Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Impressions From Hawaii

Welcome to Hawaii's Big Island. The land of eleven ecosystems, from arid to tropical with anything in between, as these pictures show.
The land of meatpacking-style tourism, with its droves of overweight vacationers anxious to roast poolside -- only leaving their lounge chairs to fetch a 12-pack in their nondescript timeshare fridge, or venture to the purpose-built malls. There isn't much else to do in those mass-manufactured resorts where the cheap architecture is bland at best, but most often ugly -- defacing a pristine coastline in total oblivion to the local culture and landscape. Authenticity: zero. Charm: negative.

Yet, venture out a few miles, and there is no tourist in sight. Only beautiful scenery, which varies from volcano to savanah to desert to prairie to jungle -- all within a few miles of each other. Remote ramshackle houses and a cowboy lifestyle with a hint of aloofness.

Not much remains of the original Polynesian culture. Most of it was cleansed by colons and missionaries following Captain Cook's discovery of this paradise in the 18th Century. What is left is mainly tacky tourist stuff. There is a two-tier society between whites and Polynesians, the way it is in California between Anglos and Mexicans.

Our cross-country adventures were limited by Kilauea, a local volcano who has been active for a few years, spurting sulfates and generating a vog, aka volcanic fog, which turned most days into gloom. What a pleasure to return to sunny Southern California -- before we enter our own gloom season.
photo LA Frog