Sugar cane and tourism are the main industries in Maui, where Sue and I are honeymooning. Vast tracts of the island are cane fields. The cane mill spews pollution into the air on a daily basis. The owners of the cane fields refuse to allow roads through them which means everyone must drive way out of their way to get to some areas. I guess the state never heard of the right of imminent domain, which would allow them to build a road through those fields if they choose to.
Cane fields are burned to prepare for the harvest. More spew into the air. The powers-that-be in this island paradise (and it is a paradise) are feudalistic indeed. A new business moving to Maui would not be allowed to pull this kind of shit, but the cane field owners, who control vast tracts of now very valuable land, have been here for decades if not hundreds of years.
And oh yes, when the cane fields burn, it’s not just the smoke to watch out for. All manner of spider, centipede, and scorpion come a’crawling out, some venemous, some not. The deeply ugly 8 inch cane spider is not venemous but will certainly give you a startle if it jumps on you, as it sometimes will. Some scorpions and centipede are indeed venemous. Harvesting the cane is done by machine. Workers who do venture into the fields dress in multi-layers of protective gear because, aside from the beasties, cane is sharp and will cut you.
Hula is a serious big deal here. There are hundreds of hula schools, and there is a major state wide hula competition, the Merrie Monarch Festival, which is named after King Kalakaua who re-legalized hula in the 1890’s after sex-hating missionaries had tried to kill it for decades.
And guess what, he and his sister were overthrown by business interests from the US.
In 1887 a small group of haole business owners and lawyers, backed by their own private paramilitary force, coerced King Kalakaua into abrogating the Hawaiian Kingdom’s constitution in order to replace it with one they themselves had drafted. This constitution, known as the Bayonet Constitution, eliminated the king’s power and undermined the Native Hawaiian-controlled legislature by making the House of Nobles accessible only to those with large incomes or land holdings. This constitution also ended citizenship for hundreds of Asian immigrants who, in the eyes of the haole, were not considered trustworthy.
He is much loved here; for bringing back hula, for traveling the globe and bringing Hawaii with him, and for, yes, loving to party. I watched videos of past Merrie Monarch Festivals. Hula can be extraordinarily graceful and beautiful, with categories for both ancient traditional styles and well as modern genre bending hula cum surf entries. One fascinating thing, body size and proportion matters not. There were hula dancers of all shapes and sizes, big, small, fat, skinny, and that’s a good thing indeed.