Monday, May 21, 2012

Waimea Valley

I hadn’t been to Waimea Valley since I first came to O’ahu in 1981.  That day at Waimea was the first time I heard a conch shell trumpet, the first time I heard a chant in Hawaiian, and the first time I saw a kahiko hula.

My friend, Lani, said to be sure to look for the huge lily pads near the entrance.

A huge "happy" rock lives in the front of this hale and presumably guards the entrance.

Hewahewa, Kamehameha’s head kahuna (priest) spent his final days in Waimea Valley.  There is a place name of Waimea on all the major islands.  Waimea means red water. It was said that the water in the river was thought of as healing water due to the amount of iron in the soil.   

This rock, perched upon a much larger rock, could have easily been mistaken for a skull.  Whether it was placed there years ago, whether it has any meaning is not for me to say. Clearly the rocks are alive.

There were many rock paths and steps all over the gardens, leading to hales (houses) or sometimes they seemed to be steps to nowhere. I played around with photoshop on this picture, just to give it a very unworldly air--to show that things at the gardens were not always as they first seemed. It is a very magical place, if one but slows down to look and listen.

The vines growing around the base of this tree--and up into the branches--made me smile.  I was reminded of how I carefully tended this plant in order to make it grow indoors when I lived on the mainland.

There were many varieties of taro growing in the lo'i. I picked this one to photograph because the leaves where huge! 

Awa. The leaves and stems are chewed, then the juice is spit into a bowl, water is added. The whole concoction looks like mud and tastes bitter, so I'm told, but the effects are relaxing and prophetic. It was the sacred drink and used during ceremonies at the heiau

The outline of the man in the moss behind the red flower may have just been a fluke, but it reminded me to look for the spirits everywhere.

Waimea Valley was once a botanical garden before it became an adventure park.  It was finally purchased by OHA and is now a cultural site.  

The map says it’s about ¾ of a mile from the gift store to the waterfall.  At the bottom of the falls I took a dip—the cool water felt so good after the humid hike up to the back of the valley. 

This heiau is consecrated to the god Lono, the agricultural god.  Above this heiau—up on the bluff—is another heiau that was a luakini heaiu, or where they performed human sacrifices.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Keawai Heiau, Aiea Oahu

The heiau is well cared for, such as it is, but there are few plants around—lots of ti and a noni bush, but certainly not the healing garden I remembered from before. 

This upright rock symbolizes male energy, the prone one, female. The round rock in the middle seemed like a head with a face—or at least two eyes—to me.

I decided to go a ways up the Aiea Loop Trail and parked in the upper parking lot. As soon as I opened the car door I spied a bone on the ground right in front of me.  I smiled and picked it up—me, the bone woman. Then I went around the car to open the passenger door and found another one. Clicked together they made that fabulous rattling sound bones make. Mana in the bones.

Then I headed down the trail. I hadn’t gotten very far when I heard voices behind me. I stepped off the trail, being mindful of the hundred-foot drop, and waited for the couple to pass—he talking about the latest office intrigue and she lapping up the gossip like spilled milk. Interestingly, when they passed by the birds stopped their racket.  Before I could get back on the trail a young couple toting two small kids passed by.

Then it was finally silent, devoid of humans save yours truly. It was then that the trees began to talk. They started rubbing together, talking to me in the only way they could.  (It made me think of when the rocks rubbed together and talked to me at Nu’u beach on Maui.) I sat down on a big root and listened, remembering smatterings of a dream I had last night wherein the disembodied voices were talking to me. I couldn’t understand on the “word level;” but I understood on the psychic level. 

I looked up to see where the trees were rubbing together. Then I heard another tree answer, then another farther back in the forest. The wind blew through the leaves, making its own whispering sounds. And then there were the mountain birds chattering back and forth occasionally. That is such a different sound than the mourning doves that are so ubiquitous in the city. 

I walked along a little farther, past the roots in the middle of the trail….

… past the bank covered in soft green moss….

…and came to a clearing.

I saw the first actual koa tree, its thin branches hanging over the trail. The mountains used to be covered in koa and sandalwood, but the king’s greed for guns and western goods raped the forests, so that now a spindly youngster is celebrated as a remnant of times past. 

The shadows lengthened, the mosquitoes began to bite and I imagined the traffic building up on the freeway—time to bid the place adieu—or, in this case, aloha.