Hawaii: January 1-5, 2013

Our stay in Hawaii was short but sweet, and somewhat atypical. Given that we had limited time to explore, on our first whole day in Kona on the big island of Hawaii we took a 12-hour tour of the volcanos including traveling to Hilo on the other side of the island. It was a long day full of good information via our tour guide/plants and soils expert, Matthew. He took us across lava fields, through a lava tube, fed us dinner at sunset on the cliffs where the lava flowed into the ocean — and the best part was seeing the red glow and steam at night of the Kilauea caldera.

On our second day we met up with Sammie, friend of a friend. Sammie owns a wild organic coffee farm up about 1000 feet on the side of the volcano that over looks Kona, and lives totally off the grid! All we can say is wow, what an experience. Had we just crossed into paradise? Picture wild growing papaya, mango, star fruit, several types of avocados, grapefruit, oranges, loquat, pomelo, passion fruit — and oh, did I mention there are also wild growing coffee plants. We spent hours talking with Sammie about her own travels around the world, comparing notes and trading tidbits of information for our world trek. She cooked us a wonderful dinner and breakfast (tropical fruit smoothies!), and yes, we did spent a night in paradise. Besides her main house she has two unique, rustic Hawaiian guest quarters with outdoor showers. Yes outdoor showers. No worries, remember you are in paradise. It was truly a unique Hawaiian experience. One we will want to go back and do again in the future. And in case you were wondering, the coffee was wonderful.

On our third day we did our share of snorkeling at one of the most popular snorkeling beaches in Kona. It was wonderful to swim with the fishes for a while, but we were still stressing about finishing up details of our trip and dealing with some unexpected developments, such as Xavier’s new hiking boots starting to fall apart after one week of use. Aaaah! This required a quick trip to a sporting goods store to buy a new pair and then dealing with shipping the other pair back to be refunded. Didn’t need that. Plus setting up and testing the international SIM card for his iPhone took much too long to do.

Our fourth day found us on the island of Oahu in Honolulu with Kristin’s friend Tung, husband J.P. and their daughter Alexandra. They are a wonderful family that welcomed us with open arms. In addition to finally meeting adorable little Alexandra and catching up with old friends, our time with them was a grateful and productive time for us to finally complete the last details we needed to do for our world trek. We truly needed that time. We were still able to get out and stroll down to Ala Moana beach which was only a few blocks from where they live. Once on the beach we both started to feel the stress of the last few details melt away. The warmth of the sun, the crystal turquoise waters, a gentle breeze, and we didn’t even mind the light mist of rainfall (though no rainbow…what’s up with that, Hawaii?)

With the first leg of our world trek done, we experienced Hawaii like we have never experienced it before. We made a new friend, finally got all our last minute details done, and could now comfortably and with more confidence proceed with our trek. Next thing you know, our time was already up and we were off to Honolulu international airport to catch our 9-hour plane flight to Auckland and then on to Christchurch (New Zealand). Leaving Honolulu late Saturday night we arrived in New Zealand on Monday morning. Yeah, we lost a day because we crossed the international date line. Huh? So does that mean we watch the Baltimore Ravens playoff game on Monday? Weird.

(We are still figuring out how to organize and caption the photos, so please be patient with the disorder!)