Chaos Attraction

Chocolate and Christmas Lights

2013-12-21, 12:48 a.m.

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Despite getting four hours of sleep last night--I went to bed at 9:30-- I woke up at about 4:15 a.m.... so even in California that's way before I'd have to go to work. Ugh. I don't get my sleep habits, such as they are. So I sat around surfing the web for two hours, and eventually watched the Kauai sunrise. Which was lovely, of course. And filled with the sounds of jungle and roosters crowing and everything was wet. But gorgeous. I got to spend a wee bit of time on the lanai--wish I had more time to do that stuff here, but that probably won't happen. It was quite and dewy and beautiful outside. And warm, and I stayed in the same sundress all day without having to look for pants or a jacket! Heck, I managed to avoid the few rainstorms all day too, hah.

This morning we had a chocolate farm tour at Steelgrass Farm. It came highly recommended and indeed, was great fun. You spend the first half of the tour sampling exotic fruit--tahitian limes, sugarcane, rambutan (funky hairy fruit shell!), longan (eh), starfruit (one of the best ones), eggfruit, lillkoi, soursop (pretty good despite the name), honey, dragonfruit, and my favorite was the ka'u orange. The second half of the tour is blind taste testing of dark chocolates with 60-74% chocolate. I am...well, usually I am not a fan of dark chocolate since it's usually more bitter than the usual. (Having now tried an actual cacao bean, I can understand why. There's a lot of processing they do to make chocolate, read about it here.) But even I found a few I particularly liked. My favorite was Dandelion's "Maya Mountain," which was incredibly fruity delicious. I bought a bar for $12--worth it.

I got bug bit out the wazoo despite using insect repellent wipes (damn my sweet meat!) while there, but oh well. If I'm on an island I don't even care if I get bug bit so much, hah. There was this one adorable Canadian nerd couple on the tour that made me think, "Yeah, I'd be hanging out with you if you lived by me." They were quite friendly and showed us all how Canadian money comes in different colors per denomination--and now the money is partly clear and shiny. Wow. And the tour guides were really great and fun.

I love talking to people who moved to the islands and stayed. It's really inspiring. And it's also amusing that almost all of them are from NorCal, because we're the only people unfazed by the prices of island stuff. "Eh, it's a dollar more, big whoop."
So far I have met:
(a) a guy who lived all over, including various parts of NorCal such as Grass Valley, and now paints shells and turns them into suncatchers, who was quite happy to settle down here after all of that. He has an Italian wife who came to America for the first time and met him....He just sold all his stuff and moved.
(b) one of our tour guides was originally from NorCal, lived in LA for 8 years, part of them for college for a theater degree, "which I use all the time in this job." She also moved around a lot and stayed here. I can see how she had fun acting of sorts on a tour...especially when she was acting out the behavior of people who get stoned off chocolate. "That bamboo is so pretty...." She has two jobs, the other one being event planning. She likes having two jobs because it keeps things interesting.
(c) a lady who lived in San Diego and decided she wanted a more family-ish atmosphere to raise her kids here, so she and her husband have a photography business going on. They also just sold all their stuff and moved without jobs.
(d) the lady putting on the Festival of Lights (see below), who came from SoCal and has been here for quite a while putting this on.

In the middle of the day when we had nothing set in stone to do, we hung around the nearest town of Kapaa and shopped. We hit the ABC store. Those are very cool shopping. I restrained myself to buying one red dress and a hair clip, but Mom went hog wild...pretty much all day, really. I tried on some dresses elsewhere, but got annoyed at the overkilling sales woman and she got annoyed at me for not buying immediately, so oh well. I hit a bookstore and a fabric store and a few fancy stores. Mom bought us glass rings. I bought a fabric postcard featuring a sand Christmas tree, hah. I'm keeping that for myself though!

After that, we went to the Kauai Festival of Lights. Which was amazing. This is the story behind how it came to pass. Shortening it up: this one lady made tons of crafts out of recycled materials, such as a Spam tree, a toothpick tree, a carousel, a Ferris wheel, dioramas and wreaths and all kinds of things....lots of them out of plastic. She basically had a Christmas bling house that everyone went to (yes, the Kauai Deacon Dave) for years. And then her husband died, and she wasn't up to putting all of it up any more and had a garage sale. So this other lady, Elizabeth (who we ended up meeting in the parking lot, she was quite lovely), made sure she got a hold of as much of it as she could. She ended up having it put up by the county, which puts it all in a fancy building. Elizabeth recruits students and convicts and presumably some other folks to make more ornaments and fix up broken decorations and the like, and it's freaking amazing. Again, I'm sorry I do not have the time to put up pics with these entries....later, later. I REALLY wish I could learn how to make the recycled decorations, they are amazing. The folks at the CC would plotz. I took pictures of everything. There's also a train setup (adorable) and pictures with the Clauses, who were very nice. I told Santa what I wanted for Christmas was to stay here.

I will say this for where we are staying in Princeville: it's a lovely area, but dear god, it's almost entirely as far away from everything else on the island you can do as you can GET. It's an hour commute to Lihue and will be about a 2 hour commute to Waimea tomorrow, which is kinda uck in the pitch black dark with occasional scary rainstorm. And there's the one highway all around the island... no short cuts on an island where the population only lives on 3/4 of the edges of the island! Crazy, right? If I were to pick where I was staying, I'd probably just pick Lihue, that seems centrally located enough to where everything is to go to. It's such a quirky little island with its smallness and all.

Again: I so wish I could stay on each island for a few months and figure out if I could handle island life and if so, where. I like visiting Kauai (or well, any island). I don't know if this is where I'd want to stay because it does seem a bit too small, but the people who have settled down here seem to really love it, and that's adorable.


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