Day 12: History Hawaiian Style

Today was a day exploring the National Parks located close to us on the Kona side of the island. We broke fast with fried eggs, ham and Hawaiian sweet bread, the very best way to begin a day of learning about Hawaiian history. After cleaning up the dishes, we packed our hiking bags and water bottles and set out. The first stop was Kaloko-Honokohau, a spot preserving an ancient Hawaiian fishing village and a way of life experienced by the first peoples to inhabit this area.

To reach the village we had to hike a mile, in the hot sun, over a lava flow. The path, if it could be called a path was uneven, rippled by hot lava that dried as it oozed down from the volcano Mauna Loa. The ripples of lava looked much like a cake batter does when poured into a pan before it settles out; each ripple a different level; a different width; and with different widths between the ridges. Add to that, millions of volcanic pebbles amid the various flat piles of lava and some tree trunks that had managed to take hold in the harsh environment. Needless to say, it was very rough hiking. But, we did reach the village and the beach and got to enjoy the beauty of a little cove that must have made life here just a tiny bit easier to catch fish and make a sustainable living. Along the pathway back through the lava beds we saw some petroglyphs from over 200 years ago, before the Hawaiians had an alphabet.

It was a very interesting spot and almost like we had traveled back in time to a place of peace and beauty, where island life was enjoyed. It was such a hot, hot hike, however, that when we returned to the car I drank the entire contents of my 16 ounce water bottle! And, I’m not sure that was really enough! My driver was so exhausted from the heat and the difficulty hiking that he required not only water, but lunch.

A stop at Costco was on the itenieary because we needed gas. But, we also needed hearing aid batteries since the package my driver brought must have been so old that none of them worked. And, we used the opportunity to stop for a hot dog – the cheapest lunch around. I didn’t think I was hungry, but I had no problem at all eating that hot dog!

Our next stop was Pu’ukohola Heiau, the Temple on the Hill of the Whale, built in 1790 by Kamehameha I. This Heiau, or temple played a part in Kamehameha’s ascending to be king of all the Hawaiian islands. It was a fortress built entirely of volcanic rock, smoothed by the waves of the ocean. It’s believed the rocks came from another part of the island and that a human chain 20 miles long was created to carry the rocks from their original location to the site where the temple was built. The structure and the stories that accompanied it reminded me of some of the Aztec pyramids and their cultural mythology that we have seen in the Southwest.

We hiked past the Heiau and down to the beach to savor the views and the beauty. It was interesting to me that at several points along the way there were “gifts” left as memorials, or to honor the gods. The moon was rising over the mountains and the sun was beginning to make its way toward the horizon.

We returned to the car, dehydrated once again from the hot sun and the long walk, even though this walk was on a very well maintained path. We drained our water bottles again and enjoyed the air conditiong of the car, as we traveled on to one more point of interest. My driver wanted to see the farthest northern point of the island where the climate changed from drought and desert-like to a rain shadowed, tropical-like climate.

We could almost see the line across the road as the change happened. We watched black, lava landscape with wisps of weeds transform into green grass, flowers and trees. Not surprisingly, houses began to grow here, too. We drove on to the little town of Hawi, where my driver stopped at a little cafe for some coffee and I walked the couple of blocks to look in the gallery windows and admire the local crafts.

The drive back included a lovely sunset over the laval flows. When we arrived back in Kona we made a quick stop for some bug spray as I managed to provide the local mosquitoes with more than my share of their dinner today. I look like I have chicken pox but it’s only mosquito pox. I just don’t want to give any more blood to the local economy.

Arriving at our rooms once again, we cooked up some udon noodles with chicken and ate like we had not had lunch or breakfast, for that matter. It was a lovely, if hot, day filled with the most interesting historical facts about the locale and the first peoples who lived here.

And . . . my WordPress worked! A grace all its own.