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The Very FIRST Aloha

It is my first time in Hawaii. I arrive on the "Big Island"O'ahu island after a long but smooth flight and collect my things from baggage claim. I look around expecting a heap of brown people to gather around and approach me with Hawaiian Leis, and smiling faces saying "Aloha!" which means Hi, Hello or Welcome--but universally stands for the word LOVE. But, I guess I've just been watching too many movies.

No brown people as of yet, but I am greeted with the warm midst of the tropical air, the sight of mountains at the distance and an open blue sky. I feel joy, freedom and lightness right away. My feet begin to move quickly all of sudden....I know that I am in one of the happiest places in the World. Known as the Rainbow state, I tune my new little red beetle to a local radio station that plays up beat songs. I notice that they are all distinctly positive even the popular the ones. I am grateful. It brings me back to my college days in San Francisco bay riding over the golden gate bridge every morning over looking the land and water.

Welcomed by the Somoan women who teach leaf weaving. 
Although the natives to the land are typically the Samoans, Fijians, Tongans and Polynesians who have migrated here bringing their customs, cultures, traditions, music and religion--the population today is matched by foreigners, Americans, Canadians, Asians and Europeans who now host their dream or retirement lives here close to the beach. Big in stature, the natives have always been known to be Friendly, Happy, Amiable people as reported by Questors who would later become colonizers influencing the people with their English language and Christian religion.

Today, many Roman Catholic churches, Christian missionaries and Mormon temples can be found spread throughout the island. There is a site that I had a chance to visit called the Valley of Temples which displays this mural of beliefs that live amongst the people, a shared respect for the many different ways to devote one's self: a Buddhist Temple that sits at the bottom of the hill of a cemetery, a Christian Church that over looks cemetery plots where families come to visit their deceased offering flowers, food and libation....over all the landscape is a vast grassy area where people flock to roam and find a sense of peace and comfort under the same umbrella of ALOHA, LOVE.

Ocean View plots, where the wealthy are buried amongsts waterfalls, bridges, and marble stone.
Still a little perturbed that I hadn't had a chance to interact with some native Hawaiians or brown people. Most of them are the working class people, in commute or just not in the areas where I could see them. As a traveler and tourist, I make it my goal to steer away from the being a foreigner and get a feel of what life is like for Locals as much as possible. I felt sort of sad that I had to go to a concentrated controlled environment to have that authentic experience. But the Polynesian Cultural Center is certainly not one  to disappoint. Their it housed the full experience of daily life for the Men, Women and Children of the Polynesian, Melanesian and Micronesian islands. Performers, Laborers and Attendants are all natives of the island and current university students in Hawaii.

As you journey through the park you see Waterfalls, Rock and Cliff fixtures, Palm and Coconut Trees everywhere, huts that are made from the bark of the Coconut Trees and carved Totems against the pavilion to signify each Tribe and Village.

On this day, I was reminded of a common saying "the Tree of Life" which simply means that the Earth is abundant with riches, nutrients, wealth and endless sup
Producing fire with two sticks.

The Samoa Village. Storyteller offers fresh coconut water to a Boy.

Tree climbing demonstration. In Samoa the men are responsible
 for both the hunting, gathering and cooking. 

ply of resources we need to thrive in this life when use it as such. I think of the amount of access to information and tools we have on the "mainland" in the states and yet the way in which we apply it is little to not at all because we have the convenience of technology, the spoils of these great advancements that pull us away from the need or appreciation of the soil and even further away from connection and reliance on one another.

For now, I sit back and enjoy the processional welcome or for us, performance. I am now in the village of Te Aotearoa, today known as New Zealand. Visitors begin at the front of the entrance to their territory symbolizing how foreigners and explorers used to appear on the island. The warriors, young men and protectors of the land wound appear on the coastlines from the trees to both text and acknowledge the visitors. We are offered as it would be then, a small token offering of which if graciously accepted by the visitors would be considered a non-threatening gesture and they are to be welcomed in as Friends....unless they prove themselves to otherwise. A female from the Tribe stands at the next entrance or doorway singing a song of remembrance of the Ancestors, for both sides. The song is a gesture of peace and is there to offer clear passage way for the two people to connect. If the trust is mutual the ceremony commences: singing, dancing, trading of goods, games and sacred rituals.

I am impressed with the level of skill that the performers demonstrate. Their ability to move with precision and power, while singing....the authenticity of their voices causes us to feel how the SPIRIT comes alive. They are far from their homes and native land but they carry to the integrity and the authenticity of their Ancient culture, in a modern day.

Performing a Stick tossing game, demonstrating skill, trust and dexterity. 
Men speaking out. 


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