Day 5: Chasing Waterfalls

Fifth Day June 20

I went walking an hour earlier than usual this morning . I did not even bother to wake up my hubby . He may be a night owl with energy to last him through the night and beyond but early bird he is not. I left him alone in deep REM bliss .

I went my usual route but it seemed that the people I ran into were less friendly and less inclined to the customary good morning greeting than the people that walked an hour later. The 7 AM crowd seemed like the spandex-clad , iPod using , no- nonsense joggers who considered fitness a religion. I am not in any logo-inscribed outfit and   my only claim to fame is my pair of MBT shoes ( Masai Barefoot Technology ) . I don’t think I’m impressing anybody but that’s what’s liberating about being on vacation. Nobody knows you and nobody cares.

As I walked down this stretch of paradise , I noticed something out of place . Most of the resort workers were in Hawaiian shirts looking happy and healthy driving around in their little golf carts and Escalade service vehicles . There was, however, a scattering of weary and older-looking workers that I saw working in some inhospitable areas of the resort . I heard them talking and recognized them to be Filipinos by their Ilocano dialect. They did not have the fashionable tan of the privileged but the sunburned darkness of hours of manual labor under the grueling sun . They were pulling weeds from between lava rocks , among other things. The area they were working at had to be done by hand because the rugged and sharp terrain was unreachable by lawn mowers and the like . Unfortunately that’s also the area that’s bug-infested, dangerous and totally devoid of shade . I mentioned this later to Melanie , about feeling sorry for Filipinos doing hard labor that nobody wanted to do , and my politically correct daughter jumped on my case . “Well , what about the Mexicans doing the same thing ? Don’t they deserve your sympathy,too?”  Hey , I ain’t got nothing against hard work, just as long as I’m not the one doing it . Seriously ,  I am just hoping these workers are adequately compensated and not being taken advantage of because of their sweet and docile nature.

Our itinerary for the day was to see some waterfalls. With Ronnie at the helm , you know it can’t be just one scenic spot , right? We
visited Umauma Falls that boasted of three- tiered waterfalls amidst rainforest settings and a botanical garden. The rainforests in Hawaii look like your local Armstrong nursery on steroids. The ferns are gigantic , the flowers enormous and the trees Tarzan-inspired. It is not farfetched to imagine a Jurassic Park close by. We also stopped by Rainbow Falls, so-called because when the 80-foot cascade hits the water below , the mists throw prisms of rainbow into the air. (Hey,  I plagiarized that line off a travel brochure !) Next stop was the 442- feet high Akaka Falls which provided my lens-crazy guy with lots of photo ops . We also stopped by a place called Boiling Pots , so-called because when the river water flows beneath a level of old lava , it can suddenly bubble up and look like it’s boiling .

Along the way was the historic downtown Hilo which we also explored. We had driven this way before and my kids had gone crazy for this masubi (rice and Spam wrapped in seaweed ) that a local place was selling . Unfortunately they had run out that day so we searched for grub somewhere else . Boy , be forewarned . Most restaurants here close from 2 pm to 5 pm so better not be caught at starvation mode around that time.

Our next stop was Honomu Town which was once populated with saloons and bordello that catered to the sugar industry.  The sugar cane plantations have long been abandoned , but the town has retained its charm. Like most Hawaiian towns, it is picturesque with its vibrant green foliage and assortment of colors from bougainvillea , hibiscus, plumeria and other native flowers. Most houses have a distinct look that remind me of old houses in Pilar and Bohol ( Philippines). It is also not unusual to see goats , hen and roosters wandering around. There is just such a laid-back feel to the place that makes you think for a moment that you may wanna live here . Then the feeling passes and reality sets in. Well , back to the daily grind in a week’s time.

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