Please enjoy the original writing, Christian travel journal, and photography by a hapa haole named Gail Rhea.

Original Writing & Photography

by Gail Rhea




From: The Hapa Haole Journal

Subject: Aina Moana

Date: Thu, 26 Sep 2002 11:15:31 CDT


(NOTE: This to play catch-up from May.)


The women come out on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

I wasn't aware of that since I jogged Tuesdays and Thursdays on the beach of the lagoon on Aina Moana ("aina" = land, "moana" = ocean), better known by its English name, Magic Island. I switched days when I learned that a friend who lives on the windward side of Oahu paints in an art gallery in Waikiki on Friday nights. I figured that I could do my jog then go into Waikiki and visit with him and his wife while he paints. Sometimes, she and I go upstairs in the gallery to chat by ourselves and sometimes we sit at a table outside the front. Every once in a while, especially if they brought their children with them, she and I would go for a walk for entertainment.

Entertainment is right. The effects of September 11, 2001 diminished and the tourists came back. This, in turn, brought out all the street entertainers up and down Kalakaua Avenue. There are young men spinning on their helmet-covered heads, painted silver men posing as statues, an individual man doing performance spray paint art to the tunes from his boom box, another doing caricatures, and one playing a saw...yes, a saw.

"Hey, I'll give you a dollar to stop!" a male passerby shouts.

The saw-player keeps playing.

There are men with cheap oil paintings hanging on a short stretch of fence and men playing their bongo drums, flutes, guitars, harmonicas, and accordions. It's always a veritable cacophony of sight and sound with blaring car stereos going by.

One evening, my artist friend needs coffee. Since the children are restless, they come with his wife and me on the errand.

"Hey, can we go see the sharks?"

There's a two-story aquarium filled with rays and three small black-tipped sharks that can be viewed from the street but, this night, the children want to climb the interior staircase that will put the sea creatures on either side of them. My friend and I walk up a different staircase to watch the languid swimmers cruise through aerating columns of bubbles into clear water.

"Did you see the sharks pass right by me?" The boy was excited and I was, too. The sharks are sleekly beautiful with their definitive markings; living works of art, silent on their predatory prowl.

I'm glad the aquarium wall is separating us.

We visit a bookstore before claiming a coffee and head back to the art gallery.

"Hare Krishna - hare Krishna - hare, hare, hare Krishna..."

The saffron-robed chanters are out and right next to them:

"BAM-bam-bam-bam-bam! BAM-bam-bam-bam-bam! BAM-bam-BAM-bam! BAM-bam-bam-bam-bam!" prances a Chinese lion.

We arrive back at the gallery and deliver the coffee.

He asks, "Anything interesting going on out there?"

"Just the usual along with a Chinese lion dancing next to a group of Hare Krishnas," I reply. "This place is getting so bizarre!"

He laughs and nods, "Only in Hawaii."

And that's how I found out about the women.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the men launch their outrigger canoes and head for the open sea, but on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, the female paddlers practice, some going straight out to the ocean while others remain in the harbor's channel to practice their turns around the channel markers.

"Hup, hup, HEY!" A woman's call breaks the air a moment before the others bury their paddles on the side away from the marker they're rounding while the last one digs her paddle in deep, leaning onto it with her entire body to provide a pivot point.

"Hup, hup, hee-ah!" They round the marker and resume normal strokes.

"THAT WAS GOOD. LET'S DO IT AGAIN." After encouraging them, a man on the shore with a stopwatch jogs back in the direction from which he came, keeping abreast of the paddlers.

I continue my stroll down to the lagoon, complete my swim and jog, and rinse off the salt water at the outdoor showers.

"You know, I used to live in New York City and let me tell you, this is heaven right here on earth!"

I nod and smile my agreement to the large black woman showering next to me. Yes, this place is great.

Going back to the water's edge, I sit on a park bench to watch the sun go down as the tradewinds dry me off. At eight P.M. on Fridays, the Hilton Hawaiian Village provides a fireworks display and the evening sounds rise and ride across the water as I wait for the show.

"Will the young lady who just left the bar please return. You forgot your keys," comes from one of the yacht clubs.


"Will the driver of the white BMW parked in the no-parking zone please be aware that your car is now being towed away...And you left your lights on."

Hoo-wee! I wonder if reclaiming a towed car with a dead battery will teach'im?

And then, "...rolling, rolling, rolling on the river..." a band at the other yacht club opens its gig with "Proud Mary."

I am loath to leave the water's edge before the fireworks start but I need to get into Waikiki to meet my friends. As I stroll out, walkers, joggers, and dogs fill the paths while skaters and bicyclists exchange recipes and gossip on the road.

In the parking lot, some Samoans sit on the blacktop and chant to drumbeats while others practice a dance.

Magic Island lives up to its name. 







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