One of the highlights of our recent U.S. road trip was stopping at my cousin Elaine’s in Effingham, IL. Her grandson, Keegan, a 2nd grader, is in an elementary school that has for the past 28 years been doing a unit on Hawaii.
Since Barry and I were going to be in town, we were invited to answer their questions about our island home.
1) Since it is so far away from the rest of the United States, why is Hawaii a state?
Hawaii is far away from Mainland U.S. A. – that is true.
- From California to Hawaii is 2,471 miles.
- From Japan to Hawaii is 4,980 miles away.
Before it was a U.S. possession, Hawaii was an independent country. However on Jan. 17, 1893, Hawaii’s monarchy was overthrown by a group of U.S. businessmen and sugar planters (who wanted to make more money). With the help of U.S. military, the business people forced Queen Liliuokalani, the Queen of the Kingdom of Hawaii, to abdicate. She give up her rights and kingdom although she was the rightful leader. She didn’t want her people killed.
Two years later, Hawaii was annexed as a U.S. territory and eventual admitted in 1959 as the 50th state in the union.
2) What races live in Hawaii?
- The state’s overall racial breakdown: white, 22.7%; black or African American, 1.5%; American Indian and Alaska Native, 0.2%; Asian, 37.7%; Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander, 9.4%. The Hispanic or Latino population, of any race, was 8.9%.
- More Hawaii residents identify as mixed race – USATODAY.comhttp://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/census/2011-02-24-hawaii-census_N.htm
3) Have you seen a volcano erupt?
- Yes, on the Big Island of Hawaii many years ago, Barry and I saw a volcano erupting!
- Lava and steam have been coming up in various places on the Big Island for many years. Johnny and Sigrid were just there in February and were right by extremely hot, slowly flowing lava.
- On Maui, we have two volcanoes – one extinct (dead) and one dormant (sleeping), so we don’t have lava flows now.
- The Hawaiian islands were formed by volcanoes.
Big Island Kilauea Volcano
Go to this link to see molten lava:
4) What are the black sand beaches like?
- Black sand is hot – very hot when the noon sun shines upon it.
- The dark color absorbs the sunlight, so if your feet are bare, you have to run really quickly to get into the water.
- That sand is black because it is fine particles of volcanic rock.
- Most sand in Hawaii is silicon dioxide (quartz) that is white or whitish yellow; it has been broken down from rocks and minerals by wind, rain and freezing/thawing cycles into smaller grains. In a few places, the sand is red.
- Also, sea creatures such as the parrot fish chew up minerals and leave sand behind.
5) What is the weather like?
- Nice – highs are around 87 degrees in June, July, and August and lows of about 64 degrees are in January and February.
- Because temperatures drop about 3.2F (1.3C) every 1,000 feet (305m), the summit of Haleakala is roughly 32F (13C) cooler than the beaches.
- Rainfall is low in Kihei (10 inches a year), but on the east of Maui, is Hana, a rain forest (400 inches a year).
- Hawaii is called a “tropical paradise” because its climate makes people feel comfortable almost every day of the year.
6) Are there a lot of shark sightings?
- No. Sharks do live in the ocean, but they aren’t often seen here in Hawaii. One thousand miles south of the Hawaiian Islands, in the Palmyra Atoll, however, there are about 20 sharks every half mile. So it depends where you are what sea life you’ll find.
- About three shark attacks occur per year in Hawaii. Few shark attacks are fatal. Sharks do not have very good eyesight, so it is best to stay out of the ocean at dawn, dusk, or at times when the water is murky. Sharks are looking for turtles to eat – not humans.
- The Hawaii shark attack rate is surprisingly low considering the thousands of people who swim, surf, and dive in Hawaiian waters every day.
- The most frequently encountered Hawaiian reef sharks are the White Tipped Reef Shark, Scalloped Hammerhead Shark, Tiger Shark, Galapagos Shark, Gray Reef Shark, and the Sandbar Shark.
7) Do people really do the hula?
- Yes, the men and women – and children – dance hula. The Hawaiians have a powerful dance, music, and chant culture!
8) How is Christmas celebrated in Hawaii?
- Over half the people in Hawaii practice Christianity.
- Of those, 18.74% are Catholic; 5.24% are LDS; 3.91% are another Christian faith; 0.06% in Hawaii are Jewish; 5.14% are an eastern faith; 0.05% Islam.
- Barry and I have a Christmas tree, church services, and celebrations with our families. Because the weather is warm, we take food and spend our Christmas Day at the beach with our friends and family.
- Because we live in Hawaii, we get to enjoy and experience other cultures and religions that our friends and neighbors practice.
On Maui – Santa arrives by canoe
9) Are there any interesting animals on Maui?
- Yes. Many – many – especially sea creatures.
- My favorite one? Humpback whales that come to Hawaii from about December through February.
Humpback Whale Facts:
- Whales are mammals: breathe air, warm blooded, live birth, have hair, & mom’s produce milk.
- Fifty-eight million years ago, whales were land animals. But there was global warming and less land and food, so the whales evolved back into sea creatures.
- Their trip from Alaska to Hawaii (and then back to Alaska) takes whales 5 to 7 weeks at 3 to 8 miles per hour – each way! It’s about 3,000 miles they swim to give birth and mate in our shallow, sandy bottom, warm water.
- A whale calf is 15 foot at birth and drinks about 120 pounds of milk per day.
- Because their throats are about the size of a grapefruit, the Humpback whales don’t eat for about four months here because our fish are too big. The whales have to wait until they get back to Alaska where there is krill, small shrimp and other small cold water fish for them to eat!
- All whales vocalize, but the males “sing.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xo2bVbDtiX8
- Life span: 40-80 years
- Length: 35-45 feet
- Weight 35-45 tons ( 1 ton = 2,000 pounds)
- Importance of whales to microscopic beings: Scientists report that when whales feed, often at great depths, and then return to the surface to breathe, they mix up the water column. That spreads nutrients and microorganisms through different marine zones, which can lead to feeding bonanzas for other creatures.
- And the materials in whale urine and excrement, especially iron and nitrogen, serve as effective fertilizers for plankton.
Come visit us to see other animals, birds, and sea life.
10) Do you have turtles in Hawaii?
- Two kinds you’ll find in Hawaii (among others) are the Green Sea turtle and the endangered Hawksbill.
- At Ho’okipa Beach on Maui, you can sometimes see 25 or more turtles, big and small, basking – resting and warming up – on shore every afternoon.
- Thirty years ago, basking seldom happened. But now, turtles are protected. It’s against the law to eat them.
We have other much more common animals:
11) What can you do for fun?
And of course, you must come paddle Hawaiian outrigger canoe with me. Kihei Canoe Club has visitor paddle every Tuesday and Thursday. Be on the beach by 7:15 am. You will learn the basics of paddling, hear a bit of Hawaiian culture (especially if Uncle Kimokea is there), and get to be on the ocean with experienced paddlers. We never know what we will see. http://www.kiheicanoeclub.com/
As for our time in Effingham, Barry and I had a very good time meeting Keegan’s classmates and teachers – and answering their excellent questions.
Cousin Elaine brought juice and made “Hawaiian” cookies with macadamia nuts and coconuts. We all had a good time.
Of course, there is much more to say about the Hawaiian Islands. Come visit and see for yourself.
“The light falls only on the stranger,” an ancient Arabic proverb declares. This saying can mean that individuals are often not celebrated in their own countries – nor in their own families. While familiarity may not mean contempt, it certainly lends itself to disregard. However, one of the joys of traveling allows us to be the stranger – and to see others as strangers.
During these last two months, Barry and I drove from St. Louis, Missouri to as far south as Key West, Florida and as far north as Eau Claire, Wisconsin – visiting family, friends, meeting new people, and having new experiences. We felt the special attention showered upon wanderers. And we were eager to see others.
The proverb points to another way travelers benefit in their wandering. “The light falls only on the stranger” can also mean that the one who sees most clearly – what is special – is often by those who are seeing something for the first time.
It’s a challenge for us all – those at home and those on the road – to see the light that is in each person and the light that surrounds us everywhere. What can you see when you look carefully?
Filtered sunlight makes its way through the tall canopy, the stone statues of snakes and monkeys, the ornate temples, and the calls of monkeys create an eerie, spirit-filled setting. Visitors follow trails; a deep ravine runs through the park grounds, at the bottom flows a rocky stream. The heavily forested and hilly Ubud Monkey Forest covers about 27 acres (10 hectares) containing at least 115 different species of trees and over 600 crab-eating macaques (Balinese long-tailed macaques).
The monkeys roam freely – doing all their monkey business – in the Monkey Forest Sanctuary, Ubud. Although these macaques are called “crab-eating,” they often eat fruits and many other things; they are native to Southeast Asia and often used in research. Since they are most active during the day, visitors can observe their activities – caring for their young, mating, fighting, and grooming – at close range.
Five groups of monkeys inhabit the park, each occupying different territories. In recent years here, the monkey population has become larger than a natural environment could support, so conflicts between the groups are unavoidable, but it also means that visitors can see more monkeys here than in the wild.
Know that the monkeys are interested in any food you have. So, don’t be casually walking along enjoying your fresh young coconut. You are likely – actually guaranteed – to be jumped. Likewise, monkeys can smell food in your backpack; don’t count on just hiding your food.
The Monkey Forest park staff feed the monkeys sweet potatoes and other vegetables three times a day, providing them with their main source of food in the park, and so, the monkeys here are usually not as super naughty as in some other places.
In general, monkeys will not come up to you if you do not bring bananas or any other food. But they are smart and curious, and they may think you have food in that bag you are carrying, and they know how to take a lid off a bottle in search of whatever delightful drink they think you might have there. We saw a female trying valiantly to crack open a coconut by hitting it repeatedly with the side of her hand. She used a folded leaf to cushion the blow to her hand.
Once as I was walking along Monkey Forest Road and not even in the sanctuary, a monkey, a BIG monkey, climbed up my leg to check out the bottle I was carrying. When he saw it was only a plastic bottle of water, he climbed back down. Luckily – and surprisingly to me, I didn’t freak out. I was very happy I was wearing pants.
Monkey Forest Sanctuary site recommendations include:
- Leave any non-essential bags and bottles at the ticket counter.
- Do not bring in food or drinks to the park.
- Do not feed the monkeys peanuts, biscuits, bread, or any other human snacks because they are detrimental to monkey health. Some of the monkeys are now obese 😦 from such feeding. You may give the monkeys bananas that can be purchased at the entrance, but use care in giving the bananas.
- pull at a monkey or
- move suddenly.
- Do hang on to, or better yet, hide –
- or whatever might be taken. Don’t have anything shiny, money sticking out of your pocket, or your computer available in your open bag.
- If you do feed the monkeys, always look out for the claws and teeth of the dominant male. He should be given food first to avoid fighting or you getting bitten.
- Don’t get close to the babies. Especially don’t get between a mom and her baby.
- When you smile, don’t show your teeth. In monkey understanding, this is considered an aggressive gesture. Monkey grimaces are indicators of inferiority while panting and open-mouthed threats are indicators of dominance.
- If you have a child with you, be particularly careful.
The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary staff in the green uniforms are throughout the park in case you need assistance.
Even if you are careful, it is possible to get scratched or bitten. The monkeys are wild animals, and they are not afraid of humans. I haven’t heard of monkeys having rabies here, but some dogs do. Although dogs aren’t allowed in the sanctuary, I’ve seen a monkey and a young, rambunctious dog near the park entrance scraping over a bit of food. So don’t take chances. A puncture wound or even a scratch in a humid, hot climate such as Bali’s can quickly become infected. Seek immediate medical attention even if your wound seems minor.
Even with all these cautions, I recommend that you go to the Monkey Forest Sanctuary. Except for that one curious, climbing-up-my-leg monkey, I haven’t had any others bother me. They are fun to watch. And it’s fun to watch tourists interact with the monkeys too.
The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary is not only a tourist attraction with about 10,000 visitors a month but also an important site in the spiritual life of the local community. The Monkey Forest grounds are home to three Hindu temples, all apparently constructed around 1350!
The Main Temple is used for worshiping a personification of Shiva, the transformer. The Pura Beji Temple is a “Holy Spring” bathing temple, a place of spiritual and physical cleansing and purification prior to religious ceremonies.
The Prajapati Temple is used to pray for procreation and the protection of life. A cemetery adjacent to this temple receives the bodies of the deceased for temporary burial while they await a mass cremation ceremony (because of the extremely high costs), held approximately every five years.
The temples play an important role in the spiritual life of the local community, and the monkey and its mythology are important in the Balinese art tradition. The Monkey Forest area is sanctified by the local community, and some sacred areas of the temples are closed to everyone except those willing to pray and to wear proper Balinese praying attire.
On-going research and conservation programs also happen here with researchers from around the world focusing particularly on the monkey social interaction and behavior with their surrounding environment.
So go to the Monkey Forest Sanctuary for the monkeys, the trees, the temples. Especially if you are aware, you will have fun.
Selamat jalan, Renée
“The Holy Monkey Forest of Sangeh” by Bill Dalton, Bali Advertiser, 26 Sept. – 12 Oct. 2016, p 26.
Text and photos from: http://monkeyforestubud.com/
Especially when traveling, you see how other people do things differently. One wonderful aspect of Bali is there are no homeless people. I know that is a sweeping generalization, but I haven’t seen one person sleeping on the street! I wish I could say the same for Maui, the U.S., many other places in the world. Everyone has a home here mainly because they live in family compounds and take care of each other. Much of Bali land is government owned or controlled by the villages, so those who live in a family compound can’t sell the land. Even when they were colonized by the Dutch for 350 years, the Balinese kept control of their land, so they had their family home and family fields for shelter and food – for everyone.
In about 1930, Balinese began importing tin roofs (instead of using the grasses and having their neighbors help them thatch it – thus creating roof that would last 15-20 years – for free). Then they started importing cars – and needing money. Until that time, Bali could be considered one of the richest places on Earth. Because this traditional society was controlled by the village and temple laws, there was not much difference between the richest and poorest people in a village. Everyone got water for their family fields (a real “trickle-down” theory in practice). The system was so efficient that most people needed to work only four months a year to sustain themselves and their families; the rest of the year was dedicated to their art, temple, and family!
How’s that for a terrific idea that we could use?
(Source Hickman Powell’s The Last Paradise: An American’s Discovery of Bali in the 1920’s). <https://www.amazon.com/LAST-PARADISE-AMERICANS-DISCOVERY-1920s/dp/B01LMJYTBI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1476854387&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Last+Paradise%3A+An+American%27s+Discovery+of+Bali+in+the+1920%27s&refinements=p_72%3A1250224011>
Even now that they have to work year round, most Balinese are artists: dancers, musicians, painters, carvers, mask makers, weavers . . . . We could learn much from the Balinese.
But since an outsider can often see what a local does not, I’ve noticed since I was last here in 2014, the trend in Bali to keep caged birds. Bali is tropical; birds are everywhere. Just look out your window. Farmers in the rice fields are chasing birds away from the ripe grain. If you want more birds, you can just put out some bird seed. On Jalan Bisma, sometimes a van of tourists come to bird watch.
Why would you cage them?
While I’ve been here in Bali, I’ve read that although Balinese don’t eat dog meat, other people do. “Dog theft here is rampant, be it by agents of the dreaded . . . dog meat restaurants, or by thieves looking to sell a breed dog . . . at the famous ‘pasar burung’ in Denpasar where many breed dogs are sold on. . . In desperation to retrieve their beloved stolen pet, owners offer a considerable financial reward on posters and flyers which sadly can encourage further theft (though the owner is left no choice really but to go down this route). Even if dog meat thieves are caught, they are seldom punished with any severity – and as long as they keep getting away with it, they will keep doing it ” (Pet Care” Bali Advertiser, 12-26 Oct. 2016 p. 50).
Also while I’ve been here, I’ve seen the New York Times, “Big Food Photo Essay”:
Newborn females arrive from local dairies and spend their first 180 days at Calf Source — first in one of 4,896 hutches, like the ones seen here, and then in larger group pens. Trucks pass down each of 72 rows, dispensing water and milk. After a transfer to Heifer Source, another facility owned by the Milk Source company, the cows are inseminated and then returned — seven months pregnant, and just under 2 years old — to the dairies they came from.
During its busiest season, Gary’s Gobblers might have up to 60,000 turkeys living on five acres of its 160-acre facility. The worker seen here is spraying an antibacterial solution into the turkey pens to prevent disease.
Calf and turkey photos and text from: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/10/09/magazine/big-food-photo-essay.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0
During the Bali Vegan Festival, I attended the talk, “The Plight of the Bali Dog.” The facts about the dogs were bad – but also hopeful with information about what organizations such as BARC are doing to meet the challenges. What surprised me the most was what a young woman from India attending the talk said in response to my question about the Balinese Hindus offering animal sacrifices to their gods.
I know India is a complex country, the world’s most populous democracy, the land of Gandhi, and ahimsa (seeing the spark of the divine within each person). India is a country where you are confronted with big questions about glittering wealth and abject poverty – and where the Hindu majority religion respects the lives of animals. Indians make up two thirds of the world’s population of vegetarians – and Indian food is healthy and delicious.
What the Indian woman told me was very surprising to me:
1) Today – vegetarian, respect for animal life – India is one of the biggest exporter of beef cattle in the world!!! According to a 2015 CNN news report, “India was the world’s top beef exporter last year. That’s because India exports large quantities of meat from water buffalo — a member of the bovine family classified as beef by the USDA. . . . Meat now earns India more export dollars than basmati rice. . .
India’s buffalo meat — a chewier and cheaper alternative to beef — mostly ends up on plates in Asia and the Middle East, where rising wealth is spurring demand among diners for animal protein. . . .
The cow is revered in Hindu culture, the religion observed by roughly 80% of India’s 1.3 billion people, and restrictions on cattle slaughter apply in most states. . .
Still, the $4.8 billion annual export trade has almost developed by accident — the animals are needed to keep India’s huge domestic dairy industry going, said Rabobank analyst Pawan Kumar.
This is unique among countries with large bovine exports, Kumar said. It also means buffalo meat from India is cheaper. That helped the country generate record export earnings from the beef last year, although growth is moderating from the 30% annual rate seen between 2010 to 2013.
Here’s where it all goes: Vietnam is the top importer, with Malaysia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia other key markets.
Then there’s China, which may actually be the largest consumer of the meat, according to Rabobank’s Kumar. Some 40% of Indian buffalo is sent to Vietnam, before large quantities make their way across the Chinese border.
The Indian woman told me a second fact shocked me even more than the first:
2) Some Hindus offer animal sacrifice to their gods – as a gift of the best food.
According to the November 2014 Daily Mail article, “Animals are being lined up for slaughter as Nepal embarks on a two-day religious festival where buffalo, birds and goats are sacrificed to appease a Hindu goddess.
Millions of Hindus flock to the ceremony, which is held every five years at the temple of Gadhimai, the goddess of power, in Bariyarpur, Nepal, near the Indian border. . .
In 2009, more than 250,000 animals were killed, according to animal rights organization PETA, who is campaigning to put a stop to the practice.”
You can read more, but warning – the source includes gruesome photos : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2852739/Nepal-devotees-sacrifice-thousands-animals-Hindu-ritual.html#ixzz4NK8sQSJs
Sign on Angelo’s Store, Sugriwa Street, No. 10, Ubud, Bali.
— a good reminder. I hope you are doing what makes you happy.
Selamat Tinggal, Renée
Drinking responsibly, of course.
Sign at the Black Pearl Restaurant on Jalan Bisma, Ubud, Bali.
(The grilled chicken dinner is under $4.00; the Grouper about $7.00 U.S.).
Our Israeli friend Ruthi whom we’ve known since teaching in China just went home after a great experience teaching English to monks in Sri Lanka.
Now I’ve got your attention. This had to be the title for this blog entry, especially after I saw the number of “likes” my monks on a bus photo got on Facebook. Here it is:
Travelling to school
Anyway, how to sum up this crazy experience of a month teaching Buddhist monks in Bhiksu University, Sri Lanka? Was it what we had expected? Of course not! Things never are. On the plane over to Sri Lanka we again looked at each other wondering whether we were totally insane. How bad could it be, we thought? We had spoken via Skype to the Reverend Mediyawe Piyarathana, the English lecturer in charge of the program, and we had been interviewed by Paul Ellmes of http://www.giveafigvolunteering.com, who also lived there in the city, and seemed to be a nice, friendly chap. Just for a month….. what could go wrong, we thought. Well…
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Here’s a blog from an anthropologist who knows Bali well. Thanks, Anne.
Once upon a time anthropology was about what happened in faraway places. The way we found out about those places was by going there and hanging out and keeping our eyes and ears open. This was called “fieldwork” because the “field” we were studying was somewhere else. I’ve never been very comfortable with these words and now that the everything and everybody is moving everywhere I suspect the whole idea of “field(work)” may cause more problems than it is worth.
Nevertheless, all research happens somewhere, and when we are there we may experience everyday life in different ways than when we are “at home”. Sometimes, especially when I’ve just arrived, I write little stories which I send home to students, friends and family. What I think they reflect are a first, existential layer of the ethnographic experience that anthropology gets built out of.
Here are this years crop …
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