Note: This is the third of fourteen parts. Click here to read from the beginning.
Molly and I aren’t staying in a hotel here in Kailua-Kona, nor are we at a bed and breakfast. There would be no adventure in that scenario.
We are filling in for a friend of Molly’s as caretakers on a 20-year old coffee farm. Now we’re talking, right?
We are high up in the mountains, surrounded by lush foliage from giant banana fronds as big as our bodies to delicate orchids and poinsettia that grow in the wild and not in pots on the windowsill. And, of course, Kona coffee plants are everywhere, on the side of the road and in neat rows on the farms that dot the landscape.
We are in heaven.
Topographically, we are at 2,250 feet, about twice as high as Mount Tom. So far, we have been mostly engulfed in fog or clouds up here, but when we venture down towards the ocean, we have noticed it’s about 15 degrees warmer and the cloud cover is less dense. The natives say this is unusually cold and gnarly weather.
Normally one to squawk when the sun is not shining and the temperature is not hovering in the 90s, I could care less. I love the balminess of the air here, and each moment is so new and different that I am unconcerned about where my friend the sun is. She will return when she is ready.
The home we are staying in is rustic but so sweet and clean. It’s dubbed The Coffee Shack, and it has three bedrooms, two decks and a kitchen and sizable living room, complete with a fire pit that vents through the ceiling and roof.
Looking out the living room window, you see all kinds of greenery. It’s thick and luscious. Far down below you can see the ocean on a clear day, I hear.
Our main task here is to take care of the three cats, but I was also very interested in learning about farm operations. So, before our friends left Kona a day after our arrival, I tried to thoroughly pick their brains for knowledge.
Kayla, Molly’s friend from high school who is living here and running the farm while also directing a nutrition program at a local school, told us the coffee plants are dormant now and there is little to do to maintain them.
She pointed out that there are abundant fruits here on the land—oranges, tangerines, guava, passion fruit, and also avocado and macadamia nuts. Even All Spice grows here on the land.
“What can I do to help care for the plants,” I asked Kayla in an email before we arrived.
“Nothing,” she said.
Likewise, she said I also didn’t need to mow the lawn or work at all. But I wanted a task! So, when I saw Kayla’s friend Keith wielding a machete to remove dead fronds from a banana tree, I asked him, “Can you teach me how to do that?”
Keith was happy to oblige. He showed me several techniques for managing the banana growth and also cutting back what he called Ti (pronounced “tea,” but not actual tea) plants, and he suggested several specific tasks I could take on during our trip.
I was beside myself. Between the climate, natural beauty and garden tasks that are rugged and require buff-ness, I feel like I’ve found a new place to call home.
But uh-oh. We are here for only two more weeks.
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