Niihau – and its special lei pupu

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View towards Nihau

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

Niihau shell earings

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The Sleeping Goddess.

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The Sleeping Goddess.

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Anahola – where souls enter the Earth…so goes Hawaiian legend. The energy of this beach is palpable, sea waves being drawn as if by a giant magnet, to a corner, into one spot, or ‘vortex’ according to some.

Rising above the bay is the Mountain of the Goddess, praying hands joined, expecting a child. Appropriately, this is also a sacred space where Hawaiians believe souls enter the world. Maybe that the correct spelling of Anahola was “Anehola” with an “e.”

“Ane’ means ‘the breath of life,’” “‘Hola’ means ‘the hour.’ The two words together translate as ‘birth.’ Hawaiians used to float in the pool protected from the high surf by a reef, looking up and above, and we did the same.

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When the going gets rough…

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We all know the finishing part …the tough get going. But I dare say even the toughest captains need reason to get going! Our catamaran was the only one of 5 boats that reached its destination that windy day. The sea just seemed to throw us around more and more as we struggled against the waves. The howls of wind increasing. Do we go on, the captain asked – it is going to get even rougher!

I sat on the top deck where you really felt like in a big swing. Each new big wave was without fail announced from underneath by a shriek of joy from our girls who sat at the bow, safely propped up, and let the sea wash over them. I totally believe this explosion of their pure joy gave the captain not courage (which he had plenty of, just one look at him was enough – thanks to his Asian ancestry he had an appearance of an Japanese samurai) but the prompt to keep steering the boat all the way to the final cliff. He knew we were safe, but he only kept going because he felt he had a crew and passengers that could take this as an “extreme sort of pleasure”.

It made me think how much even courageous and skilled men need a bit of wild woman spirit to support their journey through life, so that when the going gets rough…

Na Pali panorama

All this was just a super laboratory for watching one’s own fear. How it grew, what sorts of thoughts appeared in the mind, how we dealt with it in our individual way. I caught myself  imagining being thrown into the sea and guessing how far I can swim being a decent swimmer but still…rocks are sharp and the swell was crazy…where is the vest… can I make it…all these ideas suddenly darted across my mind. I was really scared – but all at the same time I just sat there motionless, just trying to breathe and look calm.

All this adrenaline needed to get flushed out – which happened on the smooth sailing back home – with much dancing on the deck in the sunset! Exhilarating!

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Smooth sailing on the way back to the port, already past the US Pacific Missile Range Facility. IMG_1318

Na Pali coastline

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Unbelievably, the narrow valleys and plateaus squeezed between the mountains rising directly from the sea (the coast being dotted with the occasional beach) were home to Hawaiian communities. I was told by Jeffrey, our Hawaiian guide, that they have visited each other for hunting/fishing trips catch exchanges, agricultural barter or artefacts swaps. They have walked for days to get to each other on foot but there was no rush…
The way of life of communities in this “challenging” landscape makes a big impression on me. The catamaran journey to view Na Pali coast from the sea turns for me into wild imagining of how it must have been for people then, in old times. How many people on the catamaran to the typically tourist destination saw more than rocks, waves and spectacular landscape with a rainbow?

The very journey on the boat was a huge learning experience and test for our group. To see what happened read the next post.

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Na Pali coast, Kauai

Na Pali coast, Kauai

Setting our intention – why did it change so quickly?

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We all responded to Kauai’s call and invitation. So it is only polite and wise to introduce ourselves to the hostess, non? Now that her invitation has been taken up – you wonder – why are we actually here? As for me, the reason seemed to be centered around getting in touch with myself, helping me to clarify more long term plans, to get me to get out of the vicious circle I felt I was moving in for a long time, and importantly to make new friends. So if there was something I would have liked to say to Kauai on arrival was something along the lines ” Hi I am finally here, thanks for the invite, now I go get the max for myself…”
Or so I thought. On the first evening we sat together on the beach under the “wisdom tree” and shared our individual intentions; what I felt I would like to achieve was completely different. A strong message came to me that this Island needs PROTECTION! It needs the right activity of people who are able to see and appreciate its unique beauty and energy. So I set my intention – to help now and in the future in whatever small way I can to respect, cherish and protect the heritage of Hawaiian people and their land.

The land that was never bought or sold.

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The picture above was taken at a small roadside gallery next to the popular Kalaheo Cafe. We did find and buy loads of irresistible jewellery there… It seems to me this place has the highest concentration of jewellery makers per square mile anywhere in the world. Sadly I have not noted the name of the artist of this wall art.

I am to learn a lot more about Hawaiian history, culture, customs, in the coming days. It will be painful at times and referred to a way of life we can only glimpse at. Did you know that Hawaiians as a distinct ethnic group ( Hawaiian person being defined by “percentage” of the native element in their blood, so to speak ) are going to “die out” very soon?

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Getting to Kauai

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This is a first of little specks of insights gained during a trip to Kauai island, Hawaii.  I came here with a group of women traveling from Europe to two weeks of bliss and self discovery as part of “Birth of a Goddess” event organized by Lucie Novakova and Lucie Kolarikova.

Our group journey through airports and US immigration many queues in Los Angeles is a test in itself. How did we do? In the end everyone arrived well which is what matters!!

What I really like about group travels is people who see one another for the first time “create” dynamics and situations which are the perfect learning ground –  for all who are willing to see it that way 🙂  It quickly flashed out in each and every one of us interesting things about ourselves, our weaknesses or where we need to watch out.

For me personally it was “the Saviour attitude” 🙂

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