Mar 222007

Versiune în română

Big Island, Hawai’i 4th day. On the fourth day on Big Island Cris demanded that we keep his part of the bargain and go snorkeling. Leafing through the travel guide to find a good place to snorkel, I found that one of the best places according to the guide’s authors was very close to a Hawaiian temple. This was the beach I picked, thinking that we can do both activities, see the temple and go snorkeling afterwards. This time we drove south keeping to the west side of the island, passing again by fields of lava sprinkled with white stone messages and past the airport and the resort of Kailua. As soon as we left the highway the road started to descend towards the ocean. The Hawaiian temple that I wanted to visit had the long name of Pu’uhonua o Honaunau or Place of Refuge at Honaunau. From what I’ve read this place was a sort of an extreme form of “get out of jail free”, or rather “get out of trouble alive” meaning that if those accused of a crime could manage to get here they would get absolved. In ancient Hawaii the society was regulated by the”kapu” system of laws and according to the kapu the crime that one can be accused of and executed for could be as ridiculous as “one’s shadow touching the shadow of a leader” or “walking the same path as the chief” or “men and women eating together”. It was believed that the violation of these laws will bring god’s anger in the form of famine, lava flows, high tide and earthquakes so the violators were hunted down and killed. Their only chance was to reach this place of refuge and once inside the priests will perform ceremonies to absolve them and they could return home. It wasn’t easy to reach the place of refuge because the well defended royal grounds full of warriors were adjacent to the pu’uhonua. Today this place is a neatly organized national park and the quiet and beautiful grounds really feel like a place of refuge. There are some reconstructed Hawaiian huts, the wall that separated the place of refuge from the royal grounds and a reconstructed thatched temple that used to contain the bones of 23 chiefs. The small cove was full of green turtles basking in the sun. We walked around the place, following the lava all the way to the ocean. After the visit Cris finally got his wish, we went snorkeling at the beach just north of the place of refuge. The travel guide was right, it was a good place to snorkel with plenty of fish. On the way home we stopped by the St. Benedict’s Painted Church, a small catholic church whose walls were painted in Biblical scenes in 1899 by a Father John, a catholic priest who came to Hawaii all the way from Belgium. He’s done a beautiful job with the painting.

  9 Responses to “A Place of Refuge”

  1. Gorgeous shots! I lived in Kona and know precisely where that is. Any turtles that day?

  2. (In the water with you, that is.)

  3. There were plenty of turtles in the water, in fact I’ve got a nice underwater shot of one of them which I’m thinking of posting.

  4. Rom, from Kona to Brasov, that’s quite a trip you took. I should know, I went the other direction, from Bucuresti to SF, with a 4 years in New Jersey stop in between.

  5. One of my favorite memories of snorkeling in that area was catching a ride on few turtles. After a minute or so, you have to let go or you’ll tire it out. But I was younger/smaller at the time and it quite the experience.

    Were you staying in Hilo? Many people do. Just curious.

    If you post that picture, I’m sure I’ll love to see it. I’m not the worlds biggest animal nut, but I love turtles (and sharks, for that matter).

    Yes, we do seem to be following trails in different directions! I suppose the big question is: what’ll be next? For my immediate future, I have not planned a change yet.

  6. No, we didn’t stay in Hilo (and I’m glad we didn’t because it seemed to rain continuously the two days that we spent on that part of the island). I’m actually embarrassed to mention where we were staying because this was the first time we stayed in a resort. Even though I’m not the backpacker type – rather the inexpensive 2 star hotel type – I have moral issues with staying in the resorts. I actually feel bad to pay as much per night as I know a Romanian family will survive on in a given month. Second, I don’t mind being a tourist as opposed to trying really hard to be a “traveler” – whatever that means – but I just don’t want to feel as yet another tourist and that is the feeling that I get if I stay at a 400 rooms resort as opposed to a 20 rooms hotel in town. And resorts always give the feeling of “Anywhere USA”. But since our first two vacations in Hawaii were on a tight budget I decided to try a different touch on the third. And the conclusion is that it wasn’t worth it. They can’t pamper me enough to justify the price 🙂 Or maybe I’m just not much into pampering.

    We did plan a change, even though we’re implementing it at a very slow pace. After 10 years in US we decided it was time to return to Romania. We spent 6 months there last year and we’re coming again for 5 months starting in April. We’ll be in Romania just in time to eat the Easter goodies.

  7. Thanks Andreea for posting these elegant pics. I just want to know who Queen Angela is! I hope I don’t accidentally step on her shadow.

    BTW, you have great taste in movies. I was just looking at your profile. All those French new wave fliks – they’re my favorites too. I saw the original Breathless on DVD recently. Still the ultimate gangster film. And Jean Seberg is for eternity.

    The 400 Blows has broken my heart at least a hundred times. Jules and Jim – man, this the core stuff of my generation! I’m so glad I happened on your blog one day.

  8. Thank you. I’m blushing and beaming in the same time 🙂 Most of my friends blame me for recommending movies about “gay cowboys eating pudding, in subtitles” – this is a line that Cris picked up from South Park and likes to use it every time I pick a movie that doesn’t come from Hollywood.
    I’ve seen both Jules and Jim and Breathless again last summer and they were great like always. Classic and fresh at the same time. You’re right about Seberg and may I say that Belmondo is quite a match for her. For the 400 Blows I broke my never pay more than $10 for a DVD rule and got it so I can watch it whenever I wish.

  9. By the way Pig, how are the pictures loading now? Some time ago you told me that they load very slow. I made changes to the html code they should load very fast now.

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