Here are some pictures from early on in the day, before we climbed up to the Temple and before the sunset gazing on the beach. As ever, Danny our guide has prepared a suprise of flavours and colours which made us feel very special and cared for. This is what I am talking about!
Hawaiian temples are unlike any I have seen. They are dotted all over the island, and many of them are no more than a few “stones” lying around…others have more clearly visible structures made out of the local dark boulders.
This is where Hawaiians connected with the divine. We were privileged to visit one such special, hidden temple. This was one of the most sacred Heiau for Hula dancers, who, I am told later, “graduated to the dance company” if they swam from the nearby beach and climbed the rocks up to the temple. If they were not eaten by sharks or crashed on the rocks, this was a clear sign they can be admitted…
As we walked slowly up from the beach through the lush tropical forest a real sense of special occasion descended. Just before entering the temple we stopped and sang a chant, asking for guidance and “knowledge revelation” from above.
The Heiau has a hula platform called Ke Ahu a Laka (the altar of Laka) high above the ocean, with inner and outer stone walls. The atmosphere was indescribable. I had the strongest sense of 4 elements’ presence. The sun was just setting and you felt its warmth and gold rays, the FIRE, underneath the ocean was roaring and the depths and movements and waves were manifestation of emotions, memory and qualities of WATER, the AIR was just about everywhere ( it was a windy spot after all) and the EARTH underneath our feet felt so solid, the rock in the midst of immense body of water. What a place.
Everyone in our group brought a small offering to the gods, mostly flowers from our cacao ceremony on the beach earlier…and one by one, after meditation, we laid our offering to the temple cave making our prayers and a wish.
It was magical time and I am very grateful to our guides that they arranged this visit – not everyone is allowed entry here. Generation upon generation of Hawaiians gathered and worshiped at this temple, and you felt their presence, their tie to the past.
The old Hawaiians had a simple yet effective way of land and water management for their Taro fields. The Taro was their staple food and source of carbohydrates, something like rice, potatoes/wheat, or manioc, for Asians, Europeans and Africans respectively. Taro grows in water like rice except the water needs to be deeper. But their fields did not just grow Taro; they were simultaneously used for breeding fish which fed on seaweed. This farmed fish was super rich in minerals – I am not sure the same could be said of the farmed salmon or pangasius of today! If there was no ‘ catch of the day’ at sea this inland fish was a good alternative source of protein. Later white settlers dismissed their methods as primitive when it was in fact the most sophisticated system which we can only try to emulate nowadays…and… The fields are simply beautiful to look at.
Our Hawaian guide Danny Hashimoto is an expert superfood dessert maker! For our trip to Waimea, he prepared raw chocolate mousse, mango puree, served with macadamia nuts and berries. Macadamias are a true Hawaiian nut – I never liked them before until trying these fresh ones grown on the Big Island. His wonderful concoctions are always accompanied by amazing mix of orchids, decorative object, wooden trays and bowls…and stories.
So we sat on the edge of the cliff licking our spoons, enjoying every minute.
Here I should let the pictures do the talking…
View towards Niihau
Niihau island is dry and arid. With so little water it follows naturally that the material used for lei may not be flowers and greenery but shells such as Kahelelani Shells that are found in different colors.
Whole families are involved in collecting the shells from the beaches and they are then sorted and hand-sewn. A Niihau Shell lei is an intricate form of Polynesian art.
The island is privately owned by the Robinson family – imagine being offered a billion dollars for it by the US government and turning down the offer!
Niihau shell earings