Couple living off-grid for 50 years don’t have access to TVs or Google

June 8, 2024
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A couple living off-grid have revealed how they’ve spent half a century living in nature in the jungle, far from the trappings of modern life.

For some 50 years, nature-lovers Dano and Robin have made their home in Hawaii’s Waialua Valley, Molokai, some 20 miles from the nearest settlement. With no television or electronics in sight for over three decades, they proudly claim to “avoid Google as much as possible”.

The couple are self-reliant, finding food from hunting and gathering local plants. Anything they need is carted back to their wooden plank house by wheelbarrow. They even raised their children in the wilderness.

Their lives were recently documented by Peter Santenello, a well-known filmmaker and travel enthusiast with almost three million YouTube subscribers, who was given access to the couple’s daily routine. Dano spoke candidly to Peter about their unconventional lifestyle, saying: “I didn’t realise what an out-of-the-box existence but there will be times where I look at Robin and I go ‘I haven’t seen another human being in two weeks’ and I don’t even notice it.”

Dano is originally from San Diego and met Robin during his a visit to Hawaii. Robin was already embracing the off-grid lifestyle with her then two-year-old daughter from a previous relationship.

Dano was initially intrigued by Robin’s goats and milk supply. “I would come over and say, ‘Robin could I get some goat milk for my coffee please?’ That was my in,” Dano recalled.

The pair have since built a life together, raising four daughters who, despite being mocked at school for their unusual way of life, have thrived. “Some of them got teased, and sometimes they were the only bond in their class,” Robin admitted.

The children have learned practical skills which they now use in their adult lives. One owns a property in New Zealand, another lives in a Portland city apartment, yet both are adept at plumbing and gardening.

Dano is often asked about their lifestyle, to which he responds: “We work smart and not hard. We help each other along the way.”

The couple also avoid conventional medicine and prefer herbal remedies. They even cultivate a ‘toothache plant’.

While they eat healthily, they don’t shy away from indulgences like homegrown chocolate, welcoming treats without restriction. “It isn’t about what you don’t, it’s about doing the good stuff,” added Dano.

He explained the pair also sell a lot of food which grows around their home to people in Molokaui. However, he finds it “absurd” that fruit and vegetables are still imported as “the valley could feed the whole island”. “Avocados are more important than TV, trust me,” he added.

When asked about the last time he indulged in some pop culture and television, Dano shared: “We happened to go over to Maui and we heard something about this guy called Michael Jackson. And then we were watching TV at a friend’s house and this comedy show comes on – it was a little skit and it goes ’15th anniversary of Saturday Night Live’ – I’d never even heard of Saturday Night Live.”

He likened his life, especially during the 1980s, to “living on Mars”.

After Santenello’s video was posted on YouTube, hundreds commented with their thoughts. One person described their way of life as “goals”, while another said it is “amazing.”

“Wow that could be my family’s dream come true,” wrote another. Another admitted: “The world is getting crazier by the day and I feel at 60 I know nothing on how to really feed my family and survive if we had to.”

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