Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sacred Places

The land near the Mookini Heaiu/Big Island

I have been lucky in my travels to stumble upon sacred places.  

There are sacred places in this world that are anointed by people as sacred...sometimes they feel special....other times.... they do not.

The sacred places I have stumbled upon stick in my memory and never leave. They did not have special signs or special people saying they were special.

One sacred place that always dwells in me is in Niger.  We had just crossed the Tenere Sea....a flat flat hazy sand// hazy sky area that encompassed hundreds of front of us were the Air Mountains... black jagged spheres of volcanic rock reaching for the sky. As we neared the mountains and turned... we came upon a place where soft pink-red sand formed huge sand dunes.  The dunes look like petrified waves of water...splashing....melting into....washing upon the black rock of the mountains.  

We drove up and then camped on one of these pink dunes for the night.  It was could feel the sacred surround you....the soft meets the hard....the cool (it was actually cool onto of these high dunes) meets the heat of the desert.  It felt like the ying and yang of the universe was right in this small section of the earth.....everything was here....birth death sex love male female.  It was the only evening during our entire 4 week trip that our contentious group actually got along....we ate.....we were pleasant to each other...we sang songs....we watched the stars.  No other place in Africa had forced such good will upon such a divergent group of people.  

I can close my eyes and still see it....and in some way feel it.....I was so enchanted by the area....I actually filled my water bottle up with some of the soft sand from the very top of the dune...which I have in a glass bottle on my office shelf....which I gaze at now and then....and which always makes me smile.

 When I was on the Big Island in Hawaii....I felt a tug...a pull to go visit the area which holds the Mookini Heaiu (Temple).  It sounded like a neat place...a place still considered sacred by native Hawaiians...a  place which seemed purposely hard to get to find.  Even though it is listed in on websites....and noted to be a state historical site.  The road is unpaved and unmarked....there are wide ruts....warnings to people who are traveling by rental cars (don't take them here) and no signs.  You simply have to feel your way there or if you are like brought Google aerial shots and tried to match the earth to a bird's eye view of the land.

So after hub and I climbed up and down a zigzag cliff trail to the a black sand beach....I suggested we go find this ancient temple....supposedly erected in the 1500's by the Tahitians who discovered this island and then modified by King Kamehameha.

We left the main road and headed to the Upolo isolated small airfield at the very edge of the northern coast of the Big Island.  White windmills were on our right....and flat pasture land and tall grass stretched to the left.

My hub was not happy with me.  We found the dirt road and I proceeded to drive about 10mph down it....there were so many ruts and holes I didn't want to mess up the rental car so my thought was go slow.  Hub thought it was a little too slow.  We creeped and edged down the road then drove in front of a lone house then tried to avoid deep mud holes.  Finally I said to hub...I bet we still have a mile to go...why don't we ditch the car...and just walk.  The lane widened a bit and I pulled off....only one pickup truck had passed us and I didn't think there was another car  along this stretch of road.  

Hub got out and charged ahead....but I walked slowly.  Then I turned.....and all I could see was the blue blue of the ocean.....could hear the crash of the water against rocks below....could feel the breeze pushing against me.  To the other side of me....was a huge grassy pasture....the grass bent and straightened with the wind....turn dark green or light green with the push of the wind. 

 Hub was now out of site.....already on the side road to the temple...but I just stood there and felt the wind and let the sight soak in.  Amazing.  I walked up the lane to the temple and to my surprise....all around the temple ruins was mowed grass....considering the shape of the road....and the shape of the path which used to be a road up to the temple.....I was shocked to find perfectly mowed grass space around the temple.  I finally caught up with hub and we walked around the stone walls together. I remembered reading that a nearby Hawaiian family has taken care of the compound for generations...maybe they mowed the grass.  

The wind was now so intense...since the temple sat on top of a was almost like a dance partner...pushing and swaying you this way and that.....every time I turned towards the ocean and listened to the grass swish in the breeze....I could feel the was no accident a temple was built here so long ago.....the constant wind...the smell of the ocean...the grass....and something you could feel and sense but not quite see was here.

 Hub had started down the lane....but I just stood there. At one point, I lifted my arms to see if I could fly.....I opened my mouth....and actually let the wind fill me was sacred wind on a scared piece of land.  I actually felt the wind was washing through me....and cleaning my soul.   

We drove around the entire Big Island...and there was no other spot like other spot with wind and grass and waves...and a sense that the ocean went on forever.  It was beautiful....and a privilege to be there.  I started walking back to the car....hub now far out of sight....and I said some prayers.....this was a spot meant for prayers and communications with whatever/whomever was  out there.  I stopped here and there on the road to peer out over the edge and look at the water....the water thundered and slapped the black volcanic boulders.  

I got back in the car reluctantly....I could see my hub who was cranky about my driving and cranky about walking a mile or so to the temple hadn't experienced what I felt....I think his crankiness shielded him from the feel of the land....I presume that happens a lot in the world....someone can stand in a field or on top of mountain and what is sacred for one person may not be sacred for another.  Perhaps sacredness is an individual feeling....a melding of personality and genetics and land....that is different for each individual.

I drove quietly...... past the mud holes around the road boulders....I didn't want to to break the mood....I didn't want to lose the sensation and the feel of this place.  When we reached the little airport....I felt sad...the paved road was just ahead....and I knew we would never come back here on this trip....or maybe ever.

On the way out....I saw a for sale sign... two parcels of land are for sale....not the land in front of the temple but two parcels next to it... 75 acres in total....for a cool 2 million dollars.  In the next week or two....I'm going to go buy a lottery ticket....and if the Gods want me to have the land...LOL>>>I'll win several million...and I'll buy the parcel....and not build a thing on it...just let the sacred earth be and rest.  

Wish me luck.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Back from Hawaii

I am back from Hawaii.  It took me a while to recover....I had "Aloha brain" and my internal time clock was not happy.  In June I flew thousands of miles East to Italy and Israel....and now I flew thousands of miles West to the Big Island of Hawaii.  

"What's up?" asked my internal mechanisms.  

Since my answer of "traveling" wasn't adequate....they decided to toy with me.  I was ready for bed at 3am and wanted to sleep way past my waking time of 7am.  One day I actually turned off the alarm on my phone and slept till 11am....I was horrified!  I'm not a young adult male (the ones in my house can easily sleep till 1pm or later if left unattended) so that means I slept through most of the day.

But in the last couple of days... my internal mechanisms have forgiven I went to bed about the right time and got up just about the right time.

The Big Island was interesting.....although I knew it was volcanic....I was surprised to drive along scenes which resembled landscapes from Nevada or southern crumbly volcanic rock with shaggy grass sprouting from it.  

Even when I was on the rainy or Hilo side.....the volcanic scenes were there... lush jungle surrounding you....but head to the beach and you walked on grain-sized pumice stone and clamoring over jet black volcanic rocks....which could be new, pointed and sharp or worn from constant wave action.  

There was never really a classic "Hawaiian Beach"....if you think of soft sand and the joy of wading in the waves and then swimming in the water.  When I did swim in the ocean water, I had to climb down rocks into a pool of ocean water protected by a rocky break and wear rubber shoes since the bottom of the ocean pond was an immense rock field of varying sharpness.  On the plus side....these pools were often warm because of the lava churning somewhere beneath you and had beautiful fishes and sea turtles swimming in them.

I am a fan of the desert so I enjoyed some of the desert feel of the island but I really missed the beaches of Maui and Kauai...where you could stroll along the sand.....walk into the water.....and sit under palm trees on the beach.  On the Big Island....the Kona-side hotel we stayed at towards the end of our trip to attend a family wedding....had brought in the sand to create a small sandy beach.  But again...walk 3 feet away from the shore line and you were on rocks.

Aside from was a good trip.  

I arrived a day before my hub and scouted out our hotel grounds...and I'm glad I did...we stayed at the Hilton which was located on a 60 acre compound.  Wow....that's a lot of land.  

Our room was in the North Towers and I had the choice of hopping on a boat which navigated a  canal to my room, riding a tram or strolling under a covered walkway filled with Asian art. I was disoriented at first because there were so many walkways and bridges over the canal....I had to consult a map just to get to breakfast!  But by the time my hub arrived....I had mastered the place...found the dolphin pool....the restaurants....the walks out to beautiful spots along the ocean.

When hub arrived we hiked down a cliff on the northern edge of the island onto a beautiful black sand beach, hunted for petroglyphs and hiked out to Mo'okini Heaiu, a still active and sacred shrine for Hawaiians.

A week into the trip we met his siblings and stayed at a rental house south of Hilo where we had a happy time....drinking wine, visiting the warm ocean pools and playing tourist.   Our trip ended with a return trip to the Kona side of the island and our niece's wedding on the beach and then the long air trek home.

As I look back on the event that stays with me was our hike to the Mo'okini temple....which I'll share in the next blog.

Land surrounding Mo'okini Heaiu (Temple)