The sky was mottled gray when Koko and I went walking in that time between night and day when the streetlights hadn't yet self-extinguished. Roosters, including those living in the valley and in cages across the street, were calling out to one another, and responding, in a sort of round-robin of crowing that began well before we rose and still continues hours later.
A light rain that turned heavier arrived before the sun, blotting it out, save for a yellow streak in the east, followed by a brief rosy glow, as Makaleha and Waialeale huddled beneath thick layers of black clouds that diminished the full story of their grandeur.
I was talking to one of the North Shore boys this weekend and he told me the full story of what really went down in the shooting incident at Haena last week.
Apparently the boys had finished lua practice and were milling around, not easily seen in their black shirts in the darkness, when a van drove up and a guy jumped out “acting all wild” and started messing up cars in the beach parking lot. Some of the cars belonged to the boys, so they caught the guy, gave him dirty lickings, then tossed him in the van and told him not to come back.
But as the boys turned their cars around and prepared to leave, somebody in the van started shooting, and then the van took off and a few of the boys gave chase, throwing rocks at the vehicle, including one that went through the windshield and hit the driver in the chest, causing him to stop and veer off the road. By that time the cops had arrived and they took over from there.
“Did you know the guys?” I asked.
“Nah,” said my friend. “They were fresh off the boat; they shipped their van over from the mainland. People had been complaining about car break-ins, but the cops blamed the locals and the tweakers because the haoles can do no wrong. I asked [name withheld] if the tweakers were doing that shit and he said, ‘no, 90 percent of the stuff that happens, we don’t do, even though everybody blames us.’”
That left me wondering if the same guys were perhaps responsible for the recent rash of car break-ins at my favorite beach. That isn't something that typically happens there. I also couldn’t help but wonder if such incidents — and the community’s response to them, as detailed by my friend — are figured in when determining the ranking of the world’s best islands, seeing as how Kauai is now number four.
Do you suppose the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine, in casting their votes, also consider things like the gallinules that like to feed right along the highway, near the entrance to the Wailua golf course? Each time I pass them I think, wow, that is so cool that Kauai has drive-by endangered birds, but please, don’t come any closer to the highway, and please, don’t anybody pull over right here.
And are the readers swayed by events like Kumu Kehau’s powerful and poignant paina and concert, held last night in Princeville? Do they consider all the work and energy and commitment it takes for a small community to put something like that together? Are they aware that our little island has the state’s highest rate of volunteerism and charitable giving?
But most important, do the readers who ranked us so highly realize that here on Kauai, they can still experience some semblance of the real Hawaii, the one with 10,000 known native species, 90 percent of them found nowhere else in the world, and far too many of them headed toward extinction?
Some know the full story, I’m sure. Others don’t have a clue. They just like Kauai for her beaches, scenery, weather, seclusion. Or worse, what they can get from her.
Hawaii has the highest percentage of millionaires in the nation — defined as a household with $1 million or more in investable or liquid assets, excluding sponsored retirement plans and real estate — and no doubt many of them are looking to gain more wealth here. What else could explain the homes built atop burials and vacation rentals in conservation zones and arrogant attitudes and dubious development schemes?
They likely don’t know, and certainly don’t adhere to, an old Hawaiian saying that last night left me teary-eyed as I reflected on just how far we've drifted from this core value, how much of the full story we're missing:
The land is chief, the humans but a servant.