Sort of a dramatic way to leave off, huh?
Nobody could give a flawless explanation of the dogs. AJ, the Canadian, had the best guess; that local farmers used similar-looking proximity collars to allow their dogs to roam. But that doesn’t explain how they got into the fenced park, or why they were famished—unless there’s a hole I didn’t notice and an abundance of cruel farmers. But how can anyone ever explain a haunting? They’re not supposed to add up.
The dogs are neither here nor there now; it’s January 28 and I’m sitting outside security at the restaurant-less Kona International Airport with eight hours and 45 minutes until boarding. American Airlines’ only flight today is the one I’m on so I can’t even check my fully loaded, 47 lb. duffel until 7:15. To top it off, I’ve got diarrhea like you wouldn’t believe, so I keep lugging my stuff from this uncomfortable stone bench to the cramped toilet stall. It will be a long day.
Which means I have a little time to catch up on reading and writing. This past week has been so exceedingly boring that I haven’t been able to bring myself to jot anything down. Even now I can’t determine what’s worth noting. The biggest events were falling out of a moving truck and puking all over the warehouse lawn the following morning. True highlights of the trip.
People watching at the airport is entertaining enough, though, especially after three weeks of seclusion from what increasingly feels like the “real” world. Tourists really do stick out when you’re at an airport. Not just because of Hawaiian shirts—those certainly don’t help—but because of the air of superior indifference they carry with them. Hawaiians are perpetually mesmerized and responsive to their incredible environment. They continuously beam with appreciation and reach out to anyone who might share their love, whether that be by picking up a hitchhiker or by striking up a random conversation on the beach like my new friend, Jay. They are aware that there are forces far greater than themselves at work in the islands and they seek to engage them naturally and respectfully. Golf isn’t really a Hawaiian thing.
Tourists look like they’re privileged enough to go on vacation to an exotic land. And they know it, the way they load golf clubs and the kids’ snorkels into their sporty rental cars and zoom off with a big, vapid smile.
While I may not quite be a hali (Hawaiian term for white people that translates as ‘one with no soul’), I certainly don’t feel the same connection with the land that Hawaiians and my fellow farmers do. Many people claim to find themselves on trips like these, but I only ever felt lost and out of place. Shame and guilt follow as I see the signs for horse and ATV rides that I know are only there to appease the imperialist nature of my people.
I’ve seen far more than the average tourist and I haven’t even spent $100. My experience should be the norm, but the Capitalist system connotes productivity and expenditure. Hawaiians take tourists’ money and show them the sights, but know that these people will never feel the island like they do. The islands themselves are a treasure that foreigners (including Americans) can only ever half-appreciate and it’s tragic how the drive to see the exotic is exploited.
But then again, statehood gives Hawaiians a key to the rest of the world and allows the 4th of July, and the Super Bowl, and other fun American novelties to permeate the culture. It absorbs the island in a giving way, naive of what it takes or perverts.
Though, hell, if it wasn’t the United States some other foreign power would probably take it anyway, so maybe it’s not such a bad thing. It could be worse.
Mixed feelings have been common on this trip. A week ago I couldn’t wait for today. Now I feel like I could spend another month or two on the farm. Sure, basically everybody is totally loony, but they’re good people, and the island’s beauty and power is humbling. It hasn’t been such a bad lifestyle, sharing food with twenty people, showering weekly, and living in a tent. Still, it will be nice to sleep in a bed again and rejoin the world of structure.