Tag Archives: photography

Finding Time to Relax While on Vacation

ImageThere’s something beautiful about a quiet, empty common area

I’m amused by the existence of this post.  It seems counter-intuitive that one would need to relax while vacationing in paradise, doesn’t it?  I’ve somehow managed to keep myself fairly busy this whole time, and it’s time for me to slow down.  Between the farm work that comes with WWOOFing, online classes (I’ve doing both an entrepreneurship course, and a “Rhetoric II” course), trying to maintain a blog (I know that the rest of yall are probably rolling your eyes, but I had no clue how much work this thing takes!), and rushing about trying to cram as many experiences as possible in to my time here, I haven’t been doing much breathing.

Today was especially busy.  We started early to avoid the heat as much as possible, but we still had a large harvest that kept us busy until mid-afternoon.  Afterward I had an essay to write, notes to take, and some information that I’m reviewing as a favor to the owners of the farm.  Toss in a bit of cooking, cleaning, dealing with the various social obligations that come with a communal living situation, and the hours just disappear.

I’ve decided that I’m going to relax now.  I think I’m going to start by maybe having a glass of kava, and hitting the sack.

Good night, yall

-NSTB

Taking a Deep Breath of Ocean Air

ImageI just had a very interestingly timed conversation- just as I was about to start typing.  It was short and to the point, but after yesterday’s little panic attack, it’s comforting.  A gal that I’m casually seeing- North Carolina massage therapist (NCMT) told me (and is telling me as I’m typing) how she’s back from having just diffused a situation.  A new WWOOFer was apparently a little stressed, and, in here words, “tripping.”  She mentioned how it wasn’t a big deal, and how she’d caught herself tripping out and stressing a few days before when she was snapping at me.  She then went on to say that everybody does it.

I have a habit of rolling my eyes when she talks about her intuitive feel for people, and understanding of human nature- especially when she drops full sized generalizations like “everybody trips out.”  The eye roll came, and I quipped that I hadn’t had a freak out yet.  Her was response?  “You and I are different.  Yours is going to be quiet and in your head.”  Yesterday came back to me, and I realized that, as much as it bothers me to admit it, she’s to some extent or another correct.

I had my little freakout yesterday.  I hadn’t put much thought to it today, but that’s probably because I managed to get it out of my system.  I panicked under the stress of a new environment, let the tension build up in me, and had a private meltdown last night.  It’s liberating knowing it for what it is, and even more comforting that I’m not the only one experiencing it, even if it manifests itself in different ways with different people.  I’m a little more ready to face the future and world.

Have any of yall ever had minor meltdowns or travel stress from a new environment?  How’d you deal with it?

The Ballad (Dirge?) of a Southern Man in Hawaii

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“But I guess it’s something you don’t understand.” — The Texas sunset (undoctored image)

It’s worth prefacing this by saying that I love life.  I’m thrilled to be in Hawaii.  I’ve been here for two weeks and my world is already changing and my horizons are expanding.  Some of my preconceived notions are being challenged, and others are being reinforced.  This may well be, as made famous by Dilbert, my paradigm shifting without a clutch.  Maybe it’s just not engaged fully and there’s a bit of gear grind.  It’s about time for my turn- god knows I’ve put my Jeep through it enough.

I miss Texas.

Change is good, Hawaii is beautiful, I’m meeting all sorts of wonderful people, and I wouldn’t even consider taking back this decision- but, dear god do I miss Texas.

I’m not just the only Texan here, I’m the only southerner here.  That seems like a silly thing to cause any sort of trepidation, but you begin to realize that there are distinct regional differences rather quickly.

The 10ish people who have been here or that are here are a surprisingly homogenous crowd, even though none of them are traveling together or even knew each other before this farm.  I’m about to break people down to in general categories.  It does them a disservice a individuals- I understand this- but is useful for painting a very broad picture.

  • There are a couple bay area (San Francisco and Oakland) people here- one bi gal who is a massage therapist/dula, and only eats “whole” foods whenever possible, and one guy who is gay and very quiet (he’s gone now to another island) and vegetarian
  • Two Canadian gals from Ontario, and two from Montreal.  Two are gone.  Of those that remain, one only eats whole, vegan foods and is incredibly fit, and the other is a massage therapist/naturopath who remains mostly vegetarian.
  • A girl from Chapel Hill who is a massage therapist.
  • A gay guy from NYC who likes to spend his summers as a drag queen.
  • A couple people who were leaving just as I was coming in were from Portland.

I’m an outlier.  Even as a somewhat progressive atheist who has actively campaigned for gay rights, I’m an outlier.  I’m not just an outlier, but much of what I value is seen as negative, destructive, or something that needs “fixing.”

Working construction in Texas means busting ass with a number of good ‘ol boys, sharing a sort of fraternal camaraderie, and shooting the shit about life.  Something as simple as walking around in Texas means occasionally holding the door open for a lady, and nodding your head and responding with a “ma’am” when she flashes you a big smile, full of genuine gratitude, and thanks you for it, even though she expected it the whole time.

That sort of thing doesn’t really happen here.  I feel very neutered in my ability to express myself, in both my actions and my words.

Being a Texan means being a part of that, and so much more.  It’s a large part of my identity, and I’m proud of that.  It’s rough not being able to share it.

On a related note, a link to a beautiful song- by a Texas band- that resonates pretty deeply with me:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gj7Zft8aiRc

Kua Beach

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Kua Beach

Today was quite the adventure! We’ve had several, which I hope to cover another time, but today was Kua Beach on the big island of Hawaii.

We don’t have a vehicle readily available here at the farm that I’m WWOOFing at, but we do have a great spot to hitchhike only half a mile up the hill from where we are.  We hitchhike everywhere.  EVERYWHERE.  Which is okay, because Hawaii is very hitchhiker friendly.  I don’t think that we’ve waited more than 20 minutes for a ride.  Sometimes it takes multiple rides to reach your destination- today’s return trip took 4- but you’ll get there eventually.

Kua beach is a small beach by mainland standards, but one of the larger sandy beaches here on the big island.  It’s relatively busy, but friendly, and while the waves aren’t surfable (they close too quickly and break too close to the shore) the boogie boarding is loads of fun!  A note on boogie boarding: until today I thought it was pretty lame.  Those that can’t do, teach; those can’t surf, boogie board.  Much in the same way that I’ve learned that there are very capable, competent teachers, I learned today that boogie boarding can be hella fun, and pretty extreme.  Did you know that some people friggin stand on up on them when they catch a wave!?

The waves today were pretty big, powerful, and closed hard and quick.  You couldn’t surf it, but it was great fun on the boogie board.  We lined up, chatted, watched the sets, and when we saw the wave coming, everyone lined up and got ready for a rough ride.  Depending on your timing and luck, you either had a good 7 seconds of push and a graceful dismount, or two seconds of rush before doing a 1080 underwater and bouncing off the sand a time or two.  Neither outcome got old.

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We left at the perfect time, and made it to the farm in time to watch the sunset.  It was about then that I realized what happens when you combine intense sunlight, a fairly pasty white kid, and several hours at the beach- no matter how much sunscreen you apply and reapply.  I’m a bit burnt.  A bit might be a bit of an understatement.  I’m not going to the hospital with sun poisoning, but I’m red.  I’ve applied aloe, and, after a quick google search, also applied vinegar to all of the unhappy areas.  I’m hoping that it does what it’s supposed to, and I tan instead of peel.  Cross your fingers for me, please!

I’ve got a few online courses to take care of now.  I’ve been putting them off all week.

Do yall have any tricks or tips for dealing with sunburns? Leave me a comment and let me know!

-NSTB

The Power of “Hello, my name is…”

ImageMa in all of her glory

Only an hour ago I had one of those experiences that make you stop and think, “Wow, life really is a wonderful thing.”

After a hard day of work, we (the group of WWOOFers here at the farm and I) had hoped to go to the beach.  It ended up being overcast and drizzly, so we chose to forgo the beach trip and hang around. We were generally short on booze when I arrived, and after a bit of bumming, I decided that this downtime was as good of a time as any for me to replace what I’d used and contribute to future shenanigans.

One of the gals who’s been here for a little while was told by another WWOOFer who’d left recently that she needed to try Kava.  We had no clue what it was- only that it was a muscle relaxant and that there was a spot that sold it nearby.  I later found out that it’s a Polynesian plant whose root is commonly used for medicinal purposes.  We elected to go in to town together, grab the alcohol, and then give the Kava a shot.

The liquor store trip was uneventful, but the Kava shop was incredible.  It’s run by an older Polynesian woman with a very thick accent and a quick smile who goes by the name of “Ma.” Ma was quick to pour us a very large, communal bowl of Kava, and then content to sit and enjoy the cool weather- warm eyes and smile never leaving her face.

The Kava was very interesting.  It’s simply powdered root in water, and tastes like it. The powder numbs your tongue and throat on contact, almost like a novocaine gel, and after several minutes, mellows out the rest of your body.  There was a light, heady sort of feeling, and my nagging back pain, which I’ve been subject to for months, was kind enough to disappear while we were drinking, and for a bit afterward.

ImageThe bowl of kava and the coconut shell cups

I became curious about the old woman who seemed so happy just to be alive, so I introduced myself.  “Howdy ma’am, my name’s…” “People call me Ma.”  She picked up an old ukulele and asked if I could sing or play.  I told her that I could give the singing a shot, but I definitely knew how to play a few songs.  She listened, smiled, and occasionally rasped along with me when she knew the lyrics.  She explained that her lungs didn’t work properly, so she couldn’t sing much, and enjoyed listening to others now instead.  I’d hardly call what I do “singing” but she seemed to be enjoying herself, and I was having a pretty good time too!

Ma had me grab a binder near the table that she was sitting at, and flipped it open to a few loose pages of ukulele tabs with lyrics.  While she played, we sang together and laughed as we struggled through the song.

After we finished with the ukulele, we sat, sipped kava, and disccused life for a while.  She hit her stride for a few minutes and told me a few of her thoughts on life.  I made sure to take notes.  Some of it follows:

  • Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. If someone is upset with you because you falsely advertised yourself, you should be ashamed.  If someone doesn’t approve of who you are when you’re genuine, you can hold your head up high, and should seek better people instead.
  • Give respect to the mother and father of any household you visit.  Always bring a gift for the lady of the house.  It doesn’t have to be big- something as small as a flower- but you should always bring something.
  • “The older I get, the more I know that life is too short to hold grudges.”

We parted ways a few minutes later.  I promised to return, and will be bringing Ma something the next time I visit.  I can’t wait for next time!

ImageThe interior of the shop and Ma prepping our kava

Have any of yall ever had kava?  What about an experience with an elder that left a lasting positive impression?

-NSTB

Hidden Prices

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Our hero in his natural habitat

I mentioned in an older post how happy I was to find a cheap ticket to Hawaii, and just how easy it was to find them.  The ticket never got more expensive, but the travel costs increased a little more than initially intended.

For starters, there’s luggage fees.  I was prepared for these, but it’s worth keeping in mind when pricing out tickets whether or not you’ll be paying to check a bag.  In my case, checking my backpack cost me an extra $25.

Next is food.  I went to the airport entirely unprepared for long distance travel.  I expected that I’d be getting a meal if nothing else on my flight from California to Hawaii.  Sure- as long as paid a pretty solid chunk of change.  I should have looking in to this, and I should have brought snackage anyway.  Also, I’d forgotten just how expensive airport food is! I probably should have loaded up on a large breakfast as well. Instead, I spent $14 on cashews and beef jerky, and then, my stomach empty and crying after the long flight, I went to the airport bar and spent $28 on beer and a burger.

I’d like to think that I’m pretty good about eating healthy.  I also know that I’m awful about it when I’m starving.  Next time I travel, I’ll be prepared.

Are there any hidden costs to traveling that yall’ve found, and any tricks around them?

-NSTB

The Packing List

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Examining the method and madness of our brave, stunningly attractive, exceptionally intelligent, worldly (alright, I might be embellishing just a bit…) hero.

I’ve got a bit of time before my first flight leaves, so it’s time for me to start catching up on my blogging!

I put some thought in to what I packed. I also did a little bit of research in the process. I doubt that I got it right, but I don’t think that I got it too wrong either.

The thought process:

  • Duration: This coming three months will be the longest that I’ve ever travelled. That said, it’s much shorter than some of the journeys that people I admire have taken, and shorter than the journeys that I ultimately aspire to.
  •  Destination: The destinations that I’ll be hitting these next few months are forgiving, but offer a diverse range of possibilities. I’ve got Hawaii, where I’ll be staying in Kona as a WWOOFer for two months, and I’ve got Spain.

I backpacked Hawaii with a camp when I was younger, and while the circumstances are a bit different, I think that my biggest concern is gear that can handle working, hiking, surfing, and getting wet. Currently, I don’t foresee much else.

The last time I went to Spain, a few years ago, I fell in love with Madrid. I had an incredible experience that came from me being able to interact with the locals and see the city from a much more intimate perspective. I’d like to do that again. This means having gear that allows me go out without looking like a troglodyte. Europeans tend to have a much higher standard of dress than Americans, which presents challenges for a backpacker trying to be conscientious about the amount of shit (s)he’s lugging around.

My Conclusion? Screw it, I’m throwing in a bit of everything and using this is a learning experience.

On me: I wanted to keep down the weight of my bag. Excess luggage fees tend to occur at 20 kilos from what I’ve seen online, and pack wasn’t going to be light (I found out at the airport that it was 33lbs, so I was in the clear. This isn’t the recommended way to go however, and luggage scales can prevent expensive miscalculations). This meant wearing heavy items. Additionally, I wanted to wear my Bill F*cking Murray shirt in case I encountered any Chivers (long story for those who aren’t in the know).

  • -BFM t-shirt
  • -Jeans
  • -ExOfficio boxer briefs
  • -Thin, quick-dry, synthetic hiking socks
  • -Cowboy hat

Conclusion after today’s testing: This setup worked pretty well. I kept the hiking boots loose, and they turned out to be comfortable and quick to slip on and off at security. The cowboy hat (which goes with me everywhere) proved to be a bit of a logistical PITA because I couldn’t wear it while sitting down, couldn’t store it in the overhead without worrying about it getting crushed, and was a bit sketched out about it being under my seat. It spent its time in my lap.

In the Day Pack (my carry on): I wanted everything valuable that I had on me at all times. I also wanted to be able to keep myself entertained and connected, as well as be able to take care of myself if my primary back pack disappeared.

  • -My mac and its charger
  • -My kindle and its charger
  • -iPhone w/ OtterBox and its charger
  • -Sunglasses
  • -Seeing glasses w/ case
  • -3 notebooks (one for each of two online courses that I’m taking, and one general purpose)
  • -pens
  • -passport
  • -neck pouch with uncuttable strap
  • -a mini notebook
  • -my toothbrush
  • -floss
  • -deodorant
  • -a long sleeve synthetic shirt
  • -ear buds
  • -a first aid kit with immodium and benadryl

Conclusion after traveling with it all day today: I packed it perfectly. I primarily used my kindle, but also started this post in the airport. The long sleeve was very useful for when the flight got chilly. I sleep easily, but if you’re a light sleeper, I might consider the addition of ear buds. Also, I think that I’ll be adding a water bottle for next time.

My backpack: tons of things. I wanted to be able to test out EVERYTHING. When I’m done with this trip, I’ll know what I do and do not use, and won’t have to suffer through questioning whether or not there was an item to bring along with me. Additionally, I brought my travel Electrician’s tool kit (mini drill, kleins, channel locks, level, multi-meter) in case I can find some side work. Even as full as it is, it only came out to 33lbs total weight. Not bad.

  • -Athletic shoes
  • -Dress shoes
  • -Flip flops
  • -Rain Jacket
  • -2 Board shorts
  • -1 Rash guard
  • -1 Synthetic pants
  • -1 Short sleeve quick dry shirt
  • -Wrist brace
  • -Work gloves
  • -2 Thin, quick-dry, synthetic hiking socks
  • -1 ExOfficio boxer briefs
  • -Luggage lock
  • -Tool Kit
  • -Sleeping bag
  • -Sleeping pad
  • -Mini tent
  • -Pocket knife
  • -Floss
  • -Tooth paste
  • -Dr. Bronner’s soap
  • -Medium travel towel
  • -Head lamp
  • -Lip balm
  • -Sun screen
  • -Bug cream
  • -Aloe
  • -Small cologne vial
  • -Condoms

Conclusion: I’ll have to let yall know in 3 months!

Have yall got any thoughts on what I packed?  Suggestions or comments from your own travels?

-NSTB