Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Heavenly Adventures of Kahinalani

Hawaii (The big island) is the most magical place I've been to besides Ireland, so far. This is serious guys. For nine days I had nothing but fresh fruits and veggies, lilikoi juice, and local grass-fed beef in my belly. There were seashells, lava rocks, and sweet smelling vines beneath my feet, and big white cotton candy clouds above my head. There were horses, and peacocks, and pigs, and llamas, and sea turtles, and dolphins, all warmly welcoming me as if it was their job. There were markets filled with flower crowns, and varieties of sea salts, and honeys, and fresh coffee, and enormous avocados. There was also a red flaky sunburn hitching a ride on my back after the third day or so, but I couldn't sulk, I couldn't complain, not even sarcastically.

Now, I don't know about the other islands, Maui, Oahu, etc. but Hawaii was paradise indeed. Yes, I did see a lot of poorly done Polynesian tattoos. The service was slow in most places (island time) which also seemed to be closed by 5. And there are a couple of places by Kona beach that feel too commercialized. But other than that, the locals had big friendly smiles on their faces, aloha in their hearts, and a serious affinity for good food. I took an unhealthy amount of pictures. Couldn't help but feel inspired by the perfectly fallen Plumeria flowers lining every street, and the long-haired girls who had tucked one behind their ear. And I haven't forgotten the enchanting sunsets that everyone would gather around to watch together, or the mesmerizing and powerful glow of the Halema'Uma'U crater. Saying goodbye to Hawaii wasn't as sad as I thought it would be, not just because I said aloha instead, but because I am one billion percent positive that I will be going back.



Mermaid Dreamin'



I guess now would be as good a time as any to write about my experience with Mahealani, a Hawaiian kumu. She communicates with the ancestors, educates people about Hawaiian culture, and does blessings/etc. I think my dad found her online somewhere, and asked her to bless my parents during their vow renewal under the wedding tree on the Big Island. The ceremony was short and sweet and everybody wore flowers around their necks and heads, and the kumu's apprentice blew into her conch shell horn to mark the end of the ceremony, and it was all a bit hokey, but infectious nonetheless.

After the vows were finished, my parents took the ceremonial first swim in the hot spring by the sea. When the rest of us got in the water we let ourselves float while we listened to the kumu talk about her mother and her grandfather, and ancient Tahitian warriors, and spiritual awakenings, and her love of margaritas. I had tripped on a raised tree root on my way to the ceremony so both my knees were bleeding, and the little fish in the water were nibbling at my knees. The kumu started to talk about how names are very important in Hawaiian culture, and how each name has a purpose that must be recognized and fulfilled. She said, with the help of her ancestors, she had named people before, and I secretly, desperately, embarrassingly badly, wanted a special Hawaiian name for myself, but I was too shy to ask. 

Eventually our fingers started to prune, and my dad and brother went to dry off. My mom and I stayed with the kumu and her apprentice to chat for a little longer, and as I started opening up about some hard times I had as a teenager, she stopped me and said "Ka-hi-na-lani." She looked at me, then up to the sky, and repeated it again. I realized it must be my name. "Kahinalani. That's what they're telling me." She said. 
"What does it mean?" I asked. She leaned back into the water and smiled. 
"Kahina is the moon in a very particular phase, and 'lani' is like the heavens. It means the moonlight that fills the universe."

"Is this real life?"