21 Jun

Kaua’i: my home, my heart.

So I’ll return to my isle across the sea
Beautiful Kaua’i, beautiful Kaua’i
– Don Ho, Beautiful Kaua’i

 

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My mom’s ‘ohana is from Kaua’i (yes, I am part Hawaiian).

My gramma and papa moved there, away from the rest of my gramma’s ‘ohana in Hawai’i (the Big Island) and O’ahu (where Honolulu is).  But for me, Kaua’i is what, and where I know.

Bouncing back and forth between Kaua’i and San Diego as a child, I had assumed that the life I was living was normal for anyone. I didn’t realize just how fortunate I was/am to be from a place so majestic, so magical. In High School, I was sent to live back in Kekaha, Kaua’i for my Sophomore year. Sadly, I was spoiled with the ability to take everything in front of me for granted and I was much too home-sick to continue the year. After only a short while, I returned to California having made the mistake I always wish I could take back.

As an adult, I have since then understood the value of my situation and have proudly longed to be back home at any chance I had.

Now working for an airline, I am so fortunate enough to be able to do this more often than I had anticipated — well, ever. A few weeks ago I was able to hop on to a plane (or a few different planes, actually) to make the trek from Austin, Texas to my family’s hometown of Kekaha, Kaua’i for my tūtū’s 80th lū’au.

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We surprised her (which took a LOT of effort, lol) with lots of food, family, friends, and love. It was the best feeling in the world to see that tear-drenched smile of hers, and especially to be able to see my 80-year-old grandmother dance hula once again. All of her children hadn’t been together in fifteen years! An occasion that made all of us feel at home.

I didn’t really sight-see as this was a trip meant just for my gramma and our family, but I was lucky enough to experience our traditional Hawaiian practices for gatherings, like preparing and revealing the imu for the kalua pig:

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Fresh, hot, fatty pig!

In between running errands, I snacked on local kine foods like manapua:
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and spamusubi (also pictured: kona coffee, cinnamon sticks):

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I walked the Waimea river with my mom looking for ‘ili ‘ili rocks she could bring back home to her halau to dance hula with.

At the end of my trip, I ventured up north to Princeville for the night at the Westin:
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My sister and I sat in the hot tub while my mom and I gazed upon a dark-filled sky of na hoku (stars), overwhelmed with the beauty before us. It was then, in addition to many times before on that same trip, that my eyes welled up with tears. I felt so overjoyed and so filled with peace that there were no words possible – or needed – to express.

I returned home with a fresh feeling of pride, one that is always resurfaced when I go home. I am proud to be Hapa Hawaiian. I am proud to be part of the Polynesian community. But what’s more, I am most proud of being part of my family.