Thursday, July 9, 2009

FINDING SIREN'S HOME:Hawaiian Odyssey Part 2

After such a wonderful time on Hawai'i Island, we were expecting O'ahu to be as great. It would have been, surely, if I just hadn't picked up that nasty bedfellow, Swine Flu. I was soooo sick. And I had so much I wanted to do.

Fortunately for me, I've got a great hubby. Sitting around in a condo suite with a sick wifey in the other room is not exactly his dream vacation. But he not only took great care of me, he helped me do my necessary research. He managed to pick up several brochures and books for me, but the most helpful thing he did was to drive me where I needed to go. Where I couldn't go, he'd go for me.

I needed to see inside Diamond Head crater, and its outside slopes, to figure out how a person would get to the top in the mid 1800's. That was something I could do without coming into contact with anyone, so on Wednesday after the doctor visit, we drove there.

Diamond Head
is an extinct spatter cone, probably created in a single eruption. Its distinctive shape, higher on the southwest side, is an effect of the tradewinds, which blow from NE to SW, and blew the light cindery material of the eruption in that direction. (Low side of crater rim in left photo, high side in right photo.) The crater floor is very flat, and entrance today is through a tunnel built in 1910. But the cone isn't very high, 780 feet, and the outer slope is not too steep to climb. Even in 1851, accessing the crater from the low side wouldn't have been hard. But I can see from my visit that my original idea to have my heroine and hero climb outside the crater on the south side is very workable. It's obvious to me the ancient Hawai'ians would have found the crest a useful place to watch the sea.

On the way, we drove along the South Shore, past Waikiki and by Hawaii Kai. In the 19th Century, this beach was a swampy area of fish and duck ponds. Islanders often grew taro away from the ocean. When the Ala Wai Canal was built in 1922, it drained the run-off from the high windward mountains and allowed Waikiki Beach to form.

The village where my Islanders might have lived , where my hero was washed ashore, could have been in this area, but I have been imagining them at Hanauma Bay.

So we went by Hanauma Bay. If you go to Hawai'i, you must see this beautiful place if you see no other. Everyone loves this place, too much. So in the 1990's steps had to be taken to limit the number of people who visit. I saw it first in 1995, and bought food for the fish. To my surprise, a large blue and yellow fish (could have been one of several species, maybe a parrot fish) immediately leaped from the water and grabbed my packet of food just as I was opening it. He got the whole thing, and was gone- that quick.

This time I could only stand at the cliff and take a few pictures. And wish for more. We drove along past Koko Head, but that was all I could do.

My fever was finally gone on Friday, and I felt a lot better. The doctor said I didn't have to isolate myself anymore, but I sure didn't have a lot of strength. I decided to skip the Bishop Museum- at least I'd been there before. But I had to see the Mission Houses Museum. It's one of the best places to get an idea what life was like for the Americans and Europeans who began to populate the Islands in the 19th Century.

The coral stone house in the foreground has a faux finish to remind the missionaries of the brick houses they left behind. In the background is a later house built in New England style. By this time they were beginning to understand the Islands, and knew how to get a good cross breeze from the tradewinds.

There's a display room that has some wonderful dioramas showing the misson houses and church being built, with some native houses, the dirt roads, and people in the business of being people. And the wonderful mid-century engraving of Honolulu and its harbor were exactly what I needed.

That's also where I got the lovely quilted pillow top for my grand prize winner, Martha E. I'd been really disappointed in Hilo Market, finding almost nothing of interest, and very little that was actually Hawai'ian. I saw other pieces of Hawai'ian quilting, and they were very nice, but the stitching lacked the qualty of true Hawai'ian work, which often sells for thousands of dollars in a full size quilt.

At the Mission Houses Museum, a local group of quilters, many of them reknowned for their handwork, gathers weekly to quilt and enjoy each others' company. When I saw their work, I was so impressed! The quality is truly the superb needlework I've seen in the finest of quilts, and their patterns are the true Hawai'ian style.

One more place to visit. Waimea Falls Botanical Park

on the far northern shore of O'ahu. But going from south to north is not really a very big deal for the island isn't all that big. I've been there before, but it is always worth another trip. The park features many tropical gardens and some revivalist archaeological sites. Quite honestly, for my time period, there isn't much to help me there. But it's a very refreshing and lovely place to vist, and in the few hours we had left, it was very enjoyable.

I don't know if you can see this little fellow or not, but he's a very endangered little mudhen. He's in the lower center and is gray with red on his bill. This is an enlargement so it's not very clear.

So we missed Iolani Palace, The Bishop Museum, the luau, and Polynesian Cultural Center. And there was the trip up the Windward Side to find an odd little place lodged in my memory from 1995. But I'll just have to draw from what I see in my mind for that. I was going to re-make t anyway. After all, it is a fantasy I'm writing. Some things must come from the imagination.

I'll have to change a few details, but mostly I'm happy with my story the way I planned it. And Siren has a home, where she is known as Namaka-o-Kaha'i, and lives with her hero, John Wall, in Haipo's village on the shore of Hanauma Bay.

And thanks again to our mostly perplexed Hero Jeff, who saved the trip as well as the wife.

About Me

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I write write write. Sometimes I travel. Then I write some more. And I have a great family who understand that I write write write.