Sorry, I’ve gone a bit quiet but we’ve been living ‘off grid’ in Volcano for a few days. Yes, our Air BNB advertised itself this way and I must admit I was a little surprised when Jane gave this place her seal of approval as I know she doesn’t normally like to be too far from civilisation.
We arrived in Volcano after our very long journey and by the time we got there it was pouring with rain but not dark! Having stocked up at the store ,the nice young man there ( think ‘Deliverance’) pointed us in the right direction. We drove across Highway 11 and then turned down Pearl Street and then all the way down to 9th. At this point it sounds like any normal US City doesn’t it? But when we turned into our drive we could see our tiny little house in perfect isolation surrounded by giant ferns! It was like walking back into Jurassic Park.
I got out of the car and started skipping about, generally relieved that Jane wasn’t uttering the words ‘I can’t stay here’. When we went inside the place was decorated really tastefully with lots of Hawaian antiques and cool stuff such as surfboards and paddles.
There was a tiny kitchen with lots of free stuff- wine, eggs from Janis’ girls, homemade cookies, pancake mix etc. The owners had really thought of everything.
Living off grid basically meant that the electricity comes from solar panels, so you just need to remember to hit the rocker (off) switch when you go out. It also means that the water supply comes from the rainwater (no shortage there then), it’s fine but you just can’t drink it as they haven’t got the full filter system yet. In many ways it’s like camping but with a proper toilet!
But of course here’s the really tricky bit, there was no Wifi, no phone reception and no TV!!!! I loved it….Jane…not so much! But we got by, using free wifi at the cafe and watching DVDs, one of which we hired from the Upper Store (The Greatest Showman) and the other provided by the owners (Moana).
A couple of other things about our experience. The tiny bedroom is up some tiny narrow stairs which do not have a bannister or rail. At the top you cannot stand up so you kind of have to crawl up on your hands and knees and come down on your bottom. This is not ideal in the middle of the night. Or any other time really.
The house also came with quite an extensive decking area which had a top of the range BBQ and Firepit thing. It was half protected from the rain by a sheet of corrugated plastic but unfortunately the noise of the rain thundering down on here on our 2nd night kept us awake for hours.
In fact it rained so much whilst we were here that the overall word I would use to describe the experience is ‘damp’. We got wet going to the car, the shop, the restaurant and we never really dried off. I even felt damp in bed…most unpleasant.
But the locals love it. They call themselves ‘mountain people’ . Hm. They are in fact a very artistic bunch as we saw when we visited their gallery at the National Park visitor centre but oh my goodness , there are a lot of wild women of Wongo, who look like they could do with a decent hairdressing salon in town! And the men? Well I only saw them whilst they were out walking their Rottweilers and there were lots of references to hunting pigs. Say no more.
Finally to give you a flavour of local life I’ll tell you about a conversation I had in the Volcano Quilting shop. No, I’m not into quilting but it promised other art materials so in I went. It was a lovely shop and the nice lady serving was having a conversation with an old boy about the weather. So I asked ‘ was the rain last night typical of round here?’. She said ‘No, it’s not, This storm just blew in and we didnt know where it came from. It wasn’t forecast and ever since the last storm turned into a hurricane I’m worried.’ To which the old boy replied ‘Yes and it was lucky that I’d just got my windows repaired after the last earthquake broke them.’ This is how life goes in Volcano!