At 20 years old, I was living on the beach and running my own restaurant in a beach town in Uruguay. I thought I was living ‘da life’ until I learned of Kauai. I didn’t have a real sense of the place but when I was called, something told me to go and within 24 hours and through a series of fortunate and unexpected events, I had a ticket in my hand. I wasn’t prepared really well for what I was about to get into but I think I adapted very quickly. I arrived in Lihue with $350 in my pocket, no English, 1 backpack and no idea where I was going. Thankfully, I did have a friend that was waiting to pick me up; my knowledge of maps and internet was kinda rough at the time so I would have been totally lost. He picked me up and we bought a tent and sleeping bag and we drove at night to the North Shore. Kauai is completely black at night so all I know is that we’re going north but I can’t see any of the island. I slept over at Anini Beach Park and when I woke up, I thought I was in Heaven. The same day we went to surf Waikoko’s and I got to see Hanalei for the first time.
I fell instantly in love with Hanalei and I didn’t want to leave, even though I didn’t know anyone and my friend was staying in Kapaa, I didn’t want to go there. I set my tent up at Pinetrees on Hanalei Bay from 12 at night until 5 in the morning. I expected that no one knew I was there but later I would learn that wasn’t true…it’s a small place and everybody knows everything about everyone in Hanalei. I spent my time with the surf and 2 Spanish-English dictionaries and 1 electronic one and that began the journey that helped me to get where I am now.