Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Blog #4

Molokai

Molokai is considered the most Hawaiian of the islands. In 1946 my Grandmother took me to Hawaii along with my cousin Georgette. When we flew to Molokai in a DC 3, the pilot buzzed the red dirt airfield in order to chase the baseball game off the runway so he could land. This was waaay before Homeland Security. We travelled in a Model-A coupe to Pukoo where my Great Grandfather Isaac Iaea lived. He was a preacher, and was well on in years. His church was made of huge coral blocks plastered with stucco and the preaching was in Hawaiian. You have not experienced fire and brimstone preaching until you’ve heard it in spoken Hawaiian. And the singing was enough to raise anyone’s spirit.

Molokai is an old island eroded by wind and rain and with many hidden valleys and tall waterfalls. The second third of my novel is set in and around Halawa, a valley on the windward side of Molokai’s east end. Halawa was a thriving community from the earliest time of Hawaiian exploration. Recent archeological work shows that it was continuously occupied longer than any other community in Hawaii. There are hundreds of abandoned stone terraces where Taro was grown. There are remains of a sophisticated irrigation system which began at the waterfalls at the head of the valley. Today only a few people live in the valley.

Molokai has other fascinating sites. There are the remains of enormous fish rearing ponds along the leeward shore and a historic battlefield in Kawela where thousands of warriors fought each other in the seventeen hundreds.

Perhaps the most fascinating place is the Leper Colony at Kalaupapa. The peninsula on which it sits is nearly inaccessible from the land. Two of my Grandmother’s sisters died of Leprosy at the colony when they were teens. My sister Robin spent two six month tours there as an archeologist. The church of Father Damien is intact and still in use by the few residents who remain. During the nineteen seventies Richard Marks, a resident invited me to come to Kalaupapa to work on his plan for the preservation of the natural and historic values of the place. The peninsula is now a National Historic Park. To get an idea of the wildness of Molokai I recommend the video tour on-line done by Blue Hawaiian Helicopters at www.bluehawaiian.com. Their video shows all of the places I have written about. Go to their site and click on the map of Molokai or choose Maui for a look at that beautiful place..


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