Last week I was blessed to be able to take an almost free trip to the great state of Hawaii with my husband and my daughter. We stayed on Maui and had just an amazing time. There is incredible beauty in the natural environment and the culture that is undeniable. The volcanic base for the entire island is so interesting to me. It is built entirely on a dangerous volatile force of nature... in the middle of the pacific ocean. What does this do to a culture? What does this mean to the people and the environment? There are parts of this island that truly seem like paradise. But we saw many things that really also made us think that there are things about the underlying culture that are masked underneath this guise of paradise...
We stopped at a small historic town as we drove around the island. I thought it was a cute and colorful little town and just wanted to photograph it. Immediately my husband got a bad feeling from the people and the atmosphere there. My husband is a recovering addict, he has been clean and sober for 11 years and is amazing at reading people and places. I always say his Spiritual Gift is Discerner of Spirits. He immediately said he thought there was some drug problems in that town. He always can tell. A friend of ours that lives there confirmed this for us. She said that there is an undertone of people that think they are suppose to be happy because they are in "paradise" but they are not; maybe they feel isolated, maybe it's the constant stream of people coming and going, maybe it is the extremely high cost of living... Whatever it is seems to be a breeding ground for drugs and theft.
We also drove to Hana and as we stopped at one of the turn outs, had a bit of an altercation with a local that was selling stuff out of his truck. He was yelling at us for not pulling far enough up in the parking lot. Not the kind of laid back island friendliness you would expect. At the airports we continually had trouble with people that worked there being unprofessional and just not very nice. My husband also has been to almost every airport in the world and said the Hawaiian ones were the absolute worst. I got the feeling that the locals are sick of tourists, and who can blame them. Their culture has been turned into a side show for people to come and briefly experience as a novelty, and then leave. This happens all year long, everywhere on the islands. It is certainly understandable. The intrinsic isolation of this culture based in the middle of the ocean, seems to need an outside connection but resent it at the same time. I lived in New Zealand for 6 months once, and got the same feeling there, there is a very high teen suicide rate in New Zealand due to the isolation from the rest of the world.
At the same time it also seems to breed connection and community, not all the Hawaiians are unfriendly drug addicts please don't get me wrong. We met many many warm, creative, beautiful and wonderful people. There is a different set of priorities that are prevalent in the people, that a work-a-holic like me can greatly admire and respect. Just like its volcanic tropical base, it has amazing beauty like you have never seen, and a dark, volatile side to it as well.
My image this week I feel represents this. Even though the fire is more Polynesian, the Luau is a Hawaiian tradition. This image I feel shows the intense, fiery side of the culture as well as the beauty, the passion and the joy. It is a display of their Hawaiian culture, and other Polynesian island cultures for the tourists that is booked solid every night. I am grateful to have experienced this amazing place and people. I am grateful to now be back home here in Franklin, TN too. To me, where I live is my paradise. This rusty worn wood historic town and my home in the forrest is just perfect for me. But I am certainly happy to visit the island life once in awhile... ;)
EDITED WITH ACTIONS AND TEXTURES FROM THE SHOPPE DESIGNS & ACTIONS