Week Twenty-Three (7-13 July 2014)
I preface this post with a note of apology. I am woefully behind on my efforts to capture the details of this grand life experiment for posterity and the general amusement of former colleagues, family, and friends (new and old alike).
As we move closer toward becoming established here, the swirl of the miscellany of life has intensified a good measure and, while the pace of everything on this speck of volcanic rock is much relaxed, we have found ourselves of late somewhat accosted by the many things that go along with any move and life change of this proportion. Car registrations, meetings with builders, home schooling, engagement in community, involvement in church, development of small income streams, enrollment in local courses that will help us advance the homestead, etcetera. Life.
All that said, enough groveling! After all, I am no longer a lowly-paid civil servant in the Empire’s employ. (I am a penniless fellow of great freedom and mirth with Malthusian and, occasionally, misanthropic leanings, who tries to view life through Scripture, Jeffersonian thinking, and–every now and again–the writings of Douglas Adams.) Now, let’s get on with it…
Marking a Full Lunar Cycle
Monday of this week completed our first full month on island, and much like the first month in a human pregnancy–aside from the unpleasantries of morning sickness–we remained downright giddy and everything seemed quite well as we swirl toward the great unknown ahead. The concept of island time continued to slowly seep into our being (maybe that has something to do with my lack of punctual blog posts too), our schedules have left Saturdays now no different than Tuesdays in terms of commitments, and the local pace of life continued to grow our senses of patience and flexibility.
“Machete-in-hand” is now a common state for any of us, collecting coconuts and wild guava are regular occurrences, and daily attire rarely deviates from shorts, t-shirts, and sandals or flip flops (even “on the job,” as I will explain further below). Prior to this Monday, across the span of the entire month, we had only risen to the sound of an alarm clock four times (on Sundays, to make sure we were on time to church, our only standing and regular commitment).
Alarm Clock Strikes Back: The Return of the Job
After weeks of extensive background checks and drug testing, Monday also marked the first day of my new life as a “Transporter” for an international car rental company. Unlike Jason Stratham in the movie of the same name, I was required to sign paperwork promising not to carry a gun, and then underwent hours of training to undo any notion that I could act or perform in any way like Stratham in the film. Oh well…at least it pays. Moving nice vehicles around a tropical paradise, on my own schedule, and getting paid for it… I don’t recall my high school counsellor ever discussing jobs like this. Did I mention that I also get company benefits, like dealer invoice prices on new cars and deep discounts on everything from phone plans to car rentals?
By the end of the week, as if Nature or God or some envious alien race reached through a yet undiscovered dimension to shake my state of bliss, I was offered another small income stream–a paper route in the very “neighborhood” where we are building our homestead–and the opportunity to help an experienced fisherman haul in tuna, marlin, and mahi-mahi in exchange for invaluable experience and compensation in the form of food (animal protein of the fresh caught piscine sort). Some very early mornings ahead for me, but the compensation is more than reasonable for the amount of fun…err…I mean “work.”
(For those of you just joining the story, one of the priorities in our grand plan was to quickly establish small, flexible income streams to pay for miscellaneous expense (taxes, gas, skill-related training and classes) as we build our debt-free, bill free, sustainable homestead. These new duties add to my continuing efforts at a little freelance writing.)
Miscellany of Note
I finally broke down and bought some very basic salt water fishing gear to take advantage of our proximity to the shore and put a little free food on the table, and I tried my hand at a little bait fishing and cast-and-retrieve off of the local boulders and cliffs. I’d like to say it was like a scene out of The Old Man and the Sea, but unlike the aged Cuban of literary fame, I did not catch anything. Let me add that casting into a shoreline wind that probably has its origins somewhere on the coast of California and trying to negotiate tackle around submerged lava rock is a different game all together than the lazy fresh water fishing that I am accustomed to. While licenses are not required to fish here, I must carry a guide book with me to help identify anything that I might land, assuming I ever hook something other than rocks, to understand where it falls on the spectrum of good eats and natural toxins.
In other news, those who have been following our saga may recall that, during our cross country road trip, we arranged for our second eldest daughter to take an AP exam in Texas. The results are in… She will get 6 credit-hours at the local university, without charge, for this high-school achievement. Woo hoo!
And…I further grew our small nursery by acquiring three baby black sugar cane stalks that we can plant up on our property in the coming weeks…
…some of seeds I started have finally begun to sprout, including a few passion fruit vines, papaya trees, and grape fruit…
…and the pineapple is coming along well.
We closed out the week by joining a small gathering of church congregation members to watch the World Cup final game over typical party fare. The family-feel of our small congregation here is a fantastic plus to living in this area.
Oh! Before I forge ahead, there was also some sort of annual commemoration this week… Yes, yes. The bride and I celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary over all-you-can eat tacos at a famous local pancake house. (Before you begin heaping scorn upon my head for the choice in venue, please note that this was the bride’s pick.) A new release from Red Box, a bottle of Shiraz, and some gourmet snacks rounded off a very pleasant evening of remembrance. Only 19 years ago, we paid our first visit to Hawaii (Maui, to be precise) on our honeymoon, and here we are now living on the Big Island working through the next stage of our lives.
Housing Challenges Just around the Bend
As an intermediate step to settling into our yurt, after learning that building may stretch beyond Christmas due to construction-stopping rains and the regulatory permitting processes, we began planning the establishment of a rudimentary base camp on our property. We came prepared for this possibility by hauling our large family tent and all of our camping gear in our luggage. A few local purchases (picnic table, some rudimentary storage, shower and toilet parts) and we should be able to create a livable place that will, undoubtedly, leave the kids very grateful for the yurt when we can move in. (As I mentioned to the bride, there have been several unplanned developments in our move that have created excellent transitions for the kids to adapt to our very different ways of life here. Not our plan, but somebody was thinking ahead…)
A Hawaiian cultural festival on the other side of the island left us all better educated about the many uses of ti leaves (including as woven sandals), a wide range of local medicinals (like turmeric), plant fiber cloth fabrication, lei making, and–of course–all things ukulele and hula.
We walked away with an assortment of free, but useful things to plant on our property, including a type of ginger used to make shampoo, a local variety of arrowroot, turmeric, and sugar cane.
Meanwhile…local flora and fauna specimen collection, identification, and study continued.
Though I am certain there were other interesting developments of note during this week, I’ll stop here so I can allow my addled brain to get some sleep. (More on our current experiments with sleep deprivation when I continue our tale in the next post.) Signing off…