Each day in Hawaii began about the same. The husbands would wake up about six and take coffee on the lanai. Quietly reading, sipping, and smoking (for some) until the wives joined us an hour or two . . . or three later. Usually, we knew from general discussion the night before where we were going for the day. We would watch the sunrise, search the sea for whales, and check out weather patterns as they developed. Rain squalls we could see miles away on the ocean and wait for their approach.
Rain followed its own order: rain, rain hard, rain harder, rain harder than you thought possible. Rain is good. It fills up the catch basins that most houses in Puna have giving residents rain water to drink and bathe in. The rain comes and moves on . . . and so did we.
This was Sunday Market day. We visited the Maku'u Farmer's Market where I had my first encounter with "pasteles". The Sunday Market is a busy place with lots of booths and lots of good food to explore. I looked around with Donn and Randy and then ventured fourth on my own and bought a pastele plate. I fell in love.
The pastele originated in Puerto Rico and changed as it moved into the islands. It's like a tamale. Actually, it tastes like I always expect a tamale to taste, but they rarely do. At best most tamales, have a thin wrapping of masa around a core of meat. South American tamales have more veggies and even a whole olive in them. The pastele starts with ground green bananas and plantains to form the dough and then onions and pork are added. The whole treasure is wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. Yummy.
I bought my food and sat down at an open section of picnic bench among strangers. Well, at least they started as strangers. I started asking about the foods they were eating and a lively conversation began. Across from me was Terry and his wife. They were from the Phoenix area. We talked about football and Arizona State University.
Next to me (on my right) was Mark, who went to school at the University of Arizona. I love Tucson and remarked that Arizona was the only place I had visited for a football game and felt in danger wearing my University of Washington Husky Tee-shirt after the game. Mark just laughed. He was a rugby player there. I remarked that he could have protected me. Mark was a chemical engineer. He was downsized and offered a position in San Francisco. His response was to move to Oahu. He was on Hawaii with his wife Jackie (to my left) who was visiting from the mainland. She's an RN. We talked about clinics.
Across from me was an elderly Asian-looking man who was eating wide noodles with veggies. With an accent he said he was eating udon. I think it was something else, but I never sampled what he had. Donn joined us and then we split up again and went around the market.
Mark had mentioned a candied coconut vendor, but after searching the booths for half an hour I gave up and returned to the picnic tables with a plate of barbecue. When I first had a sample of the brisket at the vendor booth it was fatty and wonderful. On my plate was brisket, pulled pork, and a big beef rib. My slices of brisket were too lean for my tastes, but the pulled pork made up for it. To my surprise my favorite BBQ selection was the beef rib. This is why I taste different items and ask people about their foods. Good food can lead to good conversation . . . and more good food . . . and conversation.
This time at the table our whole group started gathering. Peg introduced us to a coconut and pineapple crumb cake. After a few bites I went and bought enough for the night's dessert. Donn had the udon looking noodles, and Debbie had a green papaya salad. The salad was refreshing. I might ask for a little more spice on mine, but it was very, very good.
Once our hunger was asuaged . . . well, kind of . . . we continued shopping for fresh vegetable and fruit. Almost everyday we went shopping. Fresh produce ripens quickly. Our favorites, the fingerling apple bananas we replentished on a regular basis. They were great for breakfast and a quick and easy snack almost any time of day.
As with the Hilo Market there was entertainment at the Maku'u Farmer's Market, but there were so many people and the singer/guitar player couldn't be heard if you were more than fifteen or twenty feet away. It was a loss that was more than made up for with the food, however.
After we left the market Donn and Debbie showed us some of their favorite sights. They pointed out a concrete house. Perhaps, it was because our friend Karl Anderson of Concrete Technology was the founding member of the cigar club that Donn belongs too, or perhaps it was because it's a beautiful house, in a beautiful setting with a beautiful view.
During our two weeks on the island, Peg and I enjoyed looking at the houses and the landscaping which including lava, lava walls, and fancy gates, The lush foliage, trees, and plants made the homes looks even better . . . or maybe it was the other way around.
Along the easternmost point of the big island is the Cape Kumukahi and what scientists insist is the world’s freshest air.
We parked below the Cape Kumukahi Lighthouse, which was spared by Pele from an eruption lava flow in 1960. Lava spewed across the land and into the see, but detoured around the lighthouse. From Donn and Debbie's home you can see flashes from the brilliant light of the lighthouse shining through the mist of the night's surf.
Around the lighthouse are vast lava fields. Eventually, the lava will break down and vegitation will engulf the black and bleak landscape.
In 1990, lava from Kilauea volcano engulfed Kalapana, a hearby Hawaiian fishing village and residential area. No lives were lost, but 182 homes were swallowed by lava. In the area around the lighthouse left behind was a new layer of lava plus an entirely new coastline. Many eruptions and lava flows work their magic and contribute more real estate to the island of Hawaii, but there are also reminders of lost homes and lives around many of the lava fields. Within a hundred yards of the lighthouse, Debbie, Sue, and Darlene fought the strong winds and stood over a memorial while breathing the clean fresh air.
The Star of the Sea Painted Church is a must see. Interior paintings tell the story of Father Damien Devester, a Belgian priest who died helping lepers on Molokai. The paintings are primitive and interesting . . . even if you are not religious. After the 1990 eruption, the church was moved to its present location. The Star of the Sea Painted Church is on the National register of Historic Places. The church is open without charge every day of the year. There are not a lot of houses and businesses around the church, but still it is interesting to see.
We had a full day of eating, shopping, and sight seeing. It was complete, but I did have a taste in my mouth for more pasteles. It took some searching and dedication, but I eventually found a source.