Saturday, January 2, 2016

Day 165 - Childhood Memories and the Punalu'u ("Black Sand") Beach

On our way to some early childhood memories we stopped at a really tiny old mission church, the "Painted Church". How cute the crib was and how the pillars turned into palm trees.

This is the house I could clearly remember from my childhood travel memories. Nothing had changed except for the totem poles that I imagined to be way bigger (probably because I was shorter then). The place, called Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau in Hawaiian, had two functions: It was not only a royal compound with ceremonial platforms, a burial place for chiefs (the house in the picture above), fish ponds, etc., but also a place where persons who broke a kapu could flee to. Normally, breaking a kapu meant to be hunted and killed in order to avoid the fury of the gods. There were hundreds of kapus in ancient Hawai'i, from throwing one's shadow on a chief to eating the wrong fish at the wrong time of the year. If you broke a kapu, the only way to avoid punishment was to reach the Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau before your hunters catch and kill you.

By the way: Why are Hawaiian names so long? One reason is that certain words are just repeated to express "very" for adjectives or "big" for nouns. For example, wiki means fast and wikiwiki means what? Very fast. Guess what laulau means, if lau means "leaf".

Another reason is that the Hawaiian alphabet has much less characters as others. When Captain James Cook and other Europeans made their first explorations, the Hawaiian alphabet counted seventeen letters. Nowadays there is a total of twelve letters only. The five missing letters were dropped due to their similar sound, as they were considered to be unnecessary. The old alphabet "A, B, D, E, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, P, R, T, U, V, W" was reduced to "A, E, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, P, U, W". B was dropped for P; R and D were dropped for L; T was dropped for K; V was dropped for W. This is why the well-known word "taboo" is written tapu in Polynesian Maori language and kapu in Hawaiian language. As in the Hawaiian language diphthongs are used quite often (AE, AI, AO, AU, EI, EU, OU), this adds to the average length of Hawaiian words. Fortunately, the words are comparably easy to pronounce for native German speaking persons than for others.

The most thoughtful readers of my blog will notice some familiarities here:
All over Polynesia, people built platforms of this type to perform their religious ceremonies and to bury important people. We've seen very similar constructions in Mo'orea and of course on the Easter Island (where they were flatter, like terraces for the moai). This example here is close to Kealakokua Bay. While these platforms are called Marae in French Polynesia, their name in Hawai0i is Heiau.

Pretty interesting were these two spots on the way to the Punalu'u (Black Sand) Beach. The metal flamingo is a very creative mailbox, but also the two-dimensional palm trees with real-life coconuts were cute. Not to forget about the inflatable Santa Claus. The second shot shows a collection of unbelievable 27 mailboxes, each more or less scrapped. On the Big Island, houses are scattered and people come to the circle road to pick up their mail and go places. There are even special words in Hawaiian for "between the road and the sea" (makai) and "between the road and the mountain" (mauka).

At the Punalu'u ("Black Sand") beach we then saw our first wild turtles, resting in a designated turtle resting area. How come that they lie exactly at the right place, all the three, the only three? Nobody can tell, maybe they're really smart animals. Anyway, we enjoyed the black sand which was really black and original (because it's just crushed and hackled lava), and another lost turtle at the very end of the beach, trying to have a rest in the sand but ending up between rocks, blocking the beach access, and being scratched over the rocks back to the sea - ouch!

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