Hu’s on First?

Hula Kahiko Movement © lynette sheppard

Hula Kahiko Movement © lynette sheppard

It’s so wonderful to be back home on Moloka`i after a summer of family and fun on the mainland. So Moloka`i Moments is back up and running. And here is a true Abbott and Costello moment from right here on the island.

My hula teacher was teaching a new song, very pretty with lovely choreography. Dear friend and hula sister, Rae, went up to her after the class to inquire about the music, so she could buy the CD. (We like to support our artists here rather than just duplicating CD’s. After all, they put their hearts and souls out there for us.)

“Who did this CD?” she asked.

“Whoevah,” replied my hula teacher.

“No, I mean, what is the name of the group, so I can get the music.”


“No, I really want to know.” Rae was genuinely puzzled by now.

“Here, I’ll write it down for you,” smiled our hula instructor.

She wrote Hū`eva. That’s the name of the group. And the album. After much laughter, the misunderstanding was no more. And Hū`eva is a fantastic Hawai`ian group. The name translates as “to sing or create on their own path.” You can find the CD at – click here.

Moloka`i: Birthplace of Hula

Each year, we can hardly wait for the Ka Hula Piko festival on Moloka`i. This celebration commemorates the birth of hula at the sacred site Pu`u Nana. According to Hawai`ian history, the goddess Laka first danced the hula here; then traveled to the other islands teaching her graceful dance.

Hula is performed as a cultural sharing, a gift, and a prayer in this free outdoor festival. Begun by the late Kumu Hula, John Kaimikaua, the tradition is carried on by his Halau Kukuna O Ka La. Halau (hula schools or groups) from other islands join them and  our Moloka`i halau to educate and entertain. It is definitely what we call a “chicken skin” experience to watch these dancers. Here are just a few photos of the all day ho`olaulea. All I can say is, so lucky we live (or for some,  get to visit) Moloka`i.

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Blessings Island Style

Storm in the Channel © lynette sheppard

Storm in the Channel © lynette sheppard

Ua or rain is considered a blessing in Hawai`i. Small wonder when we are the most remote geographical area (farthest from any other land mass) in the world. Water is life and islanders celebrate it wholeheartedly. Wai wai nui. Great waters. The most precious gift on earth.

We have been blessed with abundant ua this year, so we are pretty much filled with gratitude. OK, I haven’t been to the beach to sun or swim lately, but I have admired the raindrops on ti leaves and the also abundant spiderwebs. (Seriously, we are surrounded by spiders this winter/spring. All of us are doing the spider dance, which involves waving our hands frantically in front of our faces, trying to dislodge the sticky silk after walking through multitides of webs.)

Molokai diamonds © lynette sheppard

Molokai diamonds © lynette sheppard

My laundry hangs sodden on the line and our plants are growing so fast you can almost see them sprout by inches a day. It sometimes feels like living in the old timey scifi film “Day of the Triffids”. (For those of you too young to remember it, plants took over the world and the final scene has them growing up and over a house.)

And the ua is…quite simply glorious. Squalls in the channel lit by the last rays of the sun, diamond drops on agave plants, the sound of a shower on the tin roof lulling you to sleep. And the rainbows! Vibrant slashes of color, double rainbows, full arches, and the rare but beautiful night rainbow. So lucky we live Moloka`i. Remember: no rain, no rainbows.


You Speak Pidgin? Bettah Learn!


Our first trip into the town of Kaunakakai was like going back in time. The wooden storefronts along the single main street looked like a throwback to the 1940’s. Relaxed and charming. After a brief tour (moments really), we headed on to a local auto repair shop to check on Rik’s old Toyota Land Cruiser.

We pulled up to Oshiro’s garage, where  cars in various states of repair were strewn across pavement.

“Mr. Oshiro!” Rik called to a worker bent over a radiator. “I’d like you to meet my friends, Dewitt and Lynette.”

A diminutive Japanese man, who looked to be ninety if he was a day,  stomped up to me, a frown creasing his already furrowed brow.

“You speak pidgin?” he demanded.

“Uh, no.” I replied, nonplussed.

“Bettah learn!” he spat and stomped back to his work.

Right! Bettah learn. I was visiting a new culture and it was going to be my job to observe and learn. Mr. Oshiro was determined that I understand that from the get go.

Pidgin is a language in its own right, distinct from Hawai`ian. It developed when so many cultures mixed during the plantation days and everyone needed a common language. Hence, pidgin has English, Hawai`ian, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, and more combined in a sort of hybrid tongue.

These days, there are books and stories published in pidgin. There are plays written and performed in this composite language. And likely, if you spend any time in Hawai`i, you will hear it spoken informally as well.

So do I speak pidgin? Not like a native, but I try. Thanks to Mr. Oshiro, I listened and I learned.

For more about pidgin, check out Wikipedia and these books on Amazon: Pidgin To Da Max and Da Kine Dictionary.

The Evening News is Always Good on Moloka`i

Molokai Sunset © lynette sheppard

Molokai Sunset © lynette sheppard

We deplaned at the tiny Moloka`i airport, where friend Rik picked us up in an old red Toyota 4 runner. We oohed and aahed on the short drive upcountry to their home, passing through waving green pastures and stands of Cook Island Pines. We wound down a red dirt road to a rustic house, where Rik’s wife Bronwyn greeted us on the lanai

“Quick, take off your clothes.” Ooookaaaay. “The evening news is about to start.”

Hey, we were children of the 60’s and 70’s respectively and had lived many years in Northern California. So we took off our clothes, somewhat bemused by the request.

Bronwyn led us around the corner to a claw foot bathtub filled with bubbles. Two Dos Equis and a ceramic bowl of crisp tortilla chips rested on a table next to it. A panoramic western view spread out before us.

“Get in, relax and watch the news. Our news consists of the sun setting behind Diamond Head on Oahu. The evening news is always good on Moloka`i. We’ll see you in an hour.”

Our interest in this lovely island turned to enchantment over the course of that hour. And that delight has only deepened over the years.

We try to watch the sunset wherever we are on the island even now. And Bronwyn was right. The news is always good on Moloka`i.

Moloka`i Is A Big Hana

West End Molokai From the Air © lynette sheppard

West End Molokai From the Air © lynette sheppard

My husband, Dewitt, and I were frequent visitors to Maui a couple of decades ago. We were addicted to windsurfing, particularly in the glorious waters of the Hawai`ian islands. Though we had also visited Oahu, Kaua`i and Hawai`i island, we never seriously thought about living in the 50th state.

As luck would have it, our friends Rik and Bronwyn Cooke, invited us to their home on Moloka`i. After a week of sailing and sunburn, we made our way to the tiny commuter terminal at Maui’s Kahului airport. A big, smiling Hawai`ian man tagged our bags and weighed us preparatory for boarding the little Twin Otter prop plane.

“You ever been to Moloka`i?” he asked.

“No,” I answered. “This is my first time.”

He thought for a moment, then asked “Have you ever been to Hana?”

“Oh yes. I LOVE Hana!” I exclaimed, remembering the slow pace of the tiny rural village at the literal end of the road in Maui.

“Then you’re going to the right place. Moloka`i is a big Hana.” he beamed.

Lei Hali`a: Flowers of Memory

Lei Hali`a © lynette sheppard

Lei Hali`a © lynette sheppard

I think of each remembered Moloka`i moment as a pua, a flower. These snapshots of Moloka`i life and lore are strung together in my heart to form a perfect lei. Like a lei, there is no specific beginning or end. It is a circle of memories. They exist in Moloka`i time; non-linear, connected, and precious –  like  flowers in a lei.

This blog is not a travelogue nor a history lesson nor even a treatise on culture. It is a collection of personal experiences and observations  resulting from my love affair with the island I am blessed to call my home. Moloka`i nui a Hina. (Moloka`i, Great Child of Hina, Goddess of the Moon.)