Current location: Manago Hotel (and the oldest restaurant on the Big Island) - Captain Cook, HI
March 15th, my last day at the Manago Hotel. The place is authentic Old Hawaii founded by a Japanese couple Kinzo and Osame Manago in 1917. It had since remained in the family - managed by the three generations of Managos. If you're looking to have a unique stay in coffee country, book the Japanese room, which is dedicated to the founders and comes with traditional Japanese touches like the futon, tatami mats, shoji window screens and the furo tub in the bathroom. The sweeping view of the coast is simply stunning and I enjoyed practicing yoga and meditation on a private balcony during my stay.
It was on my last couple of days at the Manago Hotel when the government declared a national emergency due to COVID19. We were 10 days away from the statewide stay-at-home order. But on this day, March 15th, I knew very little about the upcoming covid-storm.
- 7:30am - opened my eyes to the dreamy ocean views from the balcony in my minimalist room on the third floor at the Manago Hotel.
8:30am - morning meditation on the balcony. Hello Ocean, Sky and Sun!
10:00am - heading out to the Pure Kona Farmers Market. I spotted a postcard depicting the Pueo Owls from a local artist, Danielle Burnside (check out her art here), which reminds me of my recent encounter with one of them on the ancient mango-lined road. I’m totally taking it home with me, wherever I choose to make my new home. I had the most delicious rosemary-honey-sea salt bagel from local bakers and a cup of Kona coffee, which I enjoyed while listening to the sounds of a local smooth jazz band. Bliss!
- 11:00am - shopping for some more local delicacies: red cuban bananas (never had those before, very rich & creamy), detoxifying ginger - lemon - lilikoy honey drink in a mason jar to keep me hydrated and glowing on the hot day, papaya salad and mango sticky rice from a Thai food stand for dessert later. Everything tasted so authentic and delicious! Some vendors were wearing masks but not many. This was the last weekend before the farmers market closed down for COVID19. Nobody knew how serious it was going to get so soon.
- 11:45am - time to pay a visit to the Captain James Cook Monument. I hike down the trail, I am not in any rush, walking leisurely and taking in majestic views of the lush and tropical Kealakekua Bay, South Kona Coast. It takes about an hour to get down to the monument and the marine reserve, one of the best snorkeling sites on the Big Island. I dove right in! Had a lovely encounter with a big parrot fish and swam far and back. But no dolphins today despite me trying to sing and call them under the water. Maybe I’m not such a great dolphin singer. After an hour or so of snorkeling in the crystal clear aquamarine water, my body feels light and rinsed of all worries.
- 2:15pm - allowing myself to just be in the moment. I lie down and stretch my tired, red-bikini’ed body on the concrete wall that is just below the monument providing an easier entrance to the water. The warmth of the afternoon sun in early spring, gentle splashing of the water against the wall, light breeze on my face teleport me back to one of those happy worry-free days that one can truly have in childhood only. When the summer days are long, you are tired from a long day playing outside and happy to just be.
- 2:30pm - time to head back. Somehow I find myself off the path on a side trail I had not even noticed before. Where are you taking me, Big O? The red-crested cardinals seem to be following me all along, like a singing escort, I welcome their company. The 1-hour hike back is quite strenuous up the hill all the way to the top and provides little shade so pack plenty of water and wear sunscreen.
- 4:00pm - back to my room and relaxing on the balcony with an ice cold ginger drink, so refreshing and delicious after the hike!
- 5:30pm - showered, lotioned, hair-styled and clad in a comfy cloth, I settle on the balcony to enjoy my special Thai dinner from the farmer’s market earlier and to witness a majestic sunset. Today is my Dad’s Birthday, he would be 69 years old. I gave my mom a call and we shared about our day.
- 6:34pm - the Sunset Symphony. The clouds form a shape around the sun that resembles the eye. Sun rays coming out of the opening in the clouds look like long eyelashes. Is it looking at me? The sun was gracefully setting down in the clouds when it beamed one long, final ray across the sky, illuminating the layers of airy formations in the evening sky in front of my balcony. Was there a message or a sign? Something is coming. I should probably go pack as I'm moving to another location tomorrow.
- 7:00pm - what started as a 20 minute meditation turned into a full hour of vipassana session on the balcony. Fading light became darkness, basking in the sounds of coqui frogs and feeling calm on the inside. Closing my practice with the loving kindness meditation and sending the white light to all living beings.
- 8:15pm - Journaling about this day in bed. I’ve done nothing really, but it felt so fulfilled and so much more meaningful than my regular 12-hour workday in my past corporate job.
- 10:00pm - Wow, it’s already ten! I wanted to do some more reading and watching movies tonight to enjoy the tranquility of this day for longer. It’s a beautiful thing when the time flows like a slow river.