the 5 hour flight. I got snacks, slippers and one of those fancy airline digi-players overpriced at $10 (ah heck, I love the gadgets ... of course I had my complimentary Hawaiian Mai Tai too).

Watched the latest Adam Sandler & Drew Barrymore flick “Blended”. Shame on you both. What a commercial grab. Although they try to pass off some wholesome, loved-based message, the setting is a trip to Africa … for the elite. A freakin’ Disneyland-style African experience. Holy crap, why would you flaunt your opulence in a continent where folks don’t even have clean water.

At one point I notice a rainbow on the aircraft ceiling… Mr Sun shining through the window has created a polygon rainbow shape. Delightful. Not long after, glancing out the window, the Sun made similar rainbow effects on the clouds below. The colours were intense and vibrant. One little patch was fiery pink. Spectacular. Thank you

The flight goes without mishap and just like that, I’m surrounded by black lava, lush vegetation and holy crap it's hot. Sauna-like. My rental car is a sleek, black Nissan Sentra. Score! And off I go. But I only vaguely know where I’m going. How hard can this be? There aren’t many roads, I’ve been here before. Other side of the island here I come.

What I hadn’t planned on was the lack of signage. In my world every sign will include Puna, Hilo, Pahoa or something of reference to my destination. Not just Pukumakahalo street... Aaarrgh! I took every possible wrong turn, backtracked several times, stopped for directions when I finally found some form of civilization ... but that was rare ... we’re talking uniunhabited here.

Finally got myself over the hump ... Saddle Road ... runs between two volcanoes ... and just like that the fog hits. I slow down. Without realizing it, I'm speeding. Not because I'm heading downhill, but because I'm Canadian and I drive kilometres. I have to keep reminding myself this speedometer is in miles. The car is so damn smooth it really only feels like kms... Hang in there ... little lower altitude the fog will lift, I keep telling myself . And it does. Alrighty then. Making progress.

Ultimately for every bit of progress I would make, not long after I'd make another wrong turn or think I'd gone too far and turn back. It was getting dark and it's jungle-like. And I guess I wasn't really paying attention when I was here last time...

I finally make it. Hallelujah. I check the door. It's locked. No mailbox. No cell service. Crap. Well I'm having a bevy. That was stressful. I pull out the 'merican version of apple cider. Angry Orchard. Oooo. Tittilating.  Really? it's not a twist-off. Now I'm angry. Another challenge. It's okay, breathe, I'm here. Holy crap. I did it. I'm here. And I will get this open.

Hmm what can I use. People have used lighters. I try my flashlight. Line up the edge. Give it a pop. Ouch. skinned my knuckle. Okay try again, that loosened it. Nuts! knuckles again. I turn the flashlight on my hand. I'm bleeding. I'm hurt and I'm getting desperate. I try the edge of the metal patio chair. Woohoo. Cider spills all over the cement patio. I guzzle. I grab a tissue from the car for my knuckles.

I figure I'll go down to the community park. A drum circle was in progress as I passed by. My phone should work there and I can call my rental contact. Beautiful night. Warm. In spite of my harrowing drive I'm joyful. Sure enough my phone works. I leave a message for the contact and decide to mingle and enjoy some human contact.

An hour later after chatting up a coupla local fellas, I figure I'll head back up to my treehouse and see if she's there. No call received. I'm pooped. The 3-hour time change, early awakening hour, 3-hour drive ... it's all catching up. And I get lost again. I can't even keep my wits about me when I'm walking...

Seriously? Not here. I consider how I might break in. Then it occurs to me. There's a mat outside the door. Lift the mat. Ah ha! A key. Wonderful. I'm in. I'm elated.

I'm an idiot.

My sore knuckles are a blatant reminder how easily distracted I can get. Why hadn't I clued in earlier? My sense of silly embraces the day ... truly a journey without a destination.


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