July 12 (Day 1)
Lindy and I are in Hawai’i for the first time. Today we flew from Oakland to Honolulu to Lihu’e Airport on Kaua’i. The trip was planned six weeks ago to celebrate our forty-fourth wedding anniversary as well as Lindy’s retirement last Friday. We picked Kaua’i because our raw-food author David Wolfe (a.k.a. Avocado) invited us to stay at his communal farm, Noniland, on the North Shore for a week this month and also because our long-time friend and psychic author, Ellias (a.k.a. William) Lonsdale, ended up here. Another inducement was the presence of warm-water ocean. That had long been my acme of hedonism, and we also wanted to do something more adventurous this time than just another drive down the coast to L.A. or San Diego.
Our location is not on the beach proper, as I thought it would be. From the online promo, photos, and my talks on the phone with the lady who owns this condo, Lori, I pictured Turtle Cottage alone in a small environmentally protected cove, and I worried a bit about isolation. No worries there. In fact, “Turtle Cottage” is an ordinary condo on an ordinary residential street lined with other condos and beach cottages on a hillside looking down into Turtle Cove. At four times the price maybe we could have been on the beach.
I don’t like flying. I can’t relax in a living room that is really a cushioned metal can packed with explosives and propelled through the sky 37,000 feet above the ground. I’d be happier if they stripped out all the upholstery, the food, the entertainment, the flight attendants, and euphemisms, and transported us like troops. That would at least cut the macabre “twilight zone” ambiance of a soporific environment. The inside of a commercial jet flight is too much like a dream or perhaps a theatrical skit, as pernicious in its way as other rigged institutional settings from hospitals to public schools to funeral parlors. When you suppress and mask the shadow, the shadow is suddenly everywhere.
A quotient of my anxiety was my North American provinciality, never having flown west of California or over the Pacific before. It amounted to a disbelief that there was anything out here before Asia. One accepts the putative geography intellectually (volcanic islands), but it is still a stretch to image a noncontiguous state of the Union in the middle of vast ocean.
A few weeks before we left, I stared again and again at a satellite photograph of North America at night in a book at a friend’s house in order to reassure myself by the smidgen of habitation lights in the Pacific and also to verify that they weren’t all that far from the mainland if I held my thumb on the scorched San Francisco Bay megapolis and my forefinger on the faint glow of Oahu.
Yet when we flew out of Oakland this morning, I had the unquellable sense that we were going to vanish off the edge of the world, that there would be nothing there. What if the plane missed the Hawaiian isles, mere tiny specks amid all that water? What if the land failed rise out of the deep to meet our descent?
I also remembered Stephen King’s line about there being “no breakdown lanes in the sky” (as an explanation for why he doesn’t get on planes to go anywhere—clearly Hawai’i is not in his future plans). There are no cities or airports or even fields in the ocean, should the plane encounter twin engine problems. It’s an act of faith, but unless you commit private acts of faith along the way, you never get out of your habits and ruts, or life’s doldrums.
Our two pilots were hanging around the gate, so I got up my courage—as it was a little embarrassing at my age—to ask, “This is my first time going to Hawaii; is it generally bumpy or smooth?”
The guy’s answer was predictable: “Depends on the day. Today should be calm, but I’ll tell you what, we’ll try to make it as smooth as possible.”
This is, after all, America.
After the big roar down the runway and burst into the sky, the flight was in fact fairly mellow—long stretches of calm punctuated with mild turbulence, two sudden drops that were over before I could dwell on them. I consoled myself by how fast we were moving compared to any wind-speed on the Earth—a missile through transparent fog.
The ocean below didn’t read as ocean; it was too far down. What I saw were armadas of mostly cumulus and cirrus clouds to the horizon above an amorphous blue field. The flight was actually most bumpy when there were no clouds. There were also long quiet stretches in which a blanket of low mist covered the Pacific.
After five hours the outlying streets of Honolulu manifested suddenly out of the ocean and, as a land mammal for last several hundred million years, I found the sight of conventional streets and buildings utterly beautiful. It was a tad challenging for those guys to corral the big bird at five hundred and seventy miles an hour and bring the metal down onto the runway, and we bounced once before settling.
At the Honolulu Airport we took the so-called Wiki Wiki shuttle bus from the mainland and international section to Kaua’i gate. I have never witnessed such anarchy before in an airport as the random particle motion across the inter-island section where Honolulu is a hub for flights to the other islands. It was a madhouse cacophony—too many kids, too much carry-on luggage, too many cheap stores and fast-food patios—though I’m sure that most of the Third and Fourth World would make it look prim and regal by comparison. You can’t fly directly from Mau’i or Molokai to Kaua’i, but you can, by way of Honolulu. So it was more like a bus depot than an airport.
The Oahu to Lihu’e flight was listed as 37 minutes on our itinerary, so I tended to discount it—sort of, if we make it to Honolulu we’re home free. However, the smaller, older jet rattled so much on the runway before take-off, making an inconsistent sound that I had never heard from a plane engine—like a broken vacuum cleaner in reverse—that Lindy was led to remark: “I hope they service these.” Also our one pilot looked as though he had just tossed aside his surfboard, suited up, and hurried into the cockpit.
Getting into the air on this vehicle was much more mechanical, as though we were motoring through water. I wondered how high we would climb. After all, at a half hour from an airport planes usually begin their descent. Yet we kept going, up above the clouds, quite bumpy in stretches. The tiny atolls and isles made a distracting vista.
It was not reassuring when the single male steward started beverage service at fifteen minutes into the flight. It made me wonder if we were on the right plane.
Kaua’i is not that far from Oahu, but the route follows a kind of S-curve, winding out of Honolulu and across Oahu, then across the ocean, around Kaua’i, down into Lihu’e. We started to descend at about twenty-five minutes. Then I saw the peaks of Kaua’i in the distance.
Lihu’e Airport read as out of a World War II movie, tastefully decorated with botanical themes.
As instructed by the printout from our auto-rental agency, we phoned a taxi for the one-mile ride to its facility in an industrial park.
Car rentals are very expensive on Kaua’i (no economy of scale—they’ve got to transport vehicles to a somewhat inaccessible locale). At the advice of our colleagues at Noniland, we phoned their favorite cheapo rental agency, Island Car, and made what-amounted-to-a-reservation over the phone. At $20 a day it was less than a third the cost of the lowest other firm. I say “amounted to” because they didn’t want a credit card (“Pay by cash or check when you get here”), no last name either (“‘Richard’ will do”), no model selection either. And their phone had no answering machine and was only picked up on the seventh ring just before I hung up on my third try over two days.
Now the other shoe dropped. We were handed a single key to a Subaru with a smashed front windshield (in two places), a missing back window (cardboard in its place), and the trunk key broken off in the trunk keyhole. You had to laugh: this was charming and hilarious in its own way.
Just to get operating metal robots onto this island is a big deal and leaves a financial as well as a carbon footprint. Smashed windshield, missing rear window, trunk key stuck in the slot, broken fuel gauge too, but the old gal ran, and you don’t throw something like that away once you got it here.
Making do with bricolage is part of the culture.
Lori, the lady who owns this condo thought it was pretty funny when she came by to check on us (“you must have gotten their best vehicle”), and so did upscale guests sharing the condo with us (“I thought you might have a friend on Kaua’i who loaned you his old car”).
Even though we had “reserved” our vehicle over a month ago, it turned out that there were no more unrented cars left on the island, at least according to Island Car honcho Joel, an exceptionally laid-back chap out of a Coen Brothers’ version of a Cheech and Chong movie. He was in no hurry at all and seemed preoccupied with anything but us. He gave us forms to fill out and about forty minutes in which to do it. Meanwhile he held two interminable conversations (as his rang consecutive times), conducting something other than the car business, exchanges in which the other party would blab (ostensibly) for a minute or two and Joel would finally provide two or three spacey, offhand words like, “Yeah, okay.” Finally, when Lindy protested, first that we needed attention and then that the car was too funky and probably not even legal, Joel agreed and offered us his own car for another $5 a day.
“What will you drive?”
“I’ll drive that one.”
That didn’t feel quite proper, so we decided to wait to see if he could come up with another by tomorrow.
In the Island Car one-page printout, it says explicitly, “If you are high-maintenance, take your business elsewhere,” but “high maintenance” could be extended to mean anything, including any legitimate complaint. At one point Lindy protested, “I’m not high maintenance, unless you consider wanting a windshield that’s not cracked in two places high maintenance.”
“I hear you, but I don’t have any other cars.”
She pointed to one.
He smiled sagely: “My employee who owns that wouldn’t like me renting it.” Then he waved wearily at another, fairly normal-looking if old vehicle. “If I can find some tires for that, I’ll have it ready tomorrow. See, the tires are too small.”
Then why were they on the car?
“When will you get new tires?” Lindy asked, playing her game of “be definite,” a game I never have the gumption or enough ambition of assertiveness to play.
“This afternoon I hope.” By then it was only around two PM local tiempo, for we had gained three hours by flying 2500 miles west. We decided to take the Subaru and come back in the morning.
It seems very old here in Kaua’i, a bit like the fifties. I can’t explain that impression because modernity displays itself everywhere—on the SUV-dominated roads, in the road-sign subtexts, and among the ubiquitous flashy resorts. Yet there is an interior sensation, seeping up from the beaches and the fields, of long ago and faraway, like not just the past but a storybook country that I might have visited in childhood. The landscape is cinematic in its strangeness—the generous light, the high grasses, the wanton trees packed with giant fruits. And, yes, I have always wanted to swim in a warm ocean.
Lori, our hyper-chatty landlady, a Canadian so originally from Saskatoon that she will never stop congratulating herself for ending up in the sun, gave such up-tempo, rapid-fire instructions about where to find groceries, beaches, and restaurants that, by the time she was done, all the routes and streets with Hawaiian names had blended. I did want to nail the nearest beach, so I got her to repeat that one. She had described what seemed like a wonderful Sheraton site less than a mile away. When I wondered whether we needed to be guests of the hotel, she explained that all oceanfront in Hawai’i is public land. “And anyway,” she added, “the Sheraton is just an extension of Po’ipu Beach. Take your first right out of here; go to the end of the road, as far as you can. Then park. If you want, you can also go just beyond that right, back into the roundabout, and the first right out that will take you to the main section of Po’ipu.”
Then, wanting to make sure that we saw Turtle Cove, she opened the curtains and sliding glass door and led us out onto the porch. Sure enough, four giant sea turtles, big as life, were basking in the sun along the far shore. Another was swimming alongside them, thrashing its legs in an effort to dock.
First thing after Lori left we visited the local market, less than half a mile back on the road, and stocked up on stuff that would be bearable to consume. The place did have some organic vegetables and a small natural-foods section; the prices, as rumored, were astronomical (by mainland standards), about 25-30% more for anything in a package or can. There is a premium on these goods from hauling them there across water usually twice (mainland to Oahu first).
We bought a small cut of local ono (fish) to base dinner around and, otherwise, got salad stuff, crackers, bread, cheese, yogurt, a pineapple, and mineral water.
It reminded me of Lindy’s and my first shopping expedition together, during the summer after junior year of college, 1965, Aspen, Colorado—long, long ago. No natural foods then on the horizon; it was Goodman’s Noodles, Campbell Soups, Borden’s Cheese, Pepperidge Farm brands, stuff we took for granted then as eternal objects. Not even a clue of the great exposé that was coming, for us and the culture.
The best part of the Po’ipu grocery run was the girl on line ahead of us who, when asked her point of origin by the cashier, volunteered that she had just arrived from Greenland.
Island to island, ice to tropics, jets crisscrossing Holocene Earth.
After we stashed the food, I figured the sun was still enough above the horizon that I put on a bathing suit under my pants, got in the clunker, took the first right, and parked in a public lot short of where Lori had directed me to. I didn’t bother to lock the car. That would have seemed overkill.
I walked the length of the Sheraton, just beyond its rows of fashionable resort guests, dressed for the Riviera on their lawn chairs, sipping their evening drinks.
I spent a half hour lying in the waves,
This was what I always planned to do someday in mythical Hawai’i if I ever overcame plane-phobia and got myself there. Such big crashing waves on such soft dark brown sand. Surreal.
We have two weeks on Kaua’i, the first in the tourist part, Po’ipu Beach, the south; the second at Avocado’s communal farm Noniland up north. We’ll go see him tomorrow (Tuesday), as we want to catch him before he leaves for the mainland on Thursday. Then we are spending part of Wednesday with Ellias, who lives in Wailua up past the airport.
July 13 (Day 2)
An island. That is always compelling. I have been on many special islands, and they have an ineffable quality in common. Mount Desert offers the most compelling comparison: an island with mountains. Lindy and I have tried to guess how much bigger Kaua’i is than MDI. She thinks five times. I think it is more like two to three. The mountains here are certainly bigger, far more jagged and foreboding, like gapped, irregular teeth of an ogre.
I am also reminded of Iceland (where we went in ’06): the volcanic blackness of the rock, the seeming uninhabitability of large sections of land, the high food and gas prices.
We have been told many times in just a little over a day to have the aloha spirit, by ordinary people over small things. Be happy! Whatever is fucked up, you are on Kaua’i. What could be bad?
The ocean is the most remarkable part of the landscape to me. I don’t know how to describe the smell. Obviously it is salt—saltwater. But it is so much richer, thicker, saltier, like the soul of salt or baked salt. It doesn’t even read as saltwater to my senses. It smells like ocean from another planet. Also its color is green. The sand is so fine, soft, orange-gold.
Po’ipu is a commercialized, beachy district, we have been told, not the real Kaua’i. We were forewarned by those who come here often and frequent the North Shore: “Po’ipu has been ransomed to the corporations.”
Certainly a picketed resort-construction racket fills the morning air. I don’t know why trucks have to have that backing beeper. Are they going to run pedestrians over on a construction site? Are they going to crash into each other? Are they that stupid or heedless?
Insurance companies and lawyers have taken over this reality, and no one even notices anymore. Industrial psychopathology has been mainlined and institutionalized, and we are indulging superstitions and rituals as crazy-mad as anything in Mel Gibson’s pseudo-Mayan Apocalypto blowout.
The couple upstairs in this condo are decent enough—middle-aged, friendly, outgoing people, but she started doing business on the East Coast at three in the morning, patching into some sort of conference call because she works for Stanley Tools out of Rhode Island. Three in the fucking morning! I could hear every word—inventories, copyrights, mergers. I had to stick my head out the side door and shout upstairs, three times, each louder, before she registered my existence and unhappiness.
It didn’t end the call; she just continued her capitalism more quietly. After all it was nine o’clock business time, and a sacrifice to the boss was probably necessary to pay for the trip. Or maybe she was the boss.
I loved just lying in the water yesterday evening. I took it in like elixir. I went right back again this morning and repeated the activity, getting beaten around by the surf. Then in my exuberance I decided to swim in the waves, which was too much motion and chaos for my nervous system.
I am susceptible to motion sickness, motion just about from anything, even looking to intensely for a lost object or a back-leaning yoga pose. I got drop-dead motion-sick in the waves at Po’ipu.
I don’t know whether my susceptibility is neuromuscular, vestibular, metabolic, psychosomatic, or (likely) some combination of all of them. Habitual posture and mind-body organization obviously play a role, as I tend to protect myself all the time unconsciously against extra motion. This sudden swimming must have ripped those holds and precautions out of the body armor supporting them. I staggered onto the beach and lay down with the world spinning.
Then I trudged barefoot back along the Sheraton paths to the car. I could barely steer it. I tumbled in the door, announced my condition, ran a hot bath, immersed myself in its woozy succor, and then I crashed, slept for two hours, and was still shaky afterward.
A lot of energy shifted, and I arrived in a deeper, more grounded way. Yeah, it was a hard landing, but a lot of stuff cleared and I ended up quite placid, less wired. Cool. Aloha.
The second part of our day, starting around 12:30 local time, began with getting the Subaru back to Island Car.
In trying to find our way on our own through the industrial labyrinth around Lihu’e Airport, we made several mistakes among warehouses and small factories but, after realigning ourselves to the map, found it on our third try.
The auto switch itself was informal. Joel wasn’t there. A wryly smiling native Hawaiian silently handed us the keys to a very old white Hyundai Elantra with one battered side. This cratered moon looked like a Lincoln Town Car compared to what we had just turned in (250,000 miles plus the above-mentioned defects—the Elantra showed 1900 miles, but it was perhaps the third time around the odometer or it was broken). Lindy asked about the gas; the gauge in the Subaru had been broken and was frozen just above empty, keeping the same spot after miles of driving and also after the addition of a bit of gas (not much under the circumstances). The guy said, “Whatever it’s at, return it at that.” That sounded reasonable enough. Some more aloha spirit!
Then we went off in search of Noniland. In Kaluaea on the North Shore, it was supposed to be another forty minutes at the top of the island.
We got to the vicinity in much less time than that, but finding Noniland or even proving that it was a real place took the form of a grail quest. You see, I hadn’t had a pen when I heard Avocado’s directions, so I was going on memory—and the mile marker where the fine details began, unknown to Avocado had been wiped out. Measuring where it should have been by the odometer coming back from the next mile marker, I took the closest right.
I won’t go into the whole search, but I had forgotten one key turn, so we ended up at the end of the wrong road facing a fork onto two private properties.
While we were standing outside our car, considering options (and after I got only a taped message on Avocado’s cell: “I rarely check voicemail, so don’t leave a message, and have the best day ever!”), an SUV pulled up to the left fork and halted to our waves. A chubby, nondescript guy, he had no idea. He was a guest at a cottage up the fork. He suggested that, since his rental was down the left way and he had been there a while and never heard it called Noniland, we should try the right fork and trust to the aloha spirit. We did.
After a series of bizarre encounters with two women and a dog, almost suggesting nonordinary reality, we were told by the owner of this estate, a female doctor who left treating a patient to address us, that she had been there twenty-five years and there was nothing like Noniland and no one named David or Avocado Wolfe in the vicinity. She was oddly decisive on this point.
On our way back down the fork, we decided to chance asking a man riding a lawn mower in the large orchard. He turned out to be an older woman who looked more like a farmer or shaman than a custodian—even as our taxi driver from the airport to Island Car had turned from an elderly man into an elderly woman with the removal of a bandana (this was a perhaps a Kauaian trademark: instant transformation of age, gender, and occupation).
In Delphic fashion, she assured us that she knew where David Wolfe lived but would not tell us without receiving something in return. Unprepared for this response, I was struck dumb. As I stood there mute, she asked for a dollar. Her lawn mower was being trailed by a flock of egrets, some riding on the mower, others on the grazing cows, and now they flocked about her, giving her a numinous charisma. She was a hag who seemed to have popped out of a Celtic riddle (David told us later that she was the mistress at the core of the famous book, The Secret Life of Plants).
I have to admit that both Lindy and I got pretty uptight and, despite the fact that this was clearly an oracle of some sort, we mumbled a version of ‘thanks but no thanks,’ and had turned to leave, when she left loose a whoop of laughter and asked if we had no sense of humor, no aloha.
“What’s life without a sense of humor?” she proposed. “Cool out, people. You’re on Kaua’i.”
There was a silent hiatus while her gaze interrogated ours. I smiled hesitantly, but Lindy said, “Are you going to tell us?”
She would, in her own time. First, she repeated our request, “So you really want to find David Wolfe, do you?”
“Yes,” I said.
“And you have his permission?”
Then she inserted the missing piece into the route and reviewed the steps back from where we were several pedantic times, almost punitively, before letting us go, with another aloha.
We entered Noniland, passed guest parking, wound around a curve, up a hill, and stopped at an open shed where three young men were chopping coconuts with a machete. After we identified ourselves, two more giant coconuts were opened, uprighted as juice shot out, and handed to us to drink. I am a major fan of young coconut juice, and Lindy is not, but she is a fan of being gracious, so we both began sipping. The guys introduced themselves as Trevor and Nathaniel, and the third guy standing off to the side said, “David Wilcock.”
A grin came over my face. “Our author David Wilcock?”
“Your author David Wilcock!” In 2004 we had published his book The Reincarnation of Edgar Cayce, which was mostly ghost-written by Wynn Free, a goofy journalist for the Drunvalo Melchizedek website.
“Do you live here?”
“My girlfriend and I are visitors while I finish my next book.” He smiled curiously. “The president of Dutton himself contacted me and offered me $70,000 to write a prophetic book on 2012. We’ll be here after you arrive on Monday, so let’s talk then.”
That was surprising and sudden information on lots of counts. I took it in without volunteering much back, except a polite “Wow” and “Congratulations.” I imagined, though, that his smile was meant to convey that he was quite free now of us and Wynn and was being appreciated in the big show. Later in the afternoon he added to this impression by citing the spectacular numbers of hits on his website, up in the millions.
Back then it had always been a forced and inconvenient marriage: him, Wynn, Wynn’s girlfriend, and us.
I asked where Avocado was, and Trevor said that he had realized we were overdue and gone out looking for us. Just as he finished saying that, my cell rang. I held it up for all to see “David Wolfe” on the screen. As I answered, Avocado’s voice echoed from two directions, as he called, “Far out. You’re already here. That’s too funny.” And he appeared on the veranda of the adjacent house and came running to the shed.
He led us into the house itself and quickly offered us fresh lychees, demonstrating how to bite into the rough skin and get the fruit out with teeth and suction, so we sat there nibbling lychee jelly while chatting. Then we accepted a tour of the grounds.
The direction was mainly up the hillside. Avocado narrated as we climbed. There were lots of fruit plantings, both new and mature: papayas, bananas, cacao, noni, mango, avocado, mangosteen, many of them just sprouts. We stopped briefly at a ritual fire-circle site with an ash-pit and then stepped through an opening in a fence onto the next property. We passed from the shade of trees into bright sun and a high cattle ranch with an Ayres-rock or Tor-like sacred site for native Hawaiians: a jagged hill about a kilometer from us that seemed charged with difference and importance. David explained that the owner of the ranch lived on Oahu, was in some kind of trouble with the Kauaian authorites, so others took care of his cattle, barely—they just kind of grazed.
The view was classic: in one distance was a ring of blue ocean; in another were the jagged lunar mountains and the Tor; above, a blue bowl filled with active cumuli.
“We pretty much walk up here as we want. There’s usually not much happening. But one day we were really surprised; we were hanging out when an entire Hawaiian motorcycle gang showed up; they were going to the sacred site. Even if it had been restricted land, the site still belonged to them, the ancestors. They were going to hold a ceremony, pay homage to the gods of the hill. Those were some pretty intense dudes.”
“Like the Maori gangs in Once Were Warriors, I guess.”
“You know, the Maoris are just Hawaiians.”
“On a long sailing trip.”
“These are the source islands for the Maori warrior tradition. The hill’s recognition goes back a long way, before Captain Cook.”
I stared at the sacred site and then tried to travel mentally up the ladder of planes, into the Etheric and then the lower Astral. At a higher subplane of the Astral, I fleetingly saw a castle of greater complexity and magnitude than the hill, but it was impossible to hold myself in its range.
Back when I was at the Tor in Glastonbury in 1998 I had no psychic training, but I felt surrounded by something poignant, alien, and sacred. Here I saw flickers of a city hive, an object of immense density into which creatures scurried like bees. Giant winged things of some intelligence sailed in and out of openings. The hive was luminous, a bit silvery, and quite volcanic and cinder-like. It had a slightly celebratory quality like Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue at Christmas.
I checked my practice by trying the view at different subplanes and other vibrations, but I saw nothing like the castle, though there were intimations of subtlety and high activity. The vision returned only at one frequency.
I also tried random spots in the surrounding landscape, like a pile of sticks and brush, and the ocean, and picked up nothing.
Each time I went back to the rock, I faintly saw the same numinous metropolis. It doesn’t mean that I couldn’t have manufactured the whole same thing by suggestibility and wishful thinking, but at least it was stable by apparent octave and placement.
I am a rank amateur at this stuff. Those with shamanic training, probably the motorcycle gang, see a whole other landscape interpenetrating this one, and they maintain their cognizance of it relatively stably across visitations and periods of time. It is not the world that we are ordinarily in, but it has a lot to do with that world and contains that world’s fortune at large.
I am guessing that something like what I glimpsed is what the Australian Aborigines look for and observe at Ayres Rock and across the entire Dreamtime. And it is what Icelanders and Celtic perceive in the fields and hillsides when they point toward seemingly random rocks and trees and identify them as the houses and churches of faeries, trolls, and other elementals. They are viewing other planes autonomically and reporting what they see—what they have been trained traditionally to see.
On the way back down the hill, David had picked a couple of ripe papayas and handed them to us to eat. Of course, there were no napkins or utensils, so it was a matter of busting them open, clearing the seeds with fingers, and then devouring, quite a bit of juice landing on our faces as well as in the appropriate stomodea.
“We live like pigs here,” David propertly noted, “and we love it. We’re just a bunch of children. Sweat, papaya juice, dirt, no shoes, ouchiness [as he demonstrated a quick hop and skip across the Noniland driveway]. It’s paradise, the best life ever.”
I forget quite how it went but, as we walked, David ranked the plants such that one was the rook and another was the knight. I asked if papaya was the queen. “Papayas’re maybe the bishop. Mangosteen is the queen.”
Back at the house, we convened first downstairs and then upstairs in David’s room with some of the habitants and other visitors. The scene across the remainder of afternoon was raucous and vibrant. Lots of people came and went, every one of them dazzling in some way or other—more men than women. I would describe the event as tribal, alchemical, shamanic, magical, although that doesn’t quite get the real zany energy and diversity.
There was a lot of serious discussion—and I mean serious—about diet, foods, herbs, telomeres and aging, neutral flow, alkalinity, grounding houses electrically (without attracting lightning), astralagus as a miracle herb, making rain, stopping rain, making clouds disappear, assorted miracles of healing and paraphysics. The topics changed, the cast changed, the activity changed. At one point David demonstrated his room’s yoga trapeze by hanging on it and doing somersaults; then he showed the set-up for grounding wires on the beds and furniture.
The talk went on: cells, aliens, Dune, angels and demons, Children of Dune, channeling, 2012, consciousness shifts. … Nick Good, David’s coauthor on Amazing Grace and the source of that book’s nine Huna principles of natural magic, burst into the room with a typhoon of Celtic male energy and hugged everyone as if he had been away a month; in fact, he lived on the grounds. Meanwhile David Wilcock comedically floated between a secular identity and his Edgar Cayce reincarnation.
The star of the show was Patrick Marcus Osborne, a charismatic Jamaican actor, martial artist, and track star, friend and disciple of David. He laid on us intermittently a wild Rasta narrative spotted with revelations about satanic devilry in the Hollywood film industry (“That’s why I had to get out of there and follow the way of love and my brother here, Avocado, who saved my life. He and I are united in Rasta” [fondling his dreadlocks and then David’s].
He choreographed his talking in a continuous dance mode that came naturally and was not self-conscious until he actually acted out a history of martial arts, doing a few moves from each, flowing posture into posture: karate to judo to taekwondo to aikido. As he put a reggae beat into every sentence, he had a number of riffs going simultaneously—cloudbusting, upgrading track stars so that they really knew how to run, growing body cells from minerals, why the native Hawaiians are so large, opening the heart to the universe, turning prana into muscles without protein, acting in dark martial-arts flicks, teaching his parents the new consciousness.
Stunning and mega-entertaining to watch the drama unfold, the characters engage with one another.
We left around five. It was already eight in California and eleven on the East Coast. At David’s suggestion, we grabbed dinner on the way back to Po’ipu at Papaya’s, a health food store in an outdoor mall in Kapa’a, a few towns south of Kilauea. It was very good fare—carrot-ginger soup, spanakopitas—plus a beautiful setting: we got to sit by a fountain in a little park and watch boys with drums and girls with hulas go in and out of the Polynesian Cultural Center.
There are chickens everywhere in Kaua’i, all over the roads, the shopping centers, the fields, Noniland, in industrial parks, at Island Car, in the cove by the turtles, on the Sheraton Beach. You have to stop for them regularly while driving; you have to especially look out for them when parking.
Now it is almost three in the morning in New York and midnight in Berkeley. I hope our condo colleagues don’t have any EDT conferences planned.
July 14 (Day 3)
Birds: I am watching ones that look like sparrows or robins but are more exotic up close, little splotches of yellow or red differentiating them from those on the mainland, one small visitor with a tiny orange-red tuft that would have done Woody Woodpecker proud. He landed on the porch while I was eating sunflower seeds and boldly snatched the ones I dropped.
The small birds at Po’ipu Beach pick at the sand for yummies, landing in populous flocks that strafe the beach, surf, and people’s towels, picking once or twice even at threads.
Tiny fish jump out of tidepools.
I have abandoned long pants. I am wearing a stringy pair of khakis that Lindy cut off below the knees where it was torn from a bike spill.
All day starting at sun-up I take in sounds of birds chattering in foreign languages, making monkeylike and shrewlike sounds.
Perfumes spread: the aromas of flowers—large, luxuriant purples, yellows, pinks. The odor of dead wood and rocks in the cove: mysterious, tropical.
When we went to Po’ipu Beach proper this morning, I realized that the strong marine smell of yesterday was particular to the Sheraton strip. It apparently requires salty surf on the volcanic rocks. What I experienced there was a mixture of succussed water, high salt content, and volcanic stone. This information came by chance from a local.
The faces of native Hawaiian farmers and dancers at the Farmer’s Market near Turtle Cove are reminiscent of Pacific warrior traditions that stretch from Melanesia to the Maori.
Purple Okinawan sweet potatoes seem like a truly sweet potato, their rich purple sustained to the core. They recall old graduate-anthropology days: cultures of the Pacific, New Guinean pigs for the ancestors: boars digging up the sweet potatoes, setting off clan feuds.
Sea turtles come up the cove daily and try to nest on the rocks and sun themselves while the tide is low, often lying atop and akimbo one another. They are really too big for these stones and can’t get enough of themselves out of the water for their satisfaction, so they stalk on one another.
Then the afternoon tide pours down the cove, disturbs their saunas, and washes them back out to sea.
The ubiquitous chickens give new meaning to the name “free range”; apparently they were scattered by a hurricane almost twenty years ago (this from a different local source), and now they are everywhere, mating, hatching, marching brazenly down the streets with their chicks, picking fights with each other in parking lots—and no one has any initiative or gumption to round them up.
They filled the parking lot beside Spouting Horn with such a mélée of chicken music and scuffling that they almost were more of a tourist attraction than the Horn itself, a broad layer of volcanic stone that the surf gets under, producing pressure enough to send up three or four geysers a minute through a hole. There is enough hollow space under the mantle that the release bursts out with an echoing roar, a sound like the escape of gas. At different spots other smaller and more diffuse spouts syncopate sporadically.
It’s a phenomenon like Thunder Hole on Mount Desert, but more spectacular visually because of the height of the geyser and the spectacular crown of foam that comes crashing down on the black rock. A huge volume of water gets airborne and then fractalizes.
We spent much of the day with Ellias Lonsdale, some of it with his family (his partner Luminara and four young children) but most of it with just him. I have known William/Ellias since 1975 in Vermont and have watched him grow in phases, from a hippie astrologer and poet, to a beginning psychic reader, to an anthroposophical teacher, to an Atlantean reincarnate, into his true esoteric being, which he now lives unwaveringly. I believe he is one of the most clear-sighted and balanced prophets on the Earth. He sees the planet at a very deep level, yet while also never losing sight of pop culture.
Much talk over the late morning and early afternoon, too much to gloss on here. Ellias has a prophetic read and a story about the Earth phase that is different from anything else I hear these days.
He remarried twelve years ago in Santa Cruz and has been in Hawai’i for most of the last six years, three of those on Kaua’i, earning his living by doing psychic work and astrological readings for individuals locally and by phone. His method of tapping into both is original and quirky, cobbled together from different teachers and traditions and numinous journeys.
Luminara hails from outside Putney, Vermont, the daughter of a renowned Swedish biodynamic farmer as well as a line of female seers. She and her family discovered Ellias through his books, which were part of a reading list for their anthroposophical study group in Vermont. Eventually they all went to see him in California, and Luminara at once understood that her destiny lay with him, though she is a woman in her early thirties, whereas he is in his sixties, and she is his fourth partner and the third with whom he has had children (“A serial sperminator,” one of his female ex-students tweaked last year).
Ellias’ 39-year-old daughter who works with AIDS patients in Boston comes from his relationship, as he put it, with “the queen of the oldest hippie commune in Vermont.” Then he had two more daughters with Diana, his former wife, a brassy massage therapist, to whom he was married when I met him in Plainfield, Vermont. One daughter lives in D.C. and does NGO work in Africa. The other is an artist in Oakland.
In between his former wife and Luminara, his partner was Sarah, renamed Theanna after her death about fifteen years ago. During their relationship she and Ellias ran a mystery school in Santa Cruz, tapping into Atlantean and other transdimensionalia. Once she passed, Theanna continued channeling through Ellias and, whatever your beliefs about that activity, the transmissions themselves are pretty powerful stuff. Her encounter with Christ was particularly poignant and radical. I wrote a synopsis of it for my 2013 book, an earlier version of which appears on the Abode of the Message website: http://www.sevenpillarshouse.org/article/meditation_on_christ.
Ellias and Luminara have four offspring ranging from Rafael at age nine to Savitrie who is twenty months. The most Indigo of Indigo children I have ever met, they seem right out of Childhood’s End: their own tribe, gentle and wide-eyed, addressing adults with a sincerity, clarity, and open-ness that is startling. Ellias tells me that Savitrie speaks languages she was never taught (certainly not in her mere twenty months), though I never heard any of them.
I thought that the children would be quickly bored in our two-room condo, but they rushed to porch and were incredibly excited to view the turtles. The three older ones spent a long time discussing turtles in general; then they found a kakui-nut tree, well watered by the outdoor shower and, though the insides of the ping-pong-shaped balls are not generallty recommended for ingesting, they did so without apparent gastric distress. Ultimately Luminara and her crew headed off to Shipwreck Beach, leaving us to visit and talk through the middle cusp of the day—and that we did at various sites.
We ranged over books, mutual friends, onto the meanings emerging from inside the Earth and changing archetypes imposed by the stars. At one point, Ellias critiqued the Berkeley Psychic Institute, the center where I began my own studies, as “taking the wonder and mystery out of the cosmos and turning it into an object of manipulation.” He hit the nail on the head. Whatever the complicating favors, that was the real reason I eventually left there.
He also remarked that he and his family are unlikely to stay much longer on Kaua’i because, as he put it: “It’s a sleepy place, and we’re very awake and want to stay awake. There’s no context for us here. Kaua’i is a dream. It’s a very beautiful dream but still it’s a dream.”
Of course, we’re all in a dream, but within that dream are degrees of awakeness.
Lindy and I are content to sit on the porch for an hour or so after dinner, doing little but watching the stars and feeling the different breezes off the Pacific. No need for Netflix here.
July 15 (Day 4)
A touristy day had some recurring themes that are hard to capture without sounding colonial or smarmy. We set out for Waimea at nine in the morning. A much talked about, “can’t miss” sight, Waimea Canyon makes Kaua’i the equivalent of a tiny Uranian moon with one of the more complex and exotic gorges in the Solar System. At ten miles long by two miles wide by 3600 feet deep, Waimea is a baby Grand Canyon. An island in the Pacific Ocean is a weird place for the universe to hide it.
The route to Waimea meant continuing southwest around this side of the island, clockwise into new territory. If you figure the airport at Lihu’e is around 4:30 and our place outside Po’ipu sits at 6:00, Waimea Canyon stretches from about 8:30 to 11:00 (Noniland, by comparison is around 1:30). But Kaua’i is a squashed oblate clock.
What we thought of as a quick half-hour drive took more like an hour and a half from a combination of winding roads and long stretches of potholes amid 25-mph signs,. The unfactored drive from Waimea on the coast to the staging area for entry to the canyon added an extra twenty or so rugged miles rising from sea level to 4000 feet. I don’t know why we thought we could magically just enter the canyon from the highway.
The western side of the island is more classically Hawaiian—drier, very rural, rockier, redder, and poorer, without the evident mange of condos, timeshares, resorts, and tourist shops. Hence the mood changed. I was tossed in a Proustian mood-warp back to other times and places in my life, notably our two weeks on the Navaho and Hopi reservations doing graduate anthropology in the sixties (e.g. the intersection of native lifestyles with explicit poverty); our 2006 travels in rural Iceland (the stark, isolated industrial robotry, commercial enterprises lost in time such that machineries and marts read like ugly lunar stations among shops either too warehousey or shack-like for their advertised purposes): and Oaxaca (the retraction of a softer interior life under a mercado shell).
In our ascent to the lookout we rarely saw another vehicle but, once we got to the parking area, we found it inexplicably mobbed—and I mean mobbed: Hawaiian, Japanese, Polynesian tour buses, the entire lot stuffed with cars (so that we had to park our jalopy on the dirt with other latecomers). Humans were packed so thickly that there was no option except to get on a slow-moving line to reach the canyon viewing posts and, even then, it was hard to stay out of people’s entitled tourism and invasive group portraits. We felt like the last arrivals at a July 4th tailgate gala.
Abundant chickens ran wild in the parking lot, in fact all over the site—dozens of hens with retinues of fuzzy chicks, a mixture of ordinary chickens and exotically dappled ones, imperious roosters belting out trademark chants. The scenario was quite comic and musical. I fed one chicken family from my bag of organic sunflower seeds purchased in Berkeley. Lots of tourists wanted to see the chickens fed but apparently didn’t have appropriate food or choose not to break into their larder, so my seeds were the condiment of choice. The chickens thought so too, in great numbers—I drew quite a crowd of tourists and fowl before it started to get insane and I had to stop.
You take in Waimea Canyon all at once, and it is spectacular and otherworldly. What struck me was how deep and holographic it is, how many different dimensions, complications, and individual landscapes it encapsulates, as they rise from within it like a model of a primordial kingdom. The hues run a red spectrum from orange to iron and umber to brown. Hidden labyrinths of concavities suggest something that Escher might have drawn. Convexities in the form of tallowy towers, castles, and candles of rock seemed to rise from inside the earth like inner organs growing beyond its skin. Each ridged pyramid or tetrahedron wrote its own hypothetical Gothic trilogy, tales of chthonian kingdoms coming to their apotheoses in the imagination. (As to what is really down there, I heard later from my friend Robert Phoenix that he hiked to the bottom of the canyon years ago when a young man; there he encountered edgy native Hawaiian wild-boar hunters “out of some Dreamtime gone very wrong who were like the Polynesian version of Deliverance“—he ended up getting robbed and feeling as though he barely escaped with his life, not as though he really did, just that it felt like that, wilder and more dangerous than any block of Oakland.)
There are geologic sites like Waimea throughout our Solar System. This particular gash was quite Martian except that it had rivers and verdant stretches and, faraway, birds floating in its depths, as tiny as moths as they deepened the holograph.
The canyon is indeed a huge, complex pock on a very small island moon.
We crossed the site to a second, western lookout from where Ni’ihau Island was visible. We also glimpsed its outline from the highway, a giant palisade in the Pacific, hazy at the horizon, so Lindy looked it up in the guidebook, and here’s what we learned, pretty interesting stuff: The island is seventeen miles beyond Kaua’i; entry there is limited to the Robinson family (whoever they be), which owns the place, and the roughly two hundred Hawaiians who were born and maintain their culture there. The island is very dry with little rainfall; it is the source of exotic shells, sheep, and fruit.
One tends to think of just the major kingdoms in the Hawaiian chain (Oahu, Mau’I, Hawai’I, Lana’i, Moloka’i), but there are innumerable smaller islands, even inhabited ones, that get little press on the mainland. For the natives who live on Ni’ihau, Hawaiian remains their first language. I found myself gazing at it as a wonder I long to visit but never would.
We continued from Waimea Canyon State Park to Koke’e State Park, which is its extension. Lindy was interested in checking out the lodge there for lunch. First we spent some time in a little genre museum/souvenir shop that displayed one-off oddities ranging from stuffed birds to tattoos to old charts. After scoping the fare and buying a hiking map, we split. I preferred to wander around the outdoors than to cross the mainstream threshold into the cafeteria, so Lindy headed there by herself. I ended up feeding more chickens with sunflower seeds, drawing tourists who wanted to get their kids close to the birds and/or to photograph them. I adopted one particularly beautiful family: a speckled hen with her chicks. I enticed them into a safe feeding area by the museum, away from cars and the competition of other chickens.
But chickens apparently can read food being doled out by humanoids from hundreds of yards away, and others began showing up in legion until I had about fifty, a mixture of activated hens, chicks, and a few very imperious roosters who kept shouting their syllables at me when I wouldn’t feed them, though they wrested plenty anyway from the hens and chicks. I heard that they are descendants of cockfighting roosters who bred with their distant cousins.
The chicks tracking dropped sunflower seeds reminded me of a swiftness usually referred to as white on rice. That’s how quick to the draw they were, less like cute little dolls and more like prehistoric dinosaur eating machines.
As the competition for food waxed, the birds became more aggressive and hysterical, flying at each other with claws. My original hen turned out to be quite ferocious in trying to drive off all intruders, as she considered me her find. It got pretty chaotic and screechy, a nearly criminal cockfight. Then Lindy returned.
We chose a “strenuous” trail (according to the map) that the lady at the museum assured us wasn’t strenuous, the entry point 1.2 miles past her building. It took ten minutes to get to it because of the potholes. No matter how slowly I went, it seemed at moments that I was going to destroy the car. Even four-wheel drive SUVs moved gingerly.
Our trail was called ‘Awa ‘awapuhi and was supposed to represent native forest, used for production of medicines, houses, and boats, but I couldn’t tell the useful plants or guess their potential uses. The trailhead started at 4200 feet and descended rapidly. A runaway kid named Doug passed us like a herd of buffalo, and then we heard his parents shouting his name from faraway amid the bird calls for most of our walk down. The first unseen birds bandied a tune with three distinct passages: a whistle sequence, a bridging trill, and a simple flute.
What was most notable was not the vegetation but the changing temperature. We began in hot sun and gradually entered the damp and chilly underworld. The plants changed too; their medicinal aromas deepened. The original bird talk was replaced by different complicated songs.
After about a half hour we realized that we weren’t going to get to any sort of lookout and we would have to climb every step we took back up, so we reversed course. The return hike became so arduous that we broke it into five-minute stretches with two-minute breaks, partly as a diversion. After four such stretches, I made a wild guess that it would take five more to get us out of the valley, and that turned to be right—we were relieved that it wasn’t eight or ten.
When we rested on old logs, I appreciated the silence—a primordial stillness with an occasional bird insert, a low background hum of insects that we never saw. Though humans have intruded pretty much everywhere, the basic Earth is a zone of silent, deep, inscrutable places with background mantras and degrees of profundity of silence even amid the sounds. Our mindedness and pretences are the exception here.
On the way back to Po’ipu, we stopped at the town of Hanapepe, about 7:00 on the Kaua’i clock. As we left the car in a parking space, we saw that something was developing on the central green. We thought it was a farmer’s market, but then it turned into what looked more like a big community picnic, so we headed onto the main street where we got caught up for an hour in art galleries and curiosity shops, snippets of the Pacific of Captain Cook and Herman Melville, plus the usual coconut, pineapple, turtle, bird, and warrior icons.
We visited a long wooden swinging bridge to the taro fields, noted in the Fodor’s as, if not the most exciting thing on Kaua’i, good for a thrill. When it started to swing (and it was quite long, maybe 100-150 feet), I decided that I didn’t need the thrill and retreated summarily. After all, I wasn’t going to pick taro; all I would do at the other end was turn around and come back, plus there was a healthy channel of water underneath.
As is usually the case, Lindy was more enchanted with the shops than I was, so, while sitting on a bench in the shade, I discovered on my iPhone that our son Robin and daughter-in-law Erica had their second child, Joey, a bit early. The news came in a dramatic email (with photo) from our daughter Miranda, as she passed on the narrative of the birth night and expressed her relief that Joey was finally in the world.
We headed back to our parking space where our original guess that the developing situation was not a private enterprise but a farmer’s market turned out wonderfully to be the case. It was a back-of-the-pickup-truck/SUV farmer’s market with a Mexican mercado flavor. Separate of the main group at its juncture with the gallery area sat a pie lady and, since that was Lindy’s hankering, we peeled in different directions, meeting up only after I had a bag of purple sweet potatoes, papayas, lychees, avocados, and tomatoes that cost cumulatively all of $9 and Lindy had a coconut-pineapple-macadamia pie.
We were hot and tired by then. She was for eating her yummy right away, and I was for drinking one of the papayas Noniland-style. It was messy but worth it—a celebration of the Now.
Afterward we circled the vendors for about an hour and bought all sorts of things for low prices, especially given the exorbitant cost of same items in the markets here. We got twelve bananas for a dollar, a humungous papaya for $1.50, an even more humungous pumpkin squash for $2, two giant avocados for $1 each.
All the farmers were native Hawaiian, and almost all of them were ancient, older than us, without that commercial American vibe. To a one, they were joyful and hilarious and offered free fruits and vegetables, wanting us to taste what they had grown.
When I asked the initial woman from whom I had made my purchases whether the papayas and tomatoes had been sprayed, she mimed a giant, outraged scoff, with a glance at her friend with whom she was carving up and munching a mango. Then she responded in singsong story-telling cadence, “Now why would I poison my plants when my dog likes to eat my papayas, and I would have to pay the vet a lot more money if I put spray on my plants.” That was followed by native words and a second imperious scoff.
As good-spirited and touching as the event was, the full gist of it did not get across to me until Lindy realized that she had lost her prescription sunglasses somewhere in Hanapepe. We checked the galleries, the pie lady, most of the vendors, the routes that we had covered separately and together. Only after that did I suggest we try the banana man, a site L had rejected as a possibility. It turned out that she had left them there, and the old guy told her that he had brought them to the market manager.
Ultimately we figured out who that was: a younger native woman. When she produced the glasses, Lindy was so relieved that she hugged her. Then I bought additional spinach and eggplant from a nearby vendor out of general potlatch spirit. The manager had just explained that this was a new market and its participants have so few sources of income; it was really special for them to take from their own gardens and their handful of trees and be able to make some extra money.
It was sobering and a sense of gratitude and wanting to do more. But finally one heads home; everyone in fact packs up and heads home.
We managed to have our 44th wedding anniversary dinner, almost a month late, at a gourmet natural-foods restaurant called Merriman’s, where we were assigned a super-lively waitress named Hollan from Redwood City. Once she figured out, by sheer chattiness, that the David Wolfe we knew (and who had, to her astonishment, a farm on the island) was the same David Wolfe she idolized, she became almost a third party to our meal.
The headlights of the Hyundai Elantra are so old and scratched that they have the power of a weak flashlight. That, plus the fact that we were just too tired, kept us from a David Wolfe/Nick Good/David Wilcock extravaganza with music and dancing in Kapa’a.