Day 2: Kona-Submarine & Luau
11:30 PM (HI)
Today was a big day. Perhaps the best way to put it would be to say this: I took more pictures today on my digital camera than I ever have before in a single day (~530 total). I’d say that 60% of these photos are not really all that great for one reason or another. Perhaps 35% are okay pictures, though, and 5% are very good. One or two are actually great pictures, which is always encouraging-getting even a few right is always good.
We started the day by heading to the large harbor to the north for our submarine ride. We were very early, and consequently had quite some time to wait around. This we spent watching the ocean and surmising on the possible presence of sharks (which my dad hates). When the guides arrived, they told us that they only saw a shark maybe once every month which set my dad at ease, but slightly disappointed me. We were soon on the short ferry ride over to our little submarine, and after a five minute ride, boarded the undersea craft.
Immediately when we got underwater, everything turned blue. As we dove deeper, this simply intensified, and at about 60 feet under we basically lost the color red. Throughout the entire trip, we were followed by many Sergeant Majors (a small black and white striped fish which apparently like submarines), and while down on the sea floor, we saw approximately seven species of fish by my count including surgeonfish, yellow tang, pufferfish, and at least one eel. These were all most common among the several shipwrecks we passed.
We eventually got down to 108 feet below the surface, which is apparently a depth which only 0.5% of humans ever experience. It is indeed rather odd-everything turns blue. I was, in fact, rather surprised that we could see much at all down there. There was considerable particulate matter in the water which created a haze and made it impossible to see much further out than 10 or 15 feet. When we surfaced, I found myself wishing that we could have stayed below for hours–this ride felt like only a small taste of the ocean, one I enjoyed quite a lot.
Back on shore, we made our way back to the submarine headquarters, where I found and purchased a small plush submarine called “subbie.” I was particularly drawn to subbie for two reasons: first, he has an entirely dopey expression and weird googly eyes, which, though subbie is an inanimate object, I find strangely endearing. Secondly, “subbie,” or more accurate, “subby,” is a term used in the forums of my favorite online news aggregator, Fark to refer to the submitters of articles. Subby can be either a term of endearment or a pejorative depending on the context, and in Fark, it is typically used to berate the submitter for a mistake in the headline, a weak joke, or simply an inane article. Couple this with the aforementioned dopey expression, and you begin to see how I was drawn to subbie.
We then drove up the coast to see if a seahorse farm we had heard of was open. Unfortunately it wasn’t, so we drove back to a picturesque lava beach where we had seen large waves breaking earlier. In exploring this beach, I found several fascinating little black crabs, which scurried across the rocks and seemed to battle each other before getting swamped by the incoming surf.
I also found a tiny little crab in a tiny shell, scuttling along a small crack in the lava which was half filled with water. He was a dark red with bright white bands across the legs, and each time we reached down to get a better look at him, he withdrew into the shell and wedged himself into a crack. Eventually, the tiny little crab disappeared deeper into the water, and we moved on to watching the waves crash in over the rocks. A small tide pool housed several small brown fishes of indeterminate type. After an hour or two of exploring this incredible beach, we left to look for our Luau.
We eventually found it, and went in to wait to be seated. Like nearly everything in Hawaii, the Luau was held outside. We watched a slightly kitschy Hawaiian/Jazzy band, then followed our hostess towards the cooking pits to watch the meat being extracted and prepared for our consumption. We soon got into line with large plates and were set loose on a buffet-style selection of Hawaiian fare. I can hardly describe the food except to say that it was delicious, though all agreed that the beef was exquisite.
The best and most interesting part of the night finally began when dinner was cleared away, and the dancers came out. The dancing seemed to alternate between very old traditional dances and the typical touristy style dances you might expect. Whereas the older dances seemed to have a very primal power and intensity, the more modern pieces appeared to be simply put on for the benefit of the tourists-the dancers didn’t seem to be as focused on those. It strikes me that this could describe the entirety of Hawaiian culture. There is a fundamental conflict between the traditional island culture and the culture that has been encroaching because of the rest of the world. I also note that this parallels the Island’s biological development. All I can really say is that I preferred the older dances, the traditional ones. They were eminently fascinating, and genuinely made me want to learn about the history of this culture.
The show ended on a spectacular, if anticipated, note. For their finale, they brought out a firedancer-a guy who lights sharp knives on fire and spins them around at blinding speed. If you haven’t seen a performance like this, it’s really hopeless to try to describe it, so I’ll let a picture do the talking:
And that, essentially, ended our day. Back at the condo, I had a beer on the patio and reviewed the day’s events. Today was busy-full of fascinating events, sights, and new thoughts. Tomorrow promises to be a bit slower, thankfully. Maybe I’ll be able to catch up.