All four were wearisome, weak and often rather wobbly. At 27 and 29 years old Wilbur and Ricky were far from the typical getaway horses real outlaws would ride. Yet, apparently that was how they were perceived by a certain couple of local ‘Punatics’. While that term is commonly used around the Big Island to describe the eccentric people of Puna, in the case of RJ and Sativa, I believe that ‘social terrorists’ is a more appropriate description. Wilbur and Ricky were hardworking, loyal and dependable equine friends whereas the other odd couple where more akin to the jackass than their more favoured cousin, the horse.
While my renegade existence was appreciated by most Puna residents it apparently proved too much for these two controversial individuals. An old Japanese proverb says “The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.” and I must have been that nail for RJ and Sativa. Throughout the whole of 2014 they savagely maligned me on the Puna Web Forum and other social media online outlets. Their vile rhetoric escalated daily and it was so painful I refused to even look at it but Dena monitored the verbal vomit and kept me informed. Here’s a picture of them featured as ‘fame-seekers’ exposed by ‘war on the people’ website and another of RJ. She was ejected from a public meeting for her behaviour- then arrested.
In late November these social terrorists posted that they had finally obtained conclusive proof that I was an undocumented illegal alien. They claimed they had passed the information on to local immigration officials and predicted that I would be arrested imminently. The threat of deportation from my home of thirty-three years was a worst case scenario that I was definitely not prepared to accept without resistance. I had slipped the immigration net several times before and was ready to try again.
Dena and I made an emergency decision for our whole family to leave Bellyacres immediately. We packed a few basic necessities and essentials and I went into hiding for the next four months. We initially left unannounced—under cover of darkness—seeking refuge at the nearby home of Lorn and Shakti, where I laid low in their temple for a week. We watched every car that drove by and I had an escape route planned across the rough lava flow if any immigration officers arrived. Luckily they did not.
Needing a more permanent hideout, I explained my situation to a rebel friend from Alaska, who lived on a really remote farm and just happened to be needing new caretakers. She graciously agreed for our whole family—including five kids, two horses, 25 chickens, and one cat—to move in. For the following two weeks, I remained secure behind two locked gates fixing up a tiny farm workers’ cottage and erecting tents for our kids to sleep in. Dena took on the mammoth task of completely packing up our entire family home at Bellyacres—with all of my possessions collected over three decades—and put most of them into boxes and bins. We celebrated Christmas 2014 with me constantly looking over my shoulder.
I hired a really good immigration lawyer. He told us that President Obama had previously issued an executive decision, making undocumented aliens without U.S. criminal charges a low priority for deportation. I felt a bit relieved knowing it was unlikely I would get deported unless my adversaries made such a fuss that the authorities felt compelled to act. Since they had been successful with this strategy once before with the D.L.N.R., I still felt very vulnerable and never stopped wondering if I’d get that dreaded knock on the door.
The validity of my residual anxiety was confirmed by a particularly funny but very scary experience that we endured soon after. Dena and I had the arduous task of moving our two horses from Bellyacres to our new home seven miles away and couldn’t find a trailer, so we decided to ride them. Soon after leaving Dena noticed suspicious behaviour in a VW bus which drove past us. We stopped for a while, to rest our noble steeds, and saw the same hippie bus parked nearby. We felt a bit like Bonny and Clyde on the run from vigilantes.
Continuing our journey along the picturesque coastal road we were overtaken by a police car which appeared to be pulling someone over for a traffic offence. When another police car pulled up behind us I realised this was not quite as I imagined. Out from the private car popped an animated Sativa, ‘special agent for social terrorism,’ holding a camera in one hand and waving a paper file in the other screaming, “That’s him, he’s an illegal alien and I can prove it! Arrest him!”
I froze in shock sitting abreast my trusty steed, then dismounted as one of the police officers approached. For the next forty minutes, he and his partner went back and forth between Sativa and me trying to figure out what the screaming lady was raving about and what to do about it. I stayed really calm and admitted she was correct about my status. I have to admit that I was anything but calm inside and was really worried that I was about to be taken into police custody and then deported.
In the meantime, Dena was figuring out how she could help and was able to send a message to Sam Keli’iho’omalu, my good friend and local Kingdom of Hawai’i government representative. After several phone calls, a scratching of heads, and a detailed reading of their onboard legal manual, the police officers eventually shocked me by explaining I was free to go. Dena and I mounted up again and rode off into the sunset. Well, not quite! Sativa was still frothing at the mouth and continuing her raging and protesting and the officers suspiciously followed us along the road in their patrol cars.
We dropped into the nearby Kalani Honua eco- resort. Once there, I left Dena and slipped into the jungle to hide, still uncertain about the intentions of the officers parked outside the entrance. Fortunately, Sam showed up and talked them into leaving and he then escorted us for miles along the road until we disappeared into our secret farm refuge. We had to endure a torrential rainstorm along the journey. The horses were exhausted, we were literally soaked to the skin and completely drained, but we were all safe and secure and free!
Later, my lawyer explained that, under Obama rules, the local police had no jurisdiction over immigration issues and, unless I committed a crime, they would not bother me again. This was good news from an understanding President, yet we still had some fears.
From that time forward Dena insisted that she drove me everywhere, worried that if I even got stopped for a traffic offence, I might end up in court and have my legal status questioned. We knew this had happened before, resulting in the mother of a friend of ours being deported. We also knew that our local social terrorists would be looking for me so we bought a new vehicle, I wore sunglasses a lot and only traveled at night or with my head tucked well down. It was no way to live even for a renegade!
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