Sunday, May 22, 2005

hawaiian history lesson of the day


Polihale is the last beach you can access by land on the East side of Kauai. This begins the Na Pali coastline on the North shore. Na Pali in hawaiian literally translates to "the cliffs". So, all cliffs mean no cars! Polihale roughly means "home of the spirits".
It is believed that ancient hawaiians would jump from the tops of these cliffs into the ocean to die. Doing so would unite them with their aumakua, a family diety. Each family's aumakua was unique to that family, but they were all creatures from the ocean. Shark, green sea turtle, whale, dolphin. It was thought that when a member of your family dies, their spirit lives on in the form of one of these sea creatures and continues to protect the family. To jump from Na Pali would be an act of joining your ancestors for the continual protection of your family.
I LOVE hawaiian mythology!
Access to this beach is difficult. Just south of here is the location of the Pacific Missle Range Facility. Surfing is supposed to be excellent at Barking Sands (at the PMRF), but most roads that cross through the military base to get there have been blocked off since 9/11. The road to Polihale is very bumpy and sandy in spots (crosses through some sand dunes)'s good to have 4WD. But it's worth it.
In contrast to the spirit of the ancient hawaiian mythology at this site is the activity of the PMRF. I believe they've stopped (I hope I'm right), but they used to launch underwater test missles here. The sound of these launches was known to be hazardous to the whales. Pods of whales would swim into bays to seek protection. I recall being underwater on the beach and actually being able to hear the whales singing. This was in January when the whales are in Hawaiian waters. It was so amazing. To think that mankind would do anything to hurt these fantastic creatures makes me sick. Wish we, today, had the same respect for the land, the sea and the animals that the Hawaiians did centuries ago.

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