Posts Tagged ‘Maui’


Honokowai, Maui, Hawaii 1976 

             On the Hawaiian Islands there are still  areas in the mountains and along the coasts where there is no sign of man nor of the twentieth century.  These areas are diminishing. There are so many ways in which the outside world can intrude. But it is just those intrusions, sometimes, that heighten an awareness of an inviolate nature; that present a contrast by which one can measure and define and establish chronologies and histories. One is given a more dynamic perspective. Moreover, nature itself sometimes in a display of Jehovian energies erupts in flames and with enormous waves of lava or tsunamis disrupts or erases the human landscape so that one can encounter prehistory anew.

            Along a certain stretch of beach on Maui’s western side, if one walks northwest, away from Kaanapali and towards Honokowai, one has the feeling of having entered a zone of timelessness, of experiencing visions that were available before the arrival of the stranger—the Haole. One walks in an interval between the imperceptible cycles of growth and decay and the tidal rhythms of the sea. Waves rush up banked sand and then fall back with equal force against oncoming waves. A dense jungle of thorny kiawe trees encroaches upon the edge of the shore. Sand crabs scurry sideways into holes. In the distance islands rise from the horizons and are reflected back across the water. The sky loses clouds on their summits. Alone in an illusion of virgin perspectives one senses the world in a mysterious kind of intimacy that evokes a long-forgotten, primitive wonder—unvoiced because one hasn’t yet learned words for why? And what?  One hesitates, holding back one’s shadow, waiting for answers. The wind, clouds and water flow past. One grasps at an eternity of movement.

            The answers arrive like Meles—chants—singing of mythical beginnings, of the god Maui fishing islands from the sea with giant fish hooks, of the goddess Pele roaring from the mountains, of the sun-god La slowed in his race across the sky. There are songs for everything: for the sun, moon, stars, clouds; for the streams, trees, flowers; for the birds and fish.  From the songs come names: La, Mahina, Hoku, Ao, Kahawai, La’au, Lei, Manu, I’a.  For the Islands: Maui, Hawaii, Lanai, Oahu, Molokai, Kauai. And there  are gods for everything.   The wind moves along the sore and one hears a Mele from some secret source. The world is myth waiting for man.  And woman.  Kane and Wahine.

            One can walk along the beach like this, in unmeasured noons or dawns or sunsets, outside the boundaries of one’s ordinary dimensions, inventing gods and dreams…and then, as if by magic, at the sight of several outrigger canoes gliding over the surface of the sea, reenter a genetic past.  Light reflects from brown muscled bodies whose primitive energies are translated into the rhythmical dip and flash of paddles.  The scene acquires a value in time, a dimension in unwritten history.  Meles now tell of the arrival of Kane from Kahiki—Tahiti.  One remembers Kamehameha and a genealogy of chiefs, of gods turned men.  Of men as part of nature’s cycles:  being born, growing, giving birth, sustaining, fighting, dying.  Imitating and placating gods.  Sacrificing power—Mana—to their images—Akuas—and drawing Mana from them.

            Don’t look back!  The present threatens to overtake one.  Here is a protected zone, a time-inverted site, a sanctuary like the Puhonua where a pursued Hawaiian could find refuge.  A jutting lava rock forms a shrine—Heiau—where a fugitive can kneel and give thanks.  But the illusion fades.  One is not safe here to participate uninterrupted in one’s pasts. One is pursued, not by avenging warriors with spears, but by Time, surrounded by time, invaded by time.  A primordial fin appears, cutting the water. It transforms into sails embraced by distant winds. Captain Cook arrives, bringing with him the world beyond. He falls dying on the sand, assaulted by tradition. Over his body comes a flood of missionaries, whalers, merchants, planters. The white man—Haole—shatters the domain of myth and nature.  The Kapa cloth falls. The islands are clothed in other guises.  Chants fade, drowned out by hymns and whaler’s shouts. Tabus—Kapus—defied and new ones imposed. Akuas burnt and a new god deified.  Heiaus destroyed and churches built.  Chiefs—Aliis—lose their Mana and the Haole rules.  Taro patches uprooted, jungle pushed back and the land planted with sugar cane and pineapple.  The mountains are ranged with goats and cattle.  Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, Filipinos arrive to work in the fields, to become cowboys—Paniolos.  Blood is mixed, compounded.  The genealogies of the Kanes from Kahiki are unsung, forgotten.  The Hawaiian now has a confusion of pasts.

            The dry sand shifts into new patterns in the wind.  The wet sand sinks underfoot…and fills up again.  One leaves no trail at the water’s edge, nor any sign for eternity in the eons of sand.  One feels transcendent, trailing behind one a body freed by the trade winds.

            One approaches a point, rounds a corner…and suddenly the world rushes in.  The jungle straggles to an end.  The past climaxes and falls away like the crest of a wave.  The landscape reassembles into the present.  A concrete condominium towers starkly over the beach, its windows blind to the sun.  A sign in front announces that it is the Mahana, the resting place. Pulled up on the sand at one side like a piece of flotsam from the past is an outrigger canoe.  All along the shores into the distance stretch condominiums.   It is Today, carrying a part of yesterday and destroying a part; revealing a part of tomorrow and obscuring a part. 

            An airplane roars to a takeoff behind the narrow strip of jungle along the shore. A motorboat cuts a frenzied wake beyond the reef.  In the channel between the islands of Lanai, Molokai and Maui a hydrofoil soars above the water, churning up a turbulence of foam.

            The illusion of pilgrimage fades.  Perspectives of pre-history vanish.  Spaces are filled with transmuted symbols, prefabricated by man.  Only the mountains seem invulnerable.  Now one looks back over one’s shoulder.  An indestructible city of hotels looms three-fourths of a mile behind, climbing irreverently over Kaanapali, the sacred black-grottoed rock of the Hawaiians, and spreading back a mantle of gold-course green towards the hills. One’s lens is adjusted, focused on the image of the engulfing present.

            This is Honokowai Point.  Honokowai, meaning “place where the wind is reflected back,” is the site of a former Hawaiian village, now partially swallowed up by the encroaching condominiums.  Here, as elsewhere, nature is built up of overlapping universes, each with its own laws, its own perspectives, its own limitations.  The traditional Honokowai contained man without fundamentally disturbing the existence of these universes, for his own survival depended upon his relationship to them.  The original town was Hawaiian, based on simple agriculture and fishing, attuned to and absorbed by natural cycles.  It was slowly modified by the arrival of the missionary, whaler and merchant Haole, by the planting of pineapple and sugarcane.   It became a plantation culture, less but still dependent on the traditional universes.  With the arrival of more plantation workers from Japan, China, the Philippines, the Hawaiian blood and customs mixed and metamorphosed.  But the past was still visible, dominant, present. 

            Now, at this site between points, one is almost totally unaware of the traditional Honokowai or of anything Hawaiian, or of an unrestrained nature.  However, if one ventures out in the early morning when the tide is low, one can see a shadow from the past:  a sable-brown muscular silhouette holding a spear enters the water and disappears between the reefs.  Or one can sight a family carrying nets and buckets foraging for bait, or scooping limpets—Ophis—and sea urchins—Vanas—from the rocks and gulping them down raw.  Or see Filipinos and Japanese searching for the red and green seaweed that drifts on the surface of the water or clings to the rocks.

            But otherwise there is no evidence of jungle along this reach of coast, although one finds an occasional arm of wild morning glory claiming a stretch of sand.  Nor is there any architectural evidence of the traditional Honokowai.  There is no remnant of a grass or stone or wooden house—Hale.  Along the reach of sand and eroded lava from one point to the next rise condominiums.  Only their names on the signs in front are Hawaiian:  Papakea—Clear Reef, Nohonani—Pretty Dwelling, Hale Kai—Sea House, Noelani—Mist Flower.  (In the Beginning and the End was the Name).

            This is the universe of the Haole—of the white, middle-class, affluent mainlander.  Not the Polynesia of the noble savage seen and painted by John Webber, the artist who traveled with Captain Cook.   Or by R. Dampier, or by Gauguin.  It is not the tropics experienced and described by Robert Louis Stevenson or Melville or Henry Adams.  Nor is it any longer the tropics modified by the New England missionary or whaler.  It is not even the tropics of ten years ago.  Hawaii is a movie-set tropics with the jungle uprooted, the huts demolished, the sugarcane and pineapple fields pushed back…and the landscape imprinted with images of Florida and California.

            Hawaii is the product of a unique phenomenon:  the Leisure Industry, the vacation syndrome with its tourism and accommodating resort complex.  It is a special kind of universe, superimposed upon the traditional ones.  It displaces and destroys, but it also resurrects and remolds until everything becomes anthropocentric.  Other universes become a kind of entertainment museum.  What was once alive and invested with Mana—life spirit—now becomes an animated dummy.

            The invaded territories are not exploited for their fertile soil, their minerals or petroleum, but for their sun (or snow).  Landscapes are desirable in terms of their fitness for leisure consumption.  Suddenly areas that have been remote for centuries, for eons, have been trespassed, scanned and conquered by land developers and planeloads of tourists.  Fragments of the past have been rescued from oblivion and remodeled into a vague semblance of their reality to embellish the environment and attract tourists.  But generally a layer of invention overlays and obscures the authentic.

            Here on the Hawaiian Islands the process of invasion and absorption is gaining breakneck momentum.  There is a bewildering transformation of the former slow-moving process of westernization into one of rapid touristic expansion.  While Oahu with its agglomeration of beachfront hotels and its skyscraper apartments, its diminished agriculture, shows the greatest change, the other islands of Maui, Kauai and Hawaii, are also changing.  The price of land is skyrocketing and construction is endemic.  Hawaiians are lured to sell their small holdings that are resold at much higher prices.  Tenant farmers are forced from the land they have cultivated; fishermen from the coast they’ve fished.

            A brown-skinned young man of mixed Hawaiian and Korean blood sits on a concrete wall overlooking the beach.  He wears an expensive watch on his wrist.  His feet are bare—the strong feet of an Hawaiian.  He was born in Hana, but was raised here in Honokowai…as a child playing in the road where a passing car was an event, and diving beyond the reefs until an eardrum burst.  He is now returned from Waikiki where he played the ukulele for the tourists.  “Everything is quieter here.”  He looks at the white-skinned Haoles strolling on the beach.  “They have taken the land from us.”  He pauses, looking out to sea.  “But what can we do?  We have no power.   After all, it’s progress.  We have jobs now.”  He stands up and walks away, relinquishing the beach that was once his.

            The Hawaiians, for the most part, accommodate themselves to the confusion in their lives.  They transfer their resentments to the industrious Japanese who own all the stores.  The men go off to construction jobs in the daytime and play the ukulele at night in the hotels.  The women work as domestics or clerks and dance the hula at night.  On Sundays they come in large family groups to Honokowai Park and picnic on MacDonald’s hamburgers and Colonel Sander’s Kentucky-fried chicken while the coconuts and mangos rot on the ground.  There on the beach, surrounded by Haoles, they are tentative strangers in their own land.

            A Filipino fishing village once clustered where a condominium now stands.  Instead of the odor of fish in the morning one smells bacon and eggs, Danish rolls and coffee mingled with the salt air.  Instead of the crowing of roosters and the barking of dogs one hears the sound of transistors or television.  Instead of dark-skinned Filipinos readying their nets and setting out over the reefs in canoes, one sees tender-skinned Haoles in bright new beach wear setting out for a stroll along the beach.  They step gingerly over the lava rocks, skirt the lapping waves, stoop over to examine the sand for puka shells.  Occasionally they triumphantly scoop one up from amidst the fragments of coral, rock and shells.  But most of the unbroken pukas, opihis, tritons, cowries, have long since disappeared—first sieved from the beaches, then scraped alive from the reefs and sea bottom to be sold as souvenirs in the tourist shops.

            But the adventure of discovery is still there.  The tourists from New York, Minnesota, Washington, California, have discovered Hawaii:  the Hawaii of luxurious condominiums fumigated of unwanted pests.  The Hawaii of tennis courts, swimming pools, golf courses.  Of lanais, artificial lawns and natural ones, exotic fruits, flowers and foliage.  Of fuchsia, oleander, plumeria, hibiscus, gardenia, orchid, bird-of-paradise, ginger, royal poinciana.  Of banana, papaya, mango, guava and coconut.  The Hawaii of a benevolent Nature where the jungle, instead of a living devouring menace, is a shadow retreating to the mountain crevasses…where the sun is directly confronted…where the sea has become a diversion of surface and depths for the sailor, surfer, snorkeler.

            The poolside is the center of the Haole universe where one rubs oneself with coconut oil and yields oneself to the sun.  Where one’s perspectives are open to the sea without the sting of the sand.  Where one enjoys a paperback, cocktail, popular music on the transistor and, without moving from a comfortable chaise longue, occasionally sights a whale through binoculars or admires the ever-changing skies.  Where the afternoons are an extended Happy Hour with conversations about where the best beaches are located, or the best restaurants.

            Below, on the beach, a Haole clumsily enters the water in the weird gear of a snorkeler.  He floats face down around the reefs—momentarily lost to the upper atmosphere, intruding on wary schools of fish, skirting the coral, focused on new dimensions, and perhaps partially sensing the mystery and complexity of the ocean’s patters and rhythms and forces.  And consequently losing grasp of the illusion of his own supremacy and mastery of the universe.  But when he leaves the water, there is his Never-Never Land come true.  His momentary sense of insecurity fades.  He rejoins the Happy Hour.

            Behind the condominiums the parking lots are full of shiny rented cars.  In the daytime the Haole tourists set out for the golf courses or tennis courts, or for Fleming’s Beach where the surf reputedly is good.  Or they go into the quaintly preserved village of Lahaina on shopping excursions, returning with expensive sacks of groceries from the supermarket identical with the one at home.  They buy coconut oil and Sea-and-Ski, postcards of volcanoes, palm trees, tropical sunsets, surfers and hula dancers with artificial grass skirts.  They buy souvenirs of T-shirts stamped with various legends, Wicked Wahine perfume, and images of false gods manufactured in Japan.  They go for difficult, twisting and bumpy all-day rides to the old Hawaiian village of Hana on the other side of the island, or ascent 10,000 feet to the desolate crater of Haleakala.

            In the evening after the Happy Hour is over and the Mai-tais consumed, the Haoles fire their hibachis on their lanais and barbecue their hotdogs, hamburgers and steaks.  Later they watch television.  Or they dress in matched Aloha shirts and Muumuus, Leis and Puka shell necklaces and drive to the luxury hotels at Kaanapali where they watch hulas danced in dazzling spotlights to amplified ukulele strumming.  Where they eat luaus in tropical gardens lit with Japanese lanterns or attend a Hukilau, fish-fry.

            Behind the luxury condominiums lining the beach and across the road in Honokowai are scattered areas of cheaper apartments.  These are occupied by groups of middle-class Haole youth whose life is centered on surfing.  They sometimes stay for a year or more, working at night in the restaurants so that they can surf during the day.  On mornings when the surf is high, they stagger early from bed, put their surfboards on top of their cars and head for beaches north or south of Honokowai, wherever the surfing is best.  On days when the ocean is flat, they lie around their apartments with the radio blaring rock music.  Or they play frisbee in the park or spread out in the sun.

            At the edge of the park there are usually several parked vans with ragged, faded curtains at the windows.  Young Haoles live in these, sleeping in them at night and using the park facilities during the day.  In the evening they sit on the rim of the park watching the sunset.   Sometimes a bronzed Hawaiian approaches a blonde girl or a blonde boy discovers a Hawaiian girl.  The Hawaiians teach them pidgin English.  The Haole girls talk of Women’s Lib.

            Whereas there are only imperceptible discontinuities between the Hawaiian youth and their elders, Haole youth have their own special universe, seldom overlapping that of the older Haoles.  Its identification marks are rock music and surfing, frisbees and skateboards.  It transcribes an ephemeral arc over the Hawaiian landscape, occasionally catching up the Hawaiian youth and then relinquishing them.   The Haoles appropriate what they want of what Hawaii has to offer.  They are here for a long vacation in the sun.  Temporary dropouts from college, temporary dropouts from Haole society, but not suffering from the inexplicable deprivations or sensitivities that would turn them into eternal beachcombers…or Gauguins.  They are hesitantly anti-racist, pro-counterculture.  But also limited and defined by white Anglo-Saxon culture.  The real drop-outs are the half-naked drug addicts listlessly wandering the streets of Lahaina.

            Along the beach the past is obscured, but if one walks behind the condominiums along the narrow road that leads to Lahaina, one finds clues to the old village of Honokowai, clues that indicate a series of transitions—physical, cultural, spiritual—from past to present, from beach to mountain, from universe to universe.  There is an interval of park, planted with grass and encircled by coconut trees, monkey pod, golden shower, candlenut, plumeria, through which one sees the ocean and the mountains in fragments.  The Haoles use the park for sunning, jogging, frisbee tossing.  The Hawaiian children play baseball.   Hawaiian workers eat their lunch here. On Sundays entire Hawaiian families spread out over the grass while their children tumble over them.  Hawaiian youths hover at the edges, half-aggressive, half-reticent, watching the young girls.

            Across from the park stands an old Congregational Church built in 1850 during the era of the missionaries.  It is New England translated into Hawaii—like all translations, mysteriously altered from the original.  Its entrance is sensuously covered by plumeria.  Coconut trees extend their fronds above its steeple.  On Sundays the door is open to invasions of tropical fragrances and the pews are overflowing with the abundant warm bodies of Hawaiian matrons in muumuus.  Sometimes a few words of the service in pidgin English drift outside.  The bell rings among the musical calls of the mynah bird. 

            The green-painted church with the white trim is small, unobtrusive, as if hesitant about its place and the place of the puritan spirit in a world that is so exuberantly natural—a tropical world that celebrates vision, sensation, by an endless creation of rainbows and perfumes, suns and tides.   However, adjoining the church, on a site long dominated by jungle brush, aggressive cement blocks aggregate into a new supermarket.  There is nothing hesitant about this new marketplace, although it is incongruous with the natural world surrounding it.  It is an area of violation.   But it is as inevitable an extension of the condominiums as the new superhighways, gasoline stations, nightclubs, restaurants, souvenir shops, MacDonalds and Colonel Sander’s Kentucky-fried chicken stores.

            Behind the road rises a cindery column of smoke from the sugar-cane fields.  It winds around the mountains like a volcanic apparition and gusts out to sea.  One passes the construction site and approaches some ranch-style Hawaiian homes, open to the road.  Neat, unpretentious, flower-scattered.  Children, dogs, cats, chickens jumbled.  A counterpart in life to the massive condominium across the road.

            In a vacant lot, as if flung aside by the condominium, the shells of several cottages lurch on gasoline barrels.  Beyond these the jungle asserts itself, thrusting an archaic barrier to the edges of the road and strangling with vines and flamboyant hibiscus a deserted cottage with broken windows and sagging wood.  The long pods of the Koa Haole trees rattle in the wind.

            This was once plantation land, dominated by the Pioneer Mill Sugar Company.  The mill closed down in 1952 and moved to behind Lahaina.  The narrow-gauge train that hauled the sugar is now hauling tourists while a Hawaiian guide sings and plays the ukulele.  Plantation life ebbed.  Machines took over the major work.  The old elementary school for the plantation workers’ children was abandoned.  Children grew up and left to find other jobs.

            However, sometimes they return.  An old blue and white Shoreline bus passes on the road.  Its driver is a courteous, attractive, neat, Kamaaina (native) Japanese.  After finishing high school he left for Chicago to study radio engineering.  But he returned to Honokowai to drive a bus because his “parents are old and need” him.  There is no work in his field.  He presents a strange contrast to the other drivers, young Haoles who stay for a short while and then quit.  He leaps out to open and close doors.  He points out landmarks to the tourists and describes the old Kaanapali and Honokowai where the beaches were his private fishing area and the vacant lots his private baseball fields.

            At this point on the road one sees his home, an old-style Hawaiian house, painted a chameleon green and raised from the ground on latticed wood.  It temporarily holds back the jungle on one side and the condominiums on the other.  Beneath the mango and papaya trees his mother, wearing a faded muumuu and old straw hat, hoes her garden with quiet dignity.

            Across the road the elementary school lingers behind a fence.  One of its two buildings is deserted, its paint peeling, its windows broken.  The other, freshly painted, serves the local EOP childcare program.  Beyond is a small ramshackle old-fashioned Japanese store and a cluster of weather-beaten apartments where young Haoles dressed eternally in bikinis and cut-off blue jeans drift in and out, drinking beer and soft drinks, eating candy and potato chips.

            Cars speed along the narrow two-lane road, stirring up spumes of red dust.  Twenty-five years ago the passing of a car was an event that summoned up barefoot waving children.  Now a thundering rhythm of pineapple trucks pass, trailing a fragrance of pineapple mixed with combusted fuel.  A slower orderly procession of rental cars, their Haole occupants carefully secured by seatbelts.  Impatient speeding cars with giant tires—the cars of young Hawaiians who live beyond the paved roads.  Pickup trucks crammed with a disorder of Hawaian children.  Taxis, hotel limousines, delivery trucks—they are all carried like flotsam and jetsam atop a waxing tide past the small universes still existing along the road.  Universes ignored…no longer examined, venerated.  A mynah bird shrieks atop a telephone pole.  A mongoose darts frantically between the traffic.  Another wraith of smoke drifts out to sea.  Clouds hover around the mountains, fall into ravines and simultaneously turn into rain and rainbows.

            At this point the jungle falls back.  The road is bared to the sun.  The cane has been struck down and the land scraped.  Perspectives widen and focus on Kaanapali, the resort area.  There the disruptions seem complete.  The Haole has conquered.  From here the ocean, the mountains, the land, seem quiescent, dormant.  One’s instincts say that this is illusion, but the imagination falters.

            One turns back down the road again, seeking to impose connections between past and future, innocence and experience, Paradise and Paradise Lost, universe and universe.  One brings many visions, many dreams to bind up the landscape…but the Self is still a disruption, still a mystery.  One searches for secret harmonies, but the only clues are the Meles.

            One passes the old Hawaiian house with its simple solutions to the troubling enigma:  flowers, a vegetable garden, fruit trees, chickens, a cat.  Planting, tending, consuming in silent rhythms.  The inner eye blind.  The consciousness that of Nature itself.  The voice of the Whole speaking in every part.

            Beyond is the jungle, flexed and trembling as a waiting warrior by the side of the road; containing its secret universes.  One remembers the child’s feeling of awe before the jungle, the sky, the ocean.  The sense of Being confronting a journey without end in a universe without dimensions.   One now returns, having touched limits that open to new eternities.

            One passes the modern ranch-style house with the Hawaiians lounging about the yard.  A brown-skinned barefoot young man waves.  One senses the possibilities of Nature’s unities within the ripening flesh.  But the Mind and Distances have made the Haole a stranger.

            Now one speculates on practical Politics, makeshift societies and piecemeal-engineered Utopias…having sacrificed instincts on the path to Reason.  It is a path where one can now ask the questions and turn the mysteries into words.  But the answers have no meaning.

            One passes the little church and speculates on its compromises.  Lahuiokalani—the Heavenly Congregation.  Its compromise is that heaven is still here in Honokowai, scattered in spaces amongst the condominiums, contained in the definitions of the smallest universes within the contours and fluctuations of larger and larger ones…of the sea, mountains and sky.  The spire is compromised by the curve of the coconut tree.

            The Haole sees only barriers or collisions, and thinks in terms of erasures and the imposition of foreign architectures.  He ignores the patterns and the images abundantly present in the arrangement of clouds and waves and sand.  In flowers, trees, rocks.  In mountains and rainbows.  He is blind to the orders and intuitions of birds and fish and insects.  He imitates volcanoes and tsunamis and typhoons without knowing their reasons.  He is caught in a cycle of causes and effects, enchanted by the equation, E=mc2. He worships energies instead of spirits.

            One walks along the road, seeking the mandala that will carry one to the past.  But the geometries one sees are square, impenetrable.  One confronts the condominiums, the transition of tourists, the tended gardens of hibiscus, plumeria, poinciana, gardenia.  Is this the architecture of Paradise?  On the other side of the road are the displacements…one’s past lost in the rubble, the Hawaiians uprooted from the coast and the land, the unwanted fugitives of plant, animal, man.

            The Hawaiians react with a confused acceptance.  They are beguiled by transistors, television, supermarkets, cars.  They sell their homes to speculators.  But they still go to the reefs with their nets and spears.  They still fix their luaus of poi, pork and opihi, and afterwards sit barefoot in their gardens, playing the ukulele with their keikis playing around them.  They still laugh and call “Aloha!”

            One grasps at one’s memories.  The scenes are the same if one focuses on the shadows.  One has a thousand pasts against which to measure the present.  But they are pasts to which one does not belong and to which there can be no pilgrimage beyond that of the Haole youth who arrive here looking for miracles in the sunset or in the jungle or on the crest of a wave.  Or lie drugged or mind-shattered on the beach.

            The Hawaiians rig up the Okule’a in the templates of their original out-rigger canoes and sail compass-less before the trade winds to Tahiti, following the path of the stars to their past.  Perhaps they will find it when the Haole lies shipwrecked in the flotsam and jetsam of the present.

            The tourists in their rented cars speed by on their way to Lahaina or Hana, or Haleakala, or Fleming’s Beach.  Perhaps they feel a moment’s uneasiness when they pass a hippie hitching a ride by the side of the road.  Perhaps they see the specter of their own negation.  They have discovered a paradise created for them.  A tropical paradise within the limits of the United States.  A paradise free of the embarrassments of a grinding poverty or of the difficulties of alien customs.  A paradise where the exotic has all the comfortable lack of dimensions without contrasts.  But a paradise without heirs…without a past and therefore without a future.  The Haole hitch-hiker gazes vaguely at the Haole tourists without a sign of recognition.

            The trespasser looks at the jungle behind.  It waits…holding its secret.

Lorrie and Joseph Tussman at the Hale Kai Apartments in Honokowai, 1976

The Honokowai coastline as seen from the air in 1971. In the distance the resort of Kaanapali is beginning to erupt. Today this scene would be unrecognizable, covered with strip malls and cheap condominiums. Photo by David Tussman


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