Return to Kauai
On April 12th, 2021, my seven-year-old son and I made the journey back to Kauai. It had been six years since we’d been to the island, and I was anxious to return to a place that had been so sacred on my journey.
I made several friends the last time I was here, and I spent two months filming and writing about the inspiring individuals growing food, building community, and who had powerful messages to share with the world.
A dear friend had reached out to me a few times over the past year to come to her land and explore some options, and after Kauai finally relaxed on the quarantine policy, we bought our tickets with the airlines!
The flight was not completely full on the way over and there was quite a bit of turbulence in the skies. The flight attendants served one drink along the six-hour trek and no meals were provided. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon, and it was an exciting feeling to see the islands come into view out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. We landed safely and vacated the aircraft, only to wait in line at the airport for another fifty minutes, to be checked through their new security line. We had to provide a negative covid test and fill out traveler documents for the state of Hawaii. It was a bit intimidating having the National Guard standing around, but the young men and women in uniform seemed completely bored. I could not wait to get outside and take off my mask!
We retrieved our bags from baggage claim and my beautiful friend was right there to pick us up. It felt good to feel the humid, salty air against my skin and I remember smiling in awe at all the jungle foliage blowing in the wind. We did it, I thought. We have returned. My inner child came alive, and I felt an exciting new adventure had begun. We drove to the North Shore and stopped to pick up her daughter from a friend’s house. The friend’s land was lovely, with my favorite Hawaiian fruit, long-gones, growing abundantly and ready for picking! We were gifted a handful each and then we continued the drive to our destination of Moloa’a.
My dear friend has a gorgeous and wild piece of land on the North Shore. There is tall guinea grass, tons of edible and medicinal plants, along with a large stream that carves through the west side of her property and offers a refreshing dip during those hot summer days.
I had only seen a couple photos of the cabin we would be staying in. We were subleasing from another tenant who was currently away in Guatemala. The cabin was so tucked away in the jungles you would have never known it was there if you were simply walking or driving by. I carried our suitcases up the muddy path and checked out our new place. It was painted blue and yellow and built out of pallets, plywood, and a metal tin roof. There were giant windows along the back wall which was surrounded by jungle. A queen size bed with a mosquito net, a couch, a small countertop, refrigerator, a hot plate for cooking and a fan filled the small space. We had an outdoor sink, shower, and bathroom, along with an abundance of shade from the overhanging banana trees, which also created a nice habitat for mosquitos!
My son and I felt excited to have our own space tucked away and even though it was a bit precarious, we thought it was a fun experience! The only major downside for our modern world, was there was hardly any phone service available at the cabin.
The pathway was muddy the following day after a heavy rainstorm and we were awoken early from all the wild roosters that live on the island. I had set out some ceramic tiles to create a path out of the mud, but that morning, as I was still tired, I slipped and sliced my toe. There was a lot of blood and I needed first aid. I was disappointed to have cut my foot so bad since staph infections are common on the island and I would now have the fun job of keeping it clean while it healed. This also meant I would have to stay out of the water for a few days!
The island had been incredibly quiet during the wild year of 2020 and tourists had not come back in full swing yet. My friend had a car for us to rent at a very affordable rate and I was very thankful as a mother to have a set of wheels! The car was not a fancy rental, it was a farm car, full of ants, mud, and sometimes would shift a little funny, but the windows rolled down, the radio played, and my son and I had a lot of laughs driving it.
We had been living in the cabin for two weeks and I was proud of how brave we were and our ability to live simply. Our little home had plenty of wild geckos who would often poke their heads out to say hello, and they would make these wild sounds in the middle of the night that almost sounded like a bird. I was struggling with not being able to get on the internet, however, and get my work done as a writer. The cabin could get extremely hot during the heat of the day, and we still struggled with the mosquitos.
I enrolled my son at a sweet nature school program down the road and I joined him on Earth Day at the taro patch. As he played and splashed in the river with his friends, I sat in a bamboo forest praying for spirit to help us find a better living situation. That same day, I met a sweet mama named Erica, who was also there with her two sons. We discussed our recent moves to the island, and she mentioned they had a small guest house on the property they were living at. It was amazing how quick she opened her door to us and was there to support another mother. I will never forget her kindness.
My son and I met with her husband a few days later and we had some lunch together. They agreed we could try out the guest house and I could assist with nanny duties and help around the home. The family was originally from Santa Cruz, California and they were doing a house exchange with the woman who owned the home on Kauai. My heart raced with anticipation as my finger entered the gate code to the property, I could not wait to see what was around the corner. On a giant, grassy field was an adorable house, a pool, an epic view, garden beds, avocado trees, fruit trees, and the sweet guest house with an upstairs loft. I felt incredibly blessed and thankful our prayers had been answered! Sirian had a new best friend with their older son, and I had a new mommy friend to talk to and be motivated with.
The plan was to stay at the guest house for the month of May and figure out what we wanted to do next. Unfortunately, the homeowner was not happy we were invited over, so that month quickly shifted to two / three weeks. Living with their family was a great learning experience, the mother grew up in Uruguay and her husband, Israel. They family speaks Spanish, English and Hebrew and it was powerful to observe their six-year-old son brilliantly converse in all three languages. We shared stimulating conversations at dinner, and I would help with dishes and clean up, and would often help with their sweet baby boy during the day.
Living with the family also triggered some emotional wounds I’d been suppressing. As a single mother for the past few years, seeing the couple call to check in on each other, ask what they wanted for dinner, or help one another with the kids made me long for my partner. It can be so lonely as a single mom and overwhelming having to do everything myself. Working with children is something I am naturally skilled at, and I have had many babysitting and nanny positions, however, during my time with them, I soon realized working as a nanny is not exactly what I wanted to do anymore. Yes, I want to work with children, or do something that brings inspiration into their world, but doing dishes, changing diapers, and babysitting little balls of energy isn’t exactly my soul’s calling anymore.
So, when the time came for us to change homes, I felt excited for a new gig that seemed to have magically found us once again. A friend I was introduced to on the island told me about a house-sitting opportunity which would be from June until August. It was for an elderly woman who would be house sitting for her friends on a different part of the island and she simply needed someone to feed her sweet cats in the morning and evening. When Sirian was at school, I drove over to meet her and see if it would be a good fit. I parked out front of the home and did not feel exactly thrilled… You could tell by the garage this woman was a bit of hoarder and I thought, oh good, it’s the crazy cat lady’s house!
Inside her little two-bedroom home was a very dark space and cluttered like an old dusty bookstore, but overall it felt clean. The bedroom we would occupy had great airflow and looked like a fun, comfortable place for us to be. We agreed to the job, but the woman’s health seemed so poorly I wondered if it would even happen in two-weeks’ time. Since we would not have any housing expense that summer, I decided to splurge a little and rent out some various Airbnb’s. We stayed one week in Princeville, which is probably the most yuppie part of the island. There was a perfectly manicured golf course, a maze of condos and short-term rentals, along with beautiful custom homes. My son and I had fun skateboarding the trails in the morning before school and we enjoyed the pool in the evenings. Next, we stayed at a condo in Kapaa and the tourists were now back in full-force, causing a lot of traffic and car rental shortages. Our next Airbnb was a sweet and clean little space, but the property managers were strict on the mask policy, telling you to always wear it unless you were in the pool or eating, but to put it back on between bites! I have a hard time with silly rules, and I am a firm believer that some rules are meant to be broken, so I never partook in the mask wearing outside and no one told me otherwise.
The last Airbnb was at a beautiful resort right near the ocean. I felt anxious spending quite a bit of money for only staying a few days, however, I felt spirit tell me to relax and enjoy it… I had no idea the news I was about to receive. I was sitting at the pool, Sirian was swimming, when a phone call came in from
my brother. He asked if I was sitting down and then he proceeded to tell me my father had just passed away in his sleep. An instant stream of tears went flooding down my face and I remember watching my son innocently play in the water. As I looked around at the beautiful scenery, I realized this is where my dad would have wanted me to be. This is where he would have taken us… Total strangers by the pool were there to give me comforting hugs and a few of them bought me drinks from the bar as I was in a total state of shock and grief. My son and I ate dinner on the water that night and I tried not to cry as a local musician played, Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I gave our waitress a very generous tip that night as that’s something my dad would have done.
It was now June 1st and our move in day for the house-sitting gig had arrived. We unpacked and settled in nicely into our new room. Sirian was really excited to have a desk and we wrote Sirian’s Studio on the white board hanging on the wall. We watched TV, cooked some dinner, fed the cats and were eager to sleep in our new bed.
I will never forget walking into the room and seeing a swarm of bugs on the bed that night and then running to the bathroom for some tissue, only to find more bugs swarming! It was a complete nightmare and I thought – there is no way this woman could have not known she had this bad of a bug problem?? It turned out, Hawaii notoriously has summer termite swarms where the bugs fly off to find new places to land and they are attracted to the light. We slept on the couch two nights in row just to make sure they were finally gone. During our second night of sleeping in the living room, Sirian woke me up and said, “Mom, it sounds like it is raining in the house.” I told him that it was only raining outside and to let me sleep a bit longer. After hearing the sounds, myself, I awoke quickly and went to investigate. In the woman’s kitchen area, a massive hole in the ceiling created a flood of rainwater. It really was raining in the house! By this time, the only thing I could do was laugh at the universe and wonder what the heck I was doing on this island.
The woman told me the house did indeed need a little TLC, but she did not think it was that bad… After a week in the home I began to recognize mold symptoms. I was waking up with a bad sore throat, getting a strange pounding headache, felt very irritable in the home and snappy. My son and I tried to spend as minimal time in the house as possible, but it was becoming intolerable, and I soon recognized why the woman’s health was so bad – her home was unfortunately, toxic. We experienced a few more termite swarms during our stay and some giant cock roaches. By this time on our journey, I felt my fears of bugs and critters completely subsiding!
My sore throat was becoming more and more painful, and I felt no desire to try and stay in the home and ‘tough it out’. I began applying for nearby studios and looking for roommate options, but this island has a serious housing shortage, and it certainly isn’t that affordable. After being told no for a promising studio because she had so many applicants to choose from, I found myself lying in a grassy field at a nearby park, starring up at the clouds rolling by. My son was laying in my arms, and I remember thinking, what are we going to do?
I finally told the woman we could no longer stay at her place and luckily, she has a son who lives nearby and could help with the cats. With no other options, we went to Wal-Mart and purchased new camping supplies. A friend recommended Kumu campground at Anahola Beach with nice amenities and would be a safe place to sleep. We set up our tent right by the ocean and I connected with the park managers. I was told there was no long-term camping options and that they would be completely booked out in a few days. Kauai has some permit places to camp, but not the best bathrooms or there might be some homeless / drug issues in the area… so those options did not feel exactly ideal.
Even though it seemed like the perfect time to panic, I stayed calm and trusted something was going to work out. I should mention that I had shipped my truck over from California a few weeks prior and I was beyond thankful to have my reliable vehicle on island! As my son and I were laughing and telling jokes in camp, a phone call rang in from a new dear friend, Barbara. Barbara is Sirian’s music teacher and is originally from Austria. Her and I both and spent some time in Scotland, at an Eco-village called the Findhorn Foundation. Although we were not at Findhorn at the same time, our mutual friends on Kauai knew of our Scottish kinship and were eager to introduce us. Barbara’s sweet voice asked over the phone if we were still needing a place and I replied with an excited, yes!
She informed me that her friend was in Guatemala until October and could use a house sitter at her lovely sacred home in a fruit orchard, next to a Japanese Zen Garden. We met the next day and I instantly fell in love with her little gypsy space, she calls the Way Finding Center. The woman was nervous to say yes to a stranger staying in her home, but she trusted Barbara and knew she could use some help with mowing, gardening, and house maintenance, but we would also need permission from the landowner and the man who runs the fruit orchard. Thankfully, I am a good people person and they both agreed to my son and I staying here if we respected the Zen Garden and did not invite a bunch of people over, which of course I happily agreed.
Right now I am writing this article from the comfort of my new bed, ready to celebrate the 4th tomorrow and in the utmost gratitude for the universe leading us to this new home.
I am honored to be here, and I feel I have passed so many tests and initiations in order to be where we are right now. I am not exactly sure what the future holds or what doors will open next, but I know I returned to Kauai to get back to the basic’s fundamentals of life, to work with the earth, my community and to spend most of our time playing outside. My son has been lucky to live an adventurous life full of a variety of experiences. He has been thriving here and making so many friends… Ultimately, we want to build our own little hale (house), so right now we are learning from this awesome off-grid, solar powered oasis in the heart of paradise, with a few little bug bites in the mix!
Stay tuned for more exciting updates!
If you are interested in reading more of our journey, check out my first two books, Diary of a Starseed, Pt1 and Pt 2: available here - https://www.amazon.com/Diary-Starseed-Initiation-Brittny-Love/dp/1530992834
Somewhere Over the Rainbow: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-Ooxpz0Eqk