There is a thing you have to do as a traveler, and it may relate more to eastern philosophy than to western. As much as you would like to think you're prepared for a new area after you've read and listened to stories of other travelers, you still have to let go and swing into the wild blue yonder without a rope, letting go attempts to control the outcome. Then, it's you and the place, meeting each other.
Oftentimes we who believe we have a high standard of living impose ourselves on the universe and think we are conquering it, teaching it how we must be treated so that we will be comfortable and have the upper hand. It's like teaching a dog to say hello in English. Have you listened to it, heard what it had to say, in Dog? Not really. It has only learned to mimic what you wanted it to say.
I asked my friends what Kauai is like before I came here. I asked them what to see, what they liked about it.
"It rains a lot, but it's pretty," they said. One said, "You will be bored out of your mind in a week, guaranteed."
We got up this morning and felt soft, cool air on our skin and saw that the sky was covered with rain clouds. A few small birds sang a lilting song, and a rooster crowed as if mimicking another rooster in jest. I thought I heard it laugh afterward. Then drops of water began a random patter on the lanai awning that grew to a steady downpour. The rain sluiced off the large leaves of the breadfruit and palms in the yard. Green on green with splashes of vivid pink or orange met us as we waited for the rain to stop. It ended in ten minutes and then all was quiet except for drainpipes gurgling and leaves rustling in a very light breeze.
Bound for Limahuli Garden and Preserve two miles to the west of us, our exploration and swing into the wild blue was beginning. The region is lush, green, dense with growth and feels like a tilted world decorated with flowers. Mauka way (toward the mountains), there is a rambling skyline of overgrown lava peaks. Makai way (to the ocean) the water is aqua blue and lined with curling white breakers. In between is a riot of undergrowth that you might think only needs Tarzan to go swinging through it or velociraptors so that the prehistoric jungle can be complete. But, it's quiet. You hear wind or water on leaves and the restless surf. Tarzan or velociraptors is not what the forest and jungle are talking about; they would be an imposition in this nearly silent place.
Kauai's north shore feels soft as it meets you, talks to you quietly about water, how it flows through and around rocks. The undulations of land, rivers, forests and beaches muffle sound and baffle the wind.
We slowed our pace quite a lot today and took time to feel the change. We drank less coffee, stopped more often to watch and listen and felt delight come over us, very slowly. We were not bored out of our minds. Instead, we have a longer list than before of places we want to see and spend time with. We forgot what day it is today and have no inclination to watch television or take part in fear and violence.
I stood on the hushing shore at sunset once again this evening. While the aqua swells lifted and fell on the golden sand, an image of white snow falling silently filled my mind. Earlier this afternoon, I watched paddleboarders gliding across Hanalei Bay while glittering light played on the hammered gray metal water, and I thought of shooting stars. All silence in all of nature was speaking its own language, talking story, peacefully. Now the singing insects are keeping a trilling pulse-like rhythm in the night, the lullaby of the ages.
Causes Christine Bottaro Supports
The Nature Conservancy, California State Parks, The United Way