On to Kona. The views from the plane just getting from Oahu to the Big Island were amazing (see slideshow).
We played the first day pretty low key, taking the historical tour at our hotel—the Keauhou Resort, which sits on the site of three ancient heiau (temples). Sadly, on is accurate for one of them, which they’ll have to tear out the pool area in order to restore. Restoration has already begun on the other two, using the stacked stone building technique—no mortar—which allows the water to flow in and out rather than offer a solid wall for its force to act upon, a much better method of construction for the location. The heiau most directly out from the hotel was dedicated to royal ritual, introducing new heirs to the people, saying good-bye to royalty who’ve passed. It also acted as a calendar, with a set of stones to orient the people on the time of year. Since there’s very little climate change, planting, sowing, and all of that has to be determined by external factors, like the position of the sun, because while crops could be grown all year round, rotation and renewal were necessary for sustainability. This is something our tour guide emphasized. While the museums and historical videos will tell you, for instance, that something like 80,000 birds were used in the making of the royal feathered cloak, they don’t tell you that the bird catchers used a catch and release system, where they’d put a sticky substance on the branches of favored trees and take just a few feathers from each bird before releasing them, alive. Now, I don’t know that it was always this way (Wikipedia says not), but it’s certainly nicer to believe than the alternative.
The Kailua-Kona side of the island has freshwater springs that are partly responsible for attracting many of the fish, rays and sea turtles. We learned about how those who came to the islands could find fresh water by looking for the coconut and another tree that looked like a slender banyan but had a name starting with a p that I didn’t catch. Both grew beside fresh water, and dowsing on the side where the roots grew thickest would be likely to lead to a spring.
It was a lovely tour, after which Su and I explored the tide pools while the guys napped. Later, we had a lovely dinner (and some of us too many mai tais) in the lanai bar, which opened on a perfect and unobstructed view of the sunset.