“Stupid, stupid, stupid!” were the words that went through my head once I realized that I was the source of red haze in the otherwise pristine water.
I was about to learn a lesson in respect.
I walked over to the beach to assess my condition, and there it was, not a cut but a kind of gash, undoubtedly made when my foot grazed one of the nearby volcanic rocks. It didn’t look deep enough to require stitches, but it was certainly deep enough to cause me grief for a good while.
Cursing in frustration, I gingerly walked over to my pack. My first day. My first damn day on the island, surrounded by the stunning Makalawena beach, and I make a stupid mistake like this. How could I have been so careless as to walk on these rough black stones? Even if I was being careful, it wasn’t worth the risk. My only consolation was how lovely the beach was. As you can see below, Makalawena beach (pronounced makala-vay-na) is breathtaking.
Thankfully, I’d brought a plastic bag with some food and some paper towel. After rinsing the wound, I wrapped it and then put my foot in the plastic bag. Hopefully, this would keep any blood from getting to my shoes. I had a long, rocky trek back to the highway, and the sun was setting fast. It’s not like on the mainland where there’s at least 30 minutes of dusk. When the day ends here, it ends with a suddenness that I wasn’t prepared for and no one had mentioned.
Along the way, a few kind people gave me some alcoholic wipes and a better plastic bag, but no one would give me the short ride back over the rocky trail to the highway. Literally everyone was going the other way. Damn.
I knew the wound had bled beyond its wrapping now. I wanted to believe it was salt water that was making the sound, but my heart knew better. The bag was filling up with blood, and there was little I could do about it. I had to get to the highway. I had to clean this wound properly and get a real bandage over it, otherwise I would risk getting a staph infection (aka. Staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria that can really ruin your month).
I pushed all of this out of my mind, and continued plodding along, feeling a slight squishing every time I walked. A feeling of concern swept over me again… No. I’d cleaned the wound with an antiseptic wipe. That was all I could do for now. Think positive. It’s going to be just fine. Just fine.
A half hour and a world of daylight later, I finally reached the highway and stuck out my thumb. I always disliked hitchhiking at night. It’s riskier, and you don’t get picked up as fast. Then again, I’d never hitchhiked in Hawaii at night before. Perhaps it was easier here.
It was. In a miraculous stroke of luck, in just a couple minutes a sports car pulled over and opened the door.
I slowly approached the car, paying close attention to what my intuition was telling me. Inside was a guy in his 20s who seemed friendly enough. More importantly, it felt right, so I sat down.
“What’s up, brah?”
His name was Russ, and he worked at one of the resorts nearby. He drove as if the roads were his own, taking serious turns at 50 mph or so, and the g-forces were palpable. “Just what I need,” I thought. “My heart rate to go up more…”
Yet despite his tendency to drive with a kind of reckless abandon that is normally reserved for off-road racing, we somehow arrived at my destination unscathed. In fact, I scarcely could believe we arrived as soon as we did. Maybe it was the blood loss at this point, but it was almost as though he knew a secret route to the south end of the city.
I waved him farewell in abundant thanks and waddled into my Couchsurfing host’s house. I called out to see if anyone was around, and a melanin-bespeckled woman with a warm smile appeared at the top of the stairs. It was Julie, my host’s mother, and she graciously provided everything I needed to clean the wound, including a really cool hydrogen peroxide sprayer.
After taking a shower, I felt reborn, confident, and thankful to everyone who had helped me. Because of the kindness of people I had only recently met, I was patched up and on the road to healing. Julie and I talked until past 9PM, and the funny thing about it is that if I hadn’t gone out, I may not have stayed up that late and stumbled into the best introduction to Hawaii that I could ever ask for.
You see, just a little while after Julie went to sleep. A friend of my host stopped by and after talking with me for a while, she asked me a most wonderful question.
“Would you like to come on a volcano adventure with me?”
Turns out, her and a couple of her friends (who were also friends with my host) were going on a hike the following day out to the Kilauea Volcano, and apparently they had some “connections” to get closer to the crater than is necessarily allowed.
How could I refuse? 😉