Friday, April 11, 2008

Hawaiian Redux: Place of Refuge

By the time we had flown in to Hawaii, gotten our rental car, driven down to the condo and checked in, it was still only about 2pm and we didn't want to waste any time just hanging around the room. We wanted to see this new and beautiful place.

Most of the places that we planned to go in our 5 days was north of Kona or north and then east. There was what sounded like an interesting park just south of Kona that told much about the ancient history of the islands, and since we didn't plan to go south again that trip, we decided to spend the afternoon there.

It was called Pu'uhonua o Honaunau, or "Place of Refuge". From their website:

In old Hawaii, you had broken a law the penalty was death. Perhaps you had entered into an area that was reserved for only the chiefs, or had eaten forbidden forbidden. Laws, or kapu, governed every aspect of Hawaiian society. The penalty for breaking these laws was certain death. Your only option for survival is to elude your pursuers and reach the nearest puuhonua, or place of refuge.

As you enter, the great wall rises up before you marking the boundaries between the royal grounds and the sanctuary. Many ki'i (carved wooden images) surround the Hale o Keawe, housing the bones of the chiefs that infuse the area with their power or mana. If you reached this sacred place, you would be saved.

Today, you may visit Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, and still fell the spirit of peace and forgiveness that continues to surround and bless this special place.

It seemed, from the brochures and the signs there, that this place was some kind of village as well. The king or the chief of the area lived there at times, and had a small harbor that only he was allowed to use. In this small natural harbor, we could see sea turtles puttering around.

There were reconstructions of what some of their buildings looked like as well as an ancient wall of lava rock, built by fitting lava rocks together like a puzzle. There were also many wooden carvings, called ki’i, that were carved images of their gods. Noah found a game board that looked similar to checkers, played with black lava rocks and white coral stones, placed on a flat table of lava with holes carved out for each stone.

It was a beautiful, peaceful, almost haunted place. A lovely way to begin our trip.

That night, we kicked off our vacation in style with dinner at a nice hawaiian bistro. Michael's mom had given us a gift certificate to this place she had researched to celebrate our birthdays, and the food was just divine.

We fell soundly into our beds that night. We had lots of big plans for our first full day.


Snowbird said...

Sounds very interesting. I love the history of Hawaii. If you ever get the chance, read Michener's book "Hawaii". There is a great synopsis at Heck, just read the synopsis if you don't have time for the book. It does a pretty good job.

Good talking to you yesterday. I love your blog but miss your voice.

Emily said...

your pictures are amazing!! wow. love the one of the wooden sculptures especially. they are so lovely.

Cindy said...

Great pics. Love the carved faces. But I know you took more than 3 pictures, woman. ;)

Shama-Lama Mama said...

Patience, Grasshopper, patience!

It takes me forEVER to photoshop these puppies. I just learned a few new tricks (old dog, that I am) and I am trying to make some pretty mediocre pics look good.

Genius takes time!

Rachel Schell said...

paradise!!! looks gorgeous.