Bare Footed and Empty Handed
“You really arrived on the Big Island bare footed? asked Juggernaut.
“Well, not really bare footed, I was wearing flip-flops,” Alerico showed a pair of flip-flops he was wearing. You see, I could not live any more in San Diego, all the gangs and drugs, I did it all, I want a fresh start so I bought a one-way ticket to Hilo on the Big Island.”Alerico come across as rough and tough Latino with a tattoo depicting a pointed gun on his forearm. Alerico was brown skinned third generation Mexican, he said his grandfather was as dark as African came from Mexico and settled in the old town San Diego, now after several decades a tourist Mecca.
“From the Hilo airport I got a hitch hike to Pahoa, a small town on the southeast corner, I read that around Pahoa, one can live with little money. For the first few days I shared a tent in the rainforest with few hippies, we lived on vegetables and fruits collected from road-side fruit stands and hand outs.”
“Who were these hippies?” Juggernaut was inquisitive.
“Well, mostly young whites from the mainland want to live in a simple and peaceful environment, mostly vegetarians and some smoke weed like cigarettes since cops don’t bother here like on the mainland; you see community living among the hippies was not my kind of thing; they share everything, I mean everything, I could not live among them so I split. I lived on my own in the forest.”
“Living on your own by yourself in rainforest, coming from San Diego?”
“At county recycling center, I bought clothes, pots, pans and every day needs for cheap. You notice free-range chickens running all over the place; I devised an inexpensive contraption to capture a chicken, a chicken in the cage attracts more free-range chickens, thus I had a steady supply of chicken to barbeque on the open fire. Later on I noticed free-roaming wild pigs in the forest; now to capture and kill a pig is totally a different ball game; I was not ready for it; to trap a pig, I built a larger cage with a drop door and placed carrots and guava to lure a wild pig into the cage. A caged pig is very aggressive and combative than a free roaming one, I used a sharp knife to pierce deep inside its neck to let it bleed until the animal became subdued, then using a serrated knife I cut-off its neck and barbequed the entire animal after removing the innards,” Alerico stood with his feet apart and bent down with his hands moving back and forth as if he was cutting something with a knife.
“That sounds bloody and grotesque to make a meal,” Juggernaut appeared disturbed.”
“True it was, I became dizzy and passed out by the time I killed the pig, I could not repeat it again after all that loud squealing and blood; the forest living is not for everybody, the whole day was spent finding food and its preparation whether it is collecting bread fruit, guava, mango or avocado or trapping free range chickens. Once used to this living in the forest, it won’t cost much at all to live.”
“I am sure you spent more time looking for food and its preparation like tribes-men in Amazon area.”
“Sure, my life in the rain forest near Pahoa was primitive life as shown on National Geographic TV shows, I have no choice but tough it out in the jungle. Then a local Hawaiian family took me in and gave shelter in their house, these people are kindest people you can find on earth, without asking they feed you. That’s how I was living for several months before I landed a job in Hilo working for an engineering firm.”
“That period could have been very hard for you, living in a tent with strangers, later on hunting pigs and capturing wild chicken.”
“It was toughest time in my life but it also gave me inner strength and survival skills, now I know I can survive wherever and however I want.”
“Then you married a Hawaiian girl?”
“Yes, I met Nalani, a local girl visiting the Hawaiian family I was staying with. She was much younger to me but we fell in love. She has a bit of everything in her heritage: a bit of Puerto Rican, Portuguese and Hawaiian. I came to this island practically bare footed and empty handed over 13 years ago, lived in the jungle and lived off the land for several months and found happiness, we are poor now but somehow managing with two young kids in our own house and hau oli as they say it in Hawaii,” Alerico gave a broad smile.
“That means you are happy, I guess,” Juggernaut.
“You are right I see you are picking up Hawaiian slowly,”
“I am trying pomiaka.”
“Very good, I hoolu komo for luau at my home one day.”
Many Mahalos as long as you promise you won’t a kill a pig for luau.”
A luau ain’t luau without a roasted pig but for you I will roast a free-range chicken,” Alerico made a promise.