Thursday, June 30, 2011

Farmer's Market

On Saturday, June 25th we took a short drive into Kona to visit the local Farmer's Market. As we pulled into the parking lot near the market, we noticed some type of ceremony taking place under a large white tent. Once out of the vehicle, we heard vibrant music and noticed a women dressed in white with a garland of greenery draped around her neck. Many guest were lined up to sign "the book". Our first impression was the event must be a wedding. Much to our surprise, a local, told us that this was a burial ceremony. It was very much like a celebration and very unlike most burial ceremonies we have in Arkansas.
After satisfying our curiosity about the ceremony, we turned our attention to the market. There was row after row of tents that housed everything from homemade food items to fresh produce. The locals were more than happy to barter a little in an effort to sell their wares! We made our way through each tent checking our the goods. One of the produce tents proved to be especially interesting as it housed a happy lizard just lounging on the fresh papaya.  Check out the video below!

As we continued to wander around the market, we ran upon a young lady selling art. We were amazed as she shared her story with us. The handpainted pictures are painted on Tapa which is derived from the Mulberry tree. Tapa is made by beating log narrow strips from the inner bark. On average it takes 2 to 3 hours of beating for each strip to obtain the Tapa material. Once the material has reached the appropriate consistency, it is then painted with traditional designs using black and brown dyes from the bark of the Mangrove and Red Cedar trees. Some dyes are boiled with copper and baking soda. Please check out the video below to hear the young girl's story and to see the beautiful artwork!

The trip to the Farmer's Market was both enjoyable and informative. It was clear that this event has a positive impact on the Kona economy as it was a very busy place! Next we are off to enjoy an authentic Luau!!

Mrs. Norton

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Maddie Made It!

If you have been following the blog you may remember that Maddie the Mad Scientist showed up at the airport and flew with us to Hawaii. Once we arrived in Oahu, Maddie, as usual, wondered off and we could not find her. Today, we visited Mauna Kea and low and behold...guess who we found. Yes, Maddie was there. She told us she had been at the bottom of Kilaeua testing volcanic gases. Now whether or not that happened is still up in the air!! I guess Maddie will board the plane and head back to the mainland with us tomorrow! Check out Maddie's video below!

We're History

After visiting the heiau (temple) that Kamehameha built, we visited a lava field that was dotted with petroglyphs.  The first thing that amazed me was the fact that this place of importance was slap dab in the middle of a golf course!!  On both sides of the site was  pristine grass and eighteen holes.  I was a little taken aback by this.  It seemed to me that a place of such importance should have been somewhere else.  As we climbed over lava  we started to notice carvings etched into it. (These carvings are known as petroglyphs.)  As we walked around trying to decide what all the strange markings meant we came upon two that were really easy to "read"... a bicycle and a school bus.  At this point I started to doubt the credibility of this place.  How could people from long ago know about bikes and buses?  I questioned my instructor about this.  He gave me a brief history lesson on the site.  According to his lesson the site was used as a resting point on an road that covered over 32 miles.  The road connected villages to the coast. As people rested they etched petroglyphs into the lava to "leave their mark" .  (One petroglyph that was in abundance was a symbol of a gecko.  This symbol is one of protection.)  The people also built wind breaks out of the chunks of lava to protect themselves from the trade winds blowing across the area.  My instructor went on to explain that the petroglyphs were no more than 1,000 years old, and some of the more sophisticated etchings were done after nails were introduced to the Hawaiian people by Captain Cook and his crew in 1779.  This explained a lot, but I was still wondering about the newer more modern carvings.  My professor commented that vandalism is just modern day petroglyphs. He reminded me that we are no more or no less important than those people that lived hundreds of years ago, after all "just like that we will be history too".  What a powerful statement this was.  It certainly makes me want to make the most out of my time on this earth.  It makes me want to leave a "mark" that is meaningful and significant. 
Gecko Petroglyph 
Mrs. West

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Indonesian Ginger
Flora, Fauna and Fun Oh My!

Yesterday following the trip to Hilo we visited the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens located on the Onomea Bay. As we pulled into the parking lot, we noticed how the trees soared toward the sky and how vibrant color of the flowers. As we entered the gate, a large plaque explained the vision behind the gardens. In 1977, Dan Lutkenhouse purchased the 17 acre tract because of its natural beauty. It took him eight years of hard work to prepare the the gardens for visitors. Leading away from the dedication plaque, a 500 foot long elevated boardwalk snaked down the steep-walled, narrow ravine of Kahalii Stream. The Kahalii ravine is festooned with exotic tropical growth of giant bamboo, bananas, flowering vines, orchids and ferns. We noticed an abundance of some type of nut lying on the forest floor and upon research realized these came from the betel nut palm trees. They resembled acorns that we find in abundance in Arkansas. We were so surprised to find out they came from a palm tree!! As we made our way down the path, we noticed thick vines hanging from many of the trees. The plant life below the canopy was dense and colorful. A banana tree, heavily burdened with fruit waiting to ripen, served as a resting spot for a local lizard. Many of the plants boasted beautiful, colorful flowers or seed pods. We noticed that one plant had a flower that resembled a brightly colored bird! It was very interesting! Many species of ginger grew in a plethora of colors! When touched, they felt like wax! It was the strangest thing!
As we continued our journey to the floor of the forest, we came upon a beautiful waterfall. The sound of the falls could be heard well before they were seen. Following the tranquil sound of water, the breathtaking view appeared before us. The water tumbled over the large boulders on its way to the pool at the bottom of the valley. The small stream then meandered its way toward the ocean. Continuing on our journey, we came across the Orchid Garden. A variety of species created a unique display in this area. The size and color varied greatly. We learned that the vanilla bean is the seed pod from the vanilla orchid! Who knew?? Behind the orchid garden stood a large cage that housed Macaws. These are large, colorful birds with a distinct squawk! It was quiet funny when Dr. Bramlett talked to one of the birds and the bird talked back! This unique experience was a reminder of how nature works in harmony to create a beautiful landscape. The website to the garden is I encourage you to check it out!
Tikki statue 


Mrs. Norton

The Temple on the Hill

King Kamehameha
The Temple on the Hill by Mrs. Harrison

Today we visited one of the last major sacred structures on the island known as Pu'ukohola Heiau National Historic site. What an interesting story you will find here! The early Hawaiians prophesied that a great leader would one day come to bring peace and unity among the islands. They were looking for a sign from the gods in the sky to announce the birth of child that would become the king. A white-tailed star streaked across the dark sky in the year of 1758, believed to be Haley's Comet. This was the very night that an infant named Kamehameha, was born in the Kohala district on the northwestern tip of the island of Hawai'i. The destined king was to be hidden away so that other kings could not find him and kill him before prophesy was fulfilled. Does the story sound familiar yet? The child grew to be a strong and powerful warrior working his way in the ranks of his family. Kamehameha had a rival that also wanted to rule the island, non other than his cousin Keoua Kuahu'ula. Kamehameha invited his cousin to view the great heiau (temple) that he and his warriors had recently constructed and Keoua willingly accepted the invitation. Now this wasn't the family reunion you would expect! Kamehameha had intentions of killing his cousin to overtake the rule of the islands and his cousin was fully aware the outcome would be death. A great battle happened between the cousins at the site of the temple and as you guessed it, he became the king. Kamehameha was successful in bringing unity and peace among the islands. His rule lasted until his death in the year of 1819.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Encountered Animals

While in Hawaii, we saw many animals. Some animals that we saw were native to
Hawaii, and some were animals we see everyday in Monticello.
We saw donkeys, chickens, birds, mongooses, mules, kane spiders, horses, and even a Billie goat. We saw sea turtles, eels, crabs, dolphins, Hawaiian monk saeal, ferral cats, and tropical fish.
An interesting fact about the kane spider is that they are not poisonous. They look a lot like our spiders at home.

An interesting bird that we saw was the honeycreeper. This bird is endemic to Hawaii which means it is only found here in Hawaii. It was a beautiful reddish orange bird with black tail feathers and white feathers underneath.

An endemic mammal to Hawaii is the Hawaiian monk seal. We actually got to see one in O'ahu on Rabbit Island that was born about three weeks ago. Be sure to check our our blog post on the monk seal and the video.

We also mentioned the ferral cats. They were everywhere! We would sit down to eat and they would be all over the restaurants. They would walk up and down the street and no owners were anywhere to be found. At one restaurant, it was said that the owner did not want the cats to be there but the waitresses liked them and promised to take care of them. We also noticed signs that warned not to feed the cats because they are trying to capture them to control the population.

Did I mention the sea turtles? Several of our blog posts have addressed them. We were able to get really close to them a couple of different times. Some of them were humongous. On one account, Mrs. Harrison was able to catch a fascinating picture with the turtles head above the water.

They always say...third times the charm

Strolling through the botanical gardens taking in every beautiful flower around us, we heard a strange movement in the bushes. As we looked over the rod iron fence, there he was! Right in front of us, a mongoose with his head held high. There was a no trespassing sign into the fence, so I wasn't able to chase him. However, I was able to sneak in on him and get a great picture to share with you.
Mrs. Grimes