I remember this day as a quiet one. I walked up to Pu`uhonua o Honaunau with a lot of knowledge on the area, so I thought.
Luckily within my almost 4 months of traveling throughout the islands of Hawai’i, about half of it I had a travel buddy. My friend Ulrike was with me on this trip, she loved to read, and shared the common love of the history of Hawai’i with me, so every place we ventured to had a vocally guided tour with a girl who sometimes would speak in an english accent.
I drove here from our hotel in Kona, practically quiet the whole 60 minute ride, despite the historical facts Ulrike would throw my way every so often. As always I was eager and focused, wanting to get some great photos of every place I see and touch. Such a daunting task, so impossible to actually have a “vacation” without my camera. But most times, my vacation is my camera.
I felt as if I knew this place, we had read so much about it as we planned our trip to the Big Island a month prior. I had gotten a Franko Map and as I scanned the coastline I saw Place of Refuge. It popped out at me. I immediately looked it up for more info. This was the first line I saw:
“Your only chance of survival is to elude your pursuers and reach the Pu’uhonua, a place of refuge. The Pu’uhonua protected the kapu breaker, civilians during the time of war and the defeated warriors. No harm could come to those who reached the boundaries of the place of refuge.” – from National Parks Service Website
No Harm Could Come To Those Who Reached The Boundaries Of The Place Of Refuge.
My Favorite Line. Maybe its because I decided to take this long journey for 3 months 5,000 miles away from home for the first time by myself (even though I had a visitor at the moment), or maybe because no one happened to be at the place of refuge as we arrived and it seemed almost deserted, or maybe its the fact that I felt so in tune with the island. But something about this place made me feel as if there was no harm to come, a safe I have never felt before. Yes, I know I was in a historical park, that had been colonized, and it may have not been the “same” as it was forever ago. But it felt like it was.
You walk around and follow the map given to you as you walk in and find out where exactly your standing. What happened there. I ventured out on the pathway and looked upon the rocks right past these wooden faces (above) carved of Ohia Tree. A small swell was coming in and washing over these jagged rocks that lead to the safety of the aina (land). I look down at my map and it points out that this is the area you swam to if you had broken the Kapu (sacred law).
Im a good swimmer and all, but thinking about the journey the Kapu Breaker had was pretty intense. They had to not only run across who knows how much of the island, jump into the Kealakekua Bay, swim over a mile across, in whatever surf may be rolling through at the time, then climb over the jagged rocks onto the land, all while being chased by 5-20 men probably twice your size that are trying to kill you. What goes through your mind as your doing something so important as trying to save your life?
I was definitely taken aback as I explored these Sacred Royal Grounds. Hard to put myself in the shoes of someone hundreds of years ago, let alone take in all the amazing historical things that happen on this nearly 2 mile Hike.
As I keep saying, there is so much to be respected about these islands. More to Come.