Kona, Hawai’i – May 3, 2009

Robin looking toward the Kailua Pier from the deck of the ship. Notice the low-hanging smoke from the active volcano.
Robin looking toward the Kailua Pier from the deck of the ship. Notice the low-hanging smoke from the active volcano.

This was our last shore day and last day for tendering. With our priority tickets (one of the perks of joining the Crown and Anchor Society), we could climb on board without first picking up a ticket and then waiting around until our number was called.

The tender dropped us off at Kailua Pier. It’s a convenient, downtown site and also where the Ironman Triathalon World Championship starts and ends every October.

Knowing we would be nearly a week without Internet, we decided to make finding an Internet café our first priority. The Beach Dog Internet Café, very near the Kailua Pier, filled the bill. I was able to log onto the free “linksys”, while Robin paid $5 for a half hour’s connection with friends and family.

Robin finished before I did so hopped the free shuttle to Hilo Hattie’s to look for a belt. He ended up walking to a store (Ross’s Dress for Less) nearly halfway back to where he’d caught the shuttle, but he did find the belt.

Meanwhile I ran out of laptop battery so cooled off with a macadamia nut ice cream. By then Robin was back, but my eye had fallen on a shop with lovely textiles. For the second time on the trip, I succumbed to temptation and bought one of those loose, one-size-covers-all-sins tops I can wear with trousers or skirts. The shopkeeper is a woman who retired to Hawai’i with her partner ten years ago. That’s a common story in this tropical paradise. Life’s easier in a climate with good weather pretty much every month of the year.

Kona's Hulihee Palace
Kona's Hulihee Palace

It was too hot for anything vigorous so we settled on a leisurely stroll around Kona’s historical sites. The first was the Hulihee Palace, which was built in 1838 by Governor John Adams Kuakini. He was the brother of Queen Kaahumanu, who was the wife of King Kamehameha I. The palace is one of only three royal residences in the U.S. Unfortunately, it was damaged in a 2006 earthquake so was not open for visitors.

Across the street was the lava rock exterior of, the first Christian sanctuary in Hawai’i. There had been a couple of thatched sanctuaries, built for the missionaries who came in 1820 and hung around to convert the “heathens”. Around  1836-37 this church was built. The tourist brochure explains the exterior was recycled from a Hawaiian temple. That sounds like a euphemism for the usual pattern of colonizer denigrating the existing religion and/or way of life and imposing the True Path.

Mokuaikaua Church
Mokuaikaua Church

At any rate, it’s an interesting building with its lava rock walls and crushed coral mortar. Inside, the pews and timber braces are of Hawaiian mahogany (ohia) and koa, burnished a rich, deep brown. There’s a small exhibit on the north side of the church, in honour of the voyages of early missionaries. One of the most interesting pieces on display is a stick chart. Polynesian navigators used them as maps of the seas. This one uses sticks to show drift lines, swell patterns, and currents around the Marshall Islands (marked with shells).

Polynesian sailors navigated with stick charts like this one
Polynesian sailors navigated with stick charts like this one

We were overheated by the time we had seen a few of the historical sites so when we spotted the Kona Canoe Club, we dropped in for a drink. The table we chose already had one visitor, a brightly hued gecko. The gutsy little lizard was accustomed to people and let us bring the camera in close for a few shots. One of the waiters threw him a half-eaten maraschino cherry. I don’t think he took any nibbles, but he did lick the sugary juice.

Cathryn enjoying a sea breeze at the Kona Canoe club
Cathryn enjoying a sea breeze at the Kona Canoe club
Gecko sharing our table at the Kona Canoe club. The waiter told us these shimmering little lizards were brought over from Madagascar and have become a real nuisance.
Gecko sharing our table at the Kona Canoe Club. The waiter told us these shimmering little lizards were brought over from Madagascar and have become a real nuisance.
Ahuena Heiau is a sacred site to indigenous people
Ahuena Heiau is a sacred site to indigenous people

Our last stop was Ahuena Heiau, a sacred spot where now only a thatched temple stands. At one time it was the seat of political power for King Kamehameha I. It was here, during the final seven years of his reign, that he trained his successor, his son Liholiho, and united all the islands under one rule.

With the tender near at hand, we opted to retreat from the heat. Soon we were back on board our floating home, basking in air-conditioned comfort, anticipating yet another – what else? – delicious meal.

We always like to be on deck as we sail out of ports. On this night that gave us a treat we’ve only experienced once on these cruises – the chance to watch dolphins leaping in the wake of the ship, like a farewell to the giant swimmer steaming out of their waters.

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One thought on “Kona, Hawai’i – May 3, 2009

  1. Michelle

    Thank goodness you two weren’t there in October….or I wouldn’t be surprised to hear you’d done the Ironman!

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