in polynesia

in hawai’i at the moment, drinking in the landscape. Here’s what I wrote to adam (dramatis personae: my boyfriend) yesterday —

hawaii is incredible — what strikes first is the sense that the island doesn’t quite know what it wishes to be yet, and ranges from stark, bleak desert to furiously lush rainforest to english countryside, from blazing heat to stormclouds, within fifty miles. the only thing that binds these climactic disparities is the everpresent horizon — the vast blue bowl of sea and sky, the varigated but always stunning sunsets in the evening, and the palm fronds that cast those ribbed shadows & sway in the breeze … then there is all that new land, the mountains frozen & caught in the act of spilling into the sea. it is strange for me to think that solid rock was once liquid, but here, everywhere, the blackened landscape, with the magma swirls etched into its very form, serves as a constant reminder. the other day I trekked into a massive volcanic crater & had lunch in it. the nonchalance with which I can say that is v pleasing, & I still have not gotten over it.

it’s a strangely physical intimation of the timescale of history — the idea of time itself, congealed. I like it a good deal; more so because yesterday I stood on ground that is 18 YEARS younger than myself, and this is awesome.

I also love polynesian mythology/history — for instance: Princess Kapiolani, erstwhile ruler of Hawai’i, defied the volcano goddess Pele and embraced Christianity by standing on a narrow shelf of land in Hawai’i called Byron Ledge and eating ‘ohelo berries without offering any to Pele first. This ran counter to the general practice of first tossing some into the crater as an offering, before having any yourself. When the Princess was indeed not struck dead, so the story goes, many of her people too embraced Christianity, resulting, presumably, in the many weird and wonderful little churches that pepper this strange landscape. awesome!


2 responses to “in polynesia

  • kit

    Hawaii is great. You should check out Kiholo Bay if you have the chance, it’s definitely one of my favourite getaways (that is to say, getaway-from-tourists). Your description’s made me look at it with fresh eyes, even though I’ve been there a ton of times! I guess emails like that woud be one of the (many) perks of being your boyfriend =P

  • inaesb

    I’ve never heard of that Polynesian legend before, I must admit. But I know about the Hula. 😛

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