“An den da hale go ‘poof’.”
That’s right. Yesterday the grumbling goddess Pele claimed her first domicile victim on the Big Island of Hawaii. Kilauea has been cranky for a number of months this time around and the lava flow has slowly – ever so slowly – been encroaching on a few residences in the remote area of Puna.
The Kilauea eruptions have been going on for a couple of decades now, so nothing new about this. And, of course, the entire island sits atop a number of huge volcanoes like Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, Hulalai. In fact all of the Hawaiian islands are just volcanoes thrust into very deep Pacific waters.
We found it a bit amusing before our trip there in August/September when people asked us if we were worried about the volcano. In a word, “no”. For one thing the lava flow is nothing new, as stated, and also because Puna is a goodly hike from where we were staying at Kailua. Picture a road trip from the Comox Valley to Victoria, or Vancouver to Seattle and that will give you an idea of the distance away the broiling lava was from us.
I think the trepidation some have about rampaging Kilauea is that the think of volcanoes like Mt. St. Helen’s that blow their tops with devastating consequences. Well, Hawaiian volcanoes can also evoke devastating consequences and destroy homes and decimate the environment – you can see the black basalt scars from earlier eruptions all over the island – but they don’t blow up like our ‘ring-of-fire’ ones. Consequently, you can pay a social call with impunity.
We didn’t bother going down this time as we had been there two years ago, and I’d visited a couple of decades earlier. If you are on the island, however, it’s well worth the trip because you will be exposed to sights (and sulphurous smells) you might not have experienced before.
The whole Hawaiian volcano thing is fraught with legend – legend that revolves around the aforementioned Goddess Pele. Now, Pele is not to be taken lightly. If you mess with her she will cast a curse on you that stands to destroy you and all your kin if she’s really pissed. The susceptible profess to having seen Pele. She can be a bit of a succubus as she presents herself in beautiful, not to mention sexually insatiable and available form. Well, gentlemen, no matter how inviting she might seem, don’t succumb to your lust. If you trip the horizontal tango with her she will turn into an ugly, wrathful, vengeful crone who will destroy you.
Of course, Pele leaves relics of herself everywhere, and those relics are the chunks of lava that abound no matter where you go. Word of advice, don’t be tempted to take any home as souvenirs. They are cursed by Pele and if they leave the island all sorts of awful stuff will follow them because they have been stolen.
Tales abound about people who have ignored the threat, and the US Postal Service has actually received Hawaii-destined packages from Mainlanders. The packages have contained chunks of lava. Chunks of lava stolen by people who subsequently experienced no end of misfortune.
Photos taken at Kilauea site three years ago:
(Steam from caldera)
(Entrance to a lava tube)
(Sulphur laden trail)