Say aloha to Hawaii!

Say aloha to Hawaii!

Say aloha to Hawaii!

My visit to Hawaii this summer was very enriching. I hopped between diverse ecosystems — from temperate snow forests, mighty ocean floors, dramatic cliffs, frisky valleys and at one time, even found myself near an active volcano. But it was not only the natural wonders that struck me in ‘Big Island’ but also their rich cultural practices.

  Visiting Hawaiian Volcano National Park was the highlight. I was stunned by the moonscape. The Park shows  the result of seven million years of volcanism, migration and evolution.

In the domain of Goddess Pele, the ‘Hawaiian Goddess of Fire’, one will find the ‘Kilauea Caldera’, the world’s most active volcano. The current eruption, ongoing since 1983, is the longest and largest volcanic flank eruption in history. A red glow permeates from the bellowing plume at night, which is the result of the molten activity in the crater’s lava lake. The crater rim drive is a wonder of steam vents, lava tubes and landscape of strange lava formations. Unlike explosive continental volcanoes, fluid and gaseous eruptions of Kilauea and ‘Mauna Loa’, the largest subaerial volcano, produce fiery fountains and rivers of molten lava. Added layer upon layer, these flows produced on a barren landscape served as the foundation of life. Steam vents are visible all around the Kilauea crater.

The scenery still take me back to primordial times. The Hula art form against the setting sun still dances in my mind. Hula is a dance accompanied by songs and was developed in the Hawaiian Islands by the Polynesians. The traditional Hula dance is where Hawaii’s history is steeped. Hula has been called the heartbeat of Hawaiian people and integrates cultural practices, poetry, history, craft and religion in its adornments, implements and customs.

We also visited ‘Place of Refuge’. Legend has it that King Kamehameha, the Great, is set to have been credited with unifying the islands. He introduced the ‘Kapu Law’  which enabled the ruling family to keep people in check. However, the arrival of Captain Cook and his men changed it all.

This lush rain forest is another natural gem. On the north-west of the Big Island is a lush jungle with huge palms, endemic ‘ohia-helua’ trees, giant bamboos, strawberry guava, passion fruit trees, and tall grass. This landscape is dotted with majestic waterfalls.

 The ‘Akaka Falls’ foam and plunge 420 feet deep into a profusion of fragrant wild ginger and orchids; exotic ferns and other tropical foliage.

‘Rainbow Falls’ is another water body that we explored. It is surrounded by huge mango and banyan trees. When the sunlight falls directly on the falls, it creates a rainbow effect and seven colours dance to nature’s orchestra. The black sand beaches of Punalua, created thousands of years ago by the lava meeting the sea is a haven for green turtles which nestle and bask in the sun. Some ancient Hawaiian pictographs can be seen on the rocks surrounding the beach. I also explored hidden secrets that lie beneath the sea.

I went on my first submarine trip and it was indeed worthwhile. It was like being in a James Bond movie. The Atlantis submarine explores a 25-acre natural coral reef formed 18,000 years ago on lava that flowed into the sea.  The submarine site has been enhanced to see the wreckage of two World War II ships. Teeming with marine life, this offers you encounters of schools of butterfly fish, Hawaiian sergeant, penna fish, dragon, goat fish, trevally, green sea turtle and even a few white reef sharks. Journey on the land was as beautiful. The gentle slopes of Manua Loa make for a sprawling southern plantation district. Kona coffee belt has been producing smooth aromatic coffee for more than a century. The pea berry is sought after, as it is made from the coffee cherry with one seed.  I also had a chat with Hawaiian girls who garlanded me with shell necklaces and bracelet out of ‘Orchid Lei’.

I was saddened as the trip came to end but the memories will stay with me forever.

Prabha Karve
(For details mail abukarve@gmail.com)

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