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Aloha, y'all, belatedly

 
 
Reply Thu 21 May, 2009 03:45 pm
So, here I am on the so-called Big Island of Hawaii and I'm thinking it's time I gave y'all a running commentary on my travels, on this island itself and on life in general. Also, give you a chance to call me names and generally give me a hard time. 'Sokay, I'm used to it.

Anyway, I arrived here on the third day of the third month of this current year. I got online May 19, two days ago, after several hair-raising and hair-yanking attempts. This is typical in Hawaii. Saw an SUV (or maybe it was a pickup) yesterday (or maybe it was this morning) with a bumper sticker that said: RELAX. THIS AIN'T THE MAINLAND. Makes perfectly good sense to me. The people here are so relaxed that nothing ever gets done on time. Ever. I believe Christmas is celebrated sometime in mid-January. If you have a structural emergency at your abode, e.g. a crumbling foundation or a leaking faucet that's flooding your kitchen, it'll take about half a dozen phone calls before some tradesman actually commits himself to coming over. Then he may or may not come over. Depends.

Nobody's in any hurry and that most definitely includes civil servants, be they county, state or Federal level. You may say that this is true of civil servants everywhere but here's the difference between the local contingent and those on the mainland: no one is ever surly. They will all bend over backwards to be nice to you. They will be solicitous of your needs and your welfare. They will tell you, "No problem." (Actually, in Hawaiian that's "A'ole pilikia," but it means the same thing.) And then they will do nothing, or next to nothing. They'll be too busy being nice and solicitous to the next person in line.

Don't get me started on Hawaiian police. That deserves a special thread of its own.

The biggest mistake a haole malihini (newly-arrived white man) can make is to insist that Hawaii is one of the 50 United States. This is an illusion fostered by the US government. Hawaii is a foreign country and one does well to observe the local customs and not make too many waves. The Hawaiians will tolerate you. After all, you bring the dollars. But don't think that this makes you somehow an equal. Most native Hawaiians fly the Hawaii state flag upside down on their flagstaffs in protest of the fact that we (the USA) literally stole the country from them, ousted their royal family and simply took over, bullies that we are. At the recent Merry Monarch Festival in Hilo, I saw a rather large banner on one of the concession stands, which read WE ARE NOT AMERICANS. WE ARE HAWAIIANS. No surprise shown by anyone attending the annual festival.

I am now living on the rim of a very active volcano. Literally. The house we're in is technically on the grounds of the Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park and I'm no more than maybe two miles walk from the rim of the main caldera of Mount Kiluaea. Maybe less. I've walked it several times while Seaglass was off in the family car but I wasn't wearing a pedometer so the distance is an educated guess. I've walked the rim of that volcano and even across the crater left by one of the more recent eruptions in the 1980s. Eerie but strangely exhilirating. The one drawback to this locale (apart from the ever-present danger of an earthquake or unanticipated major eruption) is the air quality which has recently become much worse than it had been on my previous visits. They call it vog. That's a combination of fog and volcanic emanations, mostly sulphurous fumes, which are currently coming out of the Hale'mau'mau crater, a part of Kiluaea's main caldera. This column of what looks like white smoke rises from a vent in the crater and disipates into the sky, looking for all the wrold like the prettiest white cumulus clouds you ever saw. Except they're almost pure sulphur. A large portion of Crater Rim Drive, a road I used to drive without giving it a second thought, has been closed because of the air quality. And, along with that, all the foot trails into the caldera have been closed down. There are large signs at the entrance to the Park, warning, essentially, don't drink the water and don't breathe the air.

As for the water quality, that's never been drinkable on the side of the mountain. I drive down t0 Mountain View, a town at the 2,000 foot level, to fill up a couple of 20-gallon potable water jugs about twice a week. Seaglass and I are in a lovely house at the 4,000-plus level, which is your basic crest of the mountain, and the water that comes out of the tap is fine for washing one's clothes, the dishes and one's own bod', but certainly not to be ingested.

Anyway, that's probably more than you wanted to know about my whereabouts. But, if I've left anything out, feel free to ask about it. Also, feel free to comment.

Aloha, y'all!




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Type: Discussion • Score: 18 • Views: 4,642 • Replies: 43

 
panzade
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 May, 2009 03:50 pm
who the hell is this guy? Shocked
roger
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 May, 2009 03:55 pm
@panzade,
Sounds like he knows us, so I guess he's okay.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 May, 2009 04:09 pm
@Merry Andrew,
Great, but how ARE you?
0 Replies
 
Letty
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 May, 2009 04:42 pm
@Merry Andrew,
No longer the state fish I am told (my way of marking)

http://www.repcindyevans.com/images/humuhumu.jpg
0 Replies
 
Izzie
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 May, 2009 04:45 pm
@Merry Andrew,
Good to see you MA - hope you are well and truly healed and life is being kind to you and Sglass. ((((( MA - Sglass))) x Alaho ho ho x
0 Replies
 
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 May, 2009 04:49 pm
frankly Mr Andrew I don't really give a rats ass where you are living, i think you are some kind of commiepinko, not a real american. "Aloha", is that some code word for "I hate america"?
Roberta
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 May, 2009 04:51 pm
Andy, kiddo. Great to hear from you. You're living on the rim of a volcano??!!!

Like I don't have enough to worry about.

0 Replies
 
Merry Andrew
 
  2  
Reply Thu 21 May, 2009 05:02 pm
@dyslexia,
Tax'n'spend, dys, tax'n'spend, thass my motto.

As to 'aloha' -- on the mainland everybody thinks of that word as either a word of greeting or farewell. Actually, it means 'love' and it is in this context that you hear it used quite a lot hereabouts. Expressions such as "he's got a lot of aloha," meaning that he's a friendly, loving person, are commonplace. Or, conversely, "he has no aloha", meaning, in mainland parlance, "he's a hater." Hint, hint, dys
Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 May, 2009 05:04 pm
And thanx for the 'welcome back,' y'all. Now you know the main reason I've been a stranger to this site lately.
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 May, 2009 05:08 pm
@Merry Andrew,
details, details, I need details.

are there good book stores? interesting food stuffs in the grocery stores? like, life, what's it like eh
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 May, 2009 05:12 pm
@Merry Andrew,
Merry Andrew wrote:

Tax'n'spend, dys, tax'n'spend, thass my motto.

As to 'aloha' -- on the mainland everybody thinks of that word as either a word of greeting or farewell. Actually, it means 'love' and it is in this context that you hear it used quite a lot hereabouts. Expressions such as "he's got a lot of aloha," meaning that he's a friendly, loving person, are commonplace. Or, conversely, "he has no aloha", meaning, in mainland parlance, "he's a hater." Hint, hint, dys
lol, lov ya Mr Andrew.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 May, 2009 05:23 pm
@Merry Andrew,
Hey, Merry, good to see you posting. Aloha to you too.
0 Replies
 
Merry Andrew
 
  2  
Reply Thu 21 May, 2009 05:30 pm
@ehBeth,
Quote:
details, details, I need details.

are there good book stores? interesting food stuffs in the grocery stores? like, life, what's it like eh


Sheesh. Some people are never content. Bookstores? Well, every souvenir shop carries books on Hawaiian history, awesome coffee table picture books of Hawiian volcanoes, Hawaiian grammars and dictionaries and so forth. For mainstream reading, though, I have to drive to Hilo,a matter of about 30-plus miles each way, where there is a Borders store with remarkably knowledgeable and helpful 'sales associates.'

Grocery stores present a similar problem. The local stores are really just convenience stores where you get your bread and milk and eggs and ice cream. And beer and wine. And cigarettes which I no longer smoke. Had my last cig before getting on the plane in Boston March 3rd. The closest supermarket is in Keaau, a town about three-quarters of the way to Hilo. There's a farmer's market in Hilo every Thursday where you can get good local produce. Foodstuffs tend to be more expensive here than on the mainland. This is true even of locally-grown food. There are good reasons for this. The stuff that isn't local will obviously be more expensive because of shipping costs. But the locally-grown produce isn't any cheaper simply because local farms aren't the huge agri-businesses they've become on the mainland. And there's no such thing as itinerant farm laborers here who go from job to job during harvest season earning less than minimum wage under the table. Hired hands on any family farm make a decent living and the farmer has to charge a decent price for his goods to break even.
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 May, 2009 05:41 pm
@Merry Andrew,
Thank you! I like the little details of life stuff.

When we went up to Moose Factory (island in James Bay), I was most fascinated by the costs of toilet paper and milk - and finding out how they got the goods there after ice-up.
0 Replies
 
George
 
  3  
Reply Thu 21 May, 2009 05:54 pm
Don't worry about the air quality.
No (present or former) Bostonian feels comfortable breathing anything he can't see.
Sglass
 
  2  
Reply Thu 21 May, 2009 06:02 pm
@George,
Thanks to Boston Edison.
0 Replies
 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 May, 2009 07:31 pm
Very glad to see you Merry Andrew!
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 May, 2009 07:46 pm
Good to have ya back, even if dys does like you.
0 Replies
 
Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Thu 21 May, 2009 09:41 pm
Thank you, Kris. Thank you, Edgar. And anyone else I've unintentionally snubbed.

I know it's hard to believe, or even to comprehend, George, but the air quality here is even worse than in Boston. It approaches L.A. in the 50s and 60s, in fact.
0 Replies
 
 

 
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