This is the last full day of the tour and we have a free time in the afternoon!!!
In the morning we went to Kawai Nui Marsh. This marsh area was sacred to the ancient Hawaiians and is now being restored to its original state by volunteers. They are tearing out all the invasive vegetation that has grown up over the years and are planting only vegetation that would have been on the island prior to first contact. This marsh area is currently Hawaii's largest ancient freshwater pond. By restoring the marsh the volunteers are hoping to bring back Hawaii's native bird population to the area.
In this same area is a rock formation (Rocks of Hauwahine) the ancient Hawaiians believed were the guardian spirits of the marsh area. Current Hawaiian study scholars believe the ancient Hawaiians used these rocks to note the spring and winter solstice by aligning the rocks with the sun.
This is an area used to teach Hawaiian children of their heritage and there is an amphitheater on site for hands-on lectures.
The day we were there it had rained the previous night and the trail was very muddy. We had two women in the group that were 81 years old and needed walking sticks, which they had left at the hotel and another man that had limited sight but they all wanted to go on the hike and made it with no problems, just went slowly. This group has made me realize how important it is to stay active and interested in life. I hope I am still able to hike muddy trails in paradise when I am 81! This makes me appreciate the opportunity I have and am taking right now. Currently I have no limitations except sometimes my laziness.
Then we went to Pali Lookout. Hawaiian legend has it that this was one of Kamahameha's last battles to unify the Hawaiian islands. In 1795 he defeated Oahu's warriors by chasing them over the cliffs. After this victory the remaining islands were willing to surrender without a fight.
This mountain had to be crossed in the trek to go from one side of the island to the other. Hiking trails now run where the original Hawaiians would have once traveled.
The day we were there it was so windy walking up to the lookout we could hardly stand up.
Back in the parking area I saw cats and chickens together, ignoring each other. I imagine cats have learned to not tangle with the roosters and the roosters (jungle fowl) have no fear of anything.
When we returned to our hotel for lunch the hotel restaurant realized there had been a mix-up. What we had ordered for lunch at breakfast was actually meant to be dinner. Why they just didn't serve us the dinner we ordered I don't know but we had to order lunch and wait for them to prepare it. That is the first time that happened on the trip. So eventually we were served our sandwiches or salads. All the time I was wanting to get started SHOPPING!!!
There was a lecture on "Hawaiian Values" from 3:30 to 5:00, which I skipped in favor of going to the post office and shopping. I hadn't been able to ship several packages I had wanted to get out because I could not get into a post office. The post office was about a mile and a half away past some wonderful stores so it was a very easy walk and after I mailed everything out (I had gathered a lot of brochures and maps, etc. I preferred not to carry in luggage any longer but wanted to keep) then I was able to stop and shop. There were many upscale stores along Kalakaua Avenue - Coach, Tiffany's, Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, Tod's, Chanel, Bottega Venta, Hugo Boss, Kate Spade, Tourneau (watches), Apple, Hawaiian Quilt Collection, Armani's and Victoria's Secret (new to Hawaii, apparently) to look in. Some of these were stand-alone stores and some were in malls, usually associated with hotels. Mixed in with these high end stores were more practical stores: Macy's and ABC Stores. These are different than the ABC Stores in the mainland south which carry alcohol. These stores carry just about everything a tourist would want (including alcohol of all types) - gifts, post cards, sundaries, snacks and Aloha wear.
Our tour leader directed me to the "largest outdoor shopping mall in the US" in Honolulu. I would have liked to visit it to compare it to Easton but it was several miles further from Waikiki, although there is a convenient trolley that runs to it from Waikiki, and I did only have a limited amount of time since I had to be back for dinner and our final program.
A smart friend told me when I was complaining about not having enough room to pack all the clothes I would need: "if it were me I'd just buy what I wanted there" - so I did! I was able to find and buy reasonably priced, if not quality constructed: two Hawaiian shirts, two short sleeve aloha print shirts and a sundress. Along with the shorts I brought I will look right in style when I get to Maui!