Friday, October 17, 2008

Animal Hula




















Walking in Waikiki
With Cloudia:
Animal Hula

Schools of small fry continue to animate the harbor. Swarms of tiny arrows – bigger everyday – are still learning the stately hula of adult fish. Watching them play & learn, the mind asks: “What breed are those?” The imagination murmurs that it doesn’t really matter as attention shifts, now enraptured by the golden points of sparkle swaying scattered across the unified field of the ocean’s surface. . . I attended the Kava Festival and limited my consumption to one muddy cup of the Polynesian elixir. Still, I forgot to take any pictures, and felt ultra-relaxed for two days! Ahhh. . . Few people walking along the beach path behind the military’s Hale Koa (“Warrior House”) Hotel realize what history lies just below their feet. The cement walkway used to lie below the surface of the beach behind a retaining wall that you can still see and walk on as part of today’s sidewalk. Sentries could use the defensive position in case of attack from the sea. Much of Waikiki Beach, in fact, was barb-wired and ‘off limits’ for much of WWII. The navy requisitioned the Royal Hawaiian and we now know that Japanese submarines often came as close to the beach as possible in order to enjoy the big band music that the sailors danced to. That grass covered “hill” behind the beach is actually Battery Randolph, a defensive gun position so massive that efforts to level it were abandoned. Now it houses the army museum. A Sherman tank, and a few of its comrades from both sides, are parked irresistibly in front where kids can break the rules and climb on them. I enjoy the visual dialogue between the WWII howitzer and the monarchy-era cannon. Both seem hopelessly antiquated as new fighter planes roar overhead. This part of Waikiki beach always hosts lots of warriors; those leaving/returning from active duty as well as veterans revisiting their youth. Fresh tattoos on muscled biceps, blurred old Sailor Jerry ‘hula girl’ tattoos, and the young, tanned, un-inked skin of military dependants, all tell their stories in the sun. Memories and dreams mingle underneath the palms with the smell of barbeque, just like Valhalla. In front of the Army Museum, a circle of sentinel tikis, carved by Hawaiian-blooded artist Rocky Jensen, honors the warriors, Na Koa, of ‘pre-contact’ Hawaii. . . Continuing along Kalia Road we come to the refreshed Outrigger Reef Hotel with its new Polynesian canoe hale overhang and museum-quality artifacts throughout the lobby. Sometimes I like to pause right in front where Don Ho and Sam Kapu strummed ukulele and sang for Bobby & Cindy Brady in that episode when the Brady Bunch Went Hawaiian. Then I look at the Roy’s restaurant where the fast food place used to be and I realize that Waikiki is always fresh, always renewing (like the surf, like the seasons) even if she is always wrapped in precious and beautiful memories of a storied past. Just then a fragrant bride and groom (Covered in lei) exit a white limo onto the sidewalk beside me. Lots of “Congratulations!” from complete strangers fall like rice as I trail along in their wake as they float down the sidewalk. We’re just the blurry faces in the background of their special memories, passers-by they don’t notice in their bliss, but their joy rubs off on everyone. Everyday our streets are full of such sights & joys. Memories are being created all around me as I stroll through my own daily errands and musings. Lucky I live Hawaii. . . Have you been very, very good? Then treat yourself to an early dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steak House at Beachwalk. The happy buzz of our ‘Paris in Flip Flops’ is hushed as you enter the pristine room and peruse the five o’clock early menu. Pleasantly tired feelings sing harmony with the rising anticipation of another tropical night’s music & moonlight as you sip a cool drink. No TV, no newspaper, no distractions. None needed. Soon the hottest plate you’ve never touched is placed before you, and for a short while no president or corporate mogul is eating better than you are – and you certainly deserve it. . . Rejoining the throng outside, I’m struck once again by the beautifully relaxed faces around me. A beloved Hawaiian song comes to mind: “Kaulana Na Pua” (Famous are the Flowers of Hawaii). The flowers of the title are really a poetic allusion to the people of Hawaii, the true blooms of these islands. Why don’t YOU come wave in our breezes for a while? . . Humpback whales have been spotted in the vicinity of Maui and the Big Island. It’s just a matter of time before we’ll see their spouts off of Waikiki. Trade-wind winter is coming and before we know it, Santa will be arriving in his outrigger canoe! Sometimes the tall hotels and happy sidewalks cause us to forget that our town is just a small human place in the middle of vast oceanic nature. Sea turtles feed in the Waikiki dusk right beside wading visitors who can’t believe their eyes. A sacred and rare Pueo (Hawaiian short-eared owl) has lately been spotted on the grounds of historic Iolani Palace in the heart of downtown Honolulu, and the endangered Puaiohi bird is staging a comeback in the forests of Kaua`i. Local resident Jim Snyder has even found a new resident! Zizina otis, the lesser grass blue butterfly, is now happily established in parks and vacant lots right here in Waikiki. These frail natives of Asia and Africa have never been seen here before. “I’ve trained my eyes to be so observant that I see things others don’t see – you see amazing things out there,” Mr. Snyder told a local reporter. Yes indeed, especially here in the sandy, fragrant streets of Waikiki! Actually, I made a great ‘find’ myself, just minding my business downtown on King Street: Elvis and a female companion were enjoying their day, riding in the back of a pickup truck. I would have kept this to myself. . . Except THIS time I remembered to snap a picture. . . So come join us at Da Beach. You never know what you’re going to see next. . . When you’re Walking in Waikiki. . . ALOHA!

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Want to enjoy more Waikiki “street” life with Cloudia? Check out her Hawaii “Taxi Cab” Novel: “Aloha Where You Like Go?” at Amazon.com, local bookstores, or the Hawaii State Library branch near you!






10 comments:

gigi-hawaii said...

You are a great photographer. You should contact Midweek re being hired as a photo journalist.

Good luck!

Cloudia said...

GiGi: You are a mentor and a cheering section. How long have YOU been blogging daily and with Photos? U R a pioneer!! (Grin from ear to ear)
Fondly, c-

gigi-hawaii said...

I started my gigihawaii blog in November 2006.

I submitted my photo-essay about Atlantic Submarines to Midweek early this year, but never heard back. Shoots! I thought the photos of the interior of the submarine as well as those of the marine life and man-made reefs would have been ideal for Midweek.

No such luck. I'll keep trying, though...

Anonymous said...

wow...keep it comin'!

mahalo!

kitkat

Travis Erwin said...

I posted a new MTM and while just about all of your posts would work I was thinking about lining to this one and adding you to the list, unless you don't want me to, have another one you'd prefer I use, or plan to write one up and post in the next day or so specifically for My Town Monday. Please let me know if you get the chance.

Clare2e said...

Love your quotes and getting a feel for daily life in Waikiki. After this post and the one in Mexico, my wanderlust is flaring up.

Karen L. Alaniz said...

I have to agree. Great photos! My father was stationed on Oahu during WWII and I'm hoping to get him back there in the spring...God (and Dad) willing. Anyway-thanks for the glimpse past the tourist shops. ~Karen

Reb said...

Lovely photos and wonderful prose! Now I really want to see Hawaii! It has always been one of those, "oh someday, maybe" destinations in my mind - not anymore.

lyzzydee said...

I always think of Scoobie Doo when I see Waikiki, and I bet that wasn't even filmed there !!!!

debra said...

What great photos! I've always wanted to travel to the Pacific. You've just given me more reasons!