Pahoa: Where We Live

by Nora on November 9, 2007

This is the ferro cement yurt where we live, about 11 miles outside of the town of Pahoa. It is approximately 20ft in diameter, which may seem small, but truly (and especially with all the space on the property, which you’ll soon learn about) it’s all we need!

The front door stays open all the time. Such is the world where there are no security issues, cold weather patterns (at least not Canada cold), or close nosy neighbours to require a closed door. We simply pull the curtain at night, which tells any potential guests that we are sleeping. The skylight leaks when it rains, but a strategically placed bucket or two can take care of that, and besides – we have a skylight! It’s worth it.

The kitchen window isn’t really a window – it’s just a hole! It provides a great cross-breeze with the open door, and keeps our little home cool. Our stove is powered by propane, which of course isn’t sustainable by the property, so we try to limit the amount of use. It forces us to consider exactly how we cook our meals, and what to cook. Which, for the gourmet food enthusiasts in us, is a fun challenge!

The floors are cement, which is great to keep clean with a broom. There are lots of bugs, and even a few rodents kicking around, but we tend to keep our place so clean that they don’t visit. Besides which, we have visiting cats and geckos that can take care of any undesirables for us!

We do indeed have a refrigerator, but since power is something of a luxury and not to be taken for granted around here, it is only powered for about two hours a day. The rest of the day we make sure we limit opening and closing it so things can stay cold. No more time spent with the fridge door open pondering what to eat! The rest of our food is kept either hanging in baskets (fruit), or in a closed container (grains, dry goods).

This is our beautiful outdoor shower. We have to watch our footing a bit on the slippery lava rocks, but it is a wonderful experience to shower outdoors, with a view of the ocean at our doorstep. We typically shower at night, so if it was a sunny day we’ll have some warm water from the black pipes, but often it’s a refreshingly cold shower. We have the option of walking a short distance to another outdoor shower that has solar-powered hot water, but we haven’t found it necessary. We actually appreciate the invigorating experience of the cool water!

This is the least savoury part of our living experience – the toilets! We have one bucket for pee, and one for poop. We recycle each of them in different ways, and I still find the process somewhat icky. And no toilet paper – we have other means for that too, be they certain types of leaves, and/or a bidet style experience with a water bottle. It’s ultimately cleaner – just a new process to get used to.

The down side to where we chose to locate our toilets is that if it rains, we get wet! And so far we’ve gotten a ton of rain. We could bring them inside, but with the small size of the yurt we aren’t too keen on the smells we’d have to live with. The bright side of all this is that at least when the weather is nice, you have a great (even inspiring) view!

We’ve already put some work in to make the yurt feel like home, and it is very cozy. We don’t worry about cabin fever, since there are many different places to spend time, even when it’s rainy.

Initially I found the accommodations a little too rustic, but even after a few short days we’ve come to make it home, and if viewed as a camping experience, it’s downright luxurious.

The other novelty which we’ve found to be immensely enjoyable is the ability to be outside naked! The outdoor showering experience, and even the general privacy we have is so wonderful that we can be “au natural” all we want. Initially it was odd, and we felt the need to cover up even on our way to and from the shower. But eventually we realized that we have total privacy on our little patch of Idaho (I mean, Hawaii), and have come to love it.

Last night I was walking around the property, and saw a flash of light from the lighthouse nearby. I immediately reverted to the city girl in me, and thought there was somebody coming. But I knew where everybody who lives on the property was, and quickly realized that theress nobody around. Nobody. It is different – and wonderful!

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Martin Dimitrov February 19, 2008 at 1:32 am

Hey, I was really curious to see the pictures … but they are not showing up properly on the page. Could you maybe fix the link ?


2 Nora Dunn February 19, 2008 at 4:57 am

Hi Martin,
I’m not sure what to say – I see the pictures, and I checked on a different computer to see if they are being read. Is is possible that there’s something up with your computer?
-From a moderately tech-savvy blogger….


3 Martin Dimitrov February 19, 2008 at 6:16 am

I see them now – from a different computer. Maybe something is wrong with mine. Sorry about that.


4 Samantha May 21, 2009 at 6:56 am

Hawaii has been one of my favorite tourist destination every summer – so fascinating and amazing!


5 Karl January 27, 2010 at 4:28 pm

How much does a concrete yurt like this cost to make? Also could you tell me where you found the resources or knowledge to build it… I am in! 🙂


6 theprofessionalhobo January 28, 2010 at 8:34 am

@Karl – Good question! We didn’t build it; the fellow who owns the property did. And he lugged each bag of concrete in on his back, mixed it himself, and built the thing on his own. Apparently it was quite a back-breaking job. Some recent repairs have also been made to it to fix the leaks that were rampant around the skylight. (The last rainstorm we had there saw 17 different buckets under the various drips)!


7 Andrea Palacio April 4, 2013 at 9:46 pm

Great article!


8 theprofessionalhobo April 5, 2013 at 9:08 am



9 Libby Walkup February 15, 2014 at 3:09 pm

I desperately want to be naked outside! That sounds weird. I’m not a nudist, though I respect the culture from what I know about it, a limited number of people have yet seen me naked and it’s something I still keep personal, but I’m a staunch advocate of hanging out naked when one feels like it and being comfortable in your skin and also desexualizing yourself at minimum for yourself (maybe this primarily applies to women and probably primarily applies to United States Americans as in my travels it seems people in other countries don’t quite have the problems with nakedness and comfort our Puritan forefathers brought with them). Anywho! Long rant over, I haven’t been naked outside since I was a wee child and it’s something I want in my life even if temporarily. Can I put out feelings for accommodation with outdoor showers? I’m happy to work in exchange!


10 theprofessionalhobo February 16, 2014 at 12:44 pm

Hi Libby,
LOL – I’m imagining the classified ad you might create:
“Eager volunteer, willing to work in trade for accommodation somewhere with an outdoor shower and enough privacy to be naked outside….” 🙂


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