In my second year of law school, I was playing on the school’s female flag football team. I was on outside linebacker, and for some reason, I got tasked with sacking the quarterback. Our quarterback at the time was a girl in the class below me, who I didn’t really know outside of the football, but we got to know each other real quick after she realized what I was up to. Breezy and I became fast friends, but we didn’t really know each other when spring break rolled around and she asked if I’d be interested in spending it on Molokai doing restoration work on a kalo lo’i (taro farm) deep in the country. She didn’t need to ask me twice, I was in.
For those of you who don’t know, kalo is the Hawaiian word for taro, which is a starchy veggie that locals harvest to make poi. I had worked in a lo’i before, but never on this level. We’d be spending the entire week working on the farm, doing everything from planting to cutting down trees.
I’ve been to Molokai a few times before, but this was my first time staying with locals from the island. There were a bunch of us that flew over, so our host, Marshall, and his family set up a big campsite for us in the backyard.
Their house was right up the road from the lo’i, so we prepped everything at the house and just walked to work every day.
This is the view walking up to the lo’i. Me and Bri and actually got there a day or two after everyone else, so they had cleared out and leveled most of the lot before we got there.
Bri and I were two of only three girls that had flown in for this trip, so we were cruising with the boys all week. It was beyond fun.
This is Blaine and he is just the coolest. He and I were the unofficial trip documentarians. He had his video cam and I had my Nikon, and we called each other “shooter.”
I admit, when Breezy invited me to the lo’i, I really had no clue what I was getting myself into. But she and I both shed any expectations at the door and jumped in to help. Being part-Hawaiian, I really enjoyed the experience of participating in something that my ancestors used to do. Here’s Breezy going all in.
In this pic they’re digging around in the lo’i to remove any big rocks and stems.
Seeing these pics really makes me miss this trip and the lo’i and the people and the whole experience. Marshall, if you’re reading this, Bri and I would love to come check out the farm and see what it’s looking like today!!
I shot this pic early on when we were cutting down the big trees and clearing out the area. This was probably the hardest work of all.
This is P-Nut, the only other girl on the trip besides me and Bri. She is awesome and although I don’t see her nearly often enough, we are pretty active on Facebook 😉 Hi P-Nut!!
Now, you’re not gonna fly all the way to Molokai and be all work & no play!! Every day after work, we would have the moloka’i style of pau hana, which usually involved all of us hopping in the trucks and going on excursions.
On one ride we saw a bunch of nene geese, the official state bird of Hawaii.
One day we headed over to a friend of Marshall’s to check out his ‘awa farm. ‘Awa is a plant that is more commonly known as kava. It’s got a lot of traditional medicinal uses, and I like it for the numbing effect it leaves in your mouth. If you ever get a chance to try kava, give it a go.
After the ‘awa farm we headed to this magical place. The Halawa Valley.
This was our crew for the day. I put my Joby Gorillapod on top of Marshall’s truck to fire off this fun group shot.
This is a view of the mouth of the valley from the same spot.
We drove down to the bottom of the valley, where there happened to be a fun-sized small swell.
The boys caught some fun ones while me and Bri went for a swim and picked shells.
Play Hard, Pay Hard.
And in the morning we’d wake up and get back to work. One of the benefits of owning a kalo farm is all you can eat poi!! On this day, we cleaned off the taro and prepped it to make fresh poi.
This is what the root of the taro looks like. The white ones up top are the ones we had already peeled to get ready for pounding.
This uncle had a captive audience as he talked to us about how to properly pound poi, and told us stories about the region.
This guy’s poi pounding technique was on point.
We all got a chance to pound poi, as there was a lot of it to make for our upcoming luau. Breezy looks like a natural, doesn’t she 😉
The semi-finished product!
Me and Breezy, just enjoying living the life.
One of the days the boys went spear fishing at this private little beach that we had all to ourselves.
There are probably dozens of empty beaches just like this on Molokai.
We caught a stellar sunset as well.
We were really, really living off the land that week. It was awesome.
You’d think this sign points out the obvious, but a lot of people come to Hawaii and aren’t familiar with the ocean. So you kind of need to point it out to them. I would add to this sign, “Do Not Stand or Put Any of Your Body Parts Above the Blowhole.”
Molokai is also famous for its deer hunting. So the boys did that as well.
I’ll skip the gory photos that I took, but suffice it to say, we were around quite a bit of dead deer. Bri and I never actually went hunting with the boys, but they did wake us up a couple times in the middle of the night to take pictures of their catch.
Breezy’s foot became really really swollen one day, but Michael was studying traditional herbal medicine, so he whipped her up a concoction that helped relieve the pain and swelling.
We checked out Kalaupapa and Phallic Rock one day. It was gorg.
We also stopped by Marshall’s other house in “town.”
The funny thing about that day is that – just like everything else on Molokai – there aren’t a lot of gas stations and they close early. So we didn’t have enough gas to make it back to Honouliwai and had to stay in town one night. We made the most of the situation by doing things like light graffiti.
And getting hot bread at the famous Molokai Hot Bread spot.
Our Molokai Hot Bread crew!
The guy who lived next door to Marshall had this flourishing collection of glass bottles on his perimeter wall.
Aloha thank you for coming.
This is a shot of the boys planting the kalo stalks.
In this pic we’re combing through the mud to remove the large rocks.
The boys taking a well-deserved mango break.
Mud masking it up!
There were some areas of the lo’i that were already thriving.
Quincy was the master tree cutter.
Like I said, we were living off the land. I don’t think we ate a single thing the entire week that we didn’t pick, catch, or grow. It’s the way nature intended.
The boys threw net and we scooped!
Breezy, counting up the bounty.
Yup, a nice catch.
We didn’t eat goat, but there were a few on the pig farm that we went to.
Yup, I said pig farm. We went down to pick out the unlucky guy who would be the main course at our luau the next night.
Uncle went out to do the duty. I will spare you the photos of the actual kill.
Haha look at Bri’s face as she checks out our dinner. I’ll warn you now, if you are grossed out by this sort of thing, may want to skip through the next couple of photos.
Here he is, all prepped for cooking.
We didn’t imu him, but instead slow roasted him out in the open for several hours.
We also went torching. I can’t really remember specifically how this work, but I think the fire and light from the torches would funnel fish into certain areas at which point they could be caught. I also have a haunting suspicion that I’m wrong about that, in which case I apologize!
Hand held shots weren’t exactly doing it for me this night.
This was the little beach right out in front of our house.
This is a different view of the little beach.
We also picked fresh coconuts, which the boys husked for us.
This is Marshall’s family and friends. We really appreciate the aloha they showered us with on their home island. Mahalo nui =)
On the last day, the uncles called over a couple of their friends who sold some of their arts and crafts.
This guy had some really great opihi shell jewelry. And he was just a really nice guy.
He hand made all of these with shells picked from the island.
He gifted me and Bri with some cherry opihi shell necklaces. He kept calling us “sistahz,” which, kind of we are.
I found some of my own opihis on the beach right up the road.
How much would you want to run into these guys at the grocery store? Haha ….
Someone picked this fruit for us. I think it’s called an egg fruit. And I couldn’t believe it, but it tasted exactly like an egg yolk. Which is to say that I did not care for it very much.
And then on the last day we prepped our pig for the luau.
We ended up with a lot of meat.
So yeah, that about sums up the Molokai trip where Breezy and I sealed in our lifelong friendship. Cuz Molokai Mo Bettah.
Mahalo to all you guys, this was (and always will be) one of my best trips ever. Aloha =)