This morning’s pink sky made me think about last night, when I went walking with a friend, hoping to see Venus cozied up with the crescent moon, and looking up, sure enough, both were there, floating in a sea of pink that turned lavender and then purple and slowly faded into midnight blue.
Later, returning outside to check their progress, I found a canopy of bright stars, a warming, welcoming sight after a long stretch of nighttime clouds, and the Venus-moon partnership, golden now, preparing to descend into a foreboding murky mass above the mountains.
The friend who had come to visit is a customary chief in the Kingdom of Atooi, and he had an identification card that had been issued by the Kingdom. It looked like a driver’s license, with all the pertinent info about date of birth and physical characteristics, and a number, which was not the same as his Hawaii driver's license number, at the top.
On the back was a bar code and this statement: Do not detain this individual. UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Pursuant to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. He said that as a chief, he’s entitled to diplomatic immunity.
Anyway, I found it very interesting that he and others have been using the cards when traveling and haven’t run into any opposition, or even questions, at the airports.
The Kingdom also has minted a 100-kalla coin that is an ounce of pure silver. On one side is an engraving of Dayne Aipoalani, the Kingdom’s alii nui, with the words “Aleka (which means God, my friend said, “but he no make like he better than anyone else) Aipoalani.” On the flip side is a seal with the words “sovereign authority.”
We got to talking about the word Atooi, which he said means the light of God, and variations of that word that have also been used to describe this place. Atuai means spirit of light, he said, while Atuoi means surpreme authority, or lord of the light. Kauai, he said, means light shining through the rainbow, which seemed to me an apt description.
The meanings of many Hawaiian words have been garbled in translation, he said, such as hanai, which doesn’t mean adopted but spirit siblings forever, and haka. “It’s not a war chant, but the truth,” he said. “Why do you think they’re screaming it?”
As for his and the Kingdom’s take on the state’s plans to do rockfall mitigation in Kalalau Valley, they don’t like it and will be actively opposing it.
“They’re smashing the mountain, they’re trying to kill our energy,” he said. “It’s all shrines and they’re destroying them.”
The state has claimed that loose rocks around Ho‘ole‘a waterfall and above the sea cave at Kalalau Beach pose a hazard to campers and hikers, and the entire beach and a portion of the trail will be closed for two months while the work is done. According to a press release from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources:
Mitigation work will involve manual rock scaling methods using ‘o‘o, crowbars, and compressed air bags to remove loose and unstable rock materials from rock shelves above these areas. No explosives nor heavy equipment will be utilized in the project area.
Helicopter sling loads will be used to assist in the manual removal of fallen material to designated mauka areas.
More details, apparently based on the consultant’s presentation to the county planning commission, were reported by The Garden Island, which quoted the consultant, Tobias Koehler, environmental planner for AECom, saying they’ll be starting Sept. 7 to take advantage of the wide beach:
“The chances of impacting with the ocean are basically zero, and our plan is to be done and out of there before any kind of real winter swells start to take the beach away,” he said.
My recollection of living on the North Shore is that the first big swells start to happen right about that time and are certainly well under way in October and November.
Given the logistics and many uncertainties of the project — especially those connected with removing two blocks of rock on the cliff’s face that are estimated at 230 and 1,250 cubic yards each, which is a pretty wide spread — I think Kauai attorney Kurt Bosshard is correct in his assessment that the project won’t be done in two months.
When pressed to say the worst-case scenario, Koehler said if the project wasn’t finished they would have to abandon it temporarily, close that portion of Kalalau Beach, and be back after April 30, 2011 to finish the job.
Even the planning commission didn’t buy into the two-month bit, adding a condition to the permit that work must be done within two years. But what if it isn’t? What about all that loosened rock rubble, which will be exposed to the big surf and possibly torrential rains of winter in the meantime? And as Kurt notes, will it result in the indefinite closure of Kalalau Valley?
My friend offered his own assessment: "They have no idea what they're getting into."