Party Polynesian Style

Today I took a break from running, but instead took a trip to the gym.  We didn’t have as early of a departure, 7:45 instead of 7:15, so I was able to lollygag a big, which I certainly did.  Most of our activities have been located on the northern side of the island, above the Kohala coast, which makes our hotel prime placement for such endeavors.  The last time we visited the Big Island, we had split our time around the island with a couple of days in the volcanic area, Hilo, Kona, and the Kohala coast.

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As I mentioned before, I am always up for new adventures, but did I mention that I can be sort of a dare-devil?  Roller coasters, cliff-jumping, boating, anything that has to do with speed.  So how about driving ATVs?  The Spinellis headed back to the same company that took us on our flumin’ trip yesterday and went along a 15 or so mile track.  We headed in the other direction through Waimea and ended up in the Wai’pio Valley and rode along a shorter track, but much better scenery in my opinion.  Well, it may not have been “better” per se, but certainly a different perspective.  I don’t think it was exactly my mom and sister’s favorite activity, but I certainly had a blast zooming up and over the rocky paths, splashing through the rain puddles (there was unfortunately a steady trickle of rain and sometimes downpour throughout the ride), and even catching some air on a few of the hills. I’m ready to jump a level and go skydiving. So that’s literally jumping to the next level 🙂 I don’t think my family will accompany me on this trip, so I’ll have to rope in a few of my friends.

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For many years, the valley was known for its abundant taro production.  Its great location served as royalty housing because the tall mountains surrounding the valley acted as barriers to attacks from the enemy or the weather.  Western contact in the 1800s actually decimated the local population because of the influx of new diseases.

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Sidenote: Doesn’t this look like a good-looking bathroom? “Lua” means bathroom, so make sure not to mix it up with luau 🙂

In 1946, a tidal wave actually destroyed much of the valley, including the many temples, and forced most of the population to leave the valley.  A number of our guides actually grew up in the valley and so they were able to share different stories with us.  One guide actually lived in the isolated valley with his grandmother when he went to school.  Because there is limited access to the valley and no transportation down there, he would have to wake up early to make the hour trip up the hill in order to catch the bus.  I have found it fascinating that most of these tour guides have grown up on the island, usually right in these little towns, and have never had the desire to leave.  Even those who do leave for a few years, whether it is for school or a work opportunity, end up moving back to their hometown.

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ImageDuring our little trip, we made two different stops, one at a waterfall where we snacked on a variety of goodies and fruit juices, and the other at the edge of the valley and coast.  Later, after the trip, we drove back to the lookout point to snap a few pictures and gaze over the longest black sand beach on the island.

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Oh lunch.  Food always seems to be a debacle.  Usually, we have to make sure all appetites are satisfied and when there happen to be very little options in these tiny towns, it makes it that much more interesting 🙂 Although there is supposedly a tasty pizza and calzone restaurant in town (as recommended by the local guides), we opted for a sandwich shop, where we had eaten last trip.  The owner of “Simply Natural” was talkative beyond belief.  In my opinion, it has to do with the fact that she is probably lonely.  She grew up in Hana on Maui, and has lived here for the past 20 years, owning and operating her healthy lunch shop for the past 15.

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The “famous” spicy tuna melt.  

On our way back through Waimea, we stopped off for yet more food goodies.  I tell you, this seems to be a daily occurrence, so I don’t know how the people who live miles away from grocery stores manage.  Back at home base, it was beach time and then off to a lu’au at Mauna Kea.

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This luau was a tad bit cheesy, sort of along the lines of a Disney Cruise, but a blast and very enjoyable nonetheless. It was at Hapuna’s sister hotel, the Mauna Kea, which is located right next door.  We were greeted with fruit juice, Mai Tai’s for the adults, and eventually leis (they were momentarily out when we arrived).  I was able to participate in the Mai Tai experience, but not before three different women had swooped down to check my ID.  They all seem skeptical because I guess I look younger than my ID says I am, which should help me in the long run.

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Luau food consisted of the typical Polynesian fare: poi (which, after learning about its history in the Wapio Valley, I vowed to sample), veggies, salad, rolls, fruit, pig, teriyaki beef, fish, Hawaiian sweet potatoes, and so much more.

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This great looking substance is the oh-so-loved “poi,” made from the taro leaf.  It becomes more bitter over time, so if you are at a luau and have extremely bitter-tasting poi, you will know it has just been waiting awhile just for you!

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The show itself probably had to be my favorite part.  All the Polynesian costumes, stories, the man throwing fire, and of course the dancing.  When they invited all the children on stage to dance the Hukilau, Mia, Meghan, and I made our way proudly to the front.  I think we rocked it better than any of them.

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It reminded me of when the three of us were little, back at Club Med, and had done something similar, which is probably considered “cuter”.  I was extremely proud of my dad who got brought up on stage and agreed to dance with one of the dancers.  Go Dad!

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Fun fact: The luau got its name from the Polynesian’s favorite dish. Young and tender leaves of the taro plant were combined with chicken, baked in coconut milk and called luau. One of the largest luau was hosted by Kamehameha III in 1847 and included 271 hogs, 482 large calabashes of poi, 3,125 salt fish, 1,820 fresh fish, 2,245 coconuts, 4,000 taro plants and numerous other delicacies!

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