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Internship in Hawaii: Week One Overview

Camping shack in forest in Hawaii

Internship in Hawaii: Week One Overview

The first week was quite an adjustment. I arrived at Big Island Farms at 9 PM, but I had still not adjusted to the time so it felt like two in the morning. I was exhausted. I consider the sleeping conditions as "glorified camping" because we sleep on air mattresses and sleeping bags inside a tiny cabana with screens for windows (pictured). This was not bad on most nights as I have been camping multiple times. Unfortunately, it is the rainy season right now so some nights water would be blown in through the screens.  

Food Forests

Throughout the week, we learned everyone's names quickly as we spent a lot of time together working and building a community. There are workers on the farm called WWOOFers. They provide free labor in exchange for a place to set up camp on the farm and meals. WWOOFers can do this anywhere in the world and usually stay at farms for a couple of months at a time. In a few weeks, a lot of them will be leaving and then we will get more. There are only 11 interns and this first week has been mainly an introduction to the farm and where everything is located.

The main area of the farm where everyone hangs out and eats is very cool. We have multiple gardens, and then what is called food forests. Walking through a food forest is like walking through Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory except for no candy or chocolate. Everything in a food forest is edible; from the small grasses and shrubs at your feet to the tall bananas and papayas above. It is truly a wonder to walk through one. From these gardens and food forests, come our meals and snacks every day. Yes, this means that every meal is vegan. This has been the without a doubt the largest adjustment for me. I am very used to wing nights and grilled chicken as well as scrambled eggs and cheese.

Vegans do not believe in wasting any pieces of food so the standard is usually to eat all that you are given or pass it on to someone who will. Meals are now mainly consisting of a wide variety of vegetables with a different type of side salad each meal. Most mornings were oats and oatmeal with one morning being pancakes. To my surprise, a lot of the meals were very good. There were definitely things that I was not too fond of eating and I am getting tired of side salads for lunch and dinner every day, especially when there are no vegan salad dressings except for homemade ones that, to me, have way too much vinegar in them. The coolest part about this is that we have endless snacks at our disposal. Even outside our classroom, we have a rack of fresh bananas that we cut down. We can just grab bananas at any point during the day if we want. I would say that I am excited to see what the future holds in store for the meals during the rest of my time. 

The rest of the property is around 60 acres and there are goats, cows, and sheep on the property. We hiked around the property one day to see the expansive Macadamia Nut Orchard located up in the hills (pictured).  There is a lot to see around the property and apparently, there is a waterfall on the property that shows up when it rains a lot. They told us it did not rain enough yet so there was not much to see where the waterfall is. Hopefully next week the rain can get it going.

Hiking into the Waipio Valley

Friday was the most anticipated day of the week. It would be our first trip during our time here. We would be hiking down into Waipio Valley. It is one of the most extraordinary places I have ever seen. The main view looks like a desktop background. Then the beach at the bottom was a gorgeous black sand beach with unreal views of the valley walls and waterfalls along the coastline, spitting water out into the ocean. We spent the day at the beach just hanging out and exploring. I will attach more pictures from the beach and the hike on a separate post.

The hike itself was also one of the most strenuous ones that I have experienced. It is about three-quarters of a mile down a very steep decline and then a quarter-mile walk to the beach. This was not the difficult part. Hiking back up three-quarters of a mile was intense. I have played many soccer games and this short hike made me sweat just as much as a preseason game in August, but it was incredible. The hike was stunning because with every step you sank deeper into the valley with a new view of the shoreline, and a clearer view of the opposite wall of the valley. I was mesmerized the whole time and it did not feel real. In a couple weeks we have our largest trip and hike which takes us down into Waipio again but then up the other valley wall, into the next valley on the other side called Waimanu Valley. There we will shower in natural waterfalls. The hike is 16 miles and I could not be more excited about it. 

Needless to say, the first week definitely had its ups and downs but I have already learned a lot. I am looking forward to learning more and experiencing new things as my time here moves on.