Hawaiian Culture, Kauai
Hawaiian culture is unique in the world. On Kauai, it's as easy to discover cultural sites that have existed for hundreds of years as it is examples of how Hawaiian culture is perpetuated by the Hawaiian people today.
A tour of historic cultural sites and museums is one way to experience the essence of what makes Hawaii, Hawaii.
Ke ahu a laka Heiau
Located on a terrace above the boulder, this is a heiau that was part of a famous hula school in the area. Chanters came to receive the most advanced training possible. To test their skills, they walked across the smooth boulders at the edge of the sea and chanted their mele (chant). If their voices could be heard above the sounds of the waves and the wind, then their training was completed. Students are still brought here to test their skills.
Hitch hiking on Kauai is all over the place. You'll see everyone from old men to young girls with children standing with a thumb out. We picked up hikers the whole time we were there, and judging by the amount who do it, I think it's a pretty safe thing to do. We picked up some of the greatest tips about where to go, what to do, where to eat and good new music to check out just by talking to the folks we were giving a 10-minute lift to. While you always need to use common sense picking up strangers, in a place where it's culturally excepted, it usually is because they don't have any problems with it. We were glad to meet our friendly strangers (and advice-givers!)
What is Taro?
Taro is a root crop grown in Kauai that in the past was a staple of the Hawaiian diet. Used to make poi, it is extremely nutritional, containing fibre, calcium, potassium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, and vitamin C. In the Hawaiian tradition, arguments are not permitted when a bowl of poi is placed on the dinner table. Often a poi bowl was uncovered to end family disputes. To this day, taro is symbolic of Hawaiian heritage.
I didn't try poi, but I did consume bags of taro chips while I was in Kauai. Delicious! (You can now find taro chips in California - I don't know about the other states.)
Most of the taro fields are now heavily subsidized by the Hawaiin government due to lack of sufficient demand to make taro farming economical. Without the subsidy, production of this important Hawaiin crop would probably cease.
This chandelier made entirely of shells survived a huge storm in the late 90's. The hotel staff said it was the only thing that wasn't damaged from the storm. Legend has it that using the shells will protect the property from total destruction. Anyway, I was fascinated by the chandelier...regardless of the legend.
We were wandering in the tropical forest in Kauai trying to find the trail and we saw quite a few signs with the following message "Please don't take the dogs. They are not strays. Their owners will come to pick them up". Just when we were wondering what they meant with those signs, the brown dog in the picture showed up. We played with it for a while, it was a cute dog and I understood why they had to put up the signs. Lots of people would be tempted to take these dogs home. The dog left at some point and we continued on the trail. When we came back from our hike late in the afternoon, we did see a pickup truck full of dogs, so their owners did come back for them at the end of the day. I don't know if this custom is specific to Kauai, it was the first time I'd seen something like this.
On the game show Hollywood Squares, the question was:
"In Hawaiian, does it take more than three words to say "I Love You"?
A: - Vincent Price: "No, you can say it with a pineapple & a twenty"