3-day trip... The disadvantages of a standby ticket
In 2010, I am at the limit with my job. Stress, bullying and dissatisfaction lead me to quit without having a new job. Who does something like that? Lack of understanding from colleagues, friends and family. But only for a week. After that, the incomprehension turns into respect, envy and admiration. I am still scared shitless. I decided to fly to Hawaii a third time. For as long as I feel like it. But at the longest, for 3 months. How is that going to be? Me, all alone, at the other end of the world. That makes my stomach hurt at first. For the first 3 weeks, I take a friend with me to make the start easier. Looking back, total nonsense. Over the coming weeks, my time will be a much more valuable journey. With magical experiences and complete freedom.
I take the train from Ulm to Frankfurt, overtired in the pouring rain. Vacation feelings do not set in yet. The matter with the Standby ticketis too uncertain. It is a ticket with which you can only fly if there is space. And you don't know if it works until you're sitting on the plane. Not my thing, this risky business without a plan. My acquaintance and fellow traveller gets the only available seat to NYC and I stay behind in Frankfurt. My mood drops. How long will I sit here? Frankfurt again? Or as Martin says on the phone, rather via Amsterdam? The trip seems like a big mountain I have to conquer. The icing on the cake: My luggage is obviously on the plane, but my companion's suitcase is with me. I wonder if I'll put on a ladies' thong tomorrow. I stay overnight in Frankfurt. Tomorrow the same game again. Check in again early in the morning and wait for my name to be called. The couple that didn't want to split up yesterday is also back. They will not separate again. This is my chance. However, the flights to Atlanta are completely overbooked, which leads to the fact that everyone rebooks to NYC. I slip from my fabulous 3rd waiting place to the 35th. So I walk slowly to the baggage hall to pick up the suitcase, which is not mine, for the 2nd time. Outside, I smoke 3 cigarettes in a row and almost get tears to my eyes. I feel like going home.
I call Martin and he has great news: I can go from Zurich to Atlanta, which is still anything but safe. Or tomorrow the same game from Frankfurt. Düsseldorf would also be a possibility. All uncertain. I decide within 2 minutes (so fast?) for the most challenging of all possibilities: I take the train from Frankfurt to Amsterdam, the next morning to Minneapolis, then on to Portland and from there to Honolulu. But even that is anything but safe. The idea of flying all over America overwhelms me completely. My planned time off of 3 months seems so out of touch with reality that I have to laugh hysterically on the platform.
I am glad to find a hotel at the airport in Amsterdam. Shortly thereafter, I think about going through my lady suitcase to see what could fit me. Tomorrow at the latest, I will start to smell anyway.
The next morning, I wake up at 6 with Nana Mouskouri's "Good Morning Sunshine" on my cell phone. It is raining cats and dogs outside. Martin gave me a new flight route yesterday. Directly to Portland and 6 hours later to Honolulu. I'm in a good mood and treat myself to the €15 breakfast at the Ibis Hotel. The big juice machine is empty. No apple, no mixed fruit, no orange juice (at least the Dutch should have oranje). I have to enjoy my much too hard-boiled egg with a soup spoon. Small spoons are not to be found anywhere. Strange people, the Dutch. I'm looking forward to the land of opportunity. However, the chances of arriving there are rather limited, as it seems to me.
So I reach gate E16, where a nice Dutch woman sees my worry and answers my question, about how it is looking, with "It's looking good" replies. I could smooch her. An hour later, however, my name still hasn't come up and my mood sinks again. A few minutes later, the announcement "Sorry, booked out" follows. I notice how I start to feel aggression and kick a row of luggage trolleys for the first time. People are already looking. So into the baggage hall to pick up the 22 kg again, which do not belong to me. But it can take 2 to 3 hours, they tell me. I try my luck 2 hours later to Seattle one last time. "Mr Stevens? Mr Jenkins? Mr Brown?"
No answer. I sit like a heap of misery at the gate, then the voice speaks again and my name comes up. Did I just hear "Krauss"? I don't quite know whether to be happy or not.
And so the uncertain flight marathon continues in the USA. Where the female luggage is by now, I do not know. It probably won't arrive with me in Seattle. But that's not too bad because I decided against wearing women's clothes anyway. I didn't even get business class, but the most uncomfortable seat in the middle, surrounded by screaming children. I'm about to start screaming myself. The toddler on the flight to Seattle steals my last nerves. After 11 unbelievably long hours, I'm sitting in the city of grunge now, with the musical youth movement that started with Nirvana's Kurt Cobain and ended with his tragic death. I can not smell the "teen spirit", however, it is probably already too long ago. Instead, I find a gas station near the airport, where I buy a large Budweiser from a can and drink it, yes, on the open road, but in bright sunshine. So my remaining bundles of nerves lead to complete resignation and I even risk being arrested for public drinking. Tipsy, I walk to the gate and have to realize that my flight is 2 hours late. So back to the gas station...
Back at the gate, another delay of 4 hours, which results in me landing completely exhausted, instead of 21.00 o'clock only at 3.30 o'clock in Honolulu. I feel as if I had 3 days of travel behind me.
My friend Martin is so excited to have visitors from home that he gets up to fetch me anyway. Another quick beer with him at his home at the extinct volcanic crater Diamond Head and off to bed. I wake up two hours later and I am in a great mood despite jet lag. The morning sun rays, the chirping of the birds, the vibrant colours of the fruit-covered plants and the Aloha Spirit have touched me again. It's hard to say what this Aloha Spirit is. I still don't know. It is probably the open and warm nature that the islanders bring to you. The feeling that the islands have been waiting just for me and are happy that I visit them. In the Hawaiian language, aloha doesn't just mean "hello," "goodbye," and "love." The deeper meaning of the word is the joyful sharing of life energy. Every time, I am deeply impressed by the Hawaiian principle of sharingbecause not only life energy and joy are shared but also everything else.
Hollywood visits Hawaii
Shortly after my arrival, Martin, his wife Dana and I drive to Kaneohe Bay, where he works as a production assistant for the film industry. Unbelievable. I am on the set of "Pirates of the Caribbean". Delicious cheeseburger from the backstage of Hollywood with a view of the bay where Jack Sparrow's "Black Pearl" is anchored. For this production, a mockup was sailed over 4000 kilometres from LA across the Pacific just to shoot a few exterior scenes here at night. Young girls wait with their parents all night for Johnny Depp. When he finally leaves the "Black Pearl" after the rehearsals, I hear hysterical shrieking. The fans don't get to see more than a silver Chrysler with blacked-out windows. But I see more. Johnny Depp drives right past me with his chauffeur, rolls down the window and says: "Hey man, how you doin'?"
I quickly take a photograph and a short time later, I have an envious Depp fan next to me who missed him. "Can I take a shot from your shot?" he asks me and takes a picture of the display of my camera with great laughter.
A few days later, Martin wants to take me to work. Last day of shooting "Pirates". He explains my job to me. I'm supposed to stand on the road to the studio with a walkie-talkie and in-ear earplugs. As soon as I hear "Rolling", the big trucks have to be stopped so that there's silence during the shot. If I hear "Cut", they are allowed to continue. Standing in the sun for 13-16 hours. I don't know. On the one hand, I could proudly claim to have worked a day for a Hollywood blockbuster, but on the other hand, I'm not angry when Martin's boss tells me that they don't need anyone today. We are also there for the new movie "Big Eyes" with Christoph Waltz and Amy Adams when the final scenes are shot at Iolani Palace in Honolulu in 2013. After seeing the same 20-second scene 8 times, even Hollywood gets a little tedious.
Hiking on Oahu
Hiking in Hawaii is different than in Allgäu, Austria or Switzerland. It's often shorter but more strenuous and spectacular. "It's a hike" sounds harder than "hiking trail." It is. In Hawaii, you hike through the humid rainforest, through slippery volcanic sand or across black lava fields. The trails are often narrow and steep, and the subtropical climate makes you sweat pretty quickly. You will be rewarded with fantastic views, romantic waterfalls or glowing lava cracks.
With Martin, I have the great advantage of getting to places on Oahu that tourists would never go to. So we hike the hidden Maunawili Falls Trail. Through the dense green jungle, we walk to a romantic waterfall, under which we take a bath and jump into the pool. The brave locals climb up the rock walls and jump from a height of 12 meters, I am happy with 2. Martin's dog Sophie follows us up the slippery cliffs and gets stuck with her paws in a crevice. I have rarely heard a dog howl like that. But after the first shock, she is fine again.
Because the "Stairway to heaven" to the Koolau Mountain Range over almost 4000 steps does not work out, we dare the Trail to Kaau Crater. as an alternative. After a few minutes, I realize that this will not be a simple walk. Through lush jungle uphill, we cross a romantic little river a few times. Martin casually tells me that we are on the most demanding and strenuous hike on Oahu. With regards to fitness, light years separate us. I'm getting scared and anxious.
However, nature is so bombastic that I do not think about turning back. Not to mention that I don't want to be a girl in front of Martin. We have to go up directly to the waterfall and so we pull ourselves to the top with ropes along the cliffs. There are always strenuous places where it is better not to look down. I often have no choice but to rely on the forces of nature. With difficulty, I pull myself up on a branch and hang 30 meters above the waterfall. Slowly, I get solid ground under my feet again. We take a break in a small clearing on the edge of Kaau Crater. Martin gives me Edemame, soybeans pickled in garlic and oil. Should give strength for the rest of the route. Last time Martin's friends waited here with Dana because this is where the most demanding part of the hike begins.
The small path along the green ridge doesn't look bad from below. But it is. With soy bean power, I manage and continue to follow Martin upwards. I don't have more than 2 feet of width; it goes down several 100 felt meters to my left and right. In addition, the wind blows very strongly here. Sometimes, I crawl on my knees along the narrow path, due to the fear that the wind could blow me down the ridge. The Kalalau Trail from my last visit to Kauai comes to mind. I felt similar there. I get a slight feeling of panic but Martin pushes me to continue. "Don't look, just walk" he tells me. As soon as I raise my eyes from my feet, I feel dizzy.
We are on one of the highest points on Oahu. Martin promised me an amazing view at the summit. I don't have any strength left as I arrive at the top and have to sit down first. I see the complete island from a bird's eye view. In front of me, tiny skyscrapers of Honolulu and Diamond Head. To the right Pearl Harbor. Behind me Kaneohe Bay with Chinaman's Hat and all around the green overgrown cliffs.
For a moment, I feel as if I had never been closer to myself, to God and death.
I'm relatively uncomfortable up there, but I still enjoy the view. Then the horror ridge down again. I rope myself down over slippery red sand. I do not care anymore how my pants, the new white Dave Matthews T-shirt or my hands look. I hang directly next to the cliffs and slide partially on my knees over the dirty ridge. The Kalalau Trail last year seems like a walk in the park. I am glad when I have plants and trees around me again, which would prevent a fall to the bottom. The way back is no longer over the waterfalls but over relatively easy paths. My legs get tired and start to hurt. I crossed the creek 5 more times and am good to go. I can not remember having done such a hike before.
Camping on the North Shore
After the challenges of the Kaau Crater, I go on a camping trip to the North Shore. On the way there, we stop at the film location of the Hollywood movie "50 first dates" with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. The former restaurant resembles a wooden shack and is unrecognizable. The private grounds are nevertheless gorgeous with views of the distant Kaneohe Bay.
We have the campsite in Malaekahana almost to ourselves and therefore set up our camp directly on the beach. Fully equipped with a grill, a kayak, snorkels and 2 coolers packed with delicacies and drinks. For Americans, a cooler is standard, for me, it is pure luxury. When I go camping in Germany, the beer is warm. Since the weather is too bad for the beach, we take a short hike on the Hauula Loop. Great trail with great views over parts of the North Shore. On the summit, we enjoy a beer in the evening sun. Martin tells me about his disastrous start in Hawaii in 2003, cleaning up elephant poop in the zoo. Only half a year later, he got a job at an event company. Nowadays, he is an independent production manager who is one of the first to be called when a TV series or a Hollywood blockbuster is coming up. My great respect. I wonder if I could have done the same. After our short hike, we settle down at our campsite. The wood is collected and grill fired up, we eat burgers and the most disgusting chicken of our lives. Plus pasta salad and feta cheese. We have to wash down the chicken with beer, sit all night around the campfire and have great conversations about the past and the future. We listen to the finest singer/songwriter music by John Mayer.
I get up at 6 for sunrise. Actually, we wanted to be already on the offshore bird island by that time but we are too tired and it is still quite fresh. So I lie down again at half past six. At half past eight, we have watermelon for breakfast and are on the way to the birds breeding ground on a small offshore island. The paddle is short and we find ourselves on a sweet islet with shallow water. We walk over the island, take a bath and paddle back to the campsite.
We fire up the grill again and eat the rest of the hideous burgers. They are so heavy in our stomachs that we can hardly keep our eyes open because we are so tired. I pull myself together in the evening to go jogging but thanks to the hideous burgers, I don't even manage 20 minutes.
Now that I have so much time to spend on the islands, I plan to stay a few days on the North Shore. Martin has to work which means that I am on my own now. I check into my backpacker's hostel near Waimea Bay and get a friendly welcome. I meet Chris from Ravensburg, who tells me a lot about hostels on the other islands. This sounds perfect for me and I feel motivated to stay in backpackers for the next few weeks. Together with Martin from Freiburg, we go to the Three tables beach to watch the sunset. There is a bizarre picture. 3 weddings at once. The sudden rain surprised not only us but also the bride and groom. Wedding under the umbrella on the beach. After the wedding ceremony, they are invited to Jack Daniel's by some local hippies playing music. Funny situation. Also, there is Steffi, a blonde girl from Munich, who will complete her semester abroad in business administration here in a few days. I can hardly believe my luck and we sit together with her boyfriend Marcus from LA until late at night and talk about experiences on the other islands along with many beers.
The next morning, I convince almost all the travellers in the hostel to go for a hike and so we start a simple but beautiful 3-hour tour above the North Shore at 10:00. We have a lot of fun, especially Marcus is a crazy freak who has a lot of nonsense in his head. There are great views into green valleys and over the whole North Shore. All of us are tired at noon because of the strong sun. Marcus, Steffi and I explore the most beautiful beaches of the North Shore one after the other. Afterwards, we have banana cake at Ted's Bakery, the best bakery on Oahu. The day ends at Sunset Beach without a sunset. The clouds were faster this time.
Like yesterday, a lazy, fat guy is waiting for us in the hostel, sitting in front of the TV from 9 in the morning until late at night. I learn that he has been in the hostel for 4 weeks. What the hell is he doin'? Anyway, I call him the Television Man. Even when I drive back to the North Shore weeks later, he sits in his television armchair...
I get up relatively early and meet Steffi for breakfast. I pour my cornflakes into the bowl and almost drop the package in shock. A green gecko comes out. It got comfortable in my chocolate flakes. Afterwards, we go snorkeling at Shark's Cove. Dreamlike. I leave my sandals on because of the huge sea urchins. It is much more pleasant here than in Hanauma Bay due to the water depth. Moreover, it is not very overcrowded.
I spend the day at Three Tables Beach before heading home. It is called Three Tables because 3 table-like rock slabs lie in the bay. Snorkelling again. I like it even better than at Shark's Cove. It's deep and you don't have to constantly worry about getting stuck on the reef. I swim further out and have a breathtaking underwater world below me. And finally my first Green Sea Turtle. She looks at me briefly, finds me completely irrelevant and then continues to nibble on her yellow, red, blue and white coral on the rock. I join her and nibble a bit with her. Lunch with a Sea Turtle. Great. This situation is so funny that I have to laugh underwater. My snorkel floods and I swallow litres of the finest salt water.
Lazy days on the North Shore
After weeks of island hopping, I visit the North Shore again in early October 2010. I have Alex with me, a nice, blond doctor from Zurich, whom I met weeks before on Big Island in the hostel and John Mayer, who accompanies me since camping with Martin. In Haleiwa, I enjoy Frozen Mocha as always. At the hostel on Three Tables Beach, a wild boar is eating a mango. This scares us away a little and we treat ourselves to a Beach House with a view of the sea and palm trees. Because of high waves, snorkelling is rather dangerous here. So we continue to my favourite beach. With a blonde and beer from New Zealand. The rocks in the water are tricky and I cut my lower leg and feet. Mrs Doctor sends me back into the salt water and that's about it.
We go to the Banzai Pipeline for sunset, the most famous surf spot on Oahu. The "Pipe" is a very special wave, advanced surfers can surf through a tube to shoot out again at the end. Surfers surf down the sparkling water at dusk. A picture for gods. Alex and I have a fun evening on our fancy balcony with the sound of the sea.
In October, the North Shore is almost unrecognizable. No more families with small children who want to enjoy quiet bathing days on the beach. Instead, well-trained surfers who wait all year to finally compete in the waves again.
I wake up at half past six to loud noise and see huge waves out at sea from our balcony. I want to go to the beach immediately. Alex wants to start a little different and we have breakfast in the Shark's Cove Grill. There hangs a surf map with all the major waves of the North Shore. Banzai Pipeline, Off the Wall, Log Cabins or Rock Pile. We check out and the hostel owner says: "The first winter swell is coming".
What awaits us on the beach is bombastic. Huge waves, which I have not seen before. The Pacific is probably very different than the Mediterranean. They are 4 meters high and are illuminated green by the sun, breaking close to the beach with a great roar and leaving behind a huge carpet of foam. The beaches are full of an audience. Especially the Beach section "Rock Pile" has done it to us. Alex and I get along great and enjoy the "Eddie feeling" of the North Shore. We can hardly believe that we sit at the most famous surf spots in the world to experience the first winter storm. I ask a surfer who comes out of the water exhausted, whether he lends me his board for a fake photo and he smiles at me. We cannot escape the attraction of the waves and watch the surfers for 8 hours. When it gets dark, we suddenly get tired. We both have a little sunstroke. You don't notice it during the day because of the trade winds. The way home takes what feels like an eternity. I drive Alex to Waikiki and find my way home to Diamond Head without any problems. I know my way around here really well by now.
Halemaumau - Residence of Pele
I'm worried that I'll get bored in the national park now. But no such thing. Even the third time I am from the Kilauea and the Halemaumau crater completely thrilled. I love the fresh, clear air and the peace that surrounds me. At the edge of the crater, where I drove along by car 2 years before, a lava lake about 200 meters wide has now formed due to numerous small earthquakes. Clear starry sky, a bright moon and the red glow of the lava lake. In addition several shooting stars, which seem to fall into the crater. An experience that I cannot forget until today. I could spend the whole night at the Jagger Museum. I just sit here and shoot one photo after the other, which takes a while, with an exposure time of half a minute. All visitors talk very quietly. Almost as if no one wanted to disturb Pele while she was sleeping. I would have liked to see her angry.
I still do not get enough and continue to shoot from the Volcano House where Mark Twain already marveled on the lava.
I forgot to say that the noise made by the bubbling lava is not great heard as we heard it from our lofty perch. It made three distinct sounds - a rushing, a hissing, and a coughing or puffing sound, and if you stand on the brink and close your eyes, it is no trick at all to imagine that you are sweeping down a river on a large low-pressure steamer and that you hear the hissing of the steam about her boilers... The smell of sulphur is strong, but not unpleasant to a sinner.Mark Twain, 1866
Only at 3 a.m., I drive to the well-known "Volcano Hale". In the middle of the rainforest, I proudly send my impressions via WLAN back home.
Hiking in the Volcanoes National Park
My next goal is a hike on the Kilauea Iki Loop. My path leads me through dense rainforest. Suddenly, I stand in the middle of a dormant lava lake. Dormant because the crater is not yet extinct. You notice this quite fast if you hold the hand close to a lava crevice. Hot smoke rises from the crevices. Black lava fields alternate with purple, pink and brown sulfur banks. Except for me, there are only very few people in this bizarre landscape surrounded by mist and rain. 40 years ago Kilauea Iki was a bubbling lava lake, which shot fountains of fire 600 meters into the air. On the way back, the sun finally comes out and offers a great view of the crater which I have just hiked through. In the background, I see the poisonous smoke column of Halemaumau. I just can't get enough of these views. Even after many exciting days in the national park, the volcanoes have lost none of their fascination for me.
After a short nap, I set off for the second trail. I want to go to the Puu Huluhulu. You have a great view of Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea and the PuuOo from here. As always, only in good weather conditions. Which I don't have. So I sit all alone on the crater and wait for improvement. The sun is not in the mood today. But I am overcome by a feeling of loneliness in the middle of the dead landscape. Despite the fog, I decide to go on a short trip on the Mauna Ulu. to undertake. Its great brown and red hues make me climb further, completely euphoric, over bizarre lava rocks up to the crater rim. The views take my breath away, not only because of the sulfur vapours that surround me. I stand right on the crater rim, which is riddled with cracks. If the rim doesn't hold me, goodbye then. I catch a quick glimpse of the smoking crater and suddenly feel uncomfortable. All of a sudden, everything seems incredibly scary and dangerous. Not only because of the thin lava crusts that constantly give way under my feet. I poke ahead with my hiking stick and it breaks under me several times. It's like walking over thin ice. All I can see around me are black crevasses and I'm on the verge of a panic attack. Fog, drizzle and smoke in the middle of a huge lava field. Not a soul around except me. So I walk back a bit. My original green-covered crater serves as my orientation. My knees almost tremble with every step. Finally, I have reached my path and I am happy to have solid ground under my feet again.
Glowing Pacific Ocean in Kalapana
The next day, my journey takes me to Kalapana and I relax at the Kehena Black-Sand Beach during the day. At least I try. I'm constantly being offered marijuana. Not for me, I have big plans. Around 16:30, I make my way to the Ocean Entries. I am curious how the lava looks this time. After about an hour I reach a palm forest, which is destroyed by the lava flow that happened last week. It smells burnt. The different colours in the evening sun take my breath away. Blue sky, green palm leaves, burnt scrub, silvery and black lava. And then it slowly gets hot under my feet. I see my first tiny skylight. It glows through a hole to the surface 50 cm in front of me.
I do not quite know how to continue walking when an old hippie with 4 women join me. He is wearing flip-flops. The Hawaiians are merciless. We decide on the non-existent path at the cliff. After another hour, we finally reach the coast and have a natural spectacle in front of us that blows my mind. The lava streams into the Pacific Ocean are hundreds of meters long. No comparison to last year. I want to get closer and wait for a guided group of Swiss who dare to get closer and closer to the lava. Strange. As soon as someone walks in front of you, you get a certain feeling of safety, even though it glows dangerously in every crevasse I cross.
An insane heat surrounds me. My feet get hotter and hotter. Euphoria gets replaced by discomfort. Can these glowing lumps of lava break? Is there a current flowing directly beneath me? Nevertheless, I dare to climb the dangerous lava benches directly at the sea to get an even better view. What I do here is madness. In every respect. I stand 30 meters in front of an incredibly beautiful natural disaster... Slowly it's too hot for me and we start the way back, always looking back at the glowing Ocean Entries. I would have preferred to spend the night here. The way back is much easier, faster and more pleasant. We just didn't know that on the way there.
I have to turn around every 5 minutes to catch another glimpse. At the top of the mountain, the new fresh lava streams of the PuuOo crater are flowing down. We finally arrive at the Kalapana Village Cafe which awaits us with Hawaiian musicians playing Commitments and Elton John Hawaiian style.
I drive to the Lava Tree State Park and through the fantastic coast of McKenzie State Park. On the way, I try to organize a boat tour to the lava. Everything is fully booked. So I decide without further ado to make the trip a second time on foot. I start walking in the light rain. When I reach the path in the green, I am offered a great natural spectacle: A double rainbow. "Alexander's dark ribbon" is probably the name of this phenomenon of the main and secondary rainbow. The thick clouds come closer and I flee into the palm forest. I sit on a coconut and wait under palm fronds until the rain subsides. 10 min later, I stand in the heat again and follow the guide, who was also here yesterday. He waves to ask me over and I stand 5 meters in front of a bulging river of lava that hisses as it pours into the waves. The guide stands next to me and lights a pipe of marijuana. I need a clear head in this territory. The sight of the lava flows is enough of a drug. I guess he uses that for additional consciousness expansion. I haven't seen anything more beautiful and exciting in my life. I frantically shoot a few photos and feel incredibly brave. Somehow you develop a certain routine when you walk several times over the hot lava slabs, from whose glowing crevices small blue flames are rising again and again. An uncanny picture. But I'm still glad to have normal ground under my feet again and rather watch the spectacle from a safe distance.
When I arrive at my accommodation, my cat already greets me at the car and pretends to be happy that nothing has happened to me.
The next day, I set out again and this time I reach the lava flows all by myself. I feel a little uncomfortable, but Pele attracts me magically. I stand directly on the cliff with the lava stream 10 meters in front of me. The power of nature and the column of smoke is so fantastic and fascinating that I feel as if I am rooted to the spot; even when there are small explosions again and again, in which the molten lava is thrown 10 meters high into the air. I feel small and helpless. This is madness what I am doing here but something tells me that God is with me and I am safe. I enjoy the natural powers and the energy that is in this spectacle. I want to take that home with me. I have my little digicam with me this time and catch the explosions. I go a few meters back, where the glowing lava sparks can not catch me. Gradually, guided groups come again and I dare to shoot a few great shots again.
On the way back, I meet an English/American couple, show them the shortest way back and drive them to their accommodation. I can't wait to see my kitten but unfortunately, it doesn't show up. But my little video compensate me. I have captured the complete lava rain. Apart from the volcano noises, nothing can be heard. I am simply speechless. I have Internet and send the most beautiful pictures to Germany. I fall into bed super tired, accompanied by a frog concert and pictures of the lava.
Flute hippies and lava guides
After a few days on Oahu, I decide without further ado to fly to Big Island for a second time to explore the volcanoes with more time.
The plane from Oahu to Big Island is checked in too late but we still take off on time and even land 10 minutes early. In Hawaii, the clocks tick slower but flying is more smoothly than on the mainland, which is probably due to the extremely small airports. From the bird's eye view, I have a great perspective into the Haleakala crater on Maui. We are barely higher than the volcano itself. 5 minutes later, I have my car, 10 minutes later check-in at the Hilo Bay Hostel. Travelling from island to island is extremely pleasant. Cosy place, with the best and cleanest beds so far and nice owners. I can even wash here. My towel is already a bit gross. But I have some strange roommates again. I look at the beautiful city park, which they have rebuilt after the destructive tsunami. A Rastafarian greets me with "Aloha Brotha" and wants to sell me a wooden flute. He has already sold 30,000 of them all over the world. And many great musicians use them in their recordings. And he has a signature from every buyer. Aha. He doesn't stop, even when I tell him that I don't have room for such things because I came from good old Germany with my backpack. He pulls flutes in every size out of his bag. But I still don't buy one. In the heat, I get incredibly thirsty from the flute man and inquire about a supermarket instead. Aloha Brotha. I drag myself to the next store and buy 4 drinks at once. I feel better after three-quarters of a litre and get strong stomach cramps from so much cold liquid. Afterwards, I explore the area with my favourite music and book my accommodation for the next days. I go to a bar with a few strange guys from the hostel. A Canadian has bought a plot of land in Hawaii and wants to build a house. He has never seen the property... I disappear quite quickly again and meet a group of Germans and Swiss in front of the hostel, who are in Waikiki for 4 weeks in a language school and visiting the other islands on the weekend. Enthusiastically, I tell them about the lava and am hired as a guide already.
I wake up at 6 from the street noise and meet more German tourists. They also want to go to the lava. But first snorkelling in the morning at the Richardson Beach Park. The water is quite murky, but I see my biggest turtle so far. She measures almost 2 meters and I watch her having breakfast on a mossy rock.
Due to my passion for volcanoes, the southeast with the Volcano National Park and Kalapana is my main attraction on Big Island every time. This region has something magical not only because of the uniqueness of nature but also because of the mystical stories about the fire goddess Pele.
The excitement rises because of the upcoming lava tour. At noon, I load York into the car and we drive to Kalapana. We meet the funny Melanie, the blonde doctor Alex and 2 Swiss guys from last night. My first lava guide tour. Funny. I'm on vacation and I'm acting like an entertainer. I explain to my fellow hikers that although I'm guiding them, I'm not taking any responsibility. This leads to discomfort at first. I am quite euphoric again and walk ahead. It is the first time for the others and they are much more excited than I am. During the 1.5-hour walk, I tell them about the different types of lava and how old the rivers that we climb over are. When we finally arrive, I unpack sausages and a grill at a lava crevice. In addition cold Budweiser. Afterwards, we dare to go directly to the cliff where the lava pours into the sea. The current pulls the hot rock out into the sea, the wave carries it back again. Especially York can hardly grasp his luck and we want to go together again on Monday. After that, the obligatory visit to the Kalapana Village Cafe with a live band. I feel like playing with the band and shortly after, I sit on stage and play 2 numbers with "Lanna Murphy's Lavawalkers". My companions cheer properly. At home, I have a nightcap and tell funny Hawaii stories in front of the hostel. Thanks for travelling with "LavaFLOw's Adventure Co. tips are welcome". How sweet. My lava group liked it so much that they gave me a proud 40 $ tip. I am touched. And sad that the language students are flying back to Oahu. Lava connects. We have breakfast together and then everyone goes their separate ways.
I want to try to go to the finals of Red Bull Cliff Diving. I charm the security and he gives me an invitation. His last one. I have to go to Hilo University to get a VIP wristband. Cold drinks are served on the shuttle bus. Red Bull in all variations. I hate the stuff, but I'll gladly take one. I'm so excited! Once I arrive, everything is a bit disappointing. The view from the bridge on the road is much better. I take a free lunch and a few Red Bull and watch the world's best cliff jumpers plunge into the depths from a height of 30 meters.
I like my lava tours so much that I leave Hilo to spend a few more days in Kalapana. By now, my daily routine is to go snorkelling during the day and explore my surroundings to make my way to the Ocean Entries in the early evening. It is nice to have lots of time to get to know the islands. I sleep in a huge bed all to myself and stay in bed until 9. At noon, I drive to the Kalapana Village Cafe and treat me to a delicious turkey sandwich with pasta salad. I book a lava boat tour for a pile of money, look for the harbour so that I don't miss it tonight and sit down briefly on the way back at the rocky coast of MacKenzie State Park.
I hope to see my kitten but it just won't show up. At half past four, I make my way to the Isaac Hale Park and meet Captain Melvin there, who drives the boat over the waves. The view of the green overgrown coast is breathtaking. Then I see my daily hiking trail from the water perspective and a few minutes later, we are right next to the column of smoke. The golden sunset, the grey-black water and the sulfur smoke from the lava create an unreal picture. Is this what hell feels like? Or rather heaven? Even 30 meters from the Ocean, the water is as hot as a whirlpool. The air as well and the lens of my camera fogs up. Nevertheless, I manage to get a few good shots. However, the smoke hides the lava flow and I see less than yesterday on foot. We are in Pele's territory for almost an hour and I am quite dazed by this spectacle. I am also a bit dazed as Melvin shoots across huge waves over the ocean. I focus on a star in the night sky because I get a headache and feel a little sick. Sea sickness? The return trip just doesn't want to end. At 9, I fall into my bed completely exhausted. I want to get up at 3 again to see the lava at sunrise. I take a shower and see that it is raining outside. The idea to be alone in the lava field at night makes me suddenly uncomfortable and I throw my plans overboard. I will try again tomorrow.
Beer at Pahoehoe Lava Stream
My landlady Babette from Oliana Cottage tells me that a friend owns a house directly in the lava field. When I ask if he is insane, she only says: "No. He loves the lava. Like you do. He only wants to stay close to Pele." At the Kalapana Village Café, I am told that I am not allowed to walk alone because I am on private property. That is an interesting thing with private property on the lava field since Big Island grows larger constantly through the lava flows into the sea. A bit bored, I start walking, because I have no great hopes to see more today than usual. Then, I meet two Frenchmen and an American woman 5 meters from the "Ocean Entry", where the lava flows into the sea. The older French guy turns out to be Alain Gerente and tells me where I can walk and where I can't. I don't know if he's just a wannabe researcher like me, or if he knows what he's doing. Then, little by little, it turns out that he is a volcanologist who has filmed volcano documentaries for ARTE. The younger one is his nephew and the American is a nurse in Hilo. I feel very lucky. I have a fantastic view of the lava flow directly in front of me today, which pours at 25 km/h into the Pacific. Alain strolls over the hot lava field as if it were the world's most normal thing. It is probably for him. It's his job after all. He indicates me to walk closer to him quickly. Directly past the underground lava channel or over it. I don't know exactly because of the heat. Strangely enough, I feel completely safe in his presence. I discover a silvery shimmering lava flow on the surface. My euphoria rises and I have reached the goal of my dreams. We have found a pahoehoe stream. This type of lava is created when the underground lava tube blocks up. I can't believe my luck. The others join us and we stand on a small black sand beach and watch as the lava slowly and casually moves toward us. I hope I can take this incredible energy from inside the earth home with me. Alain says that the lava will move to the left, towards the sea. 5 minutes later, it does. The man is a genius. We feel them, we smell them, we hear them, we see them. A feast for the senses. I unpack cigarettes and beer to go with it. What a fantastic experience. A cool beer at the lava flow. "A real German" says the nephew laughing but very pleased when I pass my beer around. I can't keep my enthusiasm to myself and cheer it out loudly into the balmy evening. We shoot insanely great photos and have a great time. It feels as if we've known each other forever. Alain gives me his e-mail address and invites me to his home country La Réunion. The volcano is supposed to erupt again next month. We make our way home in the dark and Alain tells me that he wants to work with the government for more tourism to volcanoes. Great guy. On the way home in the car, I smile brightly. I call Martin on Oahu because I must share my experiences and send my star photo home via mail, which shows me in front of the lava flow. I can hardly sleep, that is how excited I am. This will probably remain the most beautiful experience of my life.
I drive at 8 am towards the airport. I see Pele's column of smoke one last time and I am sad to leave Kilauea. The lava fascinated me so much that I miss it already. Moments like yesterday are addictive. I still have the pictures in front of me. On the flight, I enjoy a great view of all the islands. Maui, Lanai, Molokai, Oahu. I arrive 15 minutes earlier again. Today, I notice once again that I have adopted the Hawaiian lifestyle. I haven't worn regular shoes in 8 weeks. I'm annoyed by the high car insurance rates. I had a dream deal for 85$ for 7 days. With insurance and taxes, the price is more than 300$.
Hawaii, dreamy islands in the Pacific - My first Hawaii Trip
The Ukulele - Soundtrack of Hawaii
Book: Lavaflow *
Fresh cell cure under the Wailua Falls
If you land in Lihue on Kauai, I recommend a trip to Wailua Falls. From a height of 30 meters, the water masses fall over a rock cliff into the depths. You can have a beautiful view from the platform about 60 meters above the falls, which is usually full of tourists in the late morning. According to legend, the ancient Hawaiians jumped down here to impress women. Since I don't have to impress women on my Hawaii trips (or because no opportunity presents itself), I leave out the jump, but on my second visit, I ignore the prohibition sign a few meters from the platform. It goes extremely steep through dense jungle on a muddy path into the depths here. Ropes are attached to the trees to help the daring and romantic adventurers down safely. However, what awaits you at the foot of the falls looks like paradise on earth. Green lush nature, a few larger rocks on which you can have a wonderful picnic. The thundering masses of water plunge into a large round pool next to you, producing refreshing water dust. A swim in the ice-cold pool is like a rejuvenating cure. The Wailua Falls are most beautiful in the morning at 9. The sun slowly breaks through the large trees and throws a thousand magical rays of light through the green thicket. At the edge of the pool, I climb over boulders to the curved rock face and sit behind the falling water masses in a small cave.
In Kapaa nearby, I check into the Kauai Beach House, a very simple hostel that resembles a hippie commune. You quickly meet like-minded people here. The kitchen and also the 9-bed rooms are open to several sides and surrounded by tropical plants. My bed is facing the sea directly. That is something. But a cheap hostel for 20$ per night also has disadvantages. I want to take a shower after a run and I notice that the shower is shut down. I try my luck one floor below and have to realize that there is also only a simple water hose attached right next to the toilet. No curtain, no tub. Well, better than nothing... I make friends with Pepa from Hanover, Julia from Munich, some travellers from Swiss and I also meet York again, whom I met a few weeks before in the hostel on Big Island. We cook together and enjoy the sunset with some Budweiser afterwards. I feel like I desperately need the drinks for the first night in the 9-bed room. 8 snoring men of different nationalities in one room with me.
As I enter the room around midnight, all my roommates are sleeping quietly and peacefully. The only, very likely unbearable snoring comes from me.
"You will feel your muscles tomorrow. I was just wondering how you will clean your teeth..." the operator of "Waterski Kauai" says to me. I treat myself to half an hour of wakeboarding. Very expensive but such a great pleasure to wakeboard in the evening sun on the Wailua River. Sparkling coconut palms in the evening sun. I treat myself to a Wailua wakeboard T-shirt after my exhausting evening sport. A kayak tour is also highly recommended. You simply rent a kayak in the Kamokila Hawaiian Villageto paddle to the Fern Grotto or the Secret Falls. After a few days in the hippie hostel, I need a clean place to stay and book my hotel room nearby. The Kauai Sands Hotel is simple but nice and quiet. I finally have a big comfortable bed again as well as my own toilet and shower.
Waimea Canyon Trail
In 2010, I hike the Waimea Canyon Trail with Pepa, whom I met in the hostel in Kapaa. The green colours of Garden Island at sunrise are perfect. At 7:45, we start on the Canyon Trail in cool banana fields. Along with fantastic fresh morning air, we cross the Waimea River over an adventurous suspension bridge. Directly into a green oasis. The huge trees carry such a fresh and fruity green that you just want to relax under their shade. After a short while, we have to cross the river for a second time and I try to jump from stone to stone. It is too dangerous for me with my camera backpack and I take off my shoes in the middle of the river. As soon as I look at my feet, I lose my balance. The canyon water is incredibly refreshing. I put my shoes back on and continue through the lush greenery. After 10 minutes, the third river crossing follows already. Shoes off again and another refreshing foot bath. Afterwards, the first ascent over rocky and dusty paths follows. The canyon shows its first glimpses of beige-pink-purple rock walls. Unfortunately, a camera is not able to capture the variety of colours and vastness of the canyon. From below, the canyon is huge and much airier than assumed from above. It smells of decay. Countless toads jump in all directions as we approach. On the side of the trail, the remains of a dog carcass stew in the midday heat. At the third of 16 river crossings, we rest and eat our hot dogs. How fitting... We can hardly separate ourselves from the romantic little river and talk about different things. I tell Pepa about Mama's hour of death. Funny and intelligent girl. She has already experienced a lot in her 19 years. It almost feels like having a little sister. And she hikes the complete 24 km in her Chucks. My respect. These shoes have neither footbed nor tread. The dusty trail and the funny conversations make me incredibly thirsty and I have already used 2/3 of my water supply before we even arrived. We dive further and further into the canyon and see bombastic rock formations. In the early afternoon, we reach the Vilivili Camp, where mountain goats climb up the canyon walls in fear. We are a little surprised to have half of the way behind us already and would like to go on for hours. Deeper and deeper into the canyon. The atmosphere of the colourful canyon is magical as if we are in another world. But our water supply and the time of day force us to turn around.
The way back feels longer and our feet start to hurt. The thirst is almost unbearable, we have to save our water. Out of nowhere, 2 construction workers appear behind us on their quads, who have cleaned the natural irrigation system on the way there. I stick out my thumb for fun. They can't take us with them. But with the words "You look thirsty", they point at their cooler, which is filled with cooled drinks. We feel like dancing for joy. A gift from heaven. I can't remember ever being so happy about cold water. The rest of the way is done quickly and we still drive to the Canyon lookouts and to my beloved Kalalau lookout one last time. Shining in particularly beautiful colours again today. 2 beers on the beach in Kapaa with Pepa and a beautiful full moon. It creates a yellow-green-purple circle on the clouds. Apparently, it is called "Moonbow".
Maui is the second largest island in the archipelago, named after the Polynesian demigod. Due to the flat land bridge created by erosion between the West Maui Mountains and the Haleakala volcano, it is also called "The Valley Isle" . While Oahu is mostly visited by Japanese tourists, Maui is extremely popular with visitors from the US mainland and Canada.
I treat myself to a Frappuccino Mocha Coconut In Maui. I don't know. The Americans mix everything. Maui is an island of contrasts. There are long dream beaches and luxury hotels here. In the east, however, lonely natural beauties like in the small town of Hana. Beauties from Hollywood, on the other hand, are more likely to be found in the south. Whenever I read Gala at the hairdresser's, I discover Paris Hilton or Hale Berry on the beach of Maui. Don't actors have the desire to spend their time in remote and breathtaking nature?
Banana Bungalow - Life in the Ghetto
The hostel is notorious. You should not have high expectations. However, it is cheap and you meet a lot of like-minded people as a solo traveller. And it has the advantage that the bungalow guides offer free tours to get to know the island. The small town of Wailuku near the airport has nothing to offer but run-down streets and houses, and even the residents make an eerie and shabby impression. I am told you should not go out in the streets at night. Too dangerous. What doesn't kill me makes me stronger, I think to myself, and enter an open-plan kitchen with several refrigerators and filthy sinks in the Banana Bungalow. Here, everyone is responsible for themselves. I quickly buy some food and a six-pack of beer, label my bag and put it in the fridge with the other 12 bags. The kitchen is crowded with dropouts and hippies. I also notice a melodious Swiss accent in the multilingual jumble of voices and make friends with Nadine and Oliver from Bern. The Banana Bungalow seems to be one big party. Marijuana clouds in the whole outside area. I shouldn't wear green swimming shorts, another Swiss tells me, laughing. They will smoke them too. I stick to beer and try to make more contacts for the next few days. I don't know my roommates in the 6-bed room yet. I am curious because the complete belongings of a roommate are spread over the floor. The free Hana tour tomorrow is already fully booked. Nevertheless, the operators of the bungalow, who also picked me up from the airport for free, still put me on the list. "There is a trick..." the driver tells me. I should just buy a bottle of whiskey and then you get things for free...
I sleep extremely badly because an American woman has a birthday in a few days, is already throwing pre-parties and offers our room in the middle of the night to the party people. The scattered clothes belong to her. I am slightly shocked that a woman is capable of such a mess.
Road to Hana
The 80 km road runs east on Highway 36 on the north shore of Maui over 59 bridges and 620 curves to Hana, a small, relaxed village with a population of just a few hundred. The first stop is Paia, a small hippie village where country legend Willie Nelson runs a saloon. Paia has become a small attraction, although it offers no attractions other than itself. No great views, no waterfalls but bizarre characters. A 90-year-old hippie couple on a Harley, a Rastafarian with more dirt in his dreadlocks than on a dirt road, a young freak having serious conversations with himself.
We stock up on drinks and snacks at the Mana food store for the day, as there is nothing but roads, nature and waterfalls on the long way to Hana. A German, rather scruffy dropout kindly asks for a cigarette. As a thank you he tells me his life story. I want to know what he does for a living. "From air and love," he replies with a grin. The man can hardly part with me, yet I have to make it clear to him that I am travelling with a bus full of bungalow dwellers and therefore have to move on. What a pity that would be, he explains to me with a look as if he would start crying soon. He had probably chosen me as his cigarette machine.
Not far from Paia is Hookipa Beach Park, which is considered to be the starting point of modern surfing since the early 1930s.
The sharp coral reef is close to the shore in Hookipa and it is only about 1 meter below the water surface. It is surely not for beginners but professionals like Robby Naish, who compete against their peers in competitions like the "Aloha Classics". Another world-famous surf spot is "Jaws" between Milemarker 13 and 14 of the Hana Highway. The waves can reach a height of more than 20 meters in winter, which is why this type of surfing is called "tow-in surfing": The surfer can no longer paddle the wave himself due to speed and size and is pulled onto the wave by a jet ski.
The Road to Hana is undoubtedly the most famous and beautiful car route in Hawaii. You feel like you're driving through the Garden of Eden: A slow, winding road through lush scenery surrounded by waterfalls, pools and jungle-like scenery.
The reason to take this route is the ride itself.
It is a drive through a tropical fantasy that becomes reality here. If you drive this route, you should take your time, an overnight stay is recommended. Or as a Hawaiian proverb says: "As you drive, don't feel the need to hurry up to get "there" because you may find that there is no there there." On our way further along the Road to Hana, we stop again and again at wonderful viewpoints like the Waianapanapa Beach Park. The colours of the black beach, the green palm trees and the blue of the ocean are breathtaking.
In Hana, we treat ourselves to a delicious Fish taco at Braddah Hutts and watch a small Hawaiian child bathing in the cooler. A lot of celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Oprah Winfrey or Sean Connery have settled down in this paradisiacal place. They know why. The hidden Red Sand Beach is the ultimate hit. I'm probably lying next to a full-bearded James Bond and don't recognize him. The mix of colours of blue, black and red with natural waves in the bay takes my breath away. I could stay here longer but we have to move on to the Seven Sacred Pools. One of the most beautiful hiking trails on Maui starts there, the Pipiwai Trail, which is about 4 miles long. Passing a giant banyan tree, you reach a dense fabulous bamboo forest after a short while. The trail ends at Waimoku Falls, where fresh mountain water pours 120 meters over a lava wall.
We make our way home in darkness. The complete Road to Hana back. We have been rumbled around properly on the winding, narrow road and the bus has to stop because of the nausea of a participant. Arriving at the bungalow, I see the same picture as yesterday. Party and schnapps drunken from a surfboard. And that after a 13-hour tour. Shouting people as far as the eye can see. I decide that backpacking is nothing for me. I want my peace in the evening. I'm probably too old for that.
We want to enjoy Hana again in peace, so Nadine, Oli and I decide without further ado to take the strenuous way for a second time. We want to spend a night in paradise, away from the ghetto and tourism. We take our first stop at the bridge on the river like last week. This time, I dare and jump from 4 meters into the narrow Ching's Pond below me. The water is so wonderfully blue and refreshing that my headache is gone afterwards. Another bath under the Waikani Falls a little further follows. And a short walk to the fascinating rainbow eucalyptus trees.
Our accommodation, "Hale Hana Bay", will probably remain the most dreamlike location of the whole tour. It is located directly by the sea with a view of the palm trees and black sand of Hana Bay. Our veranda is surrounded by coconut trees and I will wake up tomorrow with a view of the sea. The whole house costs 40$ each. In contrast, a night in the ghetto for 28$ is ridiculous. We are thankful to escape the ghetto for one night and completely stunned by this wonderful place. Time seems to have stopped here. A few cottages, a gas station and a small supermarket.
West Maui Mountains
We avoid the West Maui Mountains and arrive in a small original Hawaiian town named Kahakuloa Suddenly, a Hawaiian jumps out from behind a palm tree, dances in front of our car and holds out a fresh pineapple and banana chips to us. "Always eat fresh! Stay fresh!" he sings non-stop. I can't help myself and buy a bag of banana chips from him. They do taste fresh. We laugh about this funny guy all day long. 10 meters further, we stop at a cosy green stand and buy fresh, warm Banana Bread. Is this really fresh from the oven or did the friendly saleswoman put it in the sun? As we pass the banana man again, he jumps in front of the car again. I show him my chips quickly and he lets us pass. Afterwards, to the Honolua Bay for snorkeling for a second time. No turtle this time but huge colourful schools of fish. I check into Patey's Place in Lahaina and I get a friendly welcome this time. Finally a room to myself with a living room and a terrace. And all this is in my favourite city. In the evening, I go to the beach for sunset and stroll through Front Street. I am glad to go to bed early tonight. I have to get up at 6:30 again tomorrow...
I accidentally get on the wrong boat the next morning and get down just in time to take the correct snorkeling and dolphin tour. Along with a delicious breakfast, we drive one hour to Lanai, the smallest inhabited island, where there is not much to see except a luxury hotel and a few deserted beaches. This is the island where Bill Gates got married. According to rumours, he rented the whole island at that time and also had the regular traffic stopped to escape from annoying paparazzi. A journalist probably managed to enter the island anyway. Gates caught him and offered him a deal. His camera in exchange for some compensation. It is not known exactly how much the amount was. What is obvious is that the photographer will never have to work again. I jump into the deep blue waters of Sharks Bay and swim into the colourful coral reef. I'm a little disappointed because I don't see any turtles or large schools of fish. But then, the saviour of the trip arrives. A few meters in front of me swims a 2 meter White Reef Shark. I don't panic because the shark is more afraid of me than I am of it. I shoot a quick photo for proof, on which you will probably not recognize much except for blue haze. We have a burger on the ship for lunch before we continue Dolphin Watching.
In the evening, I pay my tribute to the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and feel like Forrest Gump for 5 minutes. After the huge success of the Hollywood movie in 1994, the American media corporation Viacom established 37 restaurants of the iconic brand around the world 2 years later. On Front Street, in front of the restaurant, there is a bench with suitcases and concrete sneakers where tourists put their sweaty feet to take souvenir photos. We quickly buy a Bubba Gump T-shirt as a souvenir and head for the sunset under the coconut palm. It looks bad at first, but then the clouds slowly turn from soft yellow to delicate pink and finally to fiery red and purple. Such beautiful colours in Maui for the ending of my journey.
I am lucky on the flight back to Germany! I fly first class. So a standby ticket has advantages after all...
Photos (c) Florian Krauss