Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I have a hard time saying which is my favorite Hawaiian island, but after this trip, I'm thinkin' Oahu. There's just so much there that I'm interested in. I traveled with my hula sister Sibyl, to visit with our other hula friend Judy. Judy graciously let us stay in her Kailua studio for the first part of the trip. For the second part, we found a package deal that included 6 nights at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. I have been studying hula for 16 years now, and this was a custom opportunity to soak up the places and culture related to our study. When you are a hula student, you are also a student of the Hawaiian language, music, chant, history, mythology, crafts, food, people, spirit, and of course places. We jointly made our long list of things we wanted to see, and hit the ground running. We were able to do almost all of the things we intended, and a lot, lot more.

The day we arrived, we drove straight up to Kamehameha School (after a quick stop for leis in Chinatown), and were able to watch our long-time friends Led Kaapana and Dennis Kamakahi be inducted into the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame. The other inductees that day, including Kumu Hula Maiki Aiu Lake, are, unfortunately deceased. We were honored to be witness to this prestigious event, and we were very happy for Led & Dennis.

We were able to get in 4 great hikes, go to the Bishop Museum, attend a lecture by a photographer at the Hawaii State Art museum who has been doing portraits of kumu hula for 30 years, saw turtles, rode the waves of Waikiki on a canoe, ate shave ice, laulau, spam musubi and malasadas! Always, we saved time at the end of the day for music. It was like a dream come true to see legends Eddie Kamae, Led Kaapana, Mike Kaawa, Bobby Ingano, Weldon Kekauoha, Analu Aina, Paul Kim, Ocean Kaowile, Dennis Kamakahi, Na Palapalai ... just to name a few. You can see musicians of this caliper any day of the week on Oahu - for free; less parking and whatever you drop in the tip jar. We were like kids in a candy store. Although I never got up the nerve to get up and dance, we were lucky enough to attend two hula classes taught by Nalani Keale, and learned the hula "Ku`u Milimili". We also learned a chant from one of Mapuana Da Silva's students. It is called "Oli Mahalo" and speaks of gratefulness and thanks.

Even though this was a very fulfilling trip, there is so much more to Oahu that I have yet to experience, and I can't wait to be able to go back.

Here are a few photos of some of the highlights of the trip - if you care to see more, I have an album up here

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