I saw the moon rise after dinner in Kapaa, all orange and lined with streaky clouds that gave it the appearance of Saturn, and later woke several times in the night to its bright, interrogating light. But I had nothing to confess save for fragments of vivid dreams.
It was still bright and bold, appearing larger than usual, when Koko and I went walking this morning in a brisk southeast wind that set the albezzia to creaking and made the ironwood moan.
Along the way we ran into my neighbor Andy, who said he thought he’d heard me on the radio yesterday afternoon, but he wasn’t sure, because it didn’t always sound like me, or at least, not the me with whom he’s accustomed to conversing.
It was a lively show, packed with constant calls about the bike path on Wailua Beach and other issues of cultural ignorance and disrespect, such as people piling up rocks along the Kalalau trail and leaving crystals on the heiau at Ke`e. One caller articulated the sentiments of local discontent and despair in the face of Western social, political and cultural constraints so eloquently that all I could do was thank him for sharing, even as I wished I could do something to ease his deep pain.
What he recounted, really, was how the forces of greed, dominance and insensitivity constantly chip away at both Hawaiian and local culture. I often think that if some of the cultural denigrators and land rape apologists really understood, on a feeling level, the resentment and pain that so many Hawaiians and locals carry, perhaps they would change their ways, or at least not be quite so cavalier. But I’m coming to believe that some people will never get it, at least not in this lifetime
Anyway, Kumu Kehau Kekua called in and talked about the cultural significance of Wailua simply by translating the place names for that area. I can’t remember all of them, but one meant “the sand dunes that conceal the bones.” It’s the place names that tell the truth and offer the “proof” of sacredness that the deniers demand, which is why it’s so important to use them and vigorously resist attempts by developers and realtors to make up names, like “Banana Beach” for Naue.
That’s their way of pretending that nothing existed prior to what they created, like the person who once told me that the North Shore was nothing, really, before Realtor John Ferry came in and “made it something,” forgetting, or perhaps never even cognizant of, the families that have lived there for centuries and the intrinsic sacredness of the place itself.
And that leads me to a comment that someone left on yesterday’s post:
Perfect, the hawaiian on Joans radio show just said that all of Kauai is sacred and you can't pick one part over another. There ya go. No doing nothing anywhere. It's all sacred.
I know it was meant to be snide, but here’s my reply: Great, you’re finally getting it. Yes, it is all sacred, so treat it with respect and avoid trashing it with all this willy nilly crap that neither we nor the `aina need, like a $4.2 million plastic bike path on one of the world’s most beautiful white sand beaches.
One caller raised the interesting idea that the path is tied into Homeland Security, creating a means for encircling and accessing the entire island for the purpose of monitoring and controlling its citizenry. (And caller, please correct me if I got that wrong.)
My co-host Caren Diamond observed that it’s part of the county’s desire to turn the island into a giant resort, with all the distinct communities homogenized by virtue of a manicured concrete path.
And that takes us once again to the issue of just how much Kauai should be altered to accommodate the tourists and the wealthy.
As Farmer Jerry noted: “I don’t know what they’re trying to do to this place, just change it some fantasy land where everything is artificial.”
Jerry, who yesterday told me of attending a meeting of the Business Council, said that Sue Kanoho, head of the Kauai Visitor Bureau, got a bit huffy when he suggested that tourism is no longer a growth industry.
Every industry has its peak, he said, recalling how government poured money into sugar in a last ditch effort to keep it alive after it had reached its peak. It still failed.
It seems that’s where we are now with tourism. The Garden Island yesterday reported on the $1 million in “stimulus” money directed to KVB, with both Sue and Councilman Dickie Chang, who originally introduced the bill, gushing about the good results and “return on investment.”
Yet even after reading the article, I remained unclear about exactly what they were.
Right now there’s only one growth industry on Kauai, Jerry said, and that’s selling off land for gentleman’s estates.