23 February 2008
Timing is crucial whilst looking down a blowhole. The water from each successive wave coming in under the rock is pressed up through the hole in the hardened lava, spouting up into the air higher than a house. If you happen to be leaning over looking down and do not step back in time, you could be knocked over and perhaps fall in, which would be almost certain death, the life smacked out of you while pummeled against the rock underneath, bones breaking as you drown.
While most of the work centered around Honolulu and Waikiki, one day we were able hop on a bus that went around Oahu. My aunt, who lived on the other side, told us about a surfer who had last been seen a bit off shore, yet pieces of his board had since washed up on the beach with serrations that looked to have been from large teeth. There was little mention in the local papers.
There are still conflicting theories as to which side of the Pacific many of the islanders originate from. Either way, the navigation techniques alone would indicate establishment of an evolved culture. The first visitors to the sovereign kingdom of Hawaii were graciously welcomed. Mainly missionaries, they proceeded with great fervor to convert the savages to civilization, guiding them with thoughtful advice such as, it was a sin to surf. Landowners who had originated from the mainland came up with what became known as the 'bayonet constitution' stating that only those who owned land would be able to vote. Queen Liliuokalani, concerned by the warship anchored in the harbor and Marines that had landed, agreed in order to avoid confrontation, believing this would be overruled by President Cleveland, which he did. But the annexationists lobbied Congress, the monarchy was dissolved, Dole became the only president to the republic which eventually became a state.
We happened to be on the big island, Kona, former capital of the Hawaiian kingdom, for the centennial of its demise. A note in the hotel room explained that certain fireside gatherings that evening would not be tourist attractions, yet a time of mourning for local residents. How would you feel if your great grand parents had undergone such a transition? Around sunset, an outrigger canoe paddled out across the shimmering surf, evoking an image frozen in time, certainly not for the benefit of tourists. Can metaphor offer sanctuary?