Champagne Ponds, Big Island Hawaii
We stopped at the hard, black lava rock road in my 4 wheel drive Tucson. While technically, my car was four wheel drive, it’s suspension was not high enough to handle most 4 wheel drive jobs on Big Island. After a few chunky clanks to the chassis, I backed out of the rough road. Our car was not going to make it.
“Well, we can always park in front of the gated community and walk in!” That was plan B. You see, there are only 2 ways into the Champagne Ponds in Puna District. The first way we tried was to go four wheeling through an unpaved road. Your standard Jeep rental will do the trick, just in case you plan to visit. I don’t recommend using standard SUV’s for the job. The other way into the pongs was through a gated community where you either need to be a guest of a community member or you need to park outside and walk ¾ of a mile through the town.
As my partner and I walked our 2 dogs through the neighborhood, we were amazed by how many houses had their very own lava rock ponds. The water table was so high that you could dig down 10-20 feet and discover a well spring filling your private pond. It looked like a scene out of Lord of the Rings, where elves had taken over the land and built pools for rejuvenation near their ornate houses. We didn’t mind the walk through the secluded village, and neither did the dogs.
Our puppy Pa’a bounced with each step, a sure sign that he was 7 months old. Our other dog Sasha, arrived a few days earlier after having knee surgery 2 months earlier. She flew in from New York back to Hawaii, drained from the travel and still recovering from her rebuilt knee. It had been a rough 5 months for our budding family as we sorted out Rabies boosters and orthopedic doctors from afar. But now, the turmoil was over. Sasha was home and our family felt complete.
We all needed to refresh our mana (life force), so swimming in the brackish water, a blending of cool spring water meeting the tides of the ocean, made for the perfect day trip. There was a lava rock platform where you can put your stuff before diving into the 2 smaller ponds connected with the very large pond. If you swam to the end of the, you discovered that it opens up to the ocean. Some people camped out in tents for the day on the beach side of the ponds. Other just grabbed their snorkel gear and swam through the pristine water that felt even cleaner than the ocean. The sea waves at the mouth of the pond became slight currents by the time they reached the body of the ponds, making it safe for kids to swim. Another couple brought two Pomeranian mixed dogs named Snookie and Poki who swam freely back and forth to their owners. Even Snookie (no relation to the Jersey Shore) felt safe in the pools.
As we fussed over how to best transport our recovering doggie into the healing waters with minimal strain to her knee, our conversation was interrupted by the splash of a meaty kur-plunk! Sasha had found her own way into the water and she peddled around like an expert seal. It was her way of saying, “Stop worrying already. I’m fine!”
I took it as a reminder to cut loose and enjoy! As I swam through the ponds towards the ocean, I had the unique experience of the saltier water pulling away the residual stress that I had felt from the difficult task of caring for Sasha from afar. I decompressed the worry and angst, like a thick cloud escaping from my body. These feelings had been contained in my chest and guts, a necessary containment so that my brain could handle all the moving pieces without the floods of emotions. But now it was time to let it all go. As I released the emotional clouds into the salt water, there was more room to breathe, more space inside. I felt relief, as a merciful bliss took over me. How often do we allow ourselves to dump out the stress so completely?
As I turned around and swam back towards the connected ponds, the cool streams from the fresh water jets tickled my belly. The rush of cool brought an invigoration to my body, as if the new space inside was filling up again with life giving mana. I felt renewed, quenched, and at ease. Most of all, I felt grateful to this natural spot for being an oasis of healing in my backyard. Luckily, you can come visit.
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