My 2014 Retirement Trip Hawaii travel blog

The laid back attitude of Molokai

People have been living in the Halawa Valley since 650 AD

Mr. Pilipo Solatorio's ancestors has lived here since 650 AD

His ancestors have grown taro in water similar to rice

The taro is grown in terraces and irrigated, similar to rice.

Pilipo's nephew harvesting the taro.

In the afternoon we took a bus over to the far east side of the island to see the Halawa Valley, the site of oldest recorded habitation site on the island of Molokai. We met Pilipo Solatorio, the Kumu of his tribe. His family ancestors has been in this area since 650 AD. When he was just a boy (he is currently 70) he was chosen by his grandfather to be the keeper of his family's traditions. He didn't want to do that and when he got a chance, at sixteen, he left his valley and joined the service in WWII. After the war and after bouncing around awhile and marrying another native Hawaiian he came back to take over his assigned responsibilities.

Being a Kumu requires a lot of study. At one time this was done by passing the knowledge down from generation to generation, as in Pilipo's case. Now, for various reasons, i.e. disallowing the Hawaiian language in the school and increasing popularity of mainland culture, several generations had not had Kumus. Now there is increased interest in keeping the old traditions. An informal system of teaching the traditions has developed. A Kumu must speak Hawaiian, know how to play various instruments, know the traditional songs, know about healing with herbs, etc.

We walked part way up the valley and Mr. Solatorio explained how to grow and harvest taro. Taro is a staple in the Hawaiian diet. Taro is used to make poi. Taro root is cooked and then pounded and make into what looks like purple paste. Poi is traditionally eaten out of a common bowl and in addition to providing sustenance it is also used for spiritual and familial reasons.

Taro is farmed similar to rice in Asia. It is continually irrigated and in Pilipo's case was grown in terraced plots.

Mr. Solatorio mentioned that he was having trouble with so many people hiking up to see and swim in the waterfall above his property. That waterfall fed the creek his family used to use as the water source. Now he says he has to buy water to drink because he doesn't want to "drink people".

We returned back to the hotel, had about an hour "free time" and then went to pizza place for a pizza party.

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