Trying my best to live ‘pono’ though not always succeeding

‘Big’ is a relative term. For confirmation of that you need only ask a new bride on her wedding night.

Now, back to my summer vacation. Sorry, but you might have to endure a couple of episodes of this. But, I promise I won’t invite you over for a beer and then haul out the slides.

Anyway, this past Friday we returned from two weeks on the ‘Big Island’ of Hawaii. It is the island that is actually known as ‘Hawaii’. For the enlightenment of those who have never been down that way where the palm trees sway, the island that contains Honolulu and Waikiki and all the clichéd images of the Hawaiian Islands, is Oahu. That’s the place first-timers go to, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Waikiki is fun, but it’s not really Hawaii any more than Hollywood is California, or Vegas Nevada.

The Big Island is big (relatively). It’s only about the size of Delaware, but it is twice as large as all the other Hawaiian islands combined. Driving around it you cover about 300 miles on not the absolutely best highways in the world. But, you’re in the middle of the Pacific Ocean so you shouldn’t be too demanding.

And I must say, even though I often wax boringly about my love of the US’s 50th state, I don’t ‘do’ Hawaii in the conventional way. That’s because there is so much more to the place than mai-tais on the lanai and obnoxious Speedo-clad and paunchy sweaty German tourists. Anyway, since Don Ho passed on a lot of the charm has been lost.

When I say I do not do Hawaii in the conventional touristy way, I’m not suggesting I’m better than those that do, it’s just that so many of the elements of tourism don’t appeal to me. I regard myself more as a ‘traveler’ than a tourist, and there’s a big difference. I want the ‘feel’ of the genuine place. In that we succeeded to a degree. More about that in a later blog.

In consequence, I have never gone to a luau. What could be appealing about a bunch of strangers sitting around stuffing their already fat guts with pork and poi (yuck) and drinking themselves silly? While they’re in agony the next morning, I’m off to the beach. I’ve never gone to the Polynesian Cultural Centre on Oahu with its heavily Mormon view of things that should be left in the hands of Hawaiians themselves. It’s ‘their’ culture, for Christ’s sake. And I’ve never seen a hula in Hawaii because the true hula was defiled and cleaned up by the missionaries. On Rarotonga they do the real thing. It’s dirty, but great fun.

When I’m there I try to follow the motto: Live pono!, which roughly translates to ‘go with the flow and live a good life.’ I like it.

So, this time around we went to that aforementioned Big Island. I had not been there since the late 1980s and the place had changed quite a bit. The old waterfront in Kailua-Kona was largely unchained, but what has grown up beyond the original village of my recall is a great mass of mauka growth. Everything on the Big Island is going up the hills towards the Maunas (Kea and Loa) or Hulali. So, now there’s Costco and Wal-Mart and all the other trappings of so-called civilization. But, such things are part of us, and I must admit, with no shame, we went to Costco to buy some cheap stuff in a relatively expensive place.

In subsequent postings I’ll bore you a bit more about our trip, but I cannot leave without mentioning the turtles. The Big Island abounds with lovely sea turtles. Charming creatures (hard to believe they’re reptilian) that get right in there with the swimmers, showing no fear whatsoever. It’s almost like they know that to molest one of them is virtually a capital offence in Hawaii, so don’t even dream of it, haole assholes. Only Hawaiians can touch them and we watched one of whom delicately cleaned the algae off the back of turtle that had swum up beside him.

Such little episodes of life give a body hope in a fraught society. Kill one another if you must, but leave the turtles alone. They’ve been around about 100 times as long as wretched humanity has.


10 responses to “Trying my best to live ‘pono’ though not always succeeding

  1. I think that’s a wonderful motto: Kill yourselves but leave the turtles alone. All things considered, pretty much all of nature would be better off if we killed ourselves off.

  2. I’m very jealous. I thought you were on Kauai, your favourite Island. But Hawaii is wonderful too. I’ve never seen a turtle there, I must not have gone at the right time. Love your shirt!


  3. Jane, how lovely to hear from you. We debated going to Kauai, but we decided to change destinations — change being as good as a rest. We loved the Big Island and want to go back to explore some more. Day after we got home we ran into an old friend in Costco, told her about our trip and she told us that she has a house there and would be happy to have us use it the next time we’re down. Come on, twist my arm.

  4. Oh, the colours in those photos! There is absolutely nothing in the world as blue as tropical oceans and skies! And yes, sea turtles are glorious creatures. DD, at the age of 7, cried when she couldn’t a) ride one, or b) bring one home. But it’s okay now. She’s had many hamsters since then.

  5. I understand DD’s motivation perfectly. I wanted to bring one home, too. Put it in our fish pond. It’d be a bit cramped but I know the turtle would cope.

  6. I’ve always been that way. I got it from Dad. He’d befriend a local and say, “Where do you go?” I like discovering the real place. Sometimes it can be quite gritty like a bar we went to in the Bahamas, but mostly it’s all good. Welcome back and I look forward to more stories.

  7. It all sounds so lovely. I love the fact that the turtles have ‘right of way’ much like the cows on Norfolk. (Not that I have been there, but my mother visited, and loved it all)

  8. I really, really must see Hawaii some day.

    And now I really must see the real hula as well. 🙂


  9. And Pearl, if you do get to see a real hula it’s better that you have a traveling companion with whom you are intimately involved because temperatures and libidos can rise, which is the intention.

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