I am up with the sun at 7am. Cass and I have planned to snorkel the Captain Cook Monument today. With optimism, we attach a couple of other potential plans on the back end of that so we rush around and load all the needed equipment, provisions and clothing into a laundry basket to haul to the car.
As we wind around on the road to the trailhead, I tell Cass that the last time I hiked this I swore I would never do it again. I considered paying the $100 to kayak out with a guided group. As much as I remember hating the hike back out, I can’t bring myself to pay $100 to snorkel on an island where, on this side of the island, you can stick your face in the water almost anywhere and see beautiful, colorful fish. We set out with the snorkel gear, vaseline-grade sunscreen, big bottles of water and some snacks. The walk down to the monument drops 1200 feet in 2 miles. Almost immediately we are greeted by several little piglets on the trail. It feels like a good omen (Tuesday was the Chinese New Year and it’s the year of the pig!). The ocean creeps closer and the continuous downhill is a pleasant walk.
We reach the base of this massive rock, gear up and drop into the surging bay. Before my face is even in the water, I notice the tangs, bright yellow fish that remind me of fall aspen leaves flickering in the wind. The underwater life here is incredible. Hundreds of fish, distinctly colored and patterned, swim in and around the coral mounds that fall away into the deep blue at an incredible grade. The coral covered earth is eventually swallowed by the blue and I get a sense of how much of this island lives beneath the surface—how long it climbed unseen before it tasted dry air. I swim along the reef, pausing to dive down for a closer look at a parrotfish or a trumpetfish. With each pass of the reef I think, maybe I’ve seen them all now, but then I spot another species I hadn’t noticed. Cass and I are both enchanted with the experience. It’s like visiting a forest where all of the animals come out to say hello!
After we’ve soaked up enough incredibleness we relax on the lava rock with the water and sea life surging around us. We are joined by a Texan named Shane who is visiting the islands for business. He is traveling solo and happy to have some conversation. We enjoy his soft-spoken Texas accent as we make small talk and agree to meet up later for dinner.
Now it’s time for the slog up the hill, 1200 feet over two miles. I know I’ve already quoted the distance and elevation change but it bears repeating given that now we have to ascend it! The sun is high meaning that the trail is almost entirely exposed and the temperature is around 85°F. We are prepared with plenty of water but we feel entirely baked by the time we reach the top. Neither of us are particularly hungry but that’s a product of the heat so we grab some lunch from a cafe nearby and down some more fluid. Our thoughts of doing another hike this afternoon have dissolved. We are salty and dusty and only partially revived.
We make our way back along the Mamalahoa Highway stopping at a few shops and roadside stands along the way. Each one has a laidback island feel, including the tie dye shop. It’s a store filled with all kinds of tie-dyed fabric with not a soul around. I ring the bell, wait…wait…ring it again…wait…nothing. We laugh about self-serve tie dye and leave some cash on the counter.
Cass and I join up with Texan Shane for a sushi dinner. Near the restaurant a group of Hawaiian women perform traditional dances on a stage for a stand of retirement-aged people. We make a plan to go dancing. I haven’t danced in public outside of an exercise class for years! BUT I’ve been practicing in my kitchen with little R and it feels like the time is right to take the show on the road! We flip through google and find a LGBTQ-friendly bar in Kona Town that has five stars and a dance floor.
Because we are still on quasi-Mainland time, we arrive at the bar too early. It’s still a couple of hours before the DJ gets there. The few patrons are sitting quietly, drinking. Dance music is playing and the flashy lights are up but no one is moving. I ask the bartender for a Diet Coke and he calls me Love, which I love. We sit and chat and talk about dancing. Then finally The Black Eyed Peas Boom Boom Pow comes on and Cass leaps off her seat with inspiration. I join her and we make good use of the dance floor. It feels so great to move. I like the beat. I like the vibe of this place. It’s a gathering place for the abnormal. It’s easy to relax here. It’s just us until a sparse group forms on the dance floor just before the DJ starts. The few that join in are the sweetest people, here to express and to move.
I think of a line from Rumi, “When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” This is the essence of creativity. It’s the essence of desire. I think about God imagining all of those wildly colored fish. We are ALL brilliantly made. All I need to do is keep swimming in that soul river. Namaste.