Trying to be More Than Just a Tourist…

March 10, 2016

I arrived in Hawaii on Friday night and was instantly impressed with the balmy weather. My host family said just wait until the morning when I could really see the beautiful state of Hawaii….

For my first day, I was surprised with a Zodiac ride out to a sandbar. I have never seen such blue water in my life. The ocean incorporates every shade of blue and green you can imagine, and then topped off with a blue sky, and mountains covered in foliage on 3 sides of me, I was pretty damn impressed. When we got out to the sandbar, the water was just below my knees, and we waded around just taking in the scene.

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On Tuesday I met with an employee of Makai Ocean Engineering to learn about what is going on in the world of renewable energy. The facility(pictured below) is situated on a pier over crystal blue water looking out into the Pacific. We sat outside to have a picnic lunch and I learned that its actually not a great time to be in the renewable energy business! With gas prices going down, so is the interest in sustainable energy. We did talk about their two biggest projects going on on the Big island: OTEC (Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion) and SWAC (Sea Water Air Conditioning). They pump cold water from deep in the ocean and cycle it with the warm water on top to generate electricity. This works because the difference in temperatures can drive a turbine that produces power. OTEC is actually only 3% efficient meaning that they lose 97% of energy in the process. However, it can be done in such large scale and with little impact on anything, that it is still effective in generating the amount of energy they want.

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Aside from exploring Oahu, I have been building an outrigger canoe paddle. Outrigger canoes were used by the first settlers who found most of the Pacific Islands and are still very popular for canoe racing.

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The paddle on top is what I am working on. Below are others in the process.

There have also been many new foods that I have been tasting along the way. Today we stopped at a local market and tried papaya, guava, dragon eye, apple banana, white mountain apple, egg fruit, and rambutan. The apple banana and rambutan were my favorites, so if you ever get the chance to try them, I strongly recommend! And of course, there was an ice cold coconut to drink! We also tried garlic shrimp, a must-have in Hawaii, and now I understand why.

On the left are the rambutan which have a similar consistency to a peeled grape; jelly like, and on the right is me with my coconut.

Last and most definitely least of my trip so far was our trip to Waimea Falls. It was much more of a built up touristy attraction than anticipated, and although the fall was pretty and the walk through the botanical garden to get to it was nice, it was extremely anticlimactic.

I am on the hunt for authentic Hawaii, and with 3 weeks to enjoy it, I hope to do more than just see what most tourists see. Check back soon to see what else is happening in Hawaii!

-Maddie

 

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