I realized yesterday just how much I love Hilo. While most residents and many visitors are focused on Hula this week because of the InternationalMerrie Monarch festival going on in our fair city.
My focus has been on getting my ceramics ready for the first firing this weekend and going about the daily tasks at hand. I have heard many people say that Hilo is the town that time forgot and that it is like living back in the 1960's except now we have cell phones and internet. I could not agree more and that is one thing I love about living in Hilo.
My market days coincide with the farmer's market days and so, yesterday I went about my marketing. The first stop was the Transfer Station which we affectionately call "the Dump". On the island, you can get trash pick up service, but most people don't, as there are many transfer stations with recycling and trash collection and it is all free, on your own schedule. It is very convenient to us, recycling the many cartons we have been unpacking. Our Dump is located about 1 mile north of our house in the community of Pâpa’ikou. To get there, you drive up the highway and cut in on a road that takes you through a dense jungle with giant palms and other beautiful vegetation. There is a roaring waterfall next to the dump, which makes for a rather unusual feature at a dump! There is a worker that sits in a little guard shack at the dump to over see activity. He also feeds the "dump cats" that help keep the rat population in check. There is even a little kitty hale (house) to protect them from rain while they are feeding.
Yesterday I was caught in a torrent of rain when I arrived and I had an entire station wagon full of cardboard cartons and rugs that I was dropping off. Just as I opened my door and put on my raincoat the little old man came running across the parking lot with a big umbrella. He said, "Oh I can't sit in my shelter and not help a pretty young lady with her trash!" Of course his statement was taken in context, as sweet as it was and his assistance was welcome. He got half of my cartons put into the bin while I worked on the rest of the items. I drove away, waving good bye with a smile on my face, thinking that this kind of aloha has become more and more a natural part of my life since moving to Hawaii.
Next stop... the Hilo farmer's market with the usual suspects. I have a few favorite farmers and their array of fruits, vegetables and lettuces were abundant. The only disappointment was that I got to the market too late to get a white pineapple. The guy that sells them only brings a few each week along with a lot of gold pineapples. However, I had more than my share of Pineapples last week. So, I skipped the Maui Gold.
As I was leaving the market, I ran into a "gaggle" of pilots from the Air National Guard. As is my practice when seeing soldiers, I wanted to thank them for their service and I did, but not before snapping a picture of them with their purchases from the market, armloads of flowers.
Ah... another only in Hilo moment. They were glad to pose with their posies. Each had an armful of the most abundant flower at our market, the anthurium. While orchids are certainly my favorite, I love the waxy long lasting anthuriums too. Another great thing about Hilo is the price of the flowers. Each armload of flowers these guys were holding probably cost less than $10. I almost said $5 and that is not unlikely.
Here are the flowers I bought at the Farmer's Market yesterday, total cost $6:
From the market I went to the downtown KTA for a couple of things they had on sale and experienced another typical Hilo moment. The store is quite small and has been there for over 50 years. It is crowded and typically has long lines, partially because they are usually busy but also because they do things in a typically slow way. For instance, the woman in front of me was buying a small container of oatmeal. The cashier said, "Oh Auntie (no relation, just a term of endearment), the large size is on sale, you want I go get one for you, yeah?" The woman nodded and the cashier ran off through the store and then stopped at the bulletin board where they put coupons for those that forgot to clip them from the Tuesday paper. She held up the industrial sized container of oatmeal and said, "See, now you just pay twenty cents more for this big big size and I got you a coupon too!". The little woman smiled and took her money from her change purse to pay. Back on the mainland people would get irritated if a clerk did something like that. But nobody in line complained or even looked put out at all. I love Hilo.
Then it was on to store #2, Sack n Save, as I followed the sales. They had bread flour on sale. Flour is a commodity from the mainland and usually a 5# bag costs at least $6-$8 and sometimes much more if you are buying an organic brand. When on sale, you can buy it for 1/4 of the price sometimes, and so I have learned to stock up then. When in Sack and Save, there is typically an item or two that is a loss leader product to get people into the store. I have found that "canned meat" is the biggest draw. One week they have Spam (all 23 varieties) on sale another time it will be Coral Tuna (I know it is a stretch to call it meat) and yet another time it is canned corned beef (VERY popular food here). This week it was Vienna Sausages. I am not talking about just a can of them, but CASES of them on sale. $5.99 a case. They need no refrigeration and have enough preservatives in them to store for the duration. I don't think I would like them and I don't think I will try them either, but people were grabbing their limit of them and even having their children and husbands buy a few cases. Go figure, I still love Hilo.
It is my guess that this huge mountain of Vienna Sausages will be gone by today.
Finally, I got home, unloaded my packages, arranged flowers and got to work in the studio.
I noticed that my crop of sprouts was ready,
so I made an avocado (always abundant here), tomato (also always abundant and beautiful on our island) and sprout sandwich. Did I mention I love Hilo?