Monday, March 10, 2008

Musings: Questions Without Answers

The stars and planets kept Koko and me company on our walk this morning. I always like to see how they’ve moved in the sky while I was sleeping. They were brilliant, when I awoke, just as they were when I went to bed, but a few clouds rolled in with the dawn.

I’ve been feeling a bit guilty lately with all this warm, sunny weather, because a man from Washington, D.C., emailed me a couple of months ago and said he wanted to bring his girlfriend here on vacation, but she refused to come unless she was assured of beach time.

How likely would that be, he asked, on the North Shore in March, and I had to tell him, not very. March is typically cool, cloudy and windy. So he postponed his trip and here we’ve had a stretch of stellar weather.

I understand beach time. But it's certainly not the only reason to visit Kauai.

The other day I was talking to my friend Ka`imi, who is working with Hui o Maka`ainana o Makana to re-open the loi at Ha`ena State Park and do some stewardship at Ke`e — a very important cultural area that is pretty much overrun by tourists daily.

He was fishing with a throw net and had just brought in his catch when a tourist came up to chat, as they tend to do, and talked about how pretty the fish were, expressing regret that they were dying in his net.

“What are you going to do with them?” she asked, in an almost accusatory voice, and when Ka`imi answered, “eat them,” she marveled at that concept, revealing that never in her entire life had she ever eaten anything she had caught or grown herself. It had all come from a plastic bag, box or can.

He marveled at the prospect of that, and even more at the man from France, who told Ka`imi he lived in a city and had never before seen wild nature.

“How do people live like that?” Kaimi asked me, bewildered, but I had no answer.

Nor can I explain why people keep saying the U.S. is the greatest country in the world when we have the highest rate of incarceration — both per capita and in absolute numbers — and a majority of Americans say they can’t save any money because they live paycheck to paycheck.

Similarly, I do not understand how we can continue to act like nothing is wrong when new studies show our drinking water is contaminated not just with chemicals and pesticide residues but pharmaceuticals — yet another unanticipated result of our increasingly drug-dependent society. And chlorine seems to make the entire mix more toxic.

And I really don't get why, of all the issues facing Kauai, the Wall Street Journal chose to run a front page story Saturday on Larry Rivera doing weddings at the run-down Coco Palms. Is that all the reporter saw? Is that all she found to be important?

As Ka`imi said, so many of the tourists who come here have no clue of what's in store for them, and how special and layered Kauai really is. So they, like the WSJ story, just skim over the surface, and end up missing out on so much.

"They need to be educated about what's really here," he said. "How come the visitors bureau doesn't clue them in before they bring them over here?"

Again, I had no answer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kauai residents should be thankful that guests to your island "do" miss out on the real Kauai. If the word ever gets out Kauai will become overrun with people from the mainland.