Our last year in Hilo was a fun exciting time, in spite of knowing it was the end of our dream to live there. In the 6 months before we left Hilo memorable events added the spice to life that we’ve almost come to take for granted in Hawaii.
Waipio Valley! The Hawaiians lived there in the olden days. Today, taro farmers go down to work their paddies, and there’s a poi factory and an abandoned Peace Corps training camp. We stood on the Pali (cliff) overlooking that great green slash cut 7 miles back into the mountains, wondering where it went. Our eyes leaped across the 3 1/2 miles to the opposite cliff where a waterfall makes a suicidal plunge to the sea, then back to follow the stream up past a pond and palms and tiny specks of buildings at the camp in front of the green wall.
One of our friends drove us down into Waipio Valley. It takes a four-wheel drive jeep and some nerve to negotiate the steep curving road that clutches the valley wall as it drops 1500 feet to the bottom in only a mile. Suddenly it’s a jungle road hugged by dense undergrowth, crossing and re-crossing clear rocky streams. We bounced along past taro patches, (it grows like rice in paddies) past the poi factory with its wooden water wheel bringing the past age of water power into todays grind. We stopped to photograph the simulated Malay Village built by the Peace Corps, then jolted on. We were treated to a magnificent view of the peaks at the head of the valley and waterfalls snaking in and out of the green wall
When we reached a ford too deep for our jeep, we had to retreat to the beach. We watched the white foam “catch a wave” on the dark blue and surf in to the wide dark grey sand beach. From above we had not imagined the magnitude and magnificence of that huge grey expanse of sand that stretched away before us now. The beach was empty, unspoiled by footprint or any trace of human passing. Just beautiful! After watching the waves erase the intrusion of our footprints, we ate a snack in the shade of iron-wood trees.
The hair-raising climb back up the road to the top climaxed an exciting, bruising, satiating day. I’ll always wonder what’s beyond the end of that road and around the corner at the head of Waipio Valley.
The wonder of Waipio Valley was a memorable adventure at the end of the road, and the end of our last year in Hilo.
One last memorable event for our time in Hilo, a fiery sendoff — coming up next.