It is 5:30 am, Sunday morning on this last day of May 2015 and the sun is just about to tinge the sky that special pink and gold that happens when sunlight laces the edge of each cloud. There is magic in this place and I feel compelled in the quiet, to take some time to write it down. I have always found it easiest to worship beside the ocean. I suppose it's because the way it ebbs and flows so powerfully reminds me that there is something far larger than me in control. It still makes me feel both big and small at the same time. I love that feeling.
We arrived on Wednesday after a full day of traveling. Molokai is a long, long way from New York, both geographically and in personality. I find this island to be a fascinating study in contrasts. But then I suppose New York is too. When we tell people here where we're from they look at us as if to say, "Oh, I'm so sorry!" :). I know they are picturing sky scrapers and concrete and traffic and noise and crowds and too much of everything. Here, there are no buildings taller than a palm tree and there isn't a single traffic light on the island. As I look around at what nature has provided, I think of how Maya Angelou once said, "We need much less than we think we need." She was so right. "I need much less than I think I need" sometimes. I own that.
The people here have fought hard to keep their homeland unspoiled, even in the face of a good deal of opposition from those with money who want to come in and change things. They have paid a price for that, but it was one of their own choosing. Looking out from my lanai this morning I find it easy to empathize. I wouldn't want it to change either.
We chose a condo on the West End of the island for a number of reasons. As a photographer, I am always looking for interesting artistic opportunities and they are abundant over here. I was truly surprised as we were driving in, that the landscape resembled more of an African savannah than a tropical island. The gentle rolling hillside was dotted with scrub brush and tall swaying grasses and the twisted knarled branches of the Kiawe trees (we know them as Mesquite) were bent in the direction the tradewinds often blow. I was in awe of my surroundings feeling a bit displaced as though someone had mistakenly dropped me on the wrong continent. But when we came up over the hill and I was facing the impossible blue glow I've come to know so well on these islands... I knew my heart was home. This was just a new side to her, I had not experienced yet. More to discover, more to learn, more to respect. I embraced it quickly, in all its wild unfamiliarity. And I felt embraced in return. That probably sounds corny but whenever I've tried to describe what Hawaii feels like to me, the closest I can come, is to say it's like coming back home to a long lost lover.
The Kaluakoi Beach Resort and Golf Club was once a thriving hotel and condo complex. Today it is a place, slowly being reclaimed by Mother Nature. Half abandoned, the hotel buildings are sadly falling into disrepair but the condo owners association continues to care for the ring of buildings at center. As a result, there is a pervasive quiet here, that many have come to treasure. It is nearly impossible to describe. In some areas, especially the collection of buildings that make up the outer ring, it's a bit like being on location for the television show, Walking Dead, but the condos nestled at center feel like an oasis. It sits directly on Kepuhi Beach and is flanked on either side, by equally stunning stretches of sand. To the right is Make Horse Beach, where they filmed portions of Pirates of the Caribbean. To the left is one of the longest white sand beaches in all of Hawaii... Papohaku Beach goes on for miles and you get there from here by walking through the now abandoned golf course filled with wildlife, deer, turkeys, and birds of all kinds, calling to each other and chattering cheerfully around you. The landscape has a wildly surreal beauty to it. Often, you feel like you are the only ones there... because you are! This is a place where you take care of yourself and the people who choose to stay here (myself included) far prefer that to an attitude of entitlement.
Every morning I wake to the sound of palm trees swaying in the breeze and the ocean pounding against the rocks down on the shoreline. Days are warm and the air is soft. Nights are cool and fragrant with plumeria, jasmine and ginger. We leave the screens open all night and there is no need for air conditioning. Wild turkeys wander the grounds and ask to share my breakfast in the morning and I happily oblige. They are accompanied by the cardinals with their little brown and red heads and a shy mama chicken who makes these funny little cooing sounds. I've taken to bringing extra bread out onto the lanai with me and they know now, they'll get a free breakfast buffet if they come to visit:). It's such a soul filling way to begin the day, with the light changing colors around me. Last night the power went out at 8:30 and I just went to bed. I could hear others playing under the stars at the pool but it was quiet by 9. I think many are enjoying getting up in the early hours like I am.
Before bed, we watched the sun go down on the beach, with a family of seals... papa, mama and pup, not more than six feet away from my toes. It was magical. I took some lovely photographs and then just put the camera down and soaked it all in, willing time to slow down again. "Please don't slip away too fast," I prayed. I thought over the last few days and I leaned into all of it gratefully. If this is what heaven is like, I am not afraid to die.