Thursday, June 7, 2012

Maui Diary 11 - Aloha Oe


On Maui we stayed in the town of Kihei, where 50% of the permanent residents of the island live. This plebian environment was more our style than the resort life we observed just south on the beaches next to Wailea's villas and grand hotels. Just strolling on the beach path that winds past their perfectly groomed and gorgeous grounds, I became a little self-conscious about my commoner's clothes every time we passed the hotel guests.

Staying in a condo rather than a hotel also made for a relaxing and homey existence, at least for people like us who like to set up housekeeping for ourselves and actually prefer to eat breakfast "at home." We bought sweet Maui Gold pineapples at Safeway and ate of them in the morning while I was still in my nightgown. Each of us had one day that we were under the weather, and we could just laze about our apartment, and grill steaks or fish for dinner on the barbeque outside.


Our place had a view right out to the beach, and one evening I sat in front of this scene and counted 27 palm trees within my range of vision. The stars came out and were as bright as in the high mountains; I couldn't get over how well I could see without my glasses Orion's belt and even his sword.

I wouldn't complain if someone gave me a week at a resort and I had to eat at its restaurants, but as long as I'm paying, I'd just as soon stay in a less expensive condo like the one we were blessed with and enjoy the food at the many places the locals also enjoy.

The Coconuts Cafe with its deservedly famous fish tacos is a fine example. The cole slaw, normally in the tortilla but which I had on the side, was made with a refreshing coconut milk dressing that I'd love to try replicating.

Mr. Glad has for some time enjoyed Hawaiian guitar music, so we had looked forward to being in Hawaii and hearing some good examples. One evening we went out for some live sounds that turned out to be not that great and not traditional, but the luau on our last night was fulfilling and very fun in its historically accurate dancing and music.

Over the radio in our rental car we heard a new-to-us contemporary Hawaiian sound that was maybe not traditional musically, but in the easy-listening messages conveyed it was all about loving the motherland and listening to the forefathers who will teach you how to be honorable Hawaiians.

Shirt Mr. Glad gave me for my birthday
This harkening to cultural roots and the ancestors generates a desire on the part of parents to put their young children into classes where they will learn the Hawaiian tongue. It seems that though Hawaiian names and phrases are floating through the balmy air everywhere, currently very few people actually have any real ability to communicate in that language. I wonder if that will change, or if the children force-fed this artifact will respond with disdain as have the Irish I know who were made to study Gaelic in school.

Besides the reverence for the land and the history, we noticed in the popular and melodic songs we heard a phrase repeated in nearly every one: ka puana. Eventually we were able to investigate and discover that this means something like "It's fun to be with you." It often went along with words about Having a Good Time, which easygoing theme was one of the unique scents in Mauian atmosphere.

How would it be, we mused, to live as a permanent resident in this place, where one might reasonably believe that even people with jobs and families display the Hang Loose symbol and attitude? It's almost certain that we will never know the answer, even if we sojourn there again.

Ages ago, at my 8th grade graduation, our school chorus sang an English version of the Hawaiian tune "Aloha Oe," ("Farewell to Thee") and it made a big impression on me, so that I can still remember some of the words in our translation, and find that they don't exactly match anything to be found online.

At least I did find a nice guitar rendition of the tune (just below), with lovely pictures, to wrap up my Maui Diary. As you will guess, many of the pictures are of scenes I didn't see, but they convey something of the Hawaiian heritage and natural beauty.



I won't end with that video that someone else put together, because I do have one of my own making! It was recorded on a windy afternoon on the beach by our condo, so the only sound in the movie is that of the tradewinds. It's a 360° view, starting on the beach, and taking in a row of condominiums. Ours was the flat-roofed one somewhat in the middle.

And at the very bottom of the page, the refrain of the song as I remember singing it. Good-bye, Maui! Until we meet again....


video

Aloha Oe, Aloha Oe,
The winds will carry back my sad refrain;
One fond embrace before we say good-bye,
Until we meet again.

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