Healthy Hawaii Cafe Culture
Here’s a little story about the best cafe in Hawaii — how I integrate my personal healthy lifestyle choice as a vegan and how it all relates to synchronicity.
We woke up early, as usual, to get the worm as usual, but today was different, a different worm, not early for yoga, not early for meditation, though we did both shorter versions of both.
Today was special, we returned to an old friend, a local café or you might say, back to society, the local variety found in Puna of Hawaii.
Once a week we resupply our off-grid homestead at the local health food store, Island Naturals. This happens like clockwork, we don’t ever skip our weekly outing to town, for this is typically the only time we go out of the homestead. The time away makes our home even more precious and the duration spent at home makes our weekly outings a highlight for the week, and now we added something to it.
For the first time in months, we decided to go back to the Tin Shack Bakery + café.
“Why did we shift ourselves away from the café in the first place?” I asked Yoshika.
She replied that after the fasting process we switched from the cafe to instead spend time at the picnic tables in front of Island Naturals to match the change in diet, a more subtle diet requires a more gentle environment, a supportive environment, one that we discovered hanging out at the health food store in our little town, Pahoa. We did this weekly for several weeks, enjoying a healthy smoothie, sitting around a large public picnic table with locals talking with one another about local topics like lava flows or fruit trees or whatever gets us together. This continued for several weeks until our diet changed once again as our bodies transitioned from a radical water fast to include solid foods, allowing ourselves to enjoy a wider variety of inputs and this includes people too. Somehow, along with the exclusion of food, we also limited our exposure to society to people. Today we jumped back into the world with a renewed passion for it, reconnecting with the human race once again, not to forget who we are, or at least who we once were. What attracts you to other people, to watch people, to hang out with others? Have you noticed that you identify with others? What makes people watching such a popular pass-time?
The human mind mimics what it senses, especially what it sees and then you have it or at least you want it; the person, the stuff they have, or the way they live, a lifestyle that you want to live too. You want their story. That is why TV shows, movies and the like are so popular because we live vicariously through the protagonist.
Yoshika and I are reclusive but remain social in a few ways…
…this ritual became once again one of those ways we relate and identify.
Today we returned to the vibrant café society of the bakery known as Tin Shack to get a dose of identity and a dose freshly baked spelt bread; the proverbial ‘worm’ as they only bake two loves of the spelt variety twice a week. We want it and we got it and we ate it. Half there half later at home with homemade peanut butter and honey.
But before all this could happen we had an encounter on the road to the café.
On the way to Pahoa town, a school-bus was stopped up ahead of us on the road, but the funny thing parked itself in the middle of the highway facing us. It was on the double yellow lines in a 55 MPH zone on a curve. We were moving fast in the opposite direction and I figured the vehicle (I didn’t know it was a school bus) must be broke down there. Yoshika didn’t know what to think or do either so she did the safe thing, veering off to the right shoulder, slowing way down, driving around it as if she were avoiding a wounded and yet dangerous beast. The driver of the wounded bus, not driving now, scolded her with a powerful well practiced non-verbal assault, raising his hands, palms up, his shoulders cocked to his ears and shooting a stinky scowl in her direction as she passed way over to his left side about fifteen feet away from his bus. The kids in the bus joined in the attack by yelling something as kids do when they are in majority mode with the odds in their favor. Yoshika, a gentle soul, shocked by the aggressive attention put upon her driving, proceeded slowly with a heavy heart. After the fact we researched school buses in Hawaii and found that school buses on the island do this all the time to stop traffic in both directions, trying in vain to provide a safety zone for school kids boarding or debarking the vehicle. However, this system would seem to cause more chaos on the road resulting in more danger to the children than safety, especially on a highway on a curve with speeding vehicles in both directions which was the case here. If we had stopped suddenly who is to say that the vehicle behind us would not crash into our car or try to pass us, slamming into the bus or a kid walking in a false sense of security.
My assurances did nothing to stop Yoshika from feeling guilty and caused endless discussions on the topic between her and me only to dissipate with days passing by. Now, whenever a school bus passes by we play a game like ‘slug bug’ where the first one to call it out gets to slug the other. She is slowly starting to enjoy school buses again. Okay, enough of that, now back to our story.
We arrived at the café right when it opened, 6:00 AM,
avoiding the crowds, getting our favorite bread and getting our favorite table right next to a plug, powering our screens.
Post fast we both strongly resolved to eat vegan (no animal products) but we allowed some gluten (e.g. spelt bread) from time to time. It was the reverse before the fast.
We both found in ourselves and in our research online of others posting similar stories of significant experiences of synchronicity prevailing in life when fasting and even after fasting if they maintained a restricted calorie diet.
We personally experienced our life blooming perfectly in multiple ways which you can call synchronicity. This may have been due in part to limiting our desires and external activities so there was not much to be disappointed with not much ambition but there is more to it than discipline. When researching something or doing some creative work, it all came easily, effortless. When we checked blogs and other’s experiences with fasting we found a continuum of synchronicity ranging from those who eat very little reporting a surge of synchronicity in their life to the other side of the scale reporting crises or the bad luck of excessive habitual consumption of calories.
You might also say the less the friction (friction here means to heat or calories) the less the effort needed to be happy or satisfied with life notwithstanding ambition, goals, and projects. Life seems to work out better with a restricted diet as opposed to eating everything and anything around.
In the spirit of lifestyle, it is more gentle to give the animals a break from their historical slavish relations with humans and our food piety.
Before this process we totally avoided gluten but were not vegan, having eggs and fish from time to time, now we have gluten from time to time but no animal-derived products except for one, honey. We traded gluten for vegan. We could not seem to give it all up at once so we held onto the comfort and familiarity of bread.
Now, back at the café, there are three activities that we both enjoy:
1. People watching
2. Creative writing
3. Bread eating
So, first let’s talk about the people of the bakery in Pahoa. The population of Pahoa remains steady at around 1,000 with the average income being about 20K. This is below the national average but for good reason as this town is known as a hippie town, the kind of hippie that lives a fully satisfying life with less. This is not the ugly variety of less that is associated (usually mistakenly) with poverty, neither is it the longtime life looser kind of less inherent of the ignorant folks who don’t know any better than to always want more than they have but figure their luck would have them have less. They may act like criminals or gamblers, doing as little as possible to barely get by in life but always hoping for the opposite — the most, the best that material life has to offer with the least amount of discipline. That makes up their fantasy, fantasizing endlessly, wishing to be lucky and rich, saving up not money but hope, not practical or realistic but idealistic.
Nope, the people of Pahoa and the surrounding district of Puna are not poor in that way but are some of the richest people I have ever lived with, abundant in that one thing that the hippies did well, loving each other.
Tin Shack is a magnet for these people, gathering to talk story and celebrate each other’s contribution to the community.
There are several categories or groups that we have made a note of in this cafe. There are the conspiracy men, a group of middle-aged and older gentlemen gathered around a long table in the back, talking and sometimes arguing from early morning till afternoon, starting each sentence with “Did you know…” These guys get progressively louder as the cafe fills up. Yoshika and I sometimes have to wear a headset to dampen their enthusiastic utterances. But they remain charming and friendly to everyone. These conspiracy men (and an occasional woman) frequent this café for so long that seeing them sound their table must be pretty close to seeing them in their natural habitat at home I guess, sitting around in their living room with their legs up, watching TV, smoking a cigar — they always look happy and comfortable.
Then there is the laughing woman group, a group of thirty-something men and mostly women who start to show up mid-morning and gather around the attractive laughing woman like groupies around a rock star. She is if not the leader, the coordinator of this group. The laughing woman is so named by us by her characteristic reply to members’ stories, she noticeably adds a very loud and distinctive but natural laugh not unlike a baby hyena or sea-lion. There is always the strong scent of essential oils wafting out from their table so we guessed that this gathering is at least in part, a business relationship involving aromatherapy or the sale essential aroma oils.
As Pahoa is in Hawaii, a popular tourist spot, we cannot leave out the next group, the travelers. In this group, there are several sub-categories: the backpackers, the Europeans (dominated by the Germans for some reason), the Japanese, young newlyweds, middle-aged couples, and quite recently, the nouveau riche Chinese families. One demographic that doesn’t appear at this cafe is the tour bus tour. I guess the parking is an issue for these huge busses and these groups usually stick to the more touristy sites such as Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and to the Kona area on the other side of the Island.
My wife and I are both bloggers and enjoy our fresh spelt bread with coffee while writing.
This morning at the cafe was going to be a monumental test to see if we could possibly write something creative and sort of coherent while amidst the goings on of this hippie traveler cafe, a freer than conventional public gathering places, cooking up a chaotic soup of society with the fringe groups mixing with families with kids occasionally running around the tables in sport, the intellectuals, the travelers and even pets sitting quietly under their owners tables, all made possible by the free attitude of the owner (Mathew).
I am happy to conclude that this writing experiment was a success for both of us. I was able to write almost 1,000 words in the span of two hours while in the café, eating fantastic bread and sipping hot coffee.
In summary, the Tin Shack has a beautiful bakery in the heart of this most excellent world’s best café in the center of the Puna district on the Big Island of Hawaii. The food offerings range from vegan and gluten-free to omnivore, something for everyone here, mmm good. There is even love here. Just ask for it and you’ll get some. But the best quality of this establishment is the atmosphere and diversity of people populating this big space, including me, tourists, backpackers, old timers, regulars, groups, musicians, artists, lovers, families, school kids, dogs. Operated by a well-trained staff of bakers and baristas.