On our last day in Honolulu, we traveled to a farther part of the island to go to the Polynesian Cultural Center. It was about a 2 hour drive from our hotel and it was an all-day thing, so we left pretty early! We had been on the island for almost a week, but I just couldn't get over how breathtakingly beautiful the drive was. The colors are so vibrant all the time. And I know the island is a volcano, but the mountains jut up almost straight out of the earth. Even the shadows created are a pretty color.
One of my favorite pictures from the trip is of a single surfer, standing with his surfboard. Everything just seems so calm and serene there. Time isn't really a priority. Wouldn't it be great to always live that way?
When we arrived at the Polynesian Cultural Center, we met up with our tour guide and group. The center is so large, it's hard to get around the whole thing in one day. It will definitely be a place we go back to when we visit again! Our tour guide was Russian, ha! He was very thorough though, and knew his stuff. Throughout the day we learned about different Polynesian cultures like Tahiti, Hawaii, Samoa, and Tonga. (If any of you have seen Summer Heights High--hysterical by the way-- Jonah is from Tonga!!)
At one of our stops, Aotearoa (New Zealand), we saw a short storytelling of the progression of the Maori people with dancing and chanting. It was amazing and gave me chills! We also learned to use poi balls, which were used during storytelling and as instruments for percussion. I did okay, but my strings kept getting wound together. These girls were going so fast with these things, it was incredible! We also learned a game they played called Ttitorea which is played with sticks and you have to throw them at other people who have to catch them. It is all done to music and it was so much fun!
At another stop, Samoa, we learned that they are referred to as the "happy people" because of their love of life! (We also got from the Samoans that they are called the happy people because the men cook all of the meals which keeps the women happy. And if the women are happy, everyone is happy ;) ) I think the Samoans have it right! :) Here, we saw a Samoan actually climb a tree!!! No net or ropes or anything. He just took a running start and there he was, halfway up the tree.
At our last stop, Tahiti, we learned about basket weaving and were taught how to make our own creation! David and I each made a fish! We were quite proud of ourselves.
We also learned how to hula! :) Men and women each have their own style of dancing and it was so fun to learn how to do! And watching the performers was incredible. Those girls can move those hips better than Shakira.
The first time it rained on our trip was on our way back from our stop at Tahiti to the luau. It rained lightly for about 3 minutes and then the sun came back out. It was actually a nice little refresher from walking around in the heat all day! We got lei'ed when we walked into the luau and had a traditional Hawaiian luau feast!
I was very proud of myself for trying everything, even the poi and purple potatoes. They surprised everyone by having anyone with a birthday in September or October to rise and everyone sang happy birthday to them! David's birthday is October 9th, so of course I made him stand up! He was less than thrilled, but then a pretty girl came over to him and I think he was fine after that! ;)
They also called all the newlyweds up on stage to dance to a traditional Hawaiian song! That was so much fun, and our sweet table-mates took pictures on our camera for us.
Our night ended with a production called "Ha! Breath of Life" and it was a wonderful story that included all of the cultures we learned about that day. It went all the way from death to new life being born and it was spectacular. By the time we left, it was dark and the stars were out. :)
I was sad to be leaving Oahu, but we had such a wonderful time and I couldn't have imagined ending it any other way! Going to a traditional Hawaiian luau and learning about the rich culture was amazing. The one thing we missed out on was going to North Shore where all of the massive waves are and all the surfers go. The waves we saw were big enough, I can only imagine how big those really are! But we had to save something for our next trip to Oahu!