Linda's Place: Keaau, Hawaii
When we first pulled up to Linda's house after driving down a lonely road into the middle of the Hawaiian jungle, I wondered if staying 5 nights here would be a few too many. It seemed remote and the property was being swallowed by the surrounding brush. "Must like animals" Linda's AirBnB listing proclaimed—that meant her growing brood of dogs, cats, large parrots, chickens, ducks, frogs and more. It didn't take long for us to feel like a part of this large, happy family and to see her place as a slice of heaven.
Linda lives off the land, and knows every corner of the surrounding area. While we told her about the Canadian windchill and introduced her to the joys of streaming music, she soothed our mosquito bites (Ssssting Stop is the best!), told us about hidden snorkelling spots and shared her garden bounty. Sometimes it was avocados and passion fruits off the tree, and sometimes more unusual, like nature's "shampoo"—a sweet-smelling plant called Awapuhi that froths when you lather it into your hair.
We spent our days exploring the wonders of the Big Island's 'wet coast': hot springs, volcanos, secluded beaches and farmer's markets (more on that stuff in upcoming posts). And at night, in the middle of the jungle with no wifi or cable, we got creative by cooking hilarious meals (swedish meal-time style) and taking creepy flashlight-lit photos. And of course, befriending the family zoo: the dogs Jasmin and Lena were polar opposites, one a sucker for hugs, the other crabby if you approached her on the wrong side; and the parrots, attention-whore Coco who screamed until you wished him 'Good morning!' and the devious Ugo who spent his days sharpening his beak in his cage.
On one of our last nights at her place, Linda took us to a beautiful, little night market at "Uncle Robert's", a piece of land just barely spared by the ever-threatening lava flow. The locals gathered here for an evening of succulent food and Hawaiian dancing while the beer flowed. It was magical, like a community that was forever stuck in the idyll of the 70s, all smoke haze and twinkling lights. I realized, this is precisely how the best parts of Hawaii felt for me, like a place where time swayed back and forth, and all that mattered was nature and community.