I am fortunate enough to have a lovely friend in Kauai, and I bookended my Hawaiian-island hopping trip with Danielle and her grandmother. After picking up some fresh cut pineapples at Sueoka's grocery store, we pointed at shimmery rainbows, awe-struck tourist groups and double waterfalls at the Waimea Lookout.
So, one thing that I quickly realized about Kauai is that chickens and roosters are everywhere. They pepper the lawn at the Lihue airport, bathe in rain-drenched parking lots (this particular one is at the Kalalau Lookout in Kokee), and congregate along any side of any road. It's pretty hilarious, until I realized that they are long-standing residents as well. Then they became regal and courageous to me. Not sure if that's the consensus amongst the human residents, though.
Hanalei Bay - a quiet and peaceful beach surrounded by residences, where we people-watched for a spell. Danielle's grandmother has so many stories about her family and friends and listening to her unravel them, anecdote by anecdote, was everything I thought it could be. I didn't grow up with grandparents, so experiencing her patience, warmth and roll-with-the-punches personality was endearing. I tried to buy her a Mai Tai at Olympic Cafe in Old Kapaa Town later that night, and she just giggled.
The next day, we checked out Bubba's Burgers, where the tag lines are "We Relish Your Buns," "We Cheat Drunk Tourists and Attorneys," and "If You Can't Stop By For a Bite, At Least Honk As You Drive By." We bit teriyaki pineapple + taro burgers along with numerous fries underneath a sky-yielding straw umbrella.
Speaking of taro, we drove along Hanalei roads that hugged taro fields and to an elevated spot where we could marvel at the tidy and varied patchwork fields. If my itinerary allowed, I would've loved to have attended a Thursday Poi Day at the Waipa Foundation, where Danielle and her grandmother are regulars. The volunteers arrive at 5am to mash cooked taro into poi, a traditional Hawaiian starch staple, for consumption and distribution to ohana (family) and elderly friends around the region. Poi resembles a lavender pudding or custard, and ranges from sweet to slightly sour over the natural fermentation course. I love that the Kauai community convenes weekly to hands-on learn about the relationship between food, land and culture, and to meet with old and new friends.