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Random Camping

So we hitchhiked to Kailua-Kona, relaxed for a little bit, walked around all day, and enjoyed the town a lot.  Inevitably, there comes the time of the day where travelers need to think about where they are resting their heads that night…  I didn’t want to leave Kona that night because I really liked the town [I mean, the world’s best coffee and a brewing company right in town?! Jackpot!].  So I played with the idea of camping somewhere close by in order to be in/near the town an extra day or two.  At that exact same time, a guy that had seen us in McDonald’s that morning came over and started talking to us about our travels.  We asked if he knew of a place to camp nearby – his response was “yes” but it was nothing like we had in mind…  He introduced us to a friend who was then told to go get Rex.  Here we are, sitting at a table at a café, not knowing who the heck Rex is and why he was being summoned… Was he the guy’s pet that he wanted us to see?  Was he the guy’s friend that had better directions to the campground? Who knows? So I asked… Apparently, Rex is the leader of the camp. Um… ok… ??

Sitting there waiting, we look over and along comes a guy – no shirt, long hair, and walked as if he owned the place… “So I hear you need a place to sleep.  Want to see the place? Follow me. Ya do drugs?”  We follow guy a little concerned and confused… In the back of a local restaurant, there was a small wooded area that we were walking towards.  We walked through the bushes and onto a trail.  We arrived at a small clearing in the brush where there were tents set up, tarps hanging from the trees, clothes all in the dirt, random garbage scattered around that included street signs, computer parts, bottles, etc, and kids sitting around!  What the heck did we just walk into?!

“Have a seat – that’s what they’re there for,” ordered Rex.  What seat?! Did he mean the cardboard boxes, upside-down trash cans, and logs?!  Uh, ok… so I sat and tried to make conversation… the first thing I saw was an old fashioned keyboard from a computer right next to the fire pit as if it was just used the night before.  “So, um, is that a working keyboard? I mean, um… is that hooked up to the invisible computer that’s somewhere around here?”  As soon as I said that, the music that one of the boys was playing on his guitar stopped.  I looked at him with his dead serious face staring back at me… a long 10 seconds later he said “yeah, it just might be! All this stuff, I think we did have an invisible computer here at one time…” and then he started laughing and playing his guitar again.  At this time I realized that Rex hadn’t asked us if we did drugs because he didn’t want drugs entering a reputable campground but rather asked to see if we would fit in with everyone else.  We told the kids that we were going to go get food and we’d see them later.  We had no intention of returning to these woods ever again.

So we went back to McDonald’s in order to use the free WiFi and find a hostel, cheap motel, campground [a real one!], or anything else near by that is actually intended for sleeping, legal, and didn’t have 12 year old boys doing hardcore drugs…  We sat in McDonald’s for a short time and then as we packed up our things and started putting on our backpacks, there were four boys at the table next to us that started whispering things like “Where do you think they’re going? Should we help them out?”  As we started walking away, they yelled to us that they’d give us a ride.  Sweet!  We got in their van and we started driving north to find a beach or campsite.  No more than two minutes into the drive, the guys started talking about their personal relationships with Jesus and explained the “school” that they attend which eventually sends them to other countries to help others discover their relationship as well.  Interesting…

It’s interesting how in a matter of 30 minutes we met the complete spectrum of people: crazy homeless children with no plan, no money, doing drugs in the woods, living under a tarp, and without a care in the world, and then almost instantly, we run into a group of people who were the complete opposite.  Nevertheless, the group of boys dropped us off at what they thought was a road to a beach but when they pulled in, the gate was closed.  They were in the process of backing the van out of the path and back onto the main road when we caught a glimpse of a few people in the headlights of the van.  What are they doing? What is this place?  We decided to go ask the shadowy figures in the headlights what they were doing, if this closed path eventually led to the beach, and if they knew where we could camp.  They happened to be unloading backpacks from the car and told us they were going to hike in on the path to this amazing secluded spot on the beach and we were welcome to join.  Awesome!  The timing couldn’t have been more perfect.  If we were 2 minutes earlier or later, we wouldn’t have seen the people at the car to ask.

We quickly gathered our bags from the Christian-mobile and ran up to join our new camping buddies.  The hike was longer than I expected and very rocky – good thing it was a full moon so we could see!  We eventually arrived at the camp spot and got to know everyone.  Everyone was so interesting and all from different countries!  It was amazing how many different cultures were in that circle of friends: Greece, Austria, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Norway, and then me… the token American.

We made dinner, told jokes and stories, played games, taught each other things about each others’ languages, etc.

While backpacking, it’s inevitable that you’ll come across a handful of… umm… “different” people… but I adore these moments that can only happen while traveling and meeting new people every day!

Oh, and it turns out, we were at Makalawena Beach!

Kalaoa, HI 96740

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