We began our day lazily. Lots of sleeping and waking and sleeping. Ultimately around 10AM I decided that it was now or never. I rolled out of bed and started on the morning routine. We set out on the road across Maui. Various beaches peppered the roadside. A short way down the road something bulbous burst from the sea. Could it be? Perhaps…a whale? Hills crept in and out of view along the winding road. Occasional plumes of spray from the sea would taunt us.
It must be. Out in those waters great mammals were stirring. Signs spread at even intervals warned us “Only stop for emergencies.” They knew, someone had experienced one too many backups because of these great animals. Then another sign “1000 Feet to Scenic View.” Hot diggity. We hopped out of the car and made our way to the edge of the walkway. I aimed my camera and then…nothing.
Each time I would lower it they’d pop up as if to say “Suck it, Trebek!” But eventually I managed to snag a few. It’s tough to zoom in at these ranges because that minor angle you have off from the whale suddenly multiplies by 40 to 100 times and you are hundreds of feet off from your target. I’ll indulge you with the few I got that were worth viewing.
Eventually too many boats pulled up and the whales skidaddled. I can’t blame them, getting blindsided by a boat would be less than ideal. We drove down to the cultural center of Hawaii. Most folks here know it by its native tongue “Costco”. I’m not entirely sure how to pronounce it but they welcomed us with open arms. Largely open, we had to first verify our citizenship with their tribe. We grabbed supplies for dinners for the rest of the week. Cheaper than going out twice a day to eat and likely a bit healthier.
After that we snagged a small meal from their eatery. Sadly they were out of most condiments on their dispensers. I roughed it and ate a hotdog without mustard. You are shocked, I know, such things should never be brought upon an honest man but such is life sometimes.
On the way back I looked at the horses on the side of the road. I mentioned to Bill that modern horses in North America are not necessarily native. Interestingly they are nearly identical to horses that once roamed some ten thousand years ago but in between then and being reintroduced by the Spanish they died out completely. I’m not sure why and I’ll admit I didn’t read the post I’ve linked you to, this was just something that I’ve had bouncing around in the cranium. The bit of info that was new to me was them being so similar, effectively native if by nothing but DNA.
Another lesser known fact about Hawaii is that they produce their own clouds. As much as 90% of their clouds are produced by factories and moved around the islands by large fans. It’s weird that this little detail is left out of a lot of tourist guides. I suspect that is because it is a custom here and perhaps they think that bringing it stateside would diminish its cultural significance. I snagged a few pictures of both the cloud machine and the massive fans. The best are shown below.
Along the drive we also saw fields of sugar cane. The urge to hop out and nibble on them was fairly strong. However I realized that a few steps out of the car and I’d likely smack into the ground at 40 miles per hour. That’s less than ideal for having a good day and then I’d end up not having any teeth to nibble with. Only a peasant would gum at sugar cane.
On the way back we caught rare sight of a whale breaching down the highway.
More seriously down the road near beaches just before our stop we saw an actual whale breach completely. It was exciting and naturally at a moment that we were moving at high speeds and nobody had a camera. Whales are jerks like that. I saw it though and am glad that I did. It was a nice surprise and was one of the few times in my life that I’ve seen whales somewhere other than an aquarium.
After we got ready we headed out for our Luau. Which apparently I just spelled correctly, neat, wasn’t expecting that. Parking worked out in our favor as nobody noticed a choice spot at the end of a long line of cars. We were given our secret passcode, which I’ve already forgotten, and made our way into the inner sanctum. Enough tourists to sink a cruise ship rambled about in every direction. I wonder sometime what a single H2O molecule feels like when its dropped into a bucket of water. Does it feel like an individual or a member of a long chain. I was simultaneously a tourist amid a sea of tourists and yet my own person. I liked to think I was less Jerky than a tourist at the very least.
Alcohol flowed like lava from a mountain. They even called some of it Lava flows. I had a virgin drink and then a not-so-virgin drink. The latter started out as a “Oh nice, tasty.” And quickly it became “Sweet Jesus my tongue is melting.” I didn’t finish it, the odds that I’m totally sloshed right now are slim and none. The sun set in the distance and we snagged a few pictures before the unearthing of the zombie pig.
People packed around the pig pit like sardines in a can. Any air that existed between us was quickly filled by people with more mass than manners. Those that were sitting and out of the way made sure to stand to be as inconvenient to the people around them as possible. This is, I think, a problem with giving tourists alcohol. Two (funny) guys scooped away the dirt and flipped up a tarp to reveal the tattered flesh of the pig. A plume of ash washed the faces of the people in front of us. It was sweet porky karma for them all creating a flesh wall for no discernible reason.
Once the pig had been beaten into submission the wall dispersed. Eventually we moved back to our seat and watched the history of Hawaii. This was for me intriguing because there was a lot of subtle messaging in the play. It began with the story of their people and the arrival at the island. Everything seemed rather jolly, the outfits were what you think of when you think Hawaii, and the dances were all familiar to me. I get a bit of PTSD when I see people doing Hula. As a kid I had to watch dozens upon dozens of Hula performances. Every year I was hula’d to the edge of madness.
But I digress. The outfits were diverse and fascinating. They tend to highlight the human body and allow for lots of movement and flare. It was when they got to the portion of their history when the Christian missionaries showed up that things got interesting. They went from grass skirts and coconuts to one piece outfits that looked a bit like sleeping gowns. The men went form grass skirts with nothing beneath them to full length pants beneath their skirts. When the women were no longer wearing one pieces their outfits looked like men’s dress suits on the tops.
They talked about how Hula itself and many of their culture was banned by the missionaries for a long time. Until one of their Kings (or was it a Queen?) brought it back. This story fascinated and, to some degree, saddened me. Monotheistic beliefs have a remarkably consistent habit of entering into areas and dismembering the cultures that were once there. They don’t assimilate the gods of those areas into their beliefs as polytheistic cultures tend to do, instead they pick and pull and outlaw all things. Abuse being the alternative to complete compliance.
The story of the sisters they told was beautiful. Just as stories of Greek Gods, Native American Gods, Central American Gods, and so on. All these stories are beautiful, both with happiness and sadness. When you ask yourself “Why does X happen?” the answer ends up being interesting with a fun backstory of battling brothers, jealous sisters, or some long tale of betrayal between lovers.
When you ask “Why does X happen?” with a monotheistic religion like Christianity or Islam, the answer is always “God works in mysterious ways.” For me that’s terribly boring.
Once they abolished the outlawing of their culture in Hawaii the outfits once again become colorful, diverse, and varying in levels of exposure. Its a story of highs and lows, and one that can be found familiar all across the world. Colonialism and monotheism caused much strife across the world and did much to strip away diversity whenever possible. Disappointing but a piece of our history that we must never forget. As even now you will find this same pattern happening in the states and certainly in central Africa and the middle east. Heck its actually fairly common in the middle of the US too…
What is it with landlocked areas and oppression? *Looks around* Perhaps Neptune is protecting the coasts.
I would be remiss if I didn’t post pictures of what I ate at the Luau. This is one of those cliches that I can’t escape.
My final thought for today is that I spent a couple hours next to the leader of Team Rocket. That’s pretty cool. Keep on keeping on Giovanni.