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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Pu'uhonua o Honaunau (City of Refuge)

Pictures top to bottom:
 -girls running through the Royal Grounds (ancient site of Royal City).
-me as Queen Ka'ahumanu, wife of King Kamehameha I--she swam a long distance to the City of Refuge after a fight with her husband and hid under this rock. Her barking dog gave her away though.
-the lush beauty of this royal/sacred site: coconut trees and noni trees.
-two ki'i guards--protecting the City of Refuge.
-a temple at the City of Refuge entrance. The area of refuge is surrounded by a lava stone wall built in 1500. It was a place for those who had broken the laws of kapu. If they managed to escape and swim to these shores, they were granted asylum and could return to their former lives unharmed. Penalty for breaking kapu was always death. The ancient Hawaiians were really  into human sacrifice and cannibalism (pre 1870). Kapu laws were easy to break--if a woman ate with men, if a commoner's shadow fell upon royal grounds , etc.
-playing an ancient Hawaiian board game with m'girls.
-me, trying to guide us safely to the City of Refuge over royal grounds (without breaking any kapu).
-Peter on Gilligan's Island (I felt like we were on Gilligan's Island--the royal grounds were so picturesque and beautiful).
-our hut.
-me looking for shells in the tidal pools of the City of Refuge. The atmosphere was calm and serene
inside the tall lava walls.

After a tour of the City of Refuge, we stopped at a fabric shop that has been in business over 70 years. Theresa suggested it. It is filled with gorgeous Hawaiian printed fabrics. I bought enough fabric to make 2 roman blinds for the girls' rooms.
Then we met T and crew at a beach known for great snorkeling: Kalu'u (? will check this later).
It was incredible snorkeling. The minute I put my face in the water (even right at the shore line in 2' of water) the ocean was teaming with mutlicoloured, striped and polka-dotted fish in all sizes and shapes. It was like swimming in a well-stocked salt water aquarium.
All was well except the ocean currents were very strong that day and further out the surfers were lined up, surfing the big waves.
I used to think I was a surfer girl, because I've always loved the water--but no--not so much anymore. To go to where you catch the big waves, you must be way, way out, in the deep, deep, open ocean in crazy currents and shark filled waters. It is a death wish. No, boogie boarding closer to shore is all I want to do.
The day turned into one of my most frightening to date. I decided to go out for a second snorkel by myself, despite harsh current--I was going to stay fairly shallow--the fish were just too plentiful to not hang out with them again!
Eventually I felt  someone grab my arm, I popped up to find a woman holding onto me, I said, "Sorry?" Using sorry in the British way as a way of saying, "How can I help you?" It was Theresa! I didn't recognize her in her mask. Anyway, she said, "Follow me, there is more coral over there and lots of turtles." I followed and sure enough there were giant bouquets of cauliflower coral in bright, phosphorus yellow and green. We were no longer in shallow water. When I peeked my head up and saw the line up of surfers, I realized we were heading for open ocean. The current and taken us way off course very quickly and into deep open water. Theresa yelled something muffled. I took off my mask and shouted "What?" She took off her mouth piece and said, "Let's go back." The sound of her voice raised alarm in me--I thought she'd seen a shark but didn't want me to all out panic. I headed for shore as fast as I could. But I realized shore was very far away and we were in deep ocean. The current was insanely strong. I could barely make it through. At one point I was spent--I was too tired and the ocean too deep to rest. I couldn't get enough oxygen. I took off my mask and swallowed a few mouth fulls of sea water as the waves were rough. I looked around for Theresa, she was far behind me. I started to panic, I felt I couldn't make it to shore, I was getting too tired fighting the current. I put my mask back on and scoured the bottom of the ocean for a large rock that perhaps I could stand on to rest and reach the surface. I finally found one but the current was too strong and the water splashing over my head so I had to move on. I spotted a man in the distance holding a child. The ocean was up to his neck. I figured if I could make it to him, he was probably standing, as he was holding a child. I focused on just getting to him. I made it. But even standing where he was proved difficult as the current wanted to suck me back out and my strength was spent. I finally pushed onward to shore and turned around to see Theresa fighting with her mask in water shallow enough to stand in. But I could tell she was spent too.

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Blogger Sandra said...

Wow...sounds dangerous! The fish etc sound beautiful. Glad you didn't spend one of your last days there being swept out to sea.!

March 21, 2010 at 3:09 PM  
Blogger Miranda said...

the ocean is bottomless; its power is endless. We are but specks bobbing in its fury. Take care.

March 21, 2010 at 7:11 PM  
Blogger John's pic of the day said...


March 23, 2010 at 6:20 PM  

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