Heaven on Earth - Fall 2006 travel blog

young hula girl

old hula ladies

old hula man

missionary lady

leied ladies

hula group

close ups

guitar player

grandma fan

the queen arrives

rainy day fashion

Movie Clips - Playback Requirements - Problems?

(MP4 - 1.38 MB)

festival music

(MP4 - 556 K)

opening ceremony


Until well into the 1900's Hawaii was ruled by a royal family. There are still many remnants of their times including palaces and summer homes scattered around the islands. The Hawaiians are even more proud of and loyal to their royals as the British are to theirs. Perhaps the fact that they're not around anymore has something to do with it - absence makes the heart grow fonder. In 1871 Queen Emma journeyed through the Kalalau Valley. As she and her retinue traveled they composed chants and created hulas. To commemorate this journey Kauai has celebrated the Emalani Festival for the last eighteen years. We drove about forty miles along the coast and up past Waimea Canyon to Koke'e State Park to join in.

A cold front is passing by and the coastal weather was a mix of gray clouds and blue sky. As we traveled up into Waimea Canyon the clouds dominated and after enough climbing we were in the middle of them. Bummer! Since the road was narrow and there weren't many places to turn around, we continued up over the cloud bank to the state park. The temperature dropped about 10ยบ in the climb and as we got out of the car, I knew that I had not dressed properly for this day. Music was broadcast and vendors were selling handicrafts. Looking at them took about ten minutes. The audience began setting up lawn chairs on the wet grass. We stood waiting for something to happen for about an hour. Although I had brought an umbrella it did not help with the cold winds and I ended up buying a T-shirt I did not want and a giant yellow produce bag to contain my body warmth. As the rain began we could see musicians and dancers milling about under tarps. My arms and legs were full of goose bumps. We were just about to give up and turn back down the mountain when the rain tapered off and the show began.

The musicians varied in quality and experience. A beginning ukulele band was followed by a skilled young man singing traditional songs in falsetto. About the time the queen arrived the rain began again. The queen had a sheltered place to sit and watch, but the scantily clad celebrants did not. Two boys wearing loin cloths blew conch shells, and the hula dances began. The dances were only accompanied by singing/chanting and the sound of rhythmic slapping on a gourd. It was obvious that many in the crowd knew the words and got much more meaning out of the dance moves than we did.

After the rain increased we ran into a concession area and bought a pork dish whose name we did not recognize. As we sat in the car dripping wet to eat it, we struggled to unwrap miles of ti leaves that had been wrapped around pork chunks and tied with string. Pork juices joined the rain drops running down my legs. After that great meal we headed back down the mountain and the rain was so heavy we could scarcely see the tail lights in front of us. Red dirt rivers ran down in the gullies and flowed over the road in spots. Flash flood warnings were being broadcast regularly on our car radio.

However, I would guess that if I had not told you these things, you would simply enjoy Ken's photos and think that we had had a wonderful day. Perhaps we did.

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