Trip Start Feb 21, 2006
12Trip End Mar 08, 2006
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Ho'omana'o means "remember" and is a new production of the same company. We left our condo at about 7:15 in the morning and headed back to Lahaina on the west side of the island. Once again, traffic near Lahaina slowed us down. Hilary was convinced that we would be late, but I had timed it to the minute! We were greeted at the same location as the Old Lahaina Luau with fresh juice (each cup was topped with a beautiful lei flower) and a kukui nut lei.
By the way, leis are made of many things. The kukui lei is made up of dark, shiny nuts about the size of small walnuts. Other leis are, of course, made of different kinds of flowers. They're quite fragile and will lose their freshness
Back to Ho'omana'o. Some Internet sites called this event as a breakfast luau and Hilary has picked up that description. However, it really wasn't a luau at all; it's more of an education event. The goal is to provide tourists with a better understanding of the ancient Hawaiian way of life.
The morning began with a great breakfast buffet. There was pork hash (left over from the pork cooked in an imu, or underground oven, at the luau the night before), bacon, scrambled eggs, frittata, Portuguese sausage, French toast stuffed with mango, yoghurt and granola, fresh fruit and more.
There was a much smaller group for the morning event - perhaps about 40 or 45 people. We were all seated in the same area where Hilary and I sat for the evening luau, only this time we sat at tables
After our breakfast, they divided us into three groups and led each group to a different area along the beach. The plan was that each group would visit each of the three learning centres. Our first half hour was devoted to learning about hula. We sat on benches and chairs under the palm trees and listened to a Hawaiian man tell us about the history of this beautiful dance. I've forgotten his name (they all told us their Hawaiian names, but I usually only barely caught the string of syllables!), but he has competed in hula and teaches hula each year in Japan. His two assistants demonstrated all the special tools used in hula. Most of the tools are used to create a rhythmic sound or pleasant movements.
As we watched the two female assistants demonstrate several different dances, I listened carefully to the teacher chant and keep the rhythm on a huge gourd drum. I was interested to hear the clear difference between singing and chanting. Although he did change pitch a many times, there was a monotone element to the whole thing. It was definitely not sung - much less so than something like a Gregorian chant. Another interesting element was the way the dancers answer the chanter at different times - antiphonal chanting
After demonstrating different dances and tools, it was our turn. Two people learned how to use a dried gourd filled with beans and trimmed with feathers, two others learned how to use small drums (to set the beat) and we learned how to use bamboo sticks that had been split into loose ends. (We held one in each hand, hit them together three times and then tapped them gently over the back of our shoulders. It made me think of pictures of flagellation, but it was quite gentle. The goal was to create a different sound between hitting the sticks together (a harsher sound) and the sound of hitting the body (a more muffled sound). The name of the sticks translates into something related to skin something something.)
Once we had all "mastered" our instruments, we used them together while the teacher chanted. We did pretty well! Ha! The next stage was to add foot movements. All three of my left feet came into play. (This is one of the reasons I always sing on music teams and don't participate in Messianic dance!) Even Hilary had trouble keeping her bamboo sticks going while we did the very simple steps. Arghhhh. There was a lot of laughter.
Soon it was time for each group to go to a different learning centre
One aspect of Hawaiian life found interesting was the way in which the Hawaiian leaders had organized each community and land use. The Hawaiian communities were organized from mountainside down to the ocean in long strips. In other words, each community (and there were many) had access to each kind of land so that they were able to provide for themselves in every way. The mountainsides and valleys were used for agriculture. The valleys and ocean sides were used for living areas and community activities. The ocean sides and oceans themselves were used for collecting fish and seafood
While the teacher was talking to us, one of the assistants pounded a taro root into poi. It looked a little like kneading bread. We tasted this paste that is so loved by the Hawaiians. It's really very bland and sticky. Definitely an acquired taste. They offered us a chance to try a raw fish mixed with poi. I passed on this golden opportunity, but some of the women who tried it, thought it was great. The teacher talked about how this kind of fresh poi was so much better than the commercially available poi, which is watered down because of "a shortage of poi."
One of the assistants demonstrated a little weaving and presented Hilary will a small tropical bird with a very, very long tail - all created from palm fronds. It will go nicely with her woven basket.
Our last learning centre was all about Hawaiian warfare. Different weapons were demonstrated. Some were wooden or gourd tools, edged with shark teeth. Very frightening looking things. I found this section least interesting, but perhaps the warm ocean breezes were starting to get to me. At the end of this session, one of the assistants gave Hilary a temporary tattoo on her arm. By the way, I've never seen so many tattoos as I've seen here in Hawaii. They seem to be on almost every local or Hawaiian person you see. The designs are tribal rather than the typical ones seen in North America (hearts and logos, etc.). They're quite attractive, but I think there is a great deal of religious symbolism involved.
After this last session, all the teachers and assistants did a last gentle hula for us and then we said goodbye. It was a great morning. I enjoyed it more than the evening luau, but Hilary said she preferred the evening with all the exciting music and dance.
Our next goal was to ... shop! We worked our way through the Lahaina Cannery Mall across the street, then we headed north a few miles to the Whalers Village Mall. We didn't buy anything more than some ice cream (very expensive brand-name stores), but we really enjoyed the 40-foot long whale skeleton and the Whaling Museum.
Kaanapali seems to be a beautiful area. Green mountains are behind the town and the blue ocean and soft beach are before it. It was very busy and warm, too. After seeing all we wanted to see, we headed back to Lahaina to get a closer look at the gigantic banyan tree on Front Street. It covers a huge area. I'm not sure it's bigger than the one in Florida at Edison's House, but it is mighty big! We strolled a few blocks up Front, looking into many of the shops. Hilary also talked me into buying pearls in a mussels, as she did a few days ago. My first mussel contained a beautiful silver pearl. They offered me a second, free mussel and Hilary was very proud that she picked out one that contained TWO pink pearls. This really is quite a scam that encourages you to pay bigger bucks for the settings, but it's a lot of fun.
On the way home, we stopped at a lookout where it's quite easy to spot whales. And spot them we did! We saw at least three, spouting and flapping their tails about.
It was a great day!