So, last week, my Robb and I went to the big island of Hawai'i. We saw an active volcano, lush rainforests, deserts, waterfalls, ALL the fruits, dolphins, sea turtles, green and black sand, friends, and the new Bond movie, because sometimes you just need to take advantage of a babysitter and go to a movie, even when you're in a tropical paradise.
It feels like there's nothing new I can say that hasn't been said about the gorgeousness of the place, but I'll try. Plants are jurassic-looking and abundant, clearly winning. The whole place is ancient and ever-changing, like multiple planets in one, all rising off the face of a cork, bobbing alone in the ocean. There ARE birds, we heard them- chickens, roosters, and song birds waking us through windows, but very rarely do you see a sea bird. Because you're on the edge of the earth and how would they even get there? The ground is hollow- lava is porous, layers and layers of liquid coalesces to become rock enough to stand on, to require machines to break through to build, but also light enough to lift. Sometimes when lava rests, it's as smooth and decadent looking as a pan of chocolate brownies, sometimes it's sharp rubble. Weird, exotic minerals land in weird, exotic ways, so the sand comes in strange colors.
"The road you are now driving on will eventually be destroyed by a lava flow. It's a matter of when, not if," said our audio tour guide in camp counselor voice as we drove around the craters and ruined forests left by previous volcanoes. The whole place is never NOT changing. Never still. The humans have mostly figured out how to get out of the way, but as recently as 2018 homes were wrecked. People aren't the priority here- nature is god. You can absolutely understand why ancient (and some modern, I think) people believed the eruptions were signs of an unhappy deity. There is this feeling of power and sacredness. Bones and lava stones, all one. We took a LOT of pictures of the lava stones but, as much as we wanted to be the heroes to our kids upon our return, we pocketed none. Our friendly guide told us every year the parks office gets dozens of packages of lava stones mailed back from all over the world because people surreptitiously took them when they visited and then had bum years full of bad luck, so they mailed them back to appease the gods, in whom they now believe.
I certainly don't want any gods mad at me and I have had a shit enough year, I don't plan to have another, thank you very much. Something about the timing of it all, the course of my wound had run, the sunshine, the sleep, the joy....I felt like I was finally back to my body on this trip. I hiked, I played, I laughed, I didn't worry every second about the hole in my chest and my heart started to heal, too. I could feel the weight of it all slowly coming off of me. I am thankful. AND GOOD LORD DO MY BOOBS LOOK GREAT NOW OR WHAT!?!?! Disregard the months of infected hole to hell, now they are covered in fresh skin and fabulous. I can wear tiny little wee suits and my stuff mostly doesn't fall out. My back doesn't ache all the time. I am thankful.
This island has very little of the resorty tourist Hawaiin stuff you see in pictures- or if it's there, we didn't do it. If there are fakey luaus and freshly leid golfers, we missed them. We stayed at a friend's incredible house- banana trees and joy outside, and great meals, conversation, family, and more joy inside. She has a little boy who deserves a whole book series. He is who I will think of when I think of Hawaii; beautiful, tender and wild, full of fruit. Then when we left them we went to where the green sands are...it was a 6 mile round-trip hike to see one of the "wonders of the world." Across a desert, along a coastline of waves that looked most uninviting. The heat and wind were punishing. The gods don't want to make it easy. it seems. Here I am, eating chips and talking on a banana phone, because I am a mainland tourist and I don't make the rules.
The ancient and more modern history is fascinating and tragic. As with almost everywhere, at one point in time, white people came in with disease and guns and took what they wanted from the natives, and stayed. There are churches everywhere. I mean, it felt like there must be one to one church to coffee plant on the island. Missionaries played a big role here and there are many stories that blend politics and religion over the years. I plan to read more. The women of Hawaii of ancient times were heavily featured- the queens and goddesses get the most press. Of course, when America annexed the monarchy in the 1890s, the women there lost their power, because in America then and now, women aren't fully people. It was then a territory until 1959 when it became a state. Plantation owners governed in the early days of the territory and statehood meant representation and labor laws. After Pearl Harbor, Japanese Americans were held in internment camps there. There's pain in all the beauty there- perhaps that's part of what you feel when you listen there. I plan to research more- if you have advice on what history books to read, please let me know.
Alright, now I'll shut up and just show you pictures because I know it's all you want. Isn't it the worst when people come back from a trip and they're all blah blah blah look at this nature and listen to these facts I learned...Oh! The Hawaiin language is spectacular and I can't make my mouth do it right yet, but hearing it spoken by those who can is awesome. So many vowels! Also, apparently the most common combo language spoken now is a Hawaii Creole English combo they call "pidgin." Cool, right!?