Tag Archives: Hawaii

Waterfalls Brighten My Days

19 Aug

(My fourth favorite experience in Hawaii .)

Something about waterfalls makes me happy. Watching the energy of the water as it rushes to the falls and then seeing it come over the edge is exhilarating.

So when I saw that among the tours offered on the Big Island was a Tropical Waterfall Tour, I knew I had to sign up.

Years ago, when we went to Hawaii, we visited Akaka Falls State Park. We loved the seeing this high, over 400 foot, fall. But this would be different, we would visit four different waterfalls.

So on this trip I was delighted to find this trip.

It was lovely. Our tour guide, Kurt from Hawaii Forest and Trails, was wonderful.

Among the falls we saw were Rainbow Falls, known for the rainbow that firms when you see it at certain times of day. We saw it from the private Oak Ranch.

My favorite falls was the duo Falls of WaiLuku and WaiAu. We also saw these from a private viewing site on OK Ranch.

Another favorite was the falls we saw from the grounds of a bed and breakfast. We were able with walk down to bottom of this waterfall and even swim in the pond.

It was an excellent trip and I recommend it.

Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park

14 Aug

(My second favorite stop on my Hawaiian trip.See link to first one below.)

On the Big Island of Hawaii, we visited the Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park.  This is the site of a Pu’uhonua, a Place of Refuge, as well as Royal Grounds for the rulers of the islands.

I love history and learning about other cultures.  So on this trip, I tried to learn as much as I could about the Hawaiian culture.  As with our visit to the birthing stones, the Pu’uhonua o Honaunau is also a scared site that should be treated with respect.  It also met another bucket list item of mine, I am trying to visit a National Park in every state!

In ancient times if a person broke a kapu, or a scared law, they often would be punished with a death sentence.  But there was a chance of survival.  If the person was able to escape and get to a place of refuge, a Pu’uhonua, a priest there could save him/her by absolving him/her of the kapu.  It was not easy to get to a place of refuge.

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Looking toward the place of refuge and the lava reef that surrounds it.

At Pu’uhonua O Honaunau the easiest access was from the sea.  However, you had to conquer the waves crashing ashore and a field of tough lava to reach the safety of the priest.  At the same time, you could not step over to the Royal Grounds, or you would be breaking another kapu.

Over the years, most of the refuge sites were destroyed by missionaries who wanted to dissuade these practices or neglect from disuse. Although other sites still exist, nothing remains of the refuge buildings.   In 1961, the National Park Service opened this National Park with a restored place of refuge, as well as the royal grounds that were next to it.

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The Royal Ground’s Keone’ele Cove

It is a lovely site with a small, natural cove, Keone’ele Cove, once used by the ali’I, the royal families.   Throughout the site, the lava rocks and flows create beautiful formation.  There are recreations of some of the buildings and wooden images, ki’i, representing the gods.

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Stone wall, ki’i and mausoleum

The Great Wall, a long, high wall built of rocks, without any mortar, separates the Royal Grounds from the Pu’uhonua.  The wall is over 400 years old!  My husband thinks that those who were rescued by the priests probably had to help build the walls.  He could be right.

Several times each day, visitors can hear a talk by a park ranger.  That was not available the time we were there. But you can download a guided tour on your smart phone, or just follow the guided tour in the park brochure.  We used the park brochure, following the trails and looking for the items that were numbered. It took about an hour to walk the site.

There is also a little gift shop run by the Park Service.  Children can receive a junior park ranger workbook and fill it out.   When we were there two sisters turned in their booklets and were made official junior park rangers!

The Pu’uhohua is well worth a visit. It takes you back in time and helps to understand the culture that was Hawaii before Western civilization changed it forever.

 

https://zicharonot.com/2018/08/13/a-burst-of-emotion-kukaniloko-birthing-stones-sacred-site/

 

A Burst of Emotion: Kukaniloko Birthing Stones Sacred Site

13 Aug

(We recently cruised around the Hawaiian Islands.  This is the first of five blogs about my favorite spots.)

Fertility, pregnancy, healthy births, all topics that are important even today.  Childbirth is, at times,  life threatening for the mother and for the infant.  In ancient Hawaiian times, women went to sacred spaces in an effort to safely give birth.   In Oahu, there is such a space dedicated to the women of the royal family.

Fertility for those who cannot conceive is also a painful topic.   At the Kukaniloko Birthing Stones Sacred Site, these two quests: a safe and pain free birth, and the request for a pregnancy come together.

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Before we arrived at this sacred site, our guide pointed out part of the Wai’anea Range on Oahu.  As you drive along the Kamehameha Highway, part of this mountain range looks like a giant sleeping pregnant woman,  the “Wahine Hapai.”  You can see her head, then breasts then pregnant belly rising to the sky.  She embodies fertility and health.

He told us that Wahine Hapai overlooks a sacred site that many tourists do not go to but thought we would like to see.  (Perhaps because my husband is a pediatrician.)  The  Kukaniloki Birthing Stones Site is unmarked and is not easy to find.  There is just a small indentation of an  entrance off the highway, with a gated road.

Before we walked down a bright red dirt road to reach the site, we read the warnings that this was a sacred site and we should respect it. “Do not sit on the stones. Do not move or wrap the rocks. Do not trample the plants.” These were the top three rules.  I thought I was ready to visit.  But in reality, it was much more emotional than I thought it would be.

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It is a quiet spot, an oasis of trees and stones in the middle of a field. The first indication that you are entering the sacred site, is two stones standing by the entrance.  These were two of the birthing stones: One to sit on and one to lean up against. They have been moved from their original place in the grove of trees.  Just past these stones are two parallel lines of smaller stones, leading to the tree-shaded main site, where the trees surround a group of large stones.  Behind the site, watching from above is the Wahine Hapai, the pregnant woman, helping those in labor.

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In my effort to know more, I looked up information on line when I returned to the ship.  I read that the two line of stones were for the chiefs to sit on, while a royal woman gave birth.  The chiefs came to help her through this time. It is also said that women who gave birth here felt no pain.

My husband and I were not alone in our visit.

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Walking along the two lines of stones, I noticed a woman squatting by each stone, touching her forehead to the stone and praying.  She went down each line, holding the stones between her two hands, resting her head, then moving on.   I was not close enough to hear what she said. I tried to give her space, but I knew in my heart what was happening.  I could almost hear her prayers for a pregnancy and for a child of her own. And my heart opened.  I began to pray silently with her.  Sending my positive energy to comingle with hers.  Hoping perhaps a stranger who knew her pain could add to her prayers.

Do Not tell me this is a ridiculous quest. 

I too suffered from infertility and prayed to become pregnant.  I spent days, weeks, months and years wondering why everyone else was able to get pregnant but me.  I hated family gatherings, where all the new babies would be the center of attention and people would ask me when I planned to start my family.  Little did they know of the emotional pain I was in just being there.  I lost my faith for a time.  At the high holidays when we read about Hannah, I left the service.  It was just too difficult to bear.

Although I am now way past the age of giving birth, and I do have two children, I carry that black hole of pain in my heart.  I keep it covered.  I try not to visit it.  I moved on, I believed.  But watching this woman in her prayers removed the cover I keep over this abyss of pain, and I felt tears rise to my eyes. No one could truly help her.  No words can ever make that pain go away.  Watching your friends and relatives get pregnant is a slap. Each month a new cycle is just a reminder that you failed once again.  It is an enormous, deep black hole of grief.  And I saw that grief on this woman’s face.

She was not alone.  A young man squatted close to the square enclosed area where the trees and many birthing stones were assembled.  You cannot enter this sacred area.  But he sat just outside the roped off area, watching.

I felt the spirit of their prayers around me.  It would be hard not to feel it.

We did not spend too much time at the site.  I took a few photos, and then told my husband it was time to go.  I wanted to give them the privacy they needed. (I learned later that although tourists might not visit it, the site was well visited by locals who celebrated the birth of their children or who were wanted to have children.)

As we walked away, my memories and my prayers rose up.  I hope that the Kukaniloko Birthing Stone Sacred Site, and the energy of life and birth within it, helped her move forward.

This was my most memorable spot in all of Hawaii.

No Lava For Us

8 Aug

A year ago we booked a cruise around the Hawaiian Islands, not knowing that two months before Kilauea would erupt. Thousands of people have been displaced. Homes destroyed. Land masses changed. Roads blocked. Luckily not many hurt or injured!

Eighteen years ago we spent a week on the Big Island. We spent hours on Kilauea walking around the rim of the caldera, going to the museum, walking through a lava tube. The park is closed now due to the eruption. We have heard that the museum has massive damage due to the many earthquakes that have assaulted the volcano area.

No one is allowed close to the volcano and the lava.

During our day in Hilo visiting a bevy of waterfalls, we were able to see steam rising from Kilauea from a distance. We were high above Hilo with a view to the volcano. Our guide told us then that the lava flow was decreasing and almost ceased.

But we thought we would still be able to get a glimpse of the glowing lava from the ocean and our ship.

That evening as the ship set sail, we rearranged dinner schedule to be able to stand in the starboard side of the ship as we sailed pass the lava flow. Hundreds joined us waiting to see the lava. It was a joyous atmosphere.

Then the announcement: the lava had stopped flowing the day before. They were hoping we could still see the glowing embers. But no, the crust has solidified and the red hot embers of flowing lava could not be seen. If it was daylight, we might have seen steam. But now nothing!

Everyone left the deck. Except a few including us. My husband lifting his binoculars and stared intently into the pitch black and stared across to the land, where there was no sign of life. No lava flow. The disappointment was keen. There was nothing to do but go inside to eat a late dinner and continue on.

I must admit two nights before I had a dream that the advent of Hurricane Hector put out the volcano. When I told my husband the dream, he laughed. He is not laughing anymore. But the good news is the hurricane went way south of Hawaii. And for the people of the Big Island, peace from Pele the Goddess of Fire and volcanoes has come.