*The following photos are by Scott Muehlbauer, personal friend and fellow globe drifter.
So, after more than three years of living abroad, I'm finally going home to Hawai'i to visit family and friends! I know, I know, it's been a long time coming...but it's true, I'll be there! In fact, I leave in less than 5 days. On Saturday, July 6th, I will be flying out from Taipei, laying over in Korea, and heading to New York, where I will meet up with my sister Crystal and meet my 3 year old nephew, Micah-Kai, for the first time!
After New York, I fly out to Hawaii where I will do some island hopping...Moloka'i, Lana'i, Maui and O'ahu. I love living in Asia, but there's something about going home to golden sands, blazing sunshine, rolling surf and bright blue skies that really gets me going just thinking about it!
Lately I've been on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube devouring everything I can about what it will be like to go home.
There are a couple of things I am so looking forward to doing when I get to Hawaii. Here are just a few:
Eating My Dad's Squid Luau or Dry Tako (or BOTH)
Squid luau is a local Hawaiian dish made up basically of fresh octopus and luau^ leaves stewed in freshly squeezed coconut cream.
My dad makes THE BEST squid luau, hand's down! I got the recipe from him several times, and recently I attempted to replicate it myself, even cracking open a fresh coconut, grating the white meat and squeezing out the frothy cream, just like dad taught me to do as a boy, but alas it was to no avail! It just didn't taste the same. There are a couple of definitely random secret ingredients, but nothing too crazy, I just can't figure out what I'm missing.
Another thing he does well is his dry tako*, if I can't get me some squid luau, then I at least want some of that dry tako. Again, never learned the exact process of preparing it, but definitely a series of drying in the sun, ageing in a freezer and smoking it over kiawe# charcoal. Perfect combination of tender, chewy, salty and smoky!
^Local terminology referring to taro leaves, coming from the Hawaiian word for it
*The Hawaiian Pidgin English word for "octopus", originally a Japanese loanword
#Hawaiian mesquite wood, perfect for grilling and smoking meat and fish
Hiking to Moaula Falls in Halawa Valley, Island of Molokai
Halawa Valley is my mom's ancestral homelands on her dad's side, going back for hundreds of years and many generations back. It is literally at the end of the road on the eastern end of Molokai, a beautiful secluded valley of verdantly green mountain ravines, towering waterfalls and traditional lo'i* still being cultivated in the traditional way by the eighth generation of taro farmers from our ohana.#
My grandpa was born and raised in this valley, and my mom and aunties played there as babies. Every summer, and many times in between, my dad would take us kids, and our cousins and friends, for an all day hike up to the falls, along a pathway that took us on the same ancient mountain trails used by our ancestors, passing through taro patches and ancient ruins. On the way, we would pick the green buds of wild ginger-root flowers to squeeze into our hands and rub through our hair their heavily perfumed fragrance.
At Moaula Falls, we would spend the day dipping in the cool waters that poured down in torrents from hidden mountain springs.
*Hawaiian word for a traditionally cultivated 'taro patch'
#Local terminology referring to family, from the Hawaiian word
Having a Camp-out, Bonfire, Jam Session at Hulopoe Bay, Island of Lanai
One of the most beautiful beaches in all the islands, Hulopoe Bay was my hangout spot for the 8 years that I lived on the island of Lanai. It's such a chill atmosphere that at one point, I even lived there out of my car (by choice) for 2 months. My only possessions were a foldable cot, a gas lantern and a jade succulent plant named Wela.
I would drive down to the bay every night after work, fire up the beach grill, cook me up a steak over freshly gathered kiawe wood, and meditate under a blanket of stars. During this period of my life, I learned how simple and content I could be with just the basics in life.
At one point, I tried to recruit a kitten I'd named Hamlet to live this unfettered life with me on the sands of Hulopoe, but on the way down, he jumped out the car window and ran for his life. I guess he wasn't having any of it. Years later, I saw him at someone's house up in town. He looked happier and fatter than I probably could have ever made him feel living out in the open with me.
My, my, my... How Things Have Changed...
In addition to thinking about those few experiences I look forward to reliving, I have also begun to reflect on some of the changes that have been going on back at home while I've been gone. I even posted on my Facebook Page a brief overview of some of the things that have changed:
DRIFTER CHANGES: I leave home for just 3 years and my sister Crystal has a baby, my brother Philip gets married, my cousin Jared has another baby and my uncle Danny has a baby. But to top it all off...my teen cousin Grant turns into a crooner! I had no idea he could sing. My how things have changed...
Yes, it's true...my cousin Grant has turned into a musician-slash-singer-slash-"kid with a good head on his shoulder", (thanks, Ash...)
One Foot On Sand
As you can imagine, I have a lot to look forward to and so many things I can't wait to do when I go home to Hawaii for a visit!
To be straight up, I know for a fact that living in Taiwan for these past three years and traveling abroad to other places, such as Hong Kong, Malaysia and the Philippines, has definitely turned out to be one of the BEST choices I have ever made. Because of this, I have decided do whatever it takes to keep living abroad.
But although I will continue to do all I can to live in another land, it is be important for me to ALWAYS keep one foot on sand and remember where I come from. Only by doing that will I be able to see clearly where I am going.
I'm JR. I come from a long line of adventurers, some were nomadic explorers of the sea and others wandering cultivators of the earth. Ultimately, this legacy of drifters has deeply affected my view of travel. Read more...