A Man in the Wettest Spot on Earth
There is no way to describe the feeling of watching another orange sunset sink into the waves, falling behind the deep green hills and becoming a dim backlight to the world. There are simply no words that can allow you to paint the picture with your mind unless you were there, watching, as it fell away. Unless, hand in hand, sitting on the grass, we were there - I can never convince you fully of my truth. Nobody believes a story that changes a man’s life, because men never seem to change. It is as impossible to slip into another person’s frame of mind as it is to relive your past.
I am walking through a jungle path towards the proclaimed, “wettest spot on earth”. Barefoot and topless, I am clad in a dark brown tan and black and white plumeria shorts that swing just below my knees. This is the place for me and I know it, the right time and there I am. The drive in had been an adventure in itself, the road at times nothing more than a deep puddle of mud. It took driving across two lines of large stones to get across, and by the time I exited the park it had dried into a large cracked mess, like Mali after the great rain. My roommate Matt and I parked the car adjacent to an ancient Hawai'ian cemetery where we had seen a dirt path head off into the woods. We followed the path almost an hour before we came to a fork in the road at the base of a large river. The path on our side was well trodden and appeared as a clear dirt line through some underbrush heading deeper into the forest. Crossing the river led to a path that went straight into some high grass, boasting terrain that was going to be difficult if not impassable. However, looking up at the mountain it was clear which path would follow the river more closely up towards the waterfalls, and with that we grabbed walking sticks and headed into the tall weeds.
I remember that I could not see above the grass, and as I walked along it cut deep into my bare legs and feet. As it quickly became too dense to proceed, we began having to place our sticks horizontally on the reeds in front of us and stepping down upon them to forge a way forward. To this end we stamped down a reasonable path, and though we could only move about three or four steps a minute, we continued on. At this point I started to sweat immensely. Earlier the path had been through the shade of the trees and near the river, so the heat had much less effect than now, with the sun beating down and every step requiring the use of my entire body. Before long, Matt, a 280lb Samoan look-alike, decided to turn back, and headed towards the river the way we had come in. After a half an hour pushing through the grass alone, I too was thinking of giving up. To create a path in the grass was incredibly strenuous, and I had brought nothing with me but my shorts. I was mentally debating heading back when I realized it would be more difficult to turn around than continue on, as the grass had already lifted back up behind me. There was no way to turn back but to make a new path in the old direction. Figuring that it would take as much energy to stamp a path down in either direction, I listened for the river off in the distance, and began to head towards it directly, instead of following the vague mountain line above the trees as I had been doing. I began thinking that it would probably be easier to navigate my way up the rocks of the river than to continue walking through this mess of reeds. After another hours walk, I reached the riverside and threw myself in. I remember how cold the water from the mountain was when I swam, stripped naked save for my necklace. By reaching the stream I felt a feeling of relaxed accomplishment.
I had walked into a problem and walked out, creating the path as I went. The only two directions I could see were forward and back, following the line cut out by the river. The sun was hanging in the sky, lighting the water and creating an eerie mystic glow to the woods and tall grass around me. Everywhere I looked took on the light of majesty; you know the type that I mean, where the rays of light break through the trees like daggers, spotlighting thousands of little patches on the forest floor. (Kurosawa's Ran.) I cannot think of a more perfect place to spend an afternoon, or a more beautiful place to have been.
All directions around me were clouded in trees and tall grasses, seemingly impassable in their isolated growth. Yet above the trees I could still make out the ridge of a green mountain range, just barely visible in the wispy clouds that surrounded the peak. The sky above me was nothing but endless blue, clouds moving too quickly to even stay in sight. Within an hour of crawling my way up the rocks of the river, I came to a banana tree leaning out over the water, held down by the bushel dangling off it like some gaudy, light-green jewelry. I was so pleased at my find that I said screw the waterfalls, turned around and hopped down the river, rock to rock, with my arms wrapped around the bundle of underripe apple-bananas. I heaved them on my back like some primate Atlas and ran down the river as fast as I could. Even as I rested in the water I could not get the juice off my shoulders, and I was literally sticking to the bushel between leaps. I followed the river back down to the original footpath and quickly stumbled across two Mainlanders out for a stroll. They asked if they could take my picture, received a gift of two bananas, and asked me what it was like to grow up in Hawai’i. I laughed, but I don't think I told them I was Canadian. Sometimes it is better to let them believe what they want to believe, I guess. What is it like to grow up Hawaiian? It is a question that I, too, would like to know.