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.

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