Monday, June 28, 2010
When I look at my photos of Moloka’i, I realize I missed a great opportunity. These photos are a reflection of some amazingly wonderful places with beautiful energy but they don’t reflect the true wonder of the island of Moloka'i.Moloka'i hasn't been completely tainted by modernization and the people of the island portray what I think of as the true spirit of "aloha."
I’m asking myself, “Why didn’t I take a photo of the “snack shop attendant” at the Moloka’i airport who wanted to take me where I needed to go when she got off duty. She thought I might be stranded after she found me sitting on the baggage rack five hours after I arrived. I arrived at 6:30 am. Cathy didn't arrive until 12:30 pm. Instead I amused myself with taking really bad pictures of myself after talking with my friend, Dee, for an hour or so.
Or why didn't I take a photo of Charity, the Alamo reservationist, who laughed the whole time she tried to sell us every extra package saying, “Gotta feed my kids.” When she put us in a car with a license plate of PYG324, I said that I couldn’t possibly drive a car with a license plate that says “pig,” and she assured me PYG stands for “Pretty Young Girls.”
Or the waiter at Auntie Ruby’s Diner, Bill Umi, in Kaunakakai who proudly announced that Aunty Ruby’s has just been open for a month and he didn't really work there... just helping out family (he owned the deli next door). Or the same waiter who invited us to a graduation luau on the weekend.
Or the two darling waitresses who served us dinner each evening at the hotel and our Moloka'i Mudslide in celebration of Cathy's birthday. All we had to do was navigate around the pool and climb 12 steps to our room afterward.
Or the young man in the local store who said he left Moloka'i for six years to live in Portland, Oregon but couldn’t stay away. Then he assured me there is a very special energy on Moloka’i.
Or the owner of the Cookhouse who sent us to see the Kauluapapa overlook. Kauluapapa is where Father Damien's leper colony was located. We wanted to take the mule ride down to visit it but the bridge was out.
I did take a photo of the young couple who came from Mau'i to sit on phallic rock. They told me that if you sit on this rock and pray, you would get pregnant. They were praying. I did not sit on the rock. Neither did Cathy.
Why didn't I take a picture of Hawai'ian Prime Time band or the wife of the drummer who sat down with us here on our last evening and talked story about the island. She looked to be thirty but was actually sixty. She told us the band never practices together. They all play with different people at different times. The Hotel Moloka'i provides different local entertainment nightly. We saw several members of Hawai'ian Prime Time performing with one or two other people on different nights of the week. On our first night people from the audience spontaneously gave hula performances.
And on Friday afternoons from 4-6 pm the kapuna (elders) of the island gather together here to play and sing.
It was at dinner one night when the young man about 30 of a tourist couple from Idaho told us that he was blown away by a local fisherman who took him out for a fishing excursion that morning. The fishing wasn’t very good so the fisherman took him back to his house and made breakfast for him and then said they would go fishing again the next day. When the young man replied that he couldn’t pay for a second fishing trip, the fisherman said “Oh, there’s no charge. The fishing wasn’t good today.”
Or the woman in the bookshop who filled us in on hikes to special places that many people don't know about.
And there is no way to describe the wonderful energy that exists on an island inhabited by only 8,100 people. Where no one drives much faster than 40 mph and where there is absolutely not one stop light on the entire island.
And then there are the people determined to save La'au Point from being exploited by the "big energy guys" who want to develop sacred land with two million dollar homes under the guise of promoting wind energy. When the "big guys" found out the local people were not going along, they pulled out of a thriving cattle ranching business and made a ghost town of Maunaloa Village. Still the locals refuse to give in. They seem to understand that their wealth lies in the sacredness of their land not in dollar bills.
And there is the spirit of the family who decided when the pineapple giants pulled out of Hawai'i to plant coffee trees in that space and now they have a thriving Moloka'i coffee business that supports many of the island's residents. When you visit Coffees of Hawai'i, you will meet many teenagers who are all cousins and family of some sort. They run back and forth between the gift shop and the coffee/food shop. If you take the time to talk with them for awhile, you will receive a special respect and honor for the person that you are - an aunty, an elder. They will actually say things like, "we love you guys." They will tell you about their own aunties who help them "be better people." It is quite an uplifting and amazing experience.
Yes, I missed the boat on this one by only taking pictures of scenery.
Did I say that Hotel Moloka'i is the only hotel on the island? It's located in Kaunakakai Town in the middle of the island on the eastern shore directly across from the island of Lana'i. The water is brown about a quarter of the way across the channel because there is a large barrier reef surrounding the island. At first it felt like sitting by the Ohio River but very soon that feeling went away. And when we saw a man silhouetted against the evening sky fishing with his nets and a flashlight just as the full-moon was rising, the color of the water no longer mattered.
There are only three sets of condos on island I believe. No tour buses. Some private van tours. Never saw more than three or four cars driving on the road at a time. People actually drove 20mph through school zones. Absolutely nothing commercial to do but some water activities like fishing, snorkeling, and hiking to waterfalls. Most activities/tours are only open Tuesday through Friday. Stores close at 2pm on Saturday and all day Sunday. Quite a concept!