For those who read my last blog post, I wanted to continue my word picture of Kauai.
Previously I described a somewhat typical picture of the beauty and splendor of the Island; the sparkle and shimmer of the water and the turtles floating peacefully saying “all is well” as only turtles can. But that’s not all of Kauai.
Did you know that Kauai is the only island that has never been conquered? Back in the day when King Kamehameha ruled the Islands, Kauai was never been taken by the conquering king.Twice King Kamehameha tried to invade the island, and twice he failed, due to both stormy seas and outbreaks of disease. Even when the Islands had been given to the United States as part of a land agreement, Kauai and its people, although peaceful, still kept that spirit of pride and independence.
The land of Kauai itself has a sense of majesty and nobility about it. The mountains prove it, the 50 ft waves prove it, and the great looming cliffs of the Napali Coast prove it. The way the mountains cut the sky with their silhouettes is as awe inspiring as the dozen waterfalls that cascade 1,000 feet to the valley below. When the weather turns, the same mighty waterfalls cause the water to rise, sometimes raising the river by as many as 14 feet. The torrential downpour sometimes flooding the entire Hanalei valley.
Recently, 48 inches of rain accumulated in less than 2 days flooding the rest of the island, damaging the highway in many places, and sending tons of red dirt out into the turquoise water, along with hundreds of coconuts and assorted debris, only to have the sturdy plants float back in and take root once more, as the debris settles along the coastline waiting to be removed. The final annual rainfall during the year of hurricane Iniki was 860 inches!
There is just something about this island that won’t stay settled. When you stand on the beach at Kalalau looking up at the 3,000 foot scalloped cliffs of Napali, words just can’t say enough. Maybe the same feelings run through you if you are standing before Machu Picchu or Kilimanjaro, or gazing up at the peak of Mount Everest.
One thing that strikes me as unique about Kauai is the mixture of all the elements. From serene to majestic, from playful to dangerous. When an 18 ft tiger shark bit off surfer girl Bethany Hamilton’s arm, her life was changed forever. But like the spirit of the Island, she didn’t let that bring her down. She is a survivor and a victor and refused to let that tragic event shape her life. She is living in the spirit of Kauai: unconquered.
When you see Laird Hamilton, the big wave surfer who was brought up on Kauai, ride the giant waves you ask yourself, how can he do that? It’s the spirit of Kauai, the Island and its people.
It is a tradition here on Kauai that when the children reach their first birthday the family throws a big luau. In the past when the Hawaiians reached Kauai and started settling in, it was hard and survival was brutal. If a child made it to their first birthday, it was considered a major milestone and the family threw a big party in celebration. I believe that this is why the Hawaiians have such a family-oriented perspective. All the children are taught to say “auntie” or “uncle” to everyone they meet.
The Hawaiians needed each other to survive. That’s why the Aloha spirit on the Island today is so wonderful, and for the most part we are one big family here. Hawaiians will hug and kiss you on the cheek or draw you close when greeting you. The traditional Hawaiians will embrace you and draw close and do the “ha” breath from aloha and breathe in each others’ breath.
I hope this helps round out the fullness that is Kauai and its people; loving but unconquered, serene and peaceful but with a strength and wild nature that truly is Kauai.