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Vitamin G for green

The internet is iffy here, but it seems to be working now so here goes.

Sigh. Paradise.

Okay, I guess I should be more specific. This is a beautiful island, so incredibly lush, endless wild tangles of forest and bush everywhere, and lurking around every corner, a mountain, a waterfall, a fabulous sandy beach with fierce breakers, dotted with surfers. And in the middle of all this, somehow, are Penny and I.

Yesterday,  as per the last batch of photos, the Allerton Gardens, with a guide. The tour was too expensive with tons of filler chat, but still, Pen and I were glad to learn so much about local plants. Here are some of the trees we saw: African tulip tree, monkey pod tree, breadfruit tree, ladyfinger palms, African sausage tree, flame ginger tree, mesquite, eucalyptus, frangipani, the mother-in-law plant and the elephant ear plant, the African spider lily, skunk tree, paper bark tree, and dragon’s blood tree (that bleeds a powerful red used as dye). We saw braintree nuts that look like little brains, and we tasted breadfruit. He told us about the “30 canoe plants” that were not native to Hawaii, brought by canoe from Polynesia. He told us that bananas do not grow on trees but on leaves. And that “things just grow here.” Where you live, you have planting seasons, he said; here, you just stick something in the ground and it grows and never stops, and in fact, many plants are “epiphyte” and grow on rocks or other trees without even soil. We learned that there are 300 types of mango trees and some islanders won’t travel during mango season because they’re so delicious (June and July – and I’m with them.) We marvelled to see our usual sad little houseplants – wandering Jew, schefflera and philodendron, for example – everywhere, only vast, with humungous mutant acid green leaves.

On the way back, the guide and the driver talked about the humpback whales that come at this time of year to calve and to mate; the driver had seen a pod of eight a few days before. “Have you ever seen a leatherback turtle?” the driver asked. “It’s the size of a Volkswagon.”

So it was a learning experience. We also saw a black-headed night heron and a Java sparrow with a bright red face. It was worth the price of entry just to learn all those exotic names.

We drove to the small town of Koloa, nearby, to look around and to shop for groceries. (Click to enlarge.)

 Santa in Koloa

The Koloa bus stop, with its welcome array of seating. Note the rooster and hen, as ubiquitous on this island as cows in India. And they’re always crossing the road. One asks oneself: Why?

That night, we made a simple supper of fish and salad. At dusk, there’s a marvellous show – hundreds of bright green parrots flock squawking right past our balcony to settle for the night in the palm trees just to the left. Every night, now, we watch the sunset and the parrots – I call it the commuter parrot show, as they’re like commuters, rushing home to find a convenient palm tree branch before it’s too late. But the sunset is pretty good too.

Today we drove to the east side of the island, to see two waterfalls:

This is Wailua Falls. Penny chatted with an elderly Czech painter there who has lived here for 40 years and says the Hawaiian people are disappearing. We’d wondered about that; there are so many Americans and Filippinos – where are the Hawaiians?

Penny the intrepid guide found us the most perfect spot for our picnic snack –

 Eucalyptus have the most beautiful coloured bark

the view from our picnic table

Penny viewing the view…

and then to hike inland. Green! Vitamin G overdose! Incredible trees and plants, the smell of damp earth – it rained twice today, this morning very hard – and growing things. Most spectacular are the monkey pod trees that cover the sky, these ones with enormous tendrils of philodendron growing up their trunks.

A canopy of monkey pod trees.

On our way back, we found a gorgeous though terribly overcrowded beach and went for a walk,

and later found another for a swim. We went back to Koloa, had a late lunch, (me blackened mahi mahi, Penny a papaya salad), got more groceries, including macadamia nuts and macadamia cookies – another local speciality. Came home to swim, sit around, watch the parrot commuter show, and now to make another simple supper. My God, it’s tough, it’s gruelling, but someone’s got to do it.

The parrot trees, full of parrots, amid the tiki torches which are lit every evening. As I said – gruelling.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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