I've been trying to put together some pictures of my life here on Kaua'i - which is the Northernmost island in the Hawaiian Islands.....I've lived here for 13+ years now and I'm on another travel board a lot - but with some encouragement from someone.....I thought I'd post a little bit about my life here.
I'm trying to figure out how to post pictures from my Photobucket account...so that is my first try....a picture looking down into Kalalau Valley from up in Koke'e Park.
Okay - so I live on a very small island that is the most isolated land mass in the world and the closest island to me is O'ahu, which is about a half hour's plane ride from here - there is no other way to get to other islands - unless you have a boat!
I have been studying hula for 20 years and that is a big part of my life....here is a picture of a small group of us that were performing in our annual Ho'ike (show) for our Hula Halau (hula school) - we are dressed for hula kahiko - which is ancient hula, and therefore our costuming reflects that - the pa'u la'i (ti leaf skirts) and lei po'o (head leis) are made from the green ti-leaf and then dried - we can re-use them for a few months since the humidity here is so high that they don't become brittle and break. Also, we are wearing very minimal make-up, since again, hula kahiko is dance and oli (chanting) that was done prior to Western contact -
Sorry for all the info on hula - many of you probably know all of this, but I'm trying to do this thread for people who may not be familiar with or have traveled to Hawai'i. Hula is a very, very big part of my life and the people that I dance with become one big ohana (family) and especially after 20 years - we are all very close to one another. In this picture, I'm on the far right end...
I have my skirt hanging on my lanai (porch) and am carefully saving my lei po'o as well - they are not easy to make (at least for me!!) and so I want mine to last as long as possible!!
Okay, some more pictures here - this one is of my favorite "honor stands" - these are simply little stands in front of people's homes and they put out produce and flowers for sale - you simply pick out your items, put the money in the honor box and go - we have a lot of them and I think it speaks a lot about Kaua'i that you don't hear about people getting ripped off - most people here practice aloha....
And here is a close-up of the flowers - I can only imagine what these would cost on the mainland - but surely not $3.00 a bunch!
Okay - some more pictures from Kaua'i - this is an area that is a little west of where I live - there is a dirt road that goes up to an old Chinese cemetery and this is the view from there:
This is a view from the road going up to Koke'e Park - if you look in the distance you can see another island - this is the island of Ni'ihau - which is privately owned. It was purchased back in the mid 1800's and is still owned by the same family. The people who live there are all Native Hawaiian (kanaka ma'oli) and speak 'Olelo Hawai'i (Hawaiian language) as their first language....they also make amazingly beautiful shell leis from the delicate, tiny shells that they pick from the beaches of Ni'ihau - and they are a treasured heirloom if you are lucky enough to have one - so this is Ni'ihau - taken from the Waimea Canyon Road here on Kaua'i"
Tired of all these pics yet? Well, I promised pictures, so I hope that they are of some interest to folks out there!
I work as a narrator for the torchlighting ceremony at a big hotel here on Kaua'i - this picture shows my Kumu Hula (hula teacher, who also happens to be my best friend) seated with her ipu heke (gourd implement used with chanting for hula kahiko) - myself in the back and 3 girls from our halau (school) dancing.
This was actually for a special program, as normally there would be one dancer who would be out on a rock outcropping beyond the stage with the ocean behind her and above a waterfall - also with 2 kane (men) holding the torches and one who blows the pu (conch shell).
I love this picture - it is fairly close to where I live and this mule was just posing for me! The big mountain in the background is called Mt. Ha'upu and is a distinctive landmark here on the South Shore of Kaua'i.
Okay.....more pictures (do I hear any groans out there - lol!!)
This is sunrise out at a west side beach called Kekaha here - It is about an hour from where I live and each Sunday my husband (he is a marathon runner) runs distance runs out there and I walk along the ocean - beautiful sunrises every time!!
This is a flower called a night blooming cereus flower - they are cactus like and they bloom at night - when there are a lot of them, they are almost flourescent and glow in the dark - really! This was early in the a.m. before they close back up.
This, believe it or not, is a pointsettia bush - they grow really well here and unlike the little spindly pots of them you buy at Christmas....we have some homes with amazing full bushes of flowers!!
And this last picture for today is also from our hula Ho'ike this February - I'm including it because the girl that I am with is from Tokyo and is a very dear hula sister of mine - meaning she dances and trains with us here on Kaua'i as often as possible - and is trained in Japan by our Kumu Hula (hula teacher) - I love her very much and I was very worried about her well-being with the earthquake and tsunami in Japan - it took me 2 days, but I finally got thru to her and found out she is "OK, but I was scared!!!!!" - I'll bet! So this is she and I last month - I'm so happy she is safe and I send out prayers to the people of Japan....
Just as a side note - we were under a tsunami warning as well - and it was expected to hit Kaua'i first (of the islands) at 3:07am - we are just a little outside of the tsunami zone, so we did not evacuate - and of course Hawai'i got lucky, because while the State did have some damage, no one was injured or lost their life. So while it was scary - ultimately we are all fine and now thinking about all the people in Japan and praying for them...
So...pau (finished) for now....I hope that any of you enjoy these pictures and please ask if you'd like - any questions about life here in Hawai'i - I love it and would live no where else on earth - not even Paris - which I dearly love!!!
Sorry for all the info on hula - many of you probably know all of this, but I'm trying to do this thread for people who may not be familiar with or have traveled to Hawai'i.
Please -- more, more! I suspect many people are like me. Pretty much the only thing I know about Hawai'i is the scenery in "Lost".
One thing I think I know is that hula is more than "just" an entertaining dance form, correct? How did you become so involved with it, if I may ask? I'm not just being polite. Enquiring minds want to know! Click here, please
Besides the beauty of your photos, the glimpse of a culture that's so open & trusting & in love with beauty is absolutely wonderful. Thank you for this!
Mahalo for the kind words - I've been trying to put photos together for awhile to post on here - so - finally!
I used to live on the mainland - in the Reno-Lake Tahoe area of Nevada to be specific - I took up Hawaiian dance there thru a Parks Dept. program and then eventually danced with Polynesian "shows" at the casinos - but at the same time I was visiting Kaua'i quite a lot and becoming more interested in the culture...and I realized that the way I was learning hula was not the traditional or "right" way. I then met a Kumu Hula (hula teacher) here on Kaua'i and talked to her about the number of girls who wanted to really "learn" hula in Reno - so ultimately what she and I did was we created a "sister school" in Reno to her hula halau (school) here on Kaua'i. It became very successful and had (and still has) men, women and children - who not only danced in Reno, but did fund-raising to travel to Kaua'i and perform in the Ho'ike here once a year - I traveled to Kaua'i about 2 times a year myself and became more and more involved in the culture and the beauty of the place and people.
Fast forward a few years - and we ended up moving here - I still dance with the same hula halau that I did in Reno - just the Kaua'i "branch" of it....and I also study Hawaiian Language, history, etc. I volunteer at the Kaua'i Museum and do docent tours there as well.
The "beads" that we are wearing in the pictures - that is something called a kukui nut lei - the kukui nut was used in ancient Hawai'i for many things - the oil was used to create light and it had medicinal value as well. The nuts are commonly used in a lei such as you see in the pictures.
Glad you enjoyed the pictures - and happy to explain anything that you are curious about (well almost anything!).....
This is great, koloagirl, and absolutely not the least bit boring. In fact, I'm sure that all of us want to know more and more. You have already revealed a number of things about Hawaiian culture that I did not know.
I think that hwinpp may have confused koala with koloa.
Mahalo for all the lovely responses to the pictures I posted - and I'm more than happy to natter on about anything you have a question about also!!
We do have seasons, but they aren't very pronounced - our normal temp during the summertime is probably about 85 degrees farenheit and during the winter, it averages about 80 degrees farenheit most of the time - so about a 10-15 degree difference in temperature - which you DO feel after you've lived here awhile - sometimes at night during the winter months it can get down into the 60's - at which time we all start pulling on sweatpants, socks and sweatshirts - and cuddling under comforters at night! The visitors of course think we are crazy!! During the winter we get more rain, and many of the flowers that we are known for (plumeria aka frangapani) go dormant and the plumeria tree outside my window is just now beginning to get a couple of new shoots on its skeletal branches - spring is on its way!
I think the name "koloagirl" gets folks confuzzled - I live in an area called Koloa (or Po'ipu Beach area) here on the South Shore of Kaua'i - if you glance at it, it probably does look like "koala" - but no, never been to Oz I'm afraid! I'd love to though - I'm a huge animal nut and there are so many fascinating critters there!
This small island also has many micro-climates - the North Shore is the green and lush side, because it does get more rain than other parts of the island - the South Shore (where I live) is known for being the "sunny side" of the island and the West Side is the warmest and driest of all at any time of year. The West Side is also the least touristy part of the island and the most rural in character - I love it there and if I had my "druthers" - I'd live out there - but it is a long commute to Lihu'e (where my husband works) and to other parts of the island.
Just this morning I did my 2 mile walk along the ocean - by one of the big hotels there was a monk seal on the sand sleeping - the Hawaiian name for these seals is: Ilio-holo-i-ka-uaua which means "dog that runs in rough waters". They are one of the most endangered seal species in the world, listed as "critically endangered", with currently about 1100 only in the waters around Hawai'i and the extreme Northwestern Hawaiian islands (not populated)....it is always interesting to see them, because the security people immediately put up a rope fence around the seal - it is to keep a distance between the well meaning visitors and the seal. The seal needs to sleep and digest its food, if it is bothered and has to go back into the water sooner than it should - then it is a good target for its main predator - the shark. So...there are usually people with the "Monk Seal Program" who stand there and tell visitors about the seals so they understand why it is important to not bother them and not close off the seal's access to the ocean in particular. Here is a picture of one.......
Here are some beautiful lei (lei is plural or singular) made from the fruit of the pandanus or "Hala" tree:
This is "my" beach - it is actually just a little harbor down in this area that has a very small beach - I love the beach, but like my "personal space" and so enjoy going places where there aren't lots of people (no, I'm not antisocial - lol!) - it is called Kukui'ula Harbor and you'll find me here at least once a week:
- poi is and has been the staple food of the Hawaiian people for centuries - there are many variations on it, some people like it sour, some like it fresh, some put sugar in it, etc. etc. This is a very famous type of "pink" poi that comes from the taro (aka kalo) grown in the Waimea area here on Kaua'i - the corms (or root) of the taro are brought in and pounded with water to make the smooth, creamy poi - the top part of the taro is called the "huli" and is simply put back into the lo'i (taro patch) to re-grow. The Lo'i is similar to a rice paddy as it grows in water and here is a picture of one:
It is traditionally pounded with a stone implement called a "poi pounder" (duh!) on a long wooden board that you place a small amount of water on - here is a pic of some folks pounding poi:
I really like poi, I prefer it fresh and eat it with salty foods like lomi salmon, etc. - I think that so many visitors who don't like it maybe don't get to ever try the "real thing" in terms of fresh poi just pounded - it is so ono (tasty) and very good for you as well....here is how most tourists see it - at a lu'au in a plastic cup:
So, poi or no poi - each to their own - lol! A lot of the older folks here like it really sour - which means they let it sit until it gets limu growing on it (mold) - then they know it is just right! I can't quite handle that I'm afraid - give me the fresh stuff!
I have looked and looked at the picture of the pandanus lei, trying to figure out how they're made. Are the pieces carved and hollowed out from a larger piece, or does the fruit sort of grow that way?
The poi mill was a surprise. Everyone hears about poi in Hawai'i, but I didn't realize it was still that much of a staple. I guess it's like the ubiquitous mills in Mexico for grinding the dough for tortillas. Do people harvest and clean the taro roots from their own lo'i, then take it to the mill for grinding, or does the mill do all the obtaining, etc.?'
Koloagirl, you said that on the island of Ni'ihau, all of the people are native Hawaiin. Are there issues about the native population and its culture being diluted out of existence by all the waves of immigrants there over the centuries?
Greetings from Australia, Koloagirl (I nearly put Koalagirl )..lol Thanks for all the interesting pictures and descriptions, I have learned more about your land in the last half an hour than I ever did at school. Please keep the pictures coming...................
I really loved your photo of that magnificent blossom "Queen of the Night" - I have the plant or something similar but it has never had a flower as far as I know. Another surprise was to see your 'poi' plants which look exactly like our "amadumbe" which is eaten mostly by the Zulu nation but I love it! We eat it as you would eat a boiled potato but have to remove the hairy sticky skin first. I would like to see a photo of your Poi as it has been removed from the soil before cooking so I can compare it. Our Madumbi (English) is an edible tuber related to the Arum family and grown exactly like poi.
Post by cheerypeabrain on Mar 15, 2011 19:10:34 GMT
Gosh....splendid photos...it is soooo exotic compared to the murky old UK atm! The images are so beautiful! It looks like paradise...what sort of wildlife do you have apart from the monk seals? the taro leaves look a lot like the colocasia that I sometimes grow in the summer here....
The Queen of the Night bloom is amazing. The plants all look gorgeous...wonderful. I can totally understand you deciding to live there. ;D
I have learned more about your land in the last half an hour than I ever did at school. Please keep the pictures coming..
Frankly, I must agree with foreverman about this. In school in Mississippi, we learned "hula" and "poi" and "Waikiki" and that was about the extent of what was taught about Hawaii, and of course there was never even any description of poi other than it was some sort of mush that "those people" ate.
In later years, one learned a few tantalizing tidbits about Hawaiian culture, the days of the kingdom, but basically how great it was that the United States stepped in, put some clothing on those people and gave them a proper religion, and got things under control.
That just seems wrong, even if our current 21st century values accept it as inevitable in terms of "progress."
It is great that it is so far away from other places to be able to retain more of its culture than, say, Arkansas.
Post by frenchmystiquetour on Mar 15, 2011 19:56:57 GMT
Welcome to AnyPort and what a great first thread to make your introduction. It's obvious you've already figured out how to post from photobucket, something which I needed help with at first. This was just a wonderful thread you've made and it is full of fascinating and interesting information of which I was completely unaware of until now.
I think it's great how you've devoted yourself to really studying and understanding the indigenous culture where you live. I can relate to that since when I lived in the US I got interested in native American archaeology and culture in my area and ended up volunteering at our local museum and working with the remaining tribes in our area. Mostly I was involved in identifying and preserving their ancient ceremonial sites, which are scattered throughout the woods and are mostly unknown and unheard of until they are threatened by development. Keep up the good work and I'll look forward to your future threads. Thanks for posting this.
Just to let folks know that I might not be able to answer your questions today or tomorrow (today is full and tomorrow I have 2 tours I'm giving at the Kaua'i Museum) - but I'll definitely be back either tomorrow or the next day to post and answer any questions - I love Kaua'i and love talking about it - obviously! lol