A Travellerspoint blog

March 2010

The Big Island Part 2.3

Confusing wrap-up (Originally Part 8)

Somewhere along the past few months my memories of days have gotten a bit confused. I have some simple notes, but they don't really add up enough for me, so I've kinda been winging when events happen. To start at a time that makes sense, I'll start at our last Saturday night with the Hare Krisnas. Joe and I came a bit late (still sorting out our differences... let me count the ways) but we caught part of the singing at the end and of course we cough the Newman O's (I love those things. Paul Newman's organic form of Oreo's that actually taste as good, if not better. Yeah, if you like Oreo's, and have extra cash for organics, you have to try them) and the fresh milk cha. The little girl kept giving me extra cookies b/c 1.) I think she knew I would be more excited than some of the adults and 2.) I think kids can sometimes sense when you could use a cookie. After chanting Joe and I said goodbye to some of the people who wouldn't be coming to Sunday temple (so we wouldn't be seeing them again), washed out the huge tea containers, and then headed out down the street. Neither of us wanted to go home just yet. We wanted something to do, something fun to move us out of the rut we were in. The quarreling had ended when Joe surprisingly agreed to come with me to the Saturday gathering even though he told me he wasn't earlier. Okay, was all I could think. Okay... he does want to be around me, even if its doing something he's kinda sick of doing. I was more into the singing and the playing of random percussion instruments than he was, and I was sad that I only had two days left to do it. He was sad for me, a feeling I don't know if I would have if our roles were reversed. Maybe for Kung Fu. If I was sick of going to classes in China and he wanted me to come with, and he only had two days left... even if I was upset with him, maybe I would go. I hope I would go. I want to be the kind of person who would go. Thats a start I guess... but aren't I a little old to still be growing up? Isn't it about time I became a big girl rather than looking to the one day that I might be?

Anyways, we smelled brownies. Looking into this nice, neat shop with a long shinny oak bar, with shinny oak stools, and a shinny oak floor, we decided that the place looked nice and smelled delicious. It was called The Kava Bar, and we had no idea what Kava was, but we knew they had brownies. "Have a seat," the guy from the Herbie movie told us (the original one, not Linsey Lohan... and probably wasn't really him, I bet he is a lot older now). The girl next to me handed me a biology book. "Here, all you ever wanted to know about Kava." Everything sounded great, nice bartender who seems to be the owner, nice girl sipping something out of a coconut shell, and "Did we smell brownies?" He laughed and said that he was just making a fresh batch, and would we like one when their done. Yeah, we wanted one. As I read about the Kava root the owner told us that if we haven't had Kava before, to know that you don't drink it for the taste. He said that royal families of the South Pacific used to drink it like we drink alcohol, and commoners drank it in sacred ceremonies. The drink is made by pounding the root and mixing it with water to produce a brownish, bitter brew, yet its a soothing drink. It has proven medicinal effects, its an anti-depressant, calms nerves, eases stress and anxiety and naturally combats fatigue. On top of all that it keeps the mind alert as the body relaxes. He said that after one cup you don't notice anything. 2 cups, and people start to smile a bit more. Then after 3 cups there usually isn't a person in the room that hasn't started talking with everyone else as if they were old friends. He told us all this while poring us 2 free coconut shells. Drinking it reminded me of dirt mixed with winter fresh gum in cool water. The girl next to me looked at my face for a reaction. I actually kinda liked it. Don't get me wrong, it tasted awful, and I told them as much, but I liked how it was uniquely different from anything I've ever tasted, and it was good for me to boot. I'm picky when it comes to what kind of animal I eat, but when it comes to veggies, I haven't met one I wouldn't try. After our first cups he topped us off again (which I couldn't believe b/c the stuff was kinda expensive). I checked my purse to make sure that we had enough money... just enough for 2 more rounds and a brownie. We started with the brownie. But before we could eat it he had to show us how they were special Hawaiian Kava brownies. "You see how the brownies all come to a point a little in the center, and the the raspberry 'erupts' out of the middle?" They were volcano brownies. I couldn't wait.

Amazing, simply amazing. The best brownie I've had I think pretty much ever (sorry anyone who has ever made me a brownie). There was no Kava taste at all (hence why they were good) and they were still all moist and gooey from coming out of the oven. But the top had a nice thin layer of toasted chocolate that drooled with organic raspberry sauce that you could still see little spheres of berries and seeds. Then we found the minor inlay of cheese cake, and when we asked the owner what it symbolized, he said deliciousness (or something like that). We bought a pint of Kava, he was unfortunately our of the one made from coconut which he said was less bitter, so we got the one mixed with milk. And I wouldn't let Joe finish the brownie until we drank our pint so we could end on a good taste. A guy pulled up in the seat next to Joe and ordered a whole quart, and as instructed (or as nature would proceed, but I think the owner influenced us a little), we started chatting it up with the new guy. The girl on my right was a nurse who had an early shift, so she had to leave almost when we came, but she seemed nice enough. She did however threaten the owner that she would be brining her friend here later in the week so he could mellow her out. She told him that she was extremely high strung and eccentric. He made her promise that she wasn't too crazy before she left though, I guess he gets a lot of crazies in his place. He told us after she left that he thinks that one of the cross walk buttons in Hilo does work, but just not the way we think. He said that even though we know that none of them make the lights change, that there is one that can make people crazy. Now it was Saturday night, and there was Joe, myself, the new guy, and 2 other guys who were to the right of the nurse. The place was dead. But se said that every Thursday night, someone goes out and pushes that crosswalk button over and over agin. Like that person who walks up to a crowd of people at the crosswalk, but pushes the button anyways thinking that everyone else just didn't push it right before they got there. And then everyone goes crazy. He only had to call the cops once though, and it had to be on Forest Gump of all people! And all he wanted to do was sit there a bit longer, pay his 20 cents for the $5 drink, and wait for Jenny!

The new guy talked to me a lot about Japan. I guess he had been there a lot, and his daughter was actually a pretty big singer over there (but I can't remember her name). But he told us that one day he was teaching english and he saw a little girl with a notebook that had a picture of he daughter on it. "Kanojo suki desu ka" "Do you like her?" he said both to the little girl so she could understand him, and answer his question. "Hi! Yes! Yes!" she was very excited about how she is her favorite singer. Really cool guy, and he gave me a lot of tips on places to go and a website, Dave's English Cafe: www.eslcafe.com, where I could post my resume for a job. Then he also shared he quart of Kava with us. We started telling him our story, and that of course that led to the "incident" as I'll will now call it. The Kava Bar owner said that once he found some rummaged through backpacks in the parking lot behind his store that he turned into the police. So he said that if someone finds our stuff, they will probably know why its just laying around and we might get lucky if the cops figure out that its our stuff and not just some random unclaimed stuff. When we told him our backpack was lavender he gave us a smile and said that they wouldn't be able to botch connecting us to an item like that. Then he gave us a wrapped up Kava brownie for the road... and our Karma. Then he said that he hoped that one jerk didn't ruin our sense of a good Hawaiian Aloha, and I'm finding that maybe it kinda did, and it also kinda didn't. We have seen more Aloha since the "incident" than we did before it, so maybe it has both crushed and reinvigorated our sense of the word. But like they say in that one movie with Sandra Bullock, it was time to say our own Aloha and head back home.

The next morning (after another batch of secret pancakes) we went to the Soto Zen temple for mass. We sang a couple of songs that kinda sucked (they were in Japanese, but the melody was one of those sad march like hems from Christianity). Then we got to the good stuff with the drum beating and the long drawn out single and occasional double syllable mantras (I find those fun to sing). In the middle the abbot gave a short speech about what it means to be a Buddhist (he said for the benefit of the small children attending, but I think he may have also meant us... either that or he was directly referring to us... which would kinda suck). Then one more song, and the mass was over. It took all of maybe 15 minutes, and wasn't very different from a Christian mass (except for the time length). I was very let down by this, and so we hung around thinking that maybe something else was going to happen. But then we were told that the next section of the day was for people being brought into the church and taking on their Buddhist name.

That night was our second (and last) temple meeting. This time we didn't have an actual lecture, but more of a free pass around the mike time to talk about their Gurudev. When Stephanie got the mike she talked about him in a way that made me sad to never have met the man. She said that she met him while she was still a devout Christian, and he wasn't like everyone else who would judge her and try and correct her misguided judgment on deities. But that wasn't the only thing that attracted her to him. She said that it doesn't matter what religion you choose or if you even belong to an organize religion, that some people you could just see are people of God. That they had been touched in someway that defined them as being specially spiritual. So even though she was a devout Christian, she understood after meeting him that she wanted to learn from him. Not learn in the sense of teaching her the Vedas like someone gets taught the Bible in Sunday school, but to have him as a true Guru. Someone to lead her down the path to spirituality. She never thought she needed someone to do that, and that the only way to spirituality was within yourself, but meeting him she realized that there are some people in this world gifted with the ability to help you along your path. Just like Joe is gifted at martial arts, or Jenna is gifted at art, or Laura is gifted at everything she does (she just has to remember that she needs to do in order to be gifted sometimes). So she asked him right then to be her Guru and to give her a blessing; and without even having to tell him that she didn't want to receive a new name because her name means a lot to her, he knew, and he gave her a blessing and a mantra (everyone gets their own mantra to pray on their beads like a Christian says the Hail Marry and the Our Father on a Rosary). She said that he gave her the Hare Krisna mantra (most mantras don't repeat Hare Krisna, and are much longer and complicated), and he said she only had to say it on 4 beads a day (he also knew the extent to keep her meditating and connected to this faith without pushing her too far and having her let go of it). And she said that ever since then (years ago I believe) she hasn't missed a day. That night after dinner I spent an hour playing with a 3 year old, the only boy of the group, who got left out by the other girls who wanted to play dress up and wouldn't let him participate. I we played animal puzzles, and then we read Pinocchio and The Gingerbread Man (does anyone else remember that the Gingerbread Man dies in the end? Yeah, I was really building the kid up with questions like, "Should he get on the foxes tai?" and then leading him with the right head shake "No, your right! Lets see what happens!" then being really surpassed when I had to tell the kid that the Gingerbread Man fucked up big time, and the little old woman had better bake some more cookies!). At the end of the night he said "Goodbye Aunt Rain!" (I guess all friends of Hare Krisna kids are called Aunt something) and he was going to watch some of our Kung Fu videos on the travel blog b/c he loves watching martial arts (I thought he was at least 5, he was really very tall and mature for his age, and he had short hair except for a little braided ponytail on top of his head like a little Jedi).

On Monday Joe and I left early in the morning to get to the SSN office before the lines started because we were going to the free Hilo zoo that had a white tiger named NamasDe! After getting his SSN card all set up to be mailed to either his mom or mine, I can't remember... we should look into which one of them has it... or if they have it... anyways after we got that all sorted out for the time being we were pretty excited to find a place that actually accepted American Express! So we got a small Blizzard ice cream from the food court Dairy Queen, and her credit card machine was down, so we ended up paying cash. Oh well though, at least we were getting in the zoo for free! The only problem with that was that it was a very hot day, and the bus doesn't have a stop anywhere near the zoo. Technically it would be just as far of a walk to start from the mall, but the lady at the bus terminal said we should take the 20 min. bus ride to the next stop and get off there because then at least the walk would be down hill. On the bus we asked the driver if he went past the zoo, and he told us that he did, in a manor of speaking. That meant that he drove up the main road that the zoo's side street was off of. So as we drove past the street sign with the Hawaiian prince pointing with his big pinkish orange cape towards the zoo, the bus driver said "Theres the zoo!" I stood up and asked him if there was anyway he could pull over, and he just looked at me like "Who the hell are you?" But he didn't say that. I sat back down only to discover that at the next street he pulled over onto a small shoulder of the road that just appeared, and quickly disappeared after the street. "Whooooo, its somebody's lucky day!" one woman said. Another grabbed my arm and whispered that he just doesn't do that for anyone, and I should make sure to say thank you. I did. But we still had a 10 min. walk from the CORRECTIONAL FACILITY! Sure, they could make a street shoulder for the correctional facility, but not the zoo. (And they wonder why tourism is down.) Then after we made it to the zoo's side street, we had another 35 min. walk to the zoo. So by the time we finally made it to the zoo, Joe's feet needed a rest, and I needed to re-sunblock.

We did what people usually do at the zoo, look at animals, make the occasional animal noise to see if we could trick them into talking with us, or just moving, whichever we could get. The zoo was really nice for a free one, nothing like the Rowel free zoo. This one actually reminded me of a smaller version of the Cleveland Zoo. They had huge areas for their animals all decked out with plants and hills and trees so they thought they were in their own section of the jungle. The monkeys had a huge dome jungle gym that they played frantically on using their tails as an unnecessary 3rd arm, but necessary when you took into account all of the impossible acrobatics they were doing just to cross the jungle gym. Then we came to the huge pen with NamasDe. He was just sleeping under a cluster of bamboo trees way down in the valley of his pen. He woke up just as we were about to move on, looked at us, and then started to climb up the hill to the section of his pen that was fenced in because he was level with the people's viewing railing. Joe and I walked over to the fenced in area and NamasDe came right up to us and starred with its strange eyes. He had ovular yellow orange slits like a cat, but its circular white corneas only existed on the front of the eyes, and the rest of the sphere was a pinkish red. They were the strangest and coolest eyes I had ever seen. Then he went back down into the area that was fence free in the valley. Joe kept trying to get him to play with the 3 light posts they had set up with huge balls on strings by doing white tiger style kung fu, but NamasDe wasn't in the mood. Eventually we moved on because we wanted to hit up the rest of the park before they fed him at 3:15. Then at 3:15 we came back and they let us into a building that reminded me of prison cells. We were behind a cage that separated us from the walkway the feeders used, and then on the other side of the walkway were the cells that they opened after they dropped in 3 whole (skinned) chickens. NamasDe came right up to the cell bars and chomped each one down, eating it bone and all. We asked the feeder why NamasDe didn't go after any of the alive chickens that had found their way into its pen, and the feeder said it was because they keep their animals so well fed that they don't feel like hunting... well, except for the one day NamasDe ate a peacock that flew into his pen. But that was it.

Once the feeding was over the zoo was closing, so Joe and I ran out to the parking lot and searched for people our age to ask for a ride. Joe had discovered that it is always best to ask people for a ride because its harder to tell someone that you won't help them than it is to just keep driving and pretend like you didn't see their thumbs in the air. He was right. I ran up to a girl we had seen several times at different cages and asked her if she was heading left onto the main road. She said that they were, but we would have to ask her friend who was still in the zoo since it was his car. He said he could take us if we didn't mind lap sitting, so Joe hopped in the front and I got on his lap. It was only a 10 min. drive, and the time passed really fast as we told stories about our travels. I kept trying to ask them questions, but they were only on a one week vacation, and didn't find it very interesting to talk about. They were more curious about us, and I was happy to oblige.

When we made it to the shopping mall Joe and I picked up some Chinese food (and yes, while they do have food like this in China, it is vary rare to find... except for the noodles, those are everywhere). Then we went to Boarders and spent several hours there reading and relaxing. I picked up the next 2 volumes in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series (thank god this time volume 2 was unwrapped. At our last Boarders I had to skip to volume 3, and as if the series didn't already have me completely confused.) Joe read A Picture of Dorian Gray, a book he had recently become obsessed in finding. I'm still not entirely sure why (Sheryl, is this your doing?), and I'm not even sure what the book is about (cliff notes please). Joe tried explaining how amazing this one passage was to me a few hours into our evening, but I just didn't feel like I really understood what was going on.

Then we ran around the mall to the other side where the bus stop was to catch the 8:15pm bus... but the bus never came. We waited, and waited and waited. Some other people came to the stop around the same time, but they didn't seem to be too worried about the fact that the bus never showed. There was only one more bus that night at 9:45pm... and we waited for that bus to come... but that one never showed either. 10pm rolled around, and we all just waited there. What else could we do? If we were waiting for the bus we obviously had at least an hour walk to the next stop, so we all just sat there. Occasionally a car would come to pick someone up, but we all mostly just waited. "If all else fails," Joe started as I fidgeted with the bus map trying to find some sort of number to call, "we could always call Jean to come pick us up." I looked at him disapprovingly. Could we really call Jean at 10:30pm at night and have her drive maybe 40 min. out to come and get us? I didn't like the idea. I started thinking of ways to secure our stuff to our bodies so if we slept at the bus stop we wouldn't get robbed. There were about a dozen other people there with us. Would one of them get a ride, and let us come with them? Then after several potential busses passed the mall on the highway across the mall parking lot... the bus came. The bus driver said there was some sort of accident up the road so no traffic was moving. He was over 2 hours late, and that was the explanation. I felt bad to feel so put out by someone else's tragedy. I would have been okay if I knew the bus was going to be almost 3 hours late, but it was the not knowing that really stressed me out.

Getting home the door to the "basement" was locked, and we didn't have a key. We all had keys for our individual bedrooms, but to the main door only Stephanie had a key, so we only locked that door at night. So now we were locked out of the house too. I thought about sleeping on Jean's porch on the 2nd floor. But the basement didn't really have walls. Just a white fence with chicken wire over it to keep things out, but not the weather (we were in Hawaii). "Stephanie? Are you awake?" I called into the basement. I tried 4 or 5 times because Joe thought my voice wouldn't cause alarm, but if she heard a mans voice, not recognizing the muffled words, she may not come out of her room. Thankfully I saw her light turn on through the crack under her door, and then she came out. "What are you kids still doing out? I thought you were already asleep when I got home at 10." I told her that it was our plan, but then the bus didn't come for the longest time. She let us in and said that we were lucky because she only heard my voice because she muted a commercial break on her Dell while she was watching some TV. Otherwise her earphones would have completely blocked out my muffled whisper calls to her. I felt bad because tomorrow was our last day with them, and we were gone all day today, and then causing grief at night.

The next morning Joe got up bright and early with me to absorb the chi from the trees before the sunrise, and then we practiced the form Joe had been reteaching me... and we got into another fight. Fight fight fight, I'm so tired of it, and yet never seem to run out of energy to find offense in the little things. He corrected me for not turning my head to the left on one move, but really he just missed that I had done it, but that wasn't even the point! The point was that I don't like Kung Fu for the little things, I'm more of a big picture kind of a girl, and I don't like him always reminding me that he is my teacher... as if I could forget... and I hate myself for not being as good as him... and I hate remembering that I hate myself for it... and I hate hating him for trying to help... and I have so much hate inside of me I wonder where it comes from sometimes. Joe thinks it comes from my issues with my father. I only wish I could blame everything wrong with me on him... wouldn't that make life easier? Thanks dad for all the problems, and now that I know its your fault, I can feel better about myself and continue pushing all my hate towards you b/c you're not affected by that anyways since I haven't spoken to you in 3 years now (I think... I don't really remember anymore). But no, I don't do that. I direct my hate to the only person I can, and he doesn't deserve it. I'm sorry, and I would tell him that, but I think we may be beyond that these days... even though I think its all he wants to hear from me. I can't tell. Emotions cloud my judgment... and thats when I need the best judgment of all... those sensitive times.

We hold each other on the bridge we first came to the Hare Krisnas on and we see the sunrise. Below us we spot 2 very large sting rays swimming dangerously close to the fresh water part of the river, and I think of us. We could stay in the ocean where its save and homey. But we travel, and it causes stress, but its also exciting and uplifting and beautiful away from our home. In the fresh water there is a magnificent waterfall. And maybe that waterfall is just as pretty as whats in the ocean, but the point isn't to just find beauty, the point is to expand horizons. And we could do it alone, but we want to do it together... "because happiness is only real when shared." - Into the Wild.

That morning I went to the roof to help Joe finish the vines and to see the beautiful flowers he would bring down and put into water for me. And yes, I saw the beautiful flowering vines, and then I saw all the bees that make them possible, and I hurried back down the rickety ladder into the jungle attempting to engulf the house.

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When I got downstairs Stephanie said she was heading out to 4-mile, so I hopped in the car with her. Getting into the water was even harder this time because there were 2 giant sea turtles swimming around the ladder into the water! We slowly got in, and they swarmed us, swimming around looking for us to feed them. "I don't have any food!" she told them, and then when they started swimming away (obviously understanding what she was telling them), one of them ever so slightly hit her with its flipper! I told her that she was now warned that next time she had better bring some grub for the sea turtles.

When we got home I was going to take a shower, but I decided to go ahead and washed all the mold off the kitchen walls and celling first. Jean said I didn't have to, and what I did in her bedroom was more than enough for a week and a half stay, but I did it because I felt that I could never repay them for the security and friendship and free dinners with live music and spirituality that they had given to me when I needed it most. Then that evening when Joe was taking down the ladder he put it though the window to Jean's prayer room. Luckily people in Hawaii don't believe in closing their windows, so it only ripped through her screen. Jean said that she thinks she had another screen we could put up in its place, so we would try and to that in the morning before our ride came. We packed that night because early tomorrow morning Trent from Couchsurfing was coming to pick us up. Joe had set up this Couchsurfing when we first arrived on the island. He tried to get one sooner, but nothing was available. So we needed to be ready tonight so we could put the screen in tomorrow and still be ready for Trent at 8am.

The next morning we ripped out the screen from the nails in the wooden frame that held the screen on (not the most convenient set up for screen replacement). Joe puled the old screen out while I went on the ladder on the outside and attempted to put the new screen on, and then tried to hammer the wooden frame back onto of the new screen. I was kinda struggling with making sure the nails went back int their original holes, so Joe came outside to finish the job so I could calm down and take a shower. Erin (Trent's wife) kept calling to tell us that he would be late, then later, then later again. She thought we would be upset by this, but we were really quite grateful. When Trent actually came I was just dressed from the shower and Joe had just put away the ladder (good timing). We said goodbye to Stephanie and Champak (Jean was already at work), and Stephanie gave me a 109 beed prayer necklace that she made herself out of beautiful cherry wooden beads. Then we were off in to our last leg of the Big Island journey. Our last 3 days before our plane takes off for Oahu on Saturday morning, January 23rd.

Posted by - Rain 18:03 Comments (4)

The Big Island Part 2.2

The Born Supremacy (Originally Part 7)

Enough procrastinating! It was time to get our identities back! We secretly made pancakes by just adding water (no eggs here), and then we hopped the bus to the Prince Kuhio Plaza. The SSN office was actually a store in the mall (weird), and we had to take a number and wait in those chairs that make you unsure how long the line in front of you actually is. Then we handed them our birth certificates and they handed us sheets of paper saying our names and our SSN's. We wouldn't have had to do this for me had my mom sent my SSN card, but she didn't think I needed it (when do you not need 2 forms of ID)? But we had to go here for Joe anyways (have I mentioned that a few weeks ago he had his wallet stolen with his SSN card in it? Yeah, well if I haven't, now I am. And if I have, it deserves to be repeated to show how often I've reminded him too... as if he could forget, but I'm like that sometimes). Then we hopped the bus over to the Governor's Lesion's office, and we got our second souvenirs from the Big Island (our picture ID's now say Hawaii on them, and no, they aren't drivers licenses... so we aren't we aren't able drive now probably until we take the test again wherever we end up). We were going to head back to the mall to get Joe a new SSN card (they wouldn't give him one without a photo ID... really people? What do you think we are? Circus Lions? How many hoops can you possibly make us jump through?) And now that we had photo ID's and our birth certificates, we asked Kathy if all we needed to do is take the paperwork for lost passports back to Larry at the Hilo post office with our 2 forms of ID to start the process of getting our passports back, and she said no. No, no no. She said that we would have to go to the Federal Building in Honolulu to get the passports.

Damn it!

But what could we do about it? That was it. All we had left to do was get Joe a new SSN card, and we were tired. We would leave that to another day. For now it was time to get dinner, so we took the bus back to the main station at the end of the rout, and then walked over to where Stephanie said we could find Tiffany's Tai Fusion. On the way we passed by this huge temple that said "Taishoj Soto Zen." Joe wanted to go in and see what it was, and I was thinking about it, but there was this huge fence with an electric gate opener. The gate was open, but I just didn't think we should go without knowing what it was. Then this asshole with a baby pig on a leash sealed the deal. "Joe, lets get out of here!" He was laughing, he thought the man was playing with his pet pig. But I saw the way the animal struggled against the leash, and ran towards the man when it got the chance. Then the man would lift the leash in the air, swinging the pig away from him and harshly knocking it back to the ground. The man was a local Hawaiian, and he was with another local, and they were laughing and having a blast. "Come on Joe!" I screamed when I saw that one of its front legs were broken as it dragged the leg under its belly while rushing the men. Joe asked me what was wrong with me, and I told him under my breath. He took a second look, contemplated it, and began to follow me as he continued analyzing the men and their pig. I think he was about to debate with me about the situation when a local white guy with long curly blond hair and a dark dan pointedly came out of his surf shop and began calling out to the guys. "Hey man, cut that out!" His voice was much sterner than I thought it was going to be. The Hawaiian guy started to explain that he wasn't doing anything, but the guy with the surf shop cut him off. "No, I know exactly what you are doing, and I'm telling you right now, to cut it out. Thats not cool, and I don't want to see andy of that outside my store." The Hawaiian guy was big and tough when it came to dealing with his baby pig, but he wasn't going to stand up to this guy, and he sheepishly nodded and started somberly heading down the street, holding the pig upright a bit with the leash b/c it couldn't walk right carrying its own weight, but he also kept his arm fully extended away from his body so that the pig couldn't thrash at his ankles.

Sitting down at the restaurant, I was really kind of distraught. Luckily the menu was geared towards vegetarians, perhaps thats why when we first came in we spotted one of the Hare Krisna families from our temple gatherings. The place was really nice with huge photographs of Hawaii all over the walls. We looked though the menu, but then we saw a couple next to us with the Tai Pizza, and we agreed with Stephanie... looked really good. It was basically 2 really huge pita breads with cheese oozing out from the between them and you could get several types of curries as "pizza toppings" inside with the cheese. It took a long time for the food to come, but that gave Joe and I time to have a good long conversation about something happy to get our minds ready for eating again. We were both starved by the time the pizza arrived, and we were both full by the time she took our plate. We shared the dish, and it was a good deal for any US restaurant, especially Hawaii.

Then we started walking home, and people were now heading into the temple. "Come on, can we check it out?" Joe really wanted to see what was up, so we went. The doors pushed sideways (that took a min. to figure out), and inside you could see pews and an alter like in Christian churches, but behind the alter was an extravagant chandelier of blankets and candles above a table with incense candles, and a huge drum next to that all on top of extravagant rugs and pillows. But behind all of this was a staircase that led to a large golden statue of Buddha. People were meeting on the right side of the room in chairs around a fold out table... we were interrupting a meeting. "Come in! Come in!" one of them called to us. Oh god. We came in. Most of them looked at us for a while, then went back to organizing papers. They all appeared to be speaking in Japanese, but they were all in normal garb except for the one man who ran over to us in a powder blue robe and pants. "Hajimemashite... Please... come in." I understood him through his heavy Japanese accent, shook his hand, and followed him to the front of the pews. "Wait here." We waited, not sure why, and looked at all the picture frames of what we assumed were past abbots of the temple that lined the walls going back behind the alter. When the man returned he was followed by a bald white guy in black robes. "Hello," he said as he shook our hands. He was American. He asked us if we were interested in the Soto Zen religion, and we came right out with the fact that we had no idea what it was. He graciously attempted to explain his religion as he gave us a tour of the temple room. Basically it was a sect of Buddhism that was formed in Japan that revolves around these principles:

1, The practise of meditation.
2, Keeping the moral precepts of Buddhism, both in service to others and in keeping faith with oneself.
3, The teaching that all beings have the Buddha Nature. All are fundamentally pure; but out of ignorance we create suffering, thereby obscuring our real nature. (This can be uncovered through principle 1.)
4, Awakening the heart of compassion and expressing it through selfless activity.

We liked him and what he had to say. He went to Japan to continue his study of Zen and was ordained there, so he told me that if we planned to travel to Japan he might be able to answer some questions for me, but they were having an officers meeting at the moment, and he would like to talk to us again possibly after their meditation they hold at 6am once a month (and it just happens to be tomorrow), or after Sunday "church." We told him that we would love to come to meditation, and we would see him again in the morning.

The next morning we got lost. Trying to get to the temple through short cuts always ends up taking longer (so why do we still try to do it?) When we eventually made it to the temple, everyone was already on the left side of the pews sitting on their knees on top of pillows in an oval facing outward. There was a pile of shoes on the ground, and my sandals had velcro straps. "chch-chch-chch-chch-chchchchc" damn it, one strap off. "CHCHCHCH" I thought it would be better to rip it off all in one go rather than dragging it out. I was wrong. It would have been better to leave the damn things on. I had a long skirt, I could cover up the fact that I didn't take my shoes off. Joe just slipped his shoes off... show off. Then we kneeled down on two open pillows and bowed our heads. I closed my eyes half mast to keep from falling asleep, and to keep from having my eyes wonder around the room (even though I was facing a wall). Meditate, okay... is this a meditation on something, or is it supposed to be on nothing? I chose nothing because I like that form of meditation, and I felt that was the vibe from the room. A meditation to clear the mind. After maybe 20 min. everyone started to get up. My feet were asleep. Then we started walking clockwise around the pillows very very slowly. Many of the Japanese people tried to walk at a slow, but steady pace, but the abbot would only move one foot's heal to the toe of the other very 10 seconds. We had a pile up. Once everyone caught onto the new way he was introducing them to moving around the room we un-accordion-ed. Then we sat back down on our pillows, and meditated again. After that we stretched, then we all walked to a table with a Buddha statue and bowed to it, and then we put our shoes back on. "Please, will you come with us for breakfast?" a little woman asked me with a thick Japanese accent. "Sure," I responded, nervous to say it in Japanese after how Naioki couldn't understand me.

We all headed for the room behind the main Buddha alter where there was a kitchen and dining area. The only other white people had us sit at the end of the table across from them. They were from New Zealand and were now living in Hawaii, so they gave us a bunch of information about New Zealand and where we could go to some more Soto Zen temples there. The others were mostly speaking in Japanese, and it was very hard for me to understand them because there were 5 or 6 different conversations going on at a time, and I can't even follow English speakers when they do that. The studding abbot (I assume) in the light blue robes sat next to me and pored everyone around him some tea. Then they had Japanese rolls (very good) made by the little old woman who invited us back there. Before we passed out the fruit and other assorted breakfast foods we chanted some Japanese. You would know the chant if you heard it. The little old woman gave us all sheets of paper with the mantras on them so we could follow along. Then: thump, thump, thump, one, two, one, two, the abbot began to keep time on the table. Then for every beet a new one syllable sound we would say and hold until the next beet with the next sound. For 2 syllable sounds we wouldn't hold the notes, and it sounded something like this:

KANNNN JIIIIII ZAIIIIIII BOOOOO SAAAAA GYOOOO JINNNNN HANNNNN NYAAAAAA HAAAAA RAAAAA MIIIII TAAAA JIIII SHOOOO KENNNNN GOOOO ONNNNN KAIIIIII KIUUUUUU DOOOO ISSSSSS SAIIIII KUUUUUU YAKU SHAAAAA RIIIIII SHIIIII

It went on for about 2 or 3 minutes, and then we ate. After talking with everyone and sharing our trip with them they invited us to come to their Sunday prayer meeting, and we agreed. Then they started to clean up, and I tried to help but they just shushed me away. "Don't even try, they wont let you." the woman from New Zealand told me. But, she didn't know how stubborn I was. So I kept helping, and started washing the tea kettles, and another woman came over and told me I could help only if I dried, and that she would wash because I was a guest. I was just satisfied that I could help. Then Joe and I came upstairs with the main abbot and he had one of those big screen Mac computers without a tower. Joe bit his lip, he wanted one so badly. He brought up pictures from his trips to Japan and told us places we would have to see, and gave us tips about how to get around the Tokyo airport and bus terminal. Then as we were leaving he got into a discussion with us about how the Japanese people felt about WWII, and how if roles had been reversed and they had blown up LA and NY, we wouldn't be cool with them the way they have forgiven us. "Or am I totally missing something?" He agreed with me that they have the mentality of whats past is past. They attacked us, and we overreacted, and there were circumstances of fear that we will hopefully never understand, thereby leaving us in a state of only sympathy... but never empathy. Other than that he really didn't seem to have much more insight into their mentality than I had already concluded myself. He did have some stories though, and one really stuck with me. It was of this old woman he met in Japan. She remembered those days in December vividly. She was on a train heading to visit her family. When they were only an hour away the train stopped. Nobody knew why for the longest time. And then the train started heading back. "Doushite Kudasai?" she asked the train operator. He told her they were heading back because Hiroshima no longer existed. It had been literally blown off the map. Crushed, she headed back to her home and morned their deaths. The next day she bought a new train ticket to the only other city she had family in. Imagine her fear when on that train 2 days latter... it stopped, and started heading back. Her only other family lived in Nagasaki. And still, this tall very American looking male talked to this woman, and she held no grudge against him. He was not the reason her family was killed. It was his country that did it, and not even the country he lived in now, but his country from 50 years ago. It just didn't make any senesce to her to blame him today, or to blame his country today for what happened all those years ago.

Walking home with Joe we discussed what we thought about what happened in WWII, but the conversation kinda died when we got to our street b/c we were starting to get really tired, cranky, and fighting a little about how we treat each other. Nap time? Hell yeah. I'm not used to holding to a schedule. When we finally woke up Stephanie was in our kitchen making lunch. "You kids finally up?" I told her that she was the one who slept in because we were already up, meditation for like 2 hours, had breakfast with some Japanese people, and had our afternoon nap. (So there.) "Well then, you kids ready to go swimming?" Joe declined b/c he wanted to start on the vines this weekend, but I said I could go. Since it was weekend 4 mile was crowded, so she took me to Richardson's a little ways down the road instead. It didn't have the fresh spring water, so it wasn't sacred or special to people, but I think I liked it better than 4 mile. 1.) No spring water = warmer water 2.) Black sand = cooler than normal sand 3.) You could see Mauna Kea from the beach! And... I didn't have my camera. Damn it! I decided that I needed to start bringing my camera around now. Screw having someone steal it or loosing the photos to travelers point crashing, whatever the new tragedy maybe... I think I decided that its better to have photographed and lost than to have never photographed at all (and yes, I had to write that sentence with loved in it first to get the phrasing correct). This was proven true when I searched the internet for the picture I wanted to take that day. It should be easy right? Black sand beach with a view of the mountain with its little white balls of observatories on top. Classic photo. Nope, couldn't really find one. So here are some that I did find, and I'll try to talk you through the images to see what I saw.

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Here is the beach (small, but good). But there are clouds in the background covering up the mountain on the left, so here is another pic. of the same place, but from a boat on a clearer day:

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Hopefully that makes up for my lack of a camera. Anyways, at the beach Stephanie was asking whats going on with Joe and I, and I told her that we were fine, but just having a difference of opinion about how I treat him. He said that I could be nicer to him, and I said I was. Then Stephanie just came right out and said, "break up with him." Really? Over that? I told her we've been through a lot worse things than this, and if we've made it through those, then I think we have something holding us together a bit tighter than could be broken by this quarrel. Then she told me about how life is too short, and how I could be on this trip without him, and how I would make more friends along the way if I didn't alway have a person I already knew to lean on for company, and how she didn't think that one person all your life could really satisfy all of your changing personality needs. It reminded me of the book Eat, Pray, Love; a book that my mom suggested to me about a year ago. She was unsure if she should b/c she liked Joe, but she could see him in both the ex-boyfriend and the future husband, and she wasn't sure if I would feel the same way, thereby pressing a wedge between us when we were at our most stable, happy and solid period of our relationship (everyone is always happy when planning a vacation, especially one that was going to last as long as ours).

“But I really loved him.”
“Big deal. So you fell in love with someone. Don’t you see what happened? This guy touched a place in your heart deeper than you thought you were capable of reaching. I mean you got zapped, kiddo. But that love you felt, that’s just the beginning. You just got a taste of love. That’s just limited little rinky-dink mortal love. Wait till you see how much more deeply you can love than that. Heck, Groceries – you have the capacity to someday love the whole world. It’s your destiny. Don’t laugh.”
“I’m not laughing.” I was actually crying. “And please don’t laugh at me now, but I think the reason it’s so hard for me to get over this guy is because I seriously believed David was my soul mate.”
“He probably was. Your problem is you don’t understand what that word means. People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that’s holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave. And thank God for it. Your problem is, you just can’t let this one go. It’s over, Groceries. David’s purpose was to shake you up, drive you out of your marriage that you needed to leave, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light could get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you had to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master and beat it. That was his job, and he did great, but now it’s over. Problem is, you can’t accept that his relationship had a real short shelf life...
“But I love him.”
“So love him.”
“But I miss him.”
“So miss him. Send him some love and light every time you think about him, then drop it. You’re just afraid to let go of the last bits of David because then you’ll be really alone, and Liz Gilbert is scared to death of what will happen if she’s really alone. But here’s what you gotta understand, Groceries. If you clear out all that space in your mind that you’re using right now to obsess about this guy, you’ll have a vacuum there, an open spot – a doorway. And guess what the universe will do with the doorway? It will rush in – God will rush in – and fill you with more love than you ever dreamed. So stop using David to block that door. Let it go.”
“But I wish me and David could —“
He cuts me off. “See, now that’s your problem. You’re wishin’ too much, baby. You gotta stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone oughtta be.”

"In desperate love, we always invent the characters of our partners, demanding they be what we need of them, and then feeling devastated when they refuse to perform the role we created in the first place."

— Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia)

I told Stephanie (in less eloquent speech if that could be possible), that I was hoping that Joe could be my soul mate, my best friend, and my lover. He could come in and out of those roles depending on the situation, and thats how one person could really satisfy all of your changing personality needs, because they change with you, and you change with them. Leaving seems too easy and too hard, both at the sam time. To this day (in Jinan China, March 31st) I still think I may just be spineless. No wishbone, no backbone, just nothing, riding out life the way it goes, but fighting change when it comes, forced into a forever stalemate that I'm not sure is for the best, for either of us.

That night we went to temple, and God did not rush in, and I didn't think that it was because I was holding onto Joe that God was holding out on me. But I could be wrong, and I'm just too afraid to test that theory because what happens if I was right? Do you get a 3rd chance at love? And if I was wrong, would I really want to be one of those people who really love God? I don't think thats me. I don't think I'm the type of person who could be really passionate about God. Odds are that if I found God, I would be more spiritual and probably happier in that regard, but also very lonely because I wouldn't be able to devote myself to God, and I'm not really much for dating. Maybe thats another reason why we've stayed together for so long. I don't want to start all over again. That can't be the only reason obviously, but it sure as hell has to count for something. I think that this is one of the reasons why many people stay together for long periods of time. Not the only reason, or even one of the main reasons, but somewhere on the list of reasons to be with someone, I'm sure that one comes up. And I came to all these conclusions at the dinner section of temple when I sat next to this really beautiful woman who turned to me with these bright gorgeous blue eyes (I find beauty very intimidating) and asked "Isn't God just Amazing?" What do you say to that? I mean really? I didn't find God that night, or all week with the Hare Krisnas for that matter, yet hear I am eating their food and participating in their chanting... what do I say? "Well, considering everything Gods done, I'd be pretty excited if I could even do one billionth the things Gods done, so, yeah" I smiled and nodded attempting to make it a joke while at the same time not being offensive or even giving her the slightest idea that I am kinda agnostic leaning towards atheism. We talked for a bit, and I felt more and more uncomfortable by the minute as she told me how one day she just knew, you know? And she felt God, and this that and the other thing, she just knew. I nodded like I knew, but I didn't, and I also didn't think I ever would. But anyways, my point I think is this, I am confused about life, god, relationships, love (yes I hold that separate from life, relationships, and yes, even god), and going on a trip to find myself has only added more questions.

Posted by - Rain 21:31 Comments (1)

The Big Island Part 2.1

The Born Identity (Originally Part 6)

The next morning we woke up to frantic banging on the door. "You kids want to go swimming?" Stephanie told us that sometimes in the mornings they like to go swimming at 4 Mile. Its actually called something else, but all the locals call it 4 mile because its 4 miles outside of downtown Hilo (and because they like to confuse us tourists). I told her that I would love to go swimming whenever they want, and she explained that if I really wanted to come that when Jean was ready to go, we were ready to go, because she had been left behind several times by Jean for not being out the door the min. Jean said she was going to go swimming. That being the case, I think Joe and I were out the door quicker than we've ever gotten up, and we made it to the car. However, Jean was not ready. She had set a trap for a rat last night, and come this morning she was ready for a man to take the cage out of the house and put it in her trunk so she could drive it to a park. Joe headed upstairs and came back with a fairly large rat in a cage way too small for him (I can see why Jean didn't want to pick it up). As Joe and Jean came down the stairs Jean kept whispering to the cage "Hare Krisna little fella," and she explained to us that by hearing the name of god the little critter would have a better life. She also gave him some prasadam (it means mercy, but its the food that has been offered to Krisna, but since he doesn't need to eat, he accepts the kinds gesture for what it was and leaves the food for us to share with beings of this world). And she told us that because the rat ate the prasadam, his body was cleansed, and now in his next life he will get to skip many of the creature levels and go straight to being human. Corey brought up a good point when I told this to her which is that people have the power to change another life forms destiny, and that should be something between that being and its creator. So what does that make us? Is it right to have the power of a god over a creature without the ability to create one?

Anyways, we (and when I say we, I mean Joe) let the rat out in the forest near the airport, and then we drove to 4 mile. We of course didn't bring our camera (do not leave valuables in a car, and do not take them to the beach) so we don't have any pictures to show, but luckily Susan did take... one. One? Really Susan? This place was great! Ahhhh! Okay, I guess that was at lest one more pic than I took. Enjoy:

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Joe really loved these reflecting pools they had everywhere. Some even had little bridges you could cross with tiny waterfalls going beneath them with water flowing from one pool to another.

Okay, cheat number 2, here is a pic I got off the internet of the actual beach:

Hilo_Hawai..9767web.jpg

I really loved the lava rock. Unfortunately 4 Mile is like the only beach on this side of the island that is white/ yellow sand! Everyone was so excited to show us this wonder (you usually had to go to the Kona side of the island for light colored sand, that, and Hilo is mostly lava rock so there aren't really that many sand beaches of any kind). The part that got me was how fringing cold it was! 4 Mile is composed of fresh freezing cold spring water mixing in this rather large tide pool with ocean water. The Hawaiian's thought this place was spiritual because of the fresh spring water and that turtles always swim here because the rocks keep the sharks out. I kept swimming too close to the rocks near the ocean because the ocean water was warm, but then I kept getting my fingers "paper cut" on their edges, so I had to just suck it up and swim really really fast in the water. Stephanie called it invigorating. I eventually got used to it, and then revered to it as manageable (it was a cloudy day so I was kinda cold to begin with). Champak I'm not even sure got into the water (I have to admit, it was tough). You have to go down this one latter, that or jump in from the lava rock, and I had a line behind me, otherwise I might not have got in so quickly. One thing that did help was that Stephanie said to honor the creator of the water you have to first wet your face before putting your feet in. I did this, and it made getting into the water a lot easier now that I had dunked my head. Stephanie only took a scoop of water and brushed hit across her forehead (much more respectful and graceful I guess).

We had to leave after only like 20 min. because Jean had to get to work, but it was a nice swim length for me for the temperature. It was good for Joe too because his fingers and feet were blue (really really blue, like we were worried about him blue). But after drying outside on the lava rock (not so comfortable) his color came back. Jean was being a riot talking about looks and peoples concept of beauty and why men think this and women think that and how she was brought up with the mentality that looks often relate to your level of intelligence (the better you look, the dumber you are) and yet she doesn't feel that way herself. While sitting perfectly balances on the lava rocks, back straight with no signs of strain (even though her knees were curled up near shoulder high as if she had her back resting against something), and she put her right arm in the air above her head and her left arm bent slightly behind her waist, both making the "hang 10" sign, and she said with her best Katharine Hepburn impression (I'm not sure if that was intentional, or if thats just her empowered woman voice) "I have a great mind, and a beeea-uuuu-tiful body!"

After we got back I saw that we had a new message on our phone (damn it!) and I checked the message. It was Josiah, and our mail had arrived. He said he could drop it off in a few hours in downtown Hilo before he went to class (he was a marine biology major at the local university). So it was set, we would get our identities back today. When I got out of the room and headed for the shower Stephanie and Champak were just getting ready to head out, and Jean was already at work (she does insurance... what are the odds that we would be staying with someone who could help us get travel insurance?) "So, what are you kids up to for the rest of the day?" Stephanie asked. "ka-i-ds? Why you call th-em ka-i-ds?" Champak asked with her thick Russian accent. "I call everyone under 30 kids." she replied and then made sure that we weren't offended (we weren't, its hard to be offended by Stephanie. Even when I was telling her that we didn't have a towel because we wrapped our laptop in it to keep it from getting banged up, and how sad it was b/c we had only just gotten that towel b/c we finally stayed at a nice enough hotel where they wouldn't miss the towel. "Well, thats why you got your stuff stolen, its Karma people." she told us. Karma... we had all of our valuables taken from us including our identities because we took a towel from a hotel that charges you enough to cover any amenity you take regardless if you take them or not. And still, it was hard not to like her. She even made me feel bad about it because she said its not about the towel or the extra sugar packets you take from Starbucks, its about the attitude. Its about walking around in the world thinking that it constantly owes you. The world doesn't owe you anything, and when you finally stop trying to get back everything you loose to your own poor decisions (like paying $3 for a cup of coffee and expecting Starbucks to pay you back using their 2% milk creamer in your cereal... yeah, that was me...) you can realize that it was your choice (to buy the expensive coffee, Starbucks didn't make you do it), and accepting your choices and their consequences without feeling that you deserve something better, will change your whole outlook on life. Then when something good does happen to you (karma for having a cleansed spirit) you can be happy about it rather than thinking that you've only just made up for all the shit thats happened to you and now your even with the world. And, she probably said it better, but hopefully you get her drift and understand why its hard to dislike her. You would also know why if you ever saw her. She is one of those people who you can talk with like old friends and she always manages to find something funny to talk about, so you are always smiling when your with her. Thats the trick that sometimes gets me though when I tell her something bad I did to get back at the man, and then she reminds me that she has a little Hare Krisna in her (they aren't too cool on you taking revenge, they kinda like to leave things like that up to karma).

Anyways, we told her that today we planned to get our ID's back (Yeah!) at the Governor's Lesion's office. I got involved with things on the computer after my shower, so Joe ran out and met Josiah at the bridge (landmarks are sometimes easier to meet at than try to give directions with all of these Hawaiian names), and when he came back I was done with whatever it was I was doing on the computer, and we went through the goodies my mom sent us. 3 $100 gift cards from American Express, 1 Discovercard, my birth certificate, and a Christmas Card from Russ and Judy (the people who fixed our motorcycle and let us stay in their RV for the night and made us breakfast while we saw Rushmore). Joe's package from Canada had a lot more stuff in it, so while he sorted that out I organized all my new things into my new purse. He got his old passport, his birth certificate, his SSN card he laminated in high school to be responsible (but then his parents showed him the note on the card that said invalid if laminated), and a old passport photo.

At the bus station we did what travelers must do at the Hilo bus station, we asked the people who work there what bus we needed to take and when it would come (too much information with bad directions to try to figure out yourself). Then we got on the bus and got off practically right in front of the building. We had to try a few different buildings first before we got good directions to the right one, but once we were there they had clear signs to her office. There were a few people in line before us, but when it was our turn to tell the woman at the desk what we needed, Kathy stepped out from the other room where they take your photo and asked us "Are you are the couple Larry from the post office called me about?" She recognized our story and took us right into the photo room and talked to us about what we needed to do. Through the game of telephone and my distress at the time, I guess I missed that we had to go to the SSN office first, get papers that say what our SSN is, and then bring that with our birth certificate and police report to her office to get new ID's. And that office of course closed at 3:00pm (it was now quarter till). We would have to wait to do that until tomorrow.

On the way home we couldn't find the bus stop (they don't label them on the Big Island), so we walked too far down the street and decided to just walk home after we realized where we were and how impossible it was to find the bus stops. On the way home we passed the french crape shop that we'd been wanting to go to, and now that we had some extra money with my Discovercard (yay credit cards!) and the American Express gift cards, we decided to splurge (ruff day at the Governor's office). This restaurant always had live music going and you could watch the chef prepare your crapes, and all the tables had white cloths and crystal glasses on them like something straight out of France, and the prices were really reasonable. Looking at the menu I was ready to get either a desert or a dinner crape, but I guess Joe never had one of my mom's dinner crapes, so he was surprised when most of the menu had some sort of vegetable or meat inside the crapes and not cream cheese and fruit. So we ordered a real dinner crape and we thought our water looked really familiar. "Is your name Horhay?" He smiled and told us, "Ahhh, no, you must be thinking of my twin brother." I laughed and told Joe I knew he looked familiar! Then I saw it in his eyes... it was Horhay. He subbed for Charles for the second day we stayed at the hostel when we first came to the island. He was from Brazil (I believe) and was working in Hilo at several different jobs while he figured out what he wanted to do with his life. I didn't know this about him before, but he came to Hilo because he had an internship helping set up the small radio telescopes we saw at the top of Mauna Kea! (How fucking cool is that?)

But after his internship he was glad to get out of there because he was tired of the constant sick feeling he got from the constant altitude changes and temperature changes on top of how isolated he felt. He said that working up there and spending hours by himself in front of a computer configuring the telescopes made him realize that he was a people person and that he needed human interaction in his jobs. Hence why he works for the hostel, a french restaurant, and a coffee shop even though he has a college degree in Astronomy. When I told him I wanted his life b/c my ultimate job would be to work part time for the observatories on Mauna Kea and part time at a coffee shop, and he said that he could maybe see if he could get me a job at the coffee shop. But after he told me which shop it was, my excitement failed. It was the same shop that Charles had said he could get me a job at our first day on the island. It was worth trying back then when we were going to be here a month, but now with only 2 weeks left, I decided not to worry about it. And then... the check, and they don't accept American Express or Discover, and neither of us had the $10 in cash either (this is our first day without cash b/c now we had credit cards now and we didn't like carrying cash in my purse b/c that screams take me!) Our place was only 4 or 5 blocks away, so while Joe sat there listening to the music and drinking some more water I ran home, got some cash, and ran back. Horhay had another laugh at my expense when he saw me come back in the restaurant with a $20 in my hand (I guess it was pretty obvious what I was out doing).

When we got back home we got on the internet and we watched videos on how to use a Mac (I'm pathetic I know, I worked on a Mac at work, but I had them set it up for me like a PC b/c I didn't feel like spending the time to figure out how to use one (which btw I love!)). And then we loaded an episode of Castle (oh Castle, how you make us smile and forget life for 45 min.) Then Joe practiced some Kung Fu while I went furiously fast from sight to sight regaining my bookmarks and sorting out my credit cards and bank accounts. A few hours latter it was about time for dinner, so after Joe was done making that he dragged me away from the MacBook and forced me to eat his delicious meal. He said I could eat it at the computer, but I didn't dare! No food near the Mac! (Yeah, thats probably going to last just as long as no food in the Hybrid... Joe at in it the day after I bought it). Tonight was our night off from temple b/c they canceled Wednesday temple for their Gurudev's birthday party tomorrow, so Stephanie went out to dinner with some friends and when she came home Joe and I really liked the smell of her leftovers. She told us it was from this really great health food restaurant that is called the Tai Garden or something, but she calls it Tiffany's Tai-Fusion because the chef is Tiffany and she cooks Tai food fused with American food (like her Tai-fusion pizza, which she said if we go we must get). She said that its really cheap and they give big portions, so Joe and I were pretty much sold. We figured it would be a good place to go after Friday's festivities (all day on the bus going to the SSN office at the Prince Kuhio Plaza shopping mall, then back to the Governor's Lesion's office for the picture ID's) We would do it tomorrow, but for whatever reason they had tomorrow off (probably furlough Thursdays for them).

In the morning we searched though our stuff and decided that first things first, we were running out of food and needed to go grocery shopping. But on the way through downtown Hilo we ended up finding this amazing health food store instead of the KTV, and Joe maybe spent an hour looking at their assorted whole leaf teas. I found a strawberry and hemp granola mix that I kid you not, reminded me of childhood happiness. Not just my childhood, and not just happiness, but childhood happiness. It was in a bulk bin, and it was on sale, so we filled a whole bag. I could use a little childhood happiness. We also found this pancake mix that was whole wheat and all you needed to add was water! I was nervous to buy it because maybe know that there were powdered eggs in the mix, and then she would kick us out! Joe thought I was being silly, but he agreed that if we bought the pancake mix that we could hid it in our room and only use it when everyone else was out (which happens a lot b/c people who live here have jobs! Imagine that!) Then we went to the art gallery next door and switched on and off who would eat the organic cereal we got with soy-milk, and who would get to browse through the gallery. After that we browsed through the free museum dedicated to the preservation of Hawaiian beaches from peoples trash (it was really sad and gross, one part they had on display all the things they found in a seagulls belly. There were toothbrushes, bottle capes, combs, cleaning gloves, just everything that shouldn't be in his tommy). Then they had a huge wall showing all the islands and how they are being cleaned up and how people are collecting nets from the ocean to keep animals from being tied up in them. Very uplifting, but the music they had going got a little repetitive (Hawaiian old man chanting that reminded me of the Native American music).

Then that evening Stephanie drove us pretty far to this one family's house for Gurudev's birthday party (he is in India, but we celebrate it kinda like how Christian's celebrate Jesus's birthday even though he's been dead for like 2,000 years). This time it was over Gore's house, and it was really sad to meet him because he was recently paralyzed from the head down. He was one of Gurudev's devotees who travelled to India with him, and one day he was out in the Indian ocean surfing, and he was smashed by a huge wave over 40 feet high. It broke his neck, and he is lucky to be alive. But now he is bound to a wheel chair, and even though the incident was only a year ago, he had become maybe 1/5 the size he used to be. They showed me a picture of him only 2 or 3 people behind their Gurudev (thats a title, not a name btw), and even though there were hundreds of people walking behind their Gurudev in the picture, he was so easy to spot because he was about 6'6" of big and strong surfer dude. And even though his jaw was sealed shut, he sang the chants all evening, and his voice was one of the most beautiful voices I have ever heard. And later in the evening after the prayer session we had a huge dancing chant, and when people would be standing on the sides not participating in the run up and down the living room, he would take his sister aside and tell her to get everyone off the walls. So every time you'd see him call his sister over and whisper something in her ear, you knew you were going to have to do something. At one point some people started jumping up and down, and even though we were all dancing already, Gore called his sister over and they made everyone jump up and down! The floor was thumping with excitement and the children were loosing their minds with how much fun they were having. So for his passion and love of life though his tragedy (that I in no way compare to my own, because there is always someone who has it worse, and sometimes you need feel the pin pricks even though others are feeling slashes), I salute him, and would one day love to have a CD of his music.

Posted by - Rain 20:51 Comments (0)

The Big Island Part 2

Hare Krisna (Originally Part 5, but Joe brought up a good point about my naming scheme... I didn't have one. I wanted it to be part 1, 2, and 3, but that went over my length limit. Now I'm trying to make a title compromise, and confuse you.)

I wake up to rain fall. I should have listened to Joe and went out on that walk in the sun with him yesterday. Oh well. We headed out in the drizzle to downtown Hilo to shop around for some more groceries and hit up the salvation army. Joe found a little blue fanny pack to wear around his waist and stick under his shirt to put our passports in... when we get them back that is. We also tried to hit up the library to get onto the internet to do things like check our credit cards and my bank to make sure everything was alright, also to just be connected with people again because our prepaid phone was eating up a dollar a day plus 25 cents a min, and 20 cents a text. We only had $15 on the phone, and in order to reload it we would have to get on the internet, or waist probably $2 explaining to my mom how to get onto the internet and log into our phone account as us and put more money onto its min. plan, which just seemed counter productive. "ID please" What? Are you fringing kidding me? You need an ID to PAY $5 a half hour to use the internet at the library?! I showed them the police report saying that I was Vanessa Rancour and I had my identity stolen. "Ummm, I'm going to have to give this to my boss, can you wait here?" I almost felt bad for the guy. So powerless he couldn't even give me a guest password, take my $5 and let me on the internet to sort out things after being robbed and all. Hell, he would be less sad if he had the power to let me on for free since he couldn't record my drivers license info. That way it would be like I never existed, just our little secret. But no, 20 min. of waiting later while Joe went to the grocery store... I get a phone call. Its Josiah. He was checking in with us to see if we were okay and found a place to stay (he had offered his place again if we couldn't find somewhere else to stay other than spending money we didn't have on another night at the hostel). Yes I told him, yes we found a place we could stay and some work we could do for them in exchange. Then while I was telling him that we were safe the manager of the library walked over, folded his arms in front of his chest, and then nodded at the sign posted on the wall next to the door frame I was leaning against. Yes, I really did have to peer around the corner to see what he was referring to (kill me now, I'm already brain dead). You guessed it, it was a sign with a red circles with a red diagonal line through it superimposed over a depiction of a cell phone. *F-U library man* I thought as I stormed out of the library.

After hanging up with Josiah I couldn't find the willpower to go back inside the library. How fucking stupid am I? And all that anger and pain I wanted to push off onto the *library man* but I couldn't. I knew that this was just life, and I made it what it is, and just because this guy has better things to do than deal with me... that sucks to think of how low you are on so many peoples list of concerns. Well, I guess I wasn't that low, because he came out and found me. "No!" was the gist of long and drawn out explanation that he could have inferred that I had already been told this once. Maybe he did know this, but I wasn't a concern of his, I was sought out after in the rain outside his library so that he could give the ridiculous girl with no identity on her cell phone the proper lecture about how there are people in this world who have worth... and people who don't. Some time later, I think I would realize which side of the Libra I measured up to, and which side he was left wanting. But not in the moment. No, in the moment, I turned, dejected, mad, and upset to the point of tears as I wondered away from his passive aggressive rantings.

Richard Castle: "Good," she thought, as the wind gathered up her hair, "No one will see my tears."

Then I saw Joe heading up the street towards me. I guess I don't hide well in the rain. He saw right through the rain to Rain, and I got an arm around the shoulder and a seat on a railing under the cover of a building's awning. I told him what happened, and then we walked over to Bueno Burrito for lunch. Then we wondered. We had nothing we could think of to do, and we didn't want to go home either, because there we would realize how helpless we were. This was our day off, we should enjoy it together doing something other than sitting at home wallowing in self pity on this rainy day. We passed some shops that sold the same Hawaiian stuff we've seen everywhere, and then we found the store called Beautiful Things. It was beautiful. Inside were all sorts of worldly items from the far east... our point of crossing so far north across this ocean on our way down under. Shopping for a new purse is hard for me, but after days of peering though shop windows and being upset with my poor set of selection possibilities... I found it! This purse was perfect, it was green with golden embroidery with Indian looking designees and the occasional elephant, and the straps were made of that black strap like you see on camera bags which I find really comfortable. But the most perfect part was all the compartments! I love compartments, and this one had a sown in coin pouch, then a zipper on that same side into another pouch, then a top zipper that was separated between the 2 sides of the purse which was like a folded piece of cloth that when you unfold becomes lone long pouch, but folded becomes 2 separate compartments, and finally on the back side is another zipper into another compartment. The only problem was it cost $20. We couldn't waist $20 on a little purse like this. I held onto it as Joe called me over to look though the store. We found so many cool things there.

The woman working there saw me clinging to the purse, and she asked me if maybe I liked the style. I told her I thought it was really unique and we discussed why designed as it was. She didn't really know either, but we had fun guessing. Then she asked me if I wanted to buy it, and I told her that I really shouldn't because we needed to conserve our cash. Then I just opened up to her and told her everything that just happened to us. She said "Ahhhhh" the moment I mentioned Akkaka falls (I guess the place is really notorious... now we find out). She said she understood and told me about how a guy stole a jewel out of her case once, and he thought it was worth something, but when he found out that it was just costume jewelry he somehow was able to put it back into her case without being seen either time. Maybe something like that would happen with our things since none of them would work without the plugs (which we left in the tent) I told her as I placed the purse back where I found it. And then I thought to ask her if there was a discount for the fraying on the sides. She came to look at the purse, and ripped the extra strings off. "No, those are just extra threads, the purse is fine." Really? I thought. I didn't tell her that story to get a discount, but after the fact, I thought that maybe she would have some sort of pity. Then she showed me the 2 other purses, blue and purple, which were better made maybe. I told her naw, and that green really was my favorite color, and so I hid the green one under the blue and purple one. "Maybe we'll be back for the green one once my mom mails my friend my new credit cards. She said she already has my Discovercard, so when we get it in a few days we'll come back for this one." She nodded and walked back to the main part of the store, and then she turned around and picked up the purse and pushed it to me. "Take it now, my gift to you, to help balance thinks, to make some Karma." I told her that I didn't want it for free, and that I could pay her in a few days for it, but she said that it wouldn't be a balancing agent on my Libra scales if I paid for it, and I needed to accept it as her gift to help cleanse our mirky spirits. I was still trying to give her the purse as she physically walked us out of her store and told us to take it and enjoy filling it back up with all our things as we rebuilt. So nice, so uplifting, and I felt really happy having a purse again (I told you this trip has made me more girly).

Then as we turned the corner I saw the possibility of a Mac store being down the street. I remembered seeing a blue sign earlier that had a white apple with a bight out of it, and while that could mean almost anything, now I was almost positive it meant Mac. "Lets buy a computer!" He looked at me with surprise, happiness, and maybe a little caution. I wasn't really considering replacing my computer all that soon. Just like how when Joe lost the electric toothbrush at the Starbucks back in September. We only replaced it with a normal toothbrush because he needed to learn a lesson about taking care of his things which he wouldn't learn if we just threw money at the problem and got him a new one. Also, he is incredibly picky about what kind of electric toothbrush he uses, and we weren't going to waste days trying to find him one. But this I felt was a different situation, and we have been punished enough for it. So with the lure of the free wifi internet at our grasp, and the lour of Mr. *library man* that had burnt 2 out of focus holes into the back of my head... we said to hell with money! If we don't spend our money, than somone else would, and they would probably only spend it on drugs! Joe doubly agreed with this. Its funny, but having our stuff stolen has kinda put us on the same page. We both wanted a place to stay rather than camp, we both wanted smaller backpacks that don't scream “take me,” we both wanted a secure pouch to hide under our clothes to put our passports and cash, and we both really wanted a new computer to log onto the internet with. "But we don't have enough money to buy a new computer." Joe? Being the reasonable one? No way! But I told him that I bought my VAIO on the internet, and all they needed were my card numbers, so maybe if my mom didn't mail the Discovercard yet, we cold get her to read the numbers to us!

Into the Mac store we went with a few hundred dollars in our pockets, proof that our identities were stolen, and a phone call from my mom that said she already received my new Discovercard and would be mailing it to Josiah with my birth certificate and some American Express gift cards. Looking through the Macs Joe really wanted to buy the computer with no tower, but just a huge screen with the computer built into the probably 42 inch widescreen LCD monitor. However, the practical side of me went right to the Mac air. "Where is the CD drive?" I asked, and the guy working there quickly pulled me away from the laptop. The Mac air is only for people who have a Mac at home and just want to be able to transport their home computer around with them. It is not a full computer, as in it doesn't have any ports or drives on it, and your home computer can be downloaded to it wirelessly. Yeah, not what we were looking for. Then he showed us the MacBook and MacBook Pro. The only difference being that the Pro addition had a more breakable shell because of the colored plastic they used and the keyboard was black and it lights up in the dark. All of that for an extra $200. The hard drives were the same, the processors were the same, the video cars were the same, everything seemed the same except for the looks. We decided to save the $200 and go with the original white MacBook. Now, the problem of paying for it...

Complication on top of our own complications, they were just scammed last week out of $3,000 worth of Mac merchandise by a phony credit card. So, my proposition of giving him my credit card numbers from my mom over the phone wansn't really flying with him. He called his boss and she said not to sell anything without the credit card in his hand and the ID to go with it. I nodded. "I want to help you, but I just don't want to loose my job..." he began, but we cut him off. We didn't want to cause him any trouble, we were just really excited to get a new computer, but we also didn't think it would work. We could just buy the computer after we get the Discovercard... as we walked back into the rain and down the street a bit I realized that even that wouldn't fly b/c I still didn't have a proper ID. Enter round number 2. Joe and I brainstormed a bit and then rushed back into the Mac store, and we weren't leaving this time without a laptop! I gave him the puppy dog eyes and tried again. This time we added that we could allow him to see those same account numbers on my Discovercard account page online which would link that number to my name which is on the police report thereby proving that the sheet of paper that has my name on it from the police is the person with the credit card number and the online password to the account with the blablablalbalba, I confuse myself even thinking about what I got this kid to do. He was hesitant, and got on the computer, did some checking of his own, was about to call his boss again, but then didn't, and then did, but this time not in front of us. He took the call in back, and when he returned he said that he shouldn't probably do this, but she didn't seem to explicitly say he couldn't... so he was going to give this thing a go. I called my mom and had her read me the numbers on the front and back of the card while I pulled up my account online on his computer. We matched the last 4 digits of the account from online with the number we gave him, and my name was on the online account along with the police report, and I could sign the receipt with the same signature as on the police report! The card went through, and he gave me the receipt to sign. I also gave him our new phone number should anything happen like it gets declined b/c of theft protection or something. This seemed to make him feel a little better, but at the same time, he was ready for us to be on our way too. "Enjoy." he said, and we were ready to. We put in in our little string bag and raced home though the rain. Turning it on was a breeze and Joe can't get over how fun the smart pad is to use (2 finger scrolling, 2 finger rotating to flip pictures, 4 finger swipe down to see all the windows you have open, 4 finger swipe up to see you desktop, etc.) We downloaded skype and talked with my mom right then and there. *Heavy sigh of relief, and a big F-U to the Hilo public library.* The to both my delight and dismay, it was time to go to temple, and I had to turn off our new beautiful MacBook.

The temple gathering was similar to Sunday, but it was not at the "temple." They only go there on Sundays and Wednesdays. On Saturdays they go to the old bike shop where Stephanie was supposed to set up her art gallery, but it was too damp there so she lets them use the space for outreach gatherings. Then every other day during the week we go to someones house, but usually they don't have so many gatherings to go over other peoples houses, but this Thursday was their Gurudev's birthday. I always refereed to him as Guru Dave because thats what I thought they were saying for the longest time, which I thought Dave was is English name because the man they were talking about was this very old, thin but tallish man who is very Indian looking except for the fact that he has these amazing blue eyes. Stephanie told me that the original Guru that Jean and her father followed was a great man, but that all his disciples were twisted and bad, so after he died she disagreed with those people rising to fill his place. She knew a lot of this because her brother was right there in the midst of it and saw what was going on behind the guise of red cloth (and yes, in India they adorn red cloth if they are very holy and have taken a vow of abstinence to devote all their love to everyone equally, but above all else, to their religion). However, I think that their red cloth is mostly a orange-ish peach. The woman who are devotees like this wear all white, but the men who wear all white say that they devote their way of life to the religion, but they still want to marry and have a family. The man I was telling you about with the permanent smile from Strongsville always wore all white, and he was the only one of the group I saw at the beginning who dressed like this, so I thought he was the leader (that, and he had a really dark tan that I thought he may have been from India (yes I was surprised to find out he was from my hometown, and I felt a bit racist for it)). So I was very surprised when I saw this pale white guy in a pinkish T-shirt and khaki shorts lead the temple meeting on Sunday. This evening that man just participated like everyone else though, and I guess they only have lectures on Sunday, and then he holds a discussion group on Wednesday. So the evening was just filled with music and eating, which was exactly what I needed, even though I liked his speech very much.

Posted by - Rain 02:34 Comments (0)

LOST

I thought I didn't want to wake up yesterday morning... so this mornings feelings towards the untimely openings of my eyes I can only describe as being indescribable. Luna woke us this morning knocking on our door, she needed to get her stuff out of our room because Bearguard was finally here to pick her up and give her a safe place to sleep. Bearguard was German not obviously not Chinese (and I will get to us in China as soon as I blow through the rest of Hawaii... and part of California... god we got lazy!). In Germany it seems that they grow up really fast, like Spartans, and so Luna at only 19 or 20 was already way more mature and adult like than I may every be. To make my point, Luna was up and ready to go with a plan already set for what she would do for the day. While I, grudgingly falling out of bed, had no idea what we would do. The temple. That was our plan. We would walk to this temple we had never been to before, didn't really have all that great description of what the place looked like, and weren't sure if anyone could help us when we got there anyways. Then what? Wait... slooooowwww dooooowwwwwnnnnnnnnnnnn. We would get to that if and when we had to. For now, one foot in front of the other, Joe and I descended the stairs of the Hostel, said goodbye to the Australian couple, Naioki, and Charles; and then we walked out into the overcast and thought it was fitting. I was glad the day was not a “bright sun shinning day.” It calmed my nerves to know that I wasn't the only person walking outside thinking, “Lets go back in and pull the covers over our head and wait for the sun to come out tomorrow.” But who knows, maybe I was the only one thinking that.

We turned down the street and headed for a bridge with some really cool architecture coming up from the road. Joe asked me for the camera. I declined interest and told him to not worry about it. I didn't want to take pictures anymore. I didn't want to loose any more memories (on a trip like this, pictures are like memories, because there is no way we can recall everything and every place we've seen and been to without “A little help from our friends.” And since we didn't bring any friends on this trip with us, not because we didn't try, we deemed our cameras as friends who we interacted with maybe more than we did with each other some days). But Joe got out the camera from my backpack regardless of my present mood. The bridge was cool, I hated to admit then, but feel free to admit now. To the right of the bridge the wide river washed out into the ocean with banyan trees reaching their branches back down into the water like weeping willows. On the other side there were two waterfalls in the distance over mounds of lava rock. Pretty spectacular, but at the moment, I wasn't in the mood for spectacular. I was in the mood to get to the temple and be rejected.

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“JOE And rain...” I thought I heard. I looked around and didn't see anyone. My imagination was making me hear things now... never a good sign. We kept walking, made a turn down the street away from the ocean, and then I heard again “Joe and RAIN!” I turned around this time and saw a white truck driving towards us. “Are you guys going to the temple?”
“We are trying to.” It was Stephanie from the chanting last night who I asked about a work stay. Driving the truck was her friend from the south side of the Big Island.

“Want a ride? Hop in the back!” We had heard this line before only 2 days earlier, and you'd think that it would cause some negative effect. But it didn't. I was just as excited to get a ride to some place I'd never been as I had 2 days earlier. Only this time I took our bags with us when we turned in a driveway and Stephanie told me that her “mada” (mom in Indian) lived here and might have some work for us and a place to stay. “But she doesn't allow any meat or eggs inside the house, is that going to be okay?” I thought for a moment and made sure that we didn't have any on us. Then I nervously said that it wouldn't be a problem, and while Joe was a carnivore, we usually don't have a fridge to put any in so he only eats it when we are out somewhere. Joe nudged me and told me thanks for calling him a carnivore in front of a Hare Krisna. I shrugged and apologized. My mouth has always had a mind of its own... and its mind had never been the sharpest.

Inside Joe and Stephanie's friend Judy (I think, I can't quite remember) had to duck as they entered the basement. Again, the basement isn't actually underground, it is just the basement like level of the house under the main floor. Inside a little woman with a nice dark tan sat curled up in a rocking chair eating some Indian looking pitas and vegetables with a bean paste. Her name was Jean, and she kinda reminded me of our Jean from Green Dragon. She was very abrupt, stern, and to the point without being someone who you didn't feel like you could tell all your problems to. She greeted us when we came in, and then went back to her food, and began talking while moving around veggies on her plate.
“I have some mold that needs washing off the walls of my room and kitchen upstairs, and I've got some vines that need cutting down in the backyard and roof. If you can do that I don't have a problem with you staying here with Stephanie and Champak.” (Her real name was Tattiana, and she was from Russia, but Champak was her Indian name). “There is an extra room down here, but only one bed, and its not very big, so maybe we can bring another mattress down. It has a lock on it, but don't loose the key because its the only one I have. The bathroom down here doesn't take toilet paper, just use the washing hose. Its much cleaner that way and better for the environment. I don't allow meat or eggs or any animal products in my house, and if you can live with that than we would be happy to have you.” And with that she looked up from her lunch and stared us down from behind her glasses. Her face I think I immediately felt at home by because she looked like what my father's older sister might look like in 20 years. Same hair style as my aunt, same face shape, just smaller (as older people get when they age) and with wrinkles and a tan.

“Yeah, that sounds great!” I said, and I think she respected me a bit for it. Her intimidation look melted away right then, and then Stephanie added “And tonight you can come to temple, and we will have a real dinner there, not just desert and tea, so you don't have to worry about food. And this week is our guru's birthday, so there will be dinners almost every night, and if you'd like to come we would be happy to have you there too.” And I felt that we had finally made it. For the next few weeks we had jobs, a bedroom with a lock, a group of people who want us to come over for dinner and music, and the place had wifi. Of course, the first place to offer a bed and free wifi and we don't have my laptop. Maybe thats Karma at its best... or maybe its just irony.

That night we walked down her street, hung a right, and then headed another minute to a staircase that led up to a garden. Through the garden's gate we headed right along the ledge that went down to the street below to another staircase on the side of a house. “This is our temple.” Stephanie told us as she took off her shoes and paced them on the rack before heading up the stairs. Yeah, we would have never found this place. It was a house they turned into a temple with no signs that would have told us otherwise. Inside there was a group of people sitting down on the carpet squares and at the front of the group in the corner was the first woman who sung yesterday night. She was singing again as the others followed along in their books. Stephanie sat us down near the middle and handed us song books, but I was having a hard time following along. First the first paragraph, then the second paragraph, then back to the first paragraph, and then to the third paragraph, then back to the first and so on and so fourth. It wasn't hard to follow once you knew the order of things, but being that it was all in Sanskrit and I didn't know the order for the first 2 or 3 songs, I was very lost.

After chanting we had a man, who's late wife bought the house to use as a temple, tell us in a few Krisna parables and then go into detail about what they mean, and Stephanie said that this might take a while. Usually she said that teachings only going on for 30 or 45 minutes. She started blatantly laughing when he had gone on for an hour and 20. When he finally finished, I didn't mind because I was very interested in his stories and what they meant to him, but I couldn't help but feel 1.) that his teachings completely contradicted Cason, my yoga teacher from Life Center Plus back in Ohio, and 2.) that both my legs were numb. He was talking about the very big ideas of Krisna and how there are 2 ways that people interpret what the Veda's mean when they talk about Nirvana. One way is that once you reach Nirvana you are completely separate from this world and are connected with the one all encompassing spirit and you are noting and you are everything (a very confusing idea, but what religion doesn't have its hard to grasp ideas), and the other way (this groups way) is that once you reach Nirvana you are connected with the all encompassing spirit, and you are not nothing, but only everything, so you are you, and you are your family, and you are your friends, you are you enemies, you are that tree over there, etc. I thought Joe may have liked this way better than Carson's way, but when I confronted him about it, he just nodded his head and told me how he liked both ways... Taoists... the religion of perpetual indecision.

Next we turned out the lights and prayed. The only lights in the room were the spotlights and twinkly lights on the front shelf that was made into an alter with 4 different figurines of Krisna standing in a sea of vines, twinkly lights, and hanging strands of pearls; and on the shelf below almost a dozen framed photographs of Indian men with prayer beeds hung over their picture frames and yellow flowers beneath them. They took inscents and long tailed brushes and painted the smoke on the alter while others rocked side to side chanting over and over again:

Haaaa-reeeee Kri-s-naaaa, Haaaaa-reeeee Kri-s-naaaaaa, Kri-snaaa Kri-snaaaa, Haaaa-reeeee Ha-reeeee,
Haaaa-reeee Raaaaa-maaaaa, Haaa-reee Raaa-ma, Raaaa-ma Raaaa-ma, Haaaa-reeeee Ha-reeeee,

and it goes on from there, the same words song in similar tones over and over again until the room becomes a frenzy of people dancing and jumping in place singing louder and louder as they offered Krisna food. Then they closed drapes over the alter and we bowed on our carpet squares as one person chanted really really fast some sort of scripture writing that at the end of certain sentences we were to say “Jaaa” in unison. I never caught onto when the cue was to say Jaaa, nor why we say it, or what it even means; so I just bowed my head to the floor as I sat in the childes pose from Yoga and waited until everyone else stood.

Then we made 4 lines down the room, the outer lines faced the inner lines, and the 2 middle lines sat back to back, and then down one row and up the other people came with huge pots of food and scooped out portions on our plates ( I think this is still part of their religious ceremony and not just a party after "church" because I believe the food we are being given now were also foods offered to Krisna during the prayer section). I ate absolutely everything even though I had no idea what I was eating most of the time! Everything they put on my plate, no matter how strange or gross it may have looked, I knew I could eat with impunity because these people were vegetarians. Unlike in China (sorry to foreshadow again, but its hard not to since we are currently in China while writing this) where almost everything I have placed in front of me I have to ask “What is this?” and then regret my question because sometimes I really didn't want to know. Once I didn't even ask, but Master Yong just held up a maroon jiggly square that looked like tofu and said “dried blood” before eating it. Yeah... I'm not to cool with eating blood. But with the Hare Krsina's, all their food was made up of things like fallafouls and really good tofu meats in curries with rice and special little bread rolls sometimes filled with sweet jellies, and it was all completely vegetarian. I ate, and it felt like thanksgiving.

Then we hung out for a bit taking with people and we discovered that the guy with the permanent smile on his face was actually from my home town! He and I talked about Strongsville for a bit, and how much we thought it was changing for the worse (and he didn't even know about the Best Buy they decided to build on our land protected by the Metro Park System). Then we headed back to our place with Stephanie and Champak (Jean never seems go to temple for some reason, I never asked), and Joe and I fell asleep to the loudest and most numerous chorus of chirping frogs I had ever heard.

The next morning I woke up to Jean blowing in what sounded like a conch shell. When I got out of our room to take a shower Stephanie was there making breakfast in our kitchen area and she said that Jean does that every morning before she prays and that she wanted to talk to me before breakfast. Luckily it was only 8 or 9 when she starts this, so it is a pleasant time to get up, and a nicer sounding wakeup call than the one on my watch (we would use my cell phone alarm... but we don't have it anymore...). I headed upstairs and talked to Jean for a bit about what I thought of temple and what my aspirations are, spiritually speaking. I told her that I want to be spiritual, but I am not a spiritual person at the moment. I told her that I am very interested in theology, and am just poking around until I find one that I can devote some passion into. She seemed satisfied with my explanation and appreciated my quest as maybe something that she had done when she was my age, so she saw merit in it. She did warn me however, to not let the quest go on too long so as to completely rationalize all religions and never come to understand the spirit behind them. Then she got to the reason she really wanted to talk to me early in the day which was to get a shopping list from me for what I would need to clean the mold. My real only item I said I would need that she might not have would be a doc. mask, and after some searching, she realized that she did not. So she said she would run out to the store and get me some, and until she gets back she gave me some nuts and dried fruits with small cracker/ biscuit/ cookie things on a plate that she had offered to Krisna earlier (and as usual, he did not eat it). When I came back downstairs Joe and I had a little breakfast, and then he went to preparing mop water to clean the floors. I decided to take a quick shower while Jean was out, and by the time she got back I was all ready to get dirty again. With a tie dyed shirt wrapped over my head tied off with a rubber-band, one yellow dissh washing glove, a bucket with my own mop water, a rag, a cape made out of an old sheet wrapped over my body, and a doctor's face mask, I was totally ready to go for this mold!

4 hours later...

Stephanie and Jean's friend from the south of the island came over to take them to lunch. She came in the bedroom and found me inching towards the ceiling with a rag in one hand, and my other hand pressed against the wall as my body shook side to side because the steep latter I had balanced on top of another step latter was still tightening into place. When I eventually stood all the way up my weight locked the two together pretty sturdily, so her worries that she should go out and buy me a taller step latter I quickly pushed aside. "Really, I'm half way done with the room, I have a good system going now." So she left with Jean and Stephanie, and Joe came up to ask me to take a break with him. I almost cried. A break? A break! I needed to get this bedroom done in the next 3 hours so that he place will air out (I was cleaning with some organic, but still bad smelling chemicals), and I wanted Jean to be able to sleep in her bedroom tonight! He just wanted to go out for a walk, but I was so worried about what they would think of me (that I wasn't a busy little bee), that I couldn't go. Maybe if he had asked while they were still here, and they saw I only took a half hour break, but what if they come back and see that since they were gone I decided not to work anymore? I dunno if it was the chemicals getting to my head or what, but I was stressed out, and I took it out on him, he who I did not see cutting down vines... and resentment began to settle into my heart.

He did not end up going out for the walk after the nasty notes I inscribed on his mind, but he did go out into the beautiful sunny day to get some rays on his chest. Seeing this I burst into tears. Why wasn't he proving himself like I was? Why was he enjoying life not like I was? Why am I probably going to die early of black lung while he gets to play outside with a machete (of which he was procrastinating doing). He wouldn't talk to me when I let him know my internal monologue. This really infuriated me. But it also made me respect him more (once the fumes stopped seeping out of my ears). I went back to cleaning. This was my decision, and that was his. I let it out of my mind, and started daydreaming about "the story" (as we call it with our Green Dragon friends back home, and it refers to the story we have been writing for probably 5 or 6 years now about assassins in the future with chi powers).

4 hours latter...

Joe came into the room again. I was almost done. Just a section of ceiling, a small section of wall, and the dreaded ceiling area above her closet that was built into the walls, so to reach the celling I would have to take down everything above her closet and climb on top of it myself! "Give me your rag, I'm taller than you, I can reach the ceiling easier. I'll get that area above the closet too, I can reach it w/o taking her bags down." If I were high off of something stronger I may have hallucinated white light beaming out from behind the crown of his head and possibly heard some sort of quire holding onto a long "o" sound. But, as it was, I just wearily let him take the rag out of my hand, mask off my face, and he gently pushed me out of the room, and then from that momentum I carried myself outside, down the stairs, and then back inside our living quarters and into the shower. When I got out of the shower I was refreshed and ready for bed. We had some dinner first I assume, but all I remember is hitting the bed and hearing Joe talk to Jean and Stephanie from outside our door. "I think tomorrow would be a good day for a little break, Rain has been working for the past 8 hours pretty much straight, and I think I'll take her out tomorrow for some breakfast or something." Jean said that sounded like a really good idea, and that I've done more today than she thought would get done in a week! (Joe agreed) So for now, with chirping frogs in surround sound, I passed out with Joe on our little bed, entangled into one another like a person who falls down on Family Guy, and perfectly content about it.

Posted by - Rain 16:33 Comments (0)

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