Kauai Update April 22
I have been in Kauai since April 9th. It has been a rough start but things are getting better everyday. If you have paid attention to the news, you may have noticed an unheard of 30″ of rain in 24 hours. Actually, there were several days of incredible amounts of rain, but only the third day broke the records. See https:www.washingtonpost.com
I was in a tent in Anini Park during that time and I am still in Anini Park. I am a little more dry now. On the record breaking day, I took a nap after my meal and when I woke up, I felt the floor and it was like a water bed. Luckily, I had a Thermarest that someone let me borrow. It became like a raft. When I looked outside my tent, there was water surrounding it. My tent was caved-in because the wind ripped some of the straps to hold it down. We all moved to a higher point and away from the wind. By then, the worst had come.
Now things are drying out and I am trying to find a schedule. I am not doing a daily house by house pindapatta like before because I need to find reliable food. However, I do need to leave the park almost everyday and there is interaction with the locals multiple times per day. I love that part. Most people are curious and nice to me. I often give a blessing to those who donate food or rides and explain how it works and what the meaning is.
They help me sustain my life, maintain a physical appearance, be happy, and sustain my energy levels. These 4 things will come back to them through cause and effect (karma). My job is to bring awareness to this fact and remind them. My blessing is really nothing more than that.
I am well taken care of by the universe. One day, I wanted to go to the Thai restaurant in Kapaa but when I asked a coffee shop owner where the new location was she told me that they were closed for the next two weeks. It was a let down and I did not know how I would eat that day. That restaurant fed me in 2015. Now they are closed. About 30 seconds after hearing about the closure, a lady asked me if she could offer me some food. So far, I have been taken care of.
Tomorrow, I think I will press my luck by going for alms inside the park exclusively. The major food pantry was today and everybody is “rich” in food. Usually, it is the easiest to get food in the places where money is scarce.
Most people inside the park are very poor and that is why the KEO homeless outreach van stops by here on every Monday too. Hawaii has a huge homeless problem because housing is too expensive and it is easier to be homeless in Hawaii compared with New York. Many people choose this way or are comfortable with it. There are many laws and regulations preventing people from living this way. Otherwise, more people would certainly do it. It breaks the machine and normalcy and people don’t like it.
I knew some of this before coming here, but I did hope that a stable living situation would have been arranged like the last time. Anini Beach Park was a backup if a place was not found. That backup plan is in effect now.
Besides the rain, it has not been so bad, though. I get to sleep by the ocean, and my tent is only 40 feet from shore. There seems to be a nice group of people here too.
I have a bus card and can travel throughout the island. Everyday, there seems to be many questions thrown at me. Usually they are all of the same questions like “Are you a monk?”. Then it continues from there. When I tell them that I have not touched money in 17 years, a profound “Wow” comes out if their mouths. It is always the same word, “Wow.”. Then I tell them more rules and what I did before as a layperson and more “wows” come out.
It has been fun, but it is not very stable nor easy. Day to day, I just don’t know what I will do for food. However, I have not gone hungry and have been fed well so far.
Some things related to vinaya (monk rules) and the Suttas come out by living in the park. First, monks have often lived in the King’s parks during the time of the Buddha. Since Anini is a government owned park, it is almost the same. Second, monks often have to worry about protecting their bowl and robes from getting stolen. I often travel with my bowl and 3 robes, and almost everything I have. It is a rule for monks to do this if you cannot lock your door, even for a short time.
It is an interesting experience, but not something for all monks. Life is difficult, and monks are quite spoiled in Asia with “sure thing” food and lodging. Never the less, I look forward to the day when I can be spoiled again with a stable lodging and stable food too. Whether that be back in Myanmar or on Kauai is unknown.
I have a one way ticket and I am alone this time. I have the flexibility to stay if things work out. I can sustain this for a little while, but if things continue as they are, I will need to leave and go back to Myanmar. One can only stay in a park 60 days per year. We will see how things fly over the next few months.
Below are some pictures of my campsite.