Destination: Today’s adventures represent the dichotomy that Hawaii often is. On one side of the road you may find a tourist trap and on the other an ancient spiritual site of astounding importance and beauty.
Focus: Tourist hell to my right, spiritually moving beauty to my left…
Soundtrack for the drive: Sean Lennon, Into the Sun
Quote of the Day: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it ~ W.C. Fields
Act I, Scene I – The Dole Plantation
This place is packed and completely absurd. It’s basically just a way for Dole to make more money. The plantation grounds are gorgeous but I’m not going to pay to see them and all the tours and train rides cost money. Of course it’s free to walk into the sprawling gift shop, which is the biggest attraction of them all, so it seems my only option is perusing the never ending sea of pineapple this and pineapple that.
The souvenir prices are jacked up beyond belief. For example it costs $21.50 for 8 oz. of pineapple flavored pretzels. Or you can get pineapple chocolate, pineapple hard candy, pineapple wine, pineapple ham jerky and my personal favorite: macadamia nuts with Spam for only $15.25. And obviously you can buy anything you can think of with the Dole logo printed on it.
For the life of me I cannot figure out what this place is about. There is a café with one of those rotating hot dog racks that contains a single hot dog and no employees. There’s a shelf outside with a box of pencils for sale (20¢ each) and a jar of Ragu spaghetti sauce.
It’s the “plantation” part that really confounds me. The surrounding grounds are home to the “Fantasy Garden”
and this sexy little frog:
Creepy. Weird. I shake my head so as to release the image of the suggestively posed amphibian. Curtain.
And now for something completely different. Act II, Scene I – The Royal Birthing Stones
What is there to do but walk away and cross the street? Just down the road I am lucky to discover this:
I inhale deeply and walk the red dirt path between pineapple fields which leads to this:
and then this:
As I wonder how many people only see the Dole Plantation and never make their way over here, I eventually come upon this:
The central uplands of Oahu used to be the domain of royalty and were considered so sacred that commoners were forbidden to pass through. The central part of the island symbolized the human navel to the ancient people and they considered this spot sacred where divine spirits welcomed chiefly offspring into the world.
The Royal Birthing Stones are called Kukaniloko; “To Anchor the Cry from Within”. The site was established in the 12th century by an Oahu chief for the birth of his son Kapawa. For centuries royal women were brought here to follow strict rituals and give birth to new members of the ali’i (royalty).
Pregnancy and birth don’t interest me in the conventional way it seems they should, but my biological clock is tick tocking away (ever so loudly) and I still really want to be a mother. It’s just that when I envision myself entering motherhood I don’t see birthing tubs and maternity pants. I’ve tried to force that reality on myself, oh trust me I’ve tried!
Still though, there’s something moving about being at this ancient spiritual site that makes me stop to take it all in. The positive energy is palpable and the scenery simply gorgeous. I hope that the births that occurred here were happy and peaceful. I hope that the women were comfortable and excited. I hope that the offerings I see scattered about on various stones were made by present day pregnant women and that the ritual of coming here and breathing it all in helped them feel closer to the earth and at one with the path they are following.
I believe pregnancy and birth to be absolutely beautiful things. I’m just not sure I want to participate in them. Time will tell. It’s one of the things I’ve learned to stop worrying about.
Lesson learned: If you’re stuck in a tourist trap of cheesy hell try going next door. And if that doesn’t work, walk across the street and down the road a piece.