Big Island Small Mentality

Posted on April 13, 2015


Since landing in Hilo I have relied on the kindness of strangers to take me places by car. No one really explained to me that in order to get the most out of the trip I should have my own wheels. There is a lot to see and getting across the island is impossibly difficult because public transport is non existent!

I am not a scaredy cat. But driving in America on the wrong side of the road, navigating and then doing lots of hiking or any other activity is a bit too much even for a lone traveller full of beans like me. So against my instinct I took local advice and used cabs and wait for it…. hitch-hiked. In Hawaii this is the way foreigners without a car move around. That goes against all my safety rules. But when in Rome….

The first time I hitch-hiked was after a seven mile walk and I was knackered and sweating buckets. At a push I had given myself enough time to get back to the retreat before dark, two hours, but I really didn’t want to have walk for another two hours. So I stuck my right hand out with my first clenched and thumb out.

Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh. That was the sound of cars passing me by. Yep, for 20 minutes not a soul stopped. 

“Uhmmmm. This is not so straight forward,” I thought to myself stepping up my pace homeward.

Then a dirty grey pickup truck pulled over and a girl in a baseball cap wound down the window and leaned out.

“Wanna a lift darlin’?!” came her drawl.

“Sure thanks!” I said climbing in and slamming the door.

Inside on the backseat was a plastic box filled with barbecue chicken and an ice cooler with beers sat on the floor. The driver had one bottle in her hand and another girl next to her was swigging hard on another.

“What y’all doing walking down this road? You know it’s not safe, people get knocked down. If you were a man we’d have driven past!”. This was Mellia, the girlfriend of the driver.

“So hitching a lift with two lesbians who are drink-driving is safer or perhaps you’re among those idiot drivers tha end up making pedestrians targets?!” I mused to myself.

“Where you headed?” inquired Lacey – the driver. Who in fairness was going so slow I may as well have walked.

“Oh right close to the Kanalini Lodge,” I replied.

“Wanna chicken wing?” asked Mellia, grabbing the box with her chubby digit and tearing a fleshy piece of meat off the bone, chewing loudly, mouth open.

“Errrr no, but thanks,” I said looking her squarely in the eye as she craned her neck to speak to me.

“Babygirl did you hear that? She done walk all this way. Are you craaazy? We gone drop you wherever you like darlin’. A nice young girl like you needs to stay safe,” said Lacey

“Young girl?” I smirked to myself. God love my mother’s good genes!!

15 minutes later I was out the door waving goodbye, watching them making out in the front seat before driving off.

The other ways I have travelled is my cab. Cruzin’ Taxis have some of the most extraordinary drivers I have experienced.

On one journey the driver couldn’t get his head around how I spoke perfect English because I was Indian. It confused the hell out of him despite me telling me him I was born in the UK.

“But you speak so clearly, it’s like you are English,” he whined.

“That’s because I am English, you moron!!!” I said to myself.

Driver number two bitched the entire journey about how fat his girlfriend was and how much she was costing him in food and in air con because all she does is sweat.

“You know, she used to be skinny. But then she just started eating and it never stopped. I’m 60 and she’s 37, and she just loves to eat. At night I get real cold because she has to have the fan blowing on us all the time. Don’t ever go out with a fat person,” he lectured me.

Driver number three spoke inappropriately about a Russian woman on the island who was clearly married to a wealthy man because she dropped $600 USD in one journey around the island and had his son, who also drives a cab wait for her as well. 

“She’s real attrak-tive. You know that kinda figure that makes you look back when you drive past. She’s gotta be bored, cause all she does is drive around the island or sum-thang,” he said. “Do you mind if we pick up another fare, I’ll give you a discount, it’s on the way so how about I charge you just 20 bucks instead of 40?”

“Sure,” I replied.

We stopped at the supermarket, Target. In got an uncle and his nephew and a whole heap of shopping.

“Hey fellas you heard about this Russian woman on the island……??”

And driver number three who had his overweight skanky looking girlfriend in the passenger seat decided to talk very loudly at a poor Filipino woman calling for a cab.

One hand on the wheel and the other on a mobile phone he yelled louder because she had an accent.


When I return to the Big Island I will be hiring a car.