I write to you today from that paradise of the Pacific, the Aloha State of Hawaii. While Hollywood would portray it as merely an endless glorified beach, I resolved to immerse myself in the local culture and discover the true story of the archipelago.
To begin, I was amazed by the sheer magnitude of each island. On the globe they look like nothing more than a few specks in the Pacific, but looking out into the horizon, ocean is all one sees. Not a hint of the next nearest island is in view (at least not on the Big Island or Oahu--perhaps other islands can be seen from the smaller islands).
Even today in some places it feels like one is standing on the most beautiful deserted isle, especially when one is standing upon the same rocks that Captain Cook stood on when he first arrived in Hawaii in the 1700s.
I enjoyed learning how to play the ancient game of Konane, which was played by the great King Kamehameha, and evidently was integral to teaching ancient Hawaiians war strategy and navigation by stars.
At the Place of Refuge, I saw the beautiful kiʻi carvings--which other Polynesian cultures call tiki.
I gazed upon the breathtaking Waipio Valley, which was once home to Hawaiian alʻi (royalty).
I visited Pearl Harbor, where I met a local gentleman who was 11 years old at the time of the bombing, and he told me it was the most spectacular sight to see until he realized the naval base was under attack. He and his family fled into the valley and hid within the caves during the 3-hour bombing and returned to desolation later that day. I cannot imagine how terrifying that must've been to an 11-year-old boy.
The most bittersweet part of my journey was in my visit to Iolani Palace, where the last king and queen of Hawaii lived and reigned. The palace was remarkable in its modernity. Having been built in the 1800s by those who the rest of the world still considered to be savages, the palace was fully equipped with electrical lighting and indoor toilets. Not even America's White House or Britain's Windsor Palace had electricity at the time!
But the bittersweet part was visiting the palace's throne room, and later the room in which Queen Liliʻuokalani was imprisoned. Here were vestiges of a people who were forcibly annexed into a country whose citizenship they did not desire, but which they are very much a part of today.
It seems that a large percentage of the Hawaiian population is made up of transplants now--people from all over the world who went to visit once, fell in love with the ecology, and decided to move there. I can't say I blame them. If Eden was lost to us once, I would almost argue that it has been found in Hawaii. But as we have built up our cities and roads to accommodate us, I think I have discovered the real reason why we can never return to that beautiful garden.
And so I am off in search of my next great adventure. Please give my love to The Animator's Wife. I have enclosed the last thing I expected to find in this island state--some yarn spun from locally raised angora bunnies. It is blended with genuine silk and should make a fine garment of some sort.