Within the box of following “the law” I propose a little conversation about “intoxication” in a Hawaiian way.
This has nothing to do with tiki drinks or mai tais. I’m finding that those spirits are truly making me feel toxic these days when even a drink or two causes me to wake up with a slight headache and dehydration. In fact, I’m shocked to announce that I had zero fruity, umbrella-laden drink during this whole jaunt to Hawaii! I did try a locally brewed Hawaiian beer–very tasty. I had hoped to visit and interview a representative from a Hawaiian Winery near the volcano, but wasn’t able to fit it into my schedule.
How does a person put a little zing in their trip while simultaneously still feeling healthy?
In Hawaii I hit the jackpot on natural highs. I had my first authentic Kava Kava experience and rediscovered raw cacao (the predecessor of our beloved chocolate) of the Hawaiian sort. Of course, the vistas of the Hawaiian land and sea are innately intoxicating–not to mention the unexplainable magic in the air. Together, the landscape and these fruits of nature blend together for a very calm and “groovy” travel experience.
After a quick look in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary I find 3 main definitions of intoxication:
1 : an abnormal state that is essentially a poisoning <carbon monoxide intoxication>
2 a : the condition of being drunk : inebriation b : a strong excitement or elation
This little entry hovers somewhere between 2a and 2b. There has been some debate over Kava Kava causing liver damage. But thousands of years of Polynesian Kava use forces me to question that a bit. Everything in moderation–right? So, again, I believe Kava and Cacao offer a mild inebriation (2a) and a definite, palpable elation (2b).
Kava Kava is the root of a plant native to the western Pacific that is ground up and made into a nasty-tasting grainy tea that induces some major relaxation and elation without disrupting mental clarity. It’s also touted to help with social anxiety. I had taken supplements in the past that included Kava Kava, but had never had the “tea” expereince which is the traditional way that Kava is enjoyed in the South Pacific Islands. Fiji seems to be best known for it’s use of Kava, but its use in Hawaii has really taken off in the last 50 years. Check out this video we made about traditional kava ceremony preparation.
The first time I had Kava Kava in Hawaii was in the form of a chocolate bar that we bought at the local health food store. One evening, John and I decided to eat the Kava-laced chocolate bar, more for the chocolate than anything else. In the morning we were both completely amazed at how well we slept. It was truly a noteworthy sleep that had previously been uncomfortable on an air mattress I had to endure for 6 weeks. (but thank-you, air mattress, you are better than floor!)
After that dreamy night’s sleep I was on a quest for more Kava. We went to the Kava Bar in Hilo and opted for a tasty Kava brownie in lieu of the expensive tea. It was good. It did the trick. But I still wanted to experience a Kava Kava ceremony. Typical for this trip, I ran into a Kava expert the next day. We were at the Hilo Farmer’s Market and met Adil and his wife of Paradise Kava. They sold us an organic ground Kava Kava root that made for a potent tea. They were also willing to co-create a video with us about Kava Kava. We made arrangements to meet the following weekend for a film shoot and a some Kava debauchery. John and I were thinking that one bowl of Kava tea was appropriate and were surprised when Adil kept replenishing our bowl 3 and 4 times over. Needless to say, we made fast friends that day with no social anxieties.
Later that night, alone and without our new friends, John and I got into a couples’ spat. It was the calmest argument I have ever been involved with! I was angry but couldn’t muster up the energy to express it. Thank you, Kava. You are a great mediator!
With our Kava fix taken care of, I now was looking for a chocolate expert. I thought I found it with a young traveling girl who said she made “Shamanic” chocolate. I didn’t know exactly what her take on that was, but it sounded appealing to me. She was not able to arrange an interview with me. Luckily, the next day I found a true chocolate man.
Meet Tom Sharkman. He is pretty well known in Hilo for his constant presence at the Hilo Farmer’s Market selling chocolate, raw cacao, coffee, and macadamia nuts from his local farm. He also owns a little coffee shop called Shark’s Coffee.
Cacao comes from the seeds of a pod that are dried and ground to make the basis for chocolate. Tom was super cool and gave us a little tour of his farm in the backyard of his home. I have never seen such beautiful cacao pods. Some were yellow, green, and red and the resulting chocolate was pure and delicious. If you’re interested in cacao farming or chocolate making Tom might have the opportunity for you. You can arrange to learn some of these processes as part of your tour. Our interview with Tom will be posted soon.
Cacao (and chocolate) is full of two major stimulants, caffeine and theobromine. Many consider raw chocolate a superfood, chocked full of vitamins and antioxidants. Some consider it an aphrodesiac. Regardless of its chemical logistics, any cacao or its derivative is tasty and makes me feel good. Kava Kava makes me feel even better despite its uber-earthy flavor. In the end, my Hawaiian trip was a little more euphoric and smooth thanks two these two plants from the Gods.