I’m back with another installment of our Hawaii trip. If you’re getting bored with these, don’t worry, there are only about 5 more to go. I could say I’m kidding, but I’m not. If I can survive the trip, you can survive these posts.
The day after Zoe’s birthday I suggested we head up the other side of the island to see the Polynesian Cultural Center. The kids had complained that Waikiki didn’t feel very “Hawaiian” so I thought this was a great opportunity to experience the culture.
The drive was amazing. Where the trip to Haleiwa had been sparse in vegetation, this side of the island was lush. As we drove along the coast, I spotted “Hat island.” Hat island isn’t really Hat island. The Hawaiian name is Mokoliʻi, which means “little lizard.” The belief was that in a great battle between the goddess Hiʻiaka and a dragon, the dragon’s tail was cut off and this is what remains:
However, due to the fact that it resembles a traditional Asian hat many refer to the island as “Chinaman’s hat.” So much for being PC.
As we pulled into the parking lot to the beach area with the best view of the island, we also noticed a large site called “Kualoa Ranch.”
Sydney said, “These mountains look a lot like ‘Lost.'”
I said, “Well I know that ‘Lost’ was filmed somewhere on the island.”
I took her picture, as she pretended to be “Lost.”
I made the comment that the mountains reminded me of “Mighty Joe Young,” the movie about the giant gorilla starring my husband’s #2 favorite hottie Charlize Theron. (#1? Scarlett Johansson in case anyone is keeping track.) To which Nathan replied, “You’re a giant gorilla.”
One of us was right. The other was Nathan. Turns out Kualoa Ranch is the filming site of many movies and television shows, including “Mighty Joe Young.”
After a couple more pics in front of the island…
We all piled back in our giant rental vehicle and headed north. We noticed that there were a lot of signs protesting expansion and development of the area. With as lovely as everything was over there, I can see why they would want to protect it.
When we finally pulled into the parking lot for the PCC we were relieved to see the parking lot was pretty empty, except for a few tour buses. There was a bit of a scuffle under the plumeria trees as we lathered the sunscreen on everyone.
For those who don’t know, the Polynesian Cultural Center http://polynesianculturalcenter.com is a living museum/sort-of theme park owned and operated by the LDS (Mormon) church. The majority of employees are students of BYU-Hawaii and they work for scholarship money.
While there is mention of the purpose of the park, there are no overt “conversion” attempts, it really is simply a tribute to the various Polynesian cultures.
The park is designed with each unique country having their own space to highlight their housing styles, traditions, music, clothing, etc. We didn’t know where to start, but Parker insisted on heading for the canoe rides. There is a river that flows through each “country” and a tour guide talks a bit about them as you pass by.
We got to the canoe area and there was a large group already there. An employee came over to us and said, “How many of you are there?”
We told him 7.
He said, “The wait is going to be a little bit. We had a hundred and one Chinese show up in a tour bus.”
He suggested we go see the Samoa presentation that was about to start, and come back after they had gotten the “hundred and one” through on the canoes.
For the entire rest of our trip the phrase “the hundred and one” became code for large groups of tourists. As in, “We’d better make a reservation, otherwise we may get stuck behind the hundred and one.” Or, “I didn’t want to wait in the bathroom line. The hundred and one were there.”
We headed over to Samoa, and were stopped by a man with no shirt, a grass skirt and calves that were mesmerizing. I’ve never seen calves that muscular. Neither had Zoe, who leaned over and started whispering, “Do you see his…” before I shushed her. They were in the process of raising the Samoan flag and singing their national anthem.
The show consisted of Mr. Amazing Calves husking and shucking a coconut, all the while making funny jokes about the tourists watching. He is multi-lingual, and spoke to people in their own languages throughout. He is no longer a student, he was a fine art major who now sells his paintings in the Samoa souvenir shop and spends his days doing coconut demonstrations. Oh, and he showed us how to make fire.
They have hands on demonstrations for people to try at each “village” including fire making, hula lessons, basket weaving, etc. The kids can get a stamp in their “passport” and at the end, if they have completed all the tasks, they get a prize from the gift shop at the front of the park. My kids were interested in the prize, but not enough to try all the activities.
After Samoa we went back to the canoe ride, where the top photo was taken. The hundred and one had already cleared out, so the wait was short.
When we’d finished the canoe ride, the natives started getting hungry. By natives I don’t mean the people working at the park, I mean my kids. We found a spot to settle in to watch the parade of islands on the river front while Sydney and I went off to find food to bring back. By the time we got back, Jeff and the kids were surrounded by the hundred and one.
Can I just say: yes, your skin is lovely, but is it really necessary to put up umbrellas to shield your face from the sun while those behind you are trying to see over and around you? A couple rays so that you don’t block everyone’s view isn’t that much of a sacrifice.
My husband was a little shocked that I actually patted one of the women on the shoulder asking her to take the sunbrella down. At least I was nice about it.
Each island had their own float, where they wore traditional costumes, and did their own traditional dances and songs. After watching them all, I’d have to say the Tongans are the ones I would want to party with. They definitely seemed to be the most fun of the bunch. The New Zealanders (Aoteroa) were the most subdued. I found myself thinking my pale freckled face may say “Irish” but my body says “Polynesian.” I love that the Polynesian women are curvy and not skinny- except Tahiti. Those girls were by far the thinnest. I loved their outfits and they certainly know how to shake their non-existent hips. I could never make it in Tahiti.
We decided that we were up for one more show, so we headed to Tonga.
The Tongan show was a drum show, and after doing some demonstrations, they dragged 3 men down to participate. The first was a white guy from San Francisco. the second was a black man from Miami. The third was a man from Japan.
The show was quite entertaining. One by one they took each guy and had them mimic their drumming. The Tongan guy would drum, then the participant would follow, attempting to replicate it. The drumming would get more complicated each time, and then they added some yells in Tongan. When the guy from Miami got up there, he was keeping up pretty well. When he got to the last set, the Tongan guy did a complicated drum beat and then yelled a very long sentence in Tongan. The guy from Miami stopped, looked at him, drummed something totally different and shouted, “Who let the dogs out?!?”
The crowd roared with laughter.
At the end of the show, Jeff came over to where I was sitting with Zoe and said, “Parker wants to get his autograph.”
Confused, I said, “The performer?”
“No. The ‘Who let the dogs out’ guy.”
I laughed. “Of course he does. ”
After some prompting on Parker’s part, Jeff, totally mortified, walked over with Parker to ask for Miami’s autograph.
Suddenly there was a huge eruption of laughter from everyone surrounding Parker.
By the time I got over there, Jeff’s face was beet red.
I said, “What happened?”
“Parker threw me under the bus, that’s what happened. We got over there and Parker said, ‘My dad wants your autograph.'”
I looked at Parker, who had a sheepish look on his face.
Zoe decided she wanted an autograph also, but she went for the shirtless Tongan guy. Not a bad choice.
We walked towards the exit and Parker said to me, “What does it mean that daddy wants to throw me off the bus?”
“Not OFF the bus. UNDER the bus. You threw daddy under the bus. It means that you talked daddy into going over there with you and then said he was the one who wanted the autograph.”
This phrase has been used by him many times since; Usually out of context and not worded correctly. But if you hear Parker talking about throwing people on, off or under the bus, you’ll know where it’s coming from.
Funny thing- the next day Jeff and Parker went to the hotel pool and who did they see?
You got it- Mr. Who let the dogs out guy.
Out of all the hotels on Oahu where he could have been staying- he was at ours.
I said, “Did you say anything to him?”
“No I was hoping he didn’t recognize us.”
Later that day they got in the elevator. Who was in it? You guessed it.
Parker had given Jeff a gift that just kept on giving.
Coming soon- The celebration bus, the mongoose, the awesome and the only only