Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Much to Nathalie's joy, we finally got real leis at a luau. It's very pretty, made of at least 75 orchid flowers. There must be a gazillion orchids in Hawaii, because no matter where we went, we'd find an orchid flower in everything: drinks, plates of food, hotel room, leis... The locals were using these orchids like they were parsley flakes.

It took me a while to get used to the dispensibility of these orchid flowers. At home, I cherish orchid flowers like they're gold. Considering that the local Home Depot sells orchid plants for around $15 a pop, it took several days in Maui before I was OK with just throwing away the flowers after finishing my drink or a plate of food.

The saddest thing was generating the willpower to throw away our flower leis after our luau. I saw some people at the airport wearing their 5 day old flower leis, but that was significantly sadder than throwing away a fresh flower lei. Can't cling onto something forever. You've got to learn to let things go. Walking around the airport with a necklace of decomposing biomatter evokes some depressing feelings. As if it wasn't sad enough that you have to leave Hawaii...

So the most stereotypical and commercial thing we did at Maui was to attend that luau. It was very well done and quite interesting, and I did learn quite a bit about Hawaiian culture and tradition. In addition, I learned to appreciate the taro plant, and actually liked the taste of poi. Although, I preferred it on the more thicker consistency.

But more interestingly, as I was watching the hula girls do their hula dance, I thought it absolutely ridiculous that someone would use coconuts as a bra. This was obviously something thought up by some mainland hornytoad for Western commercialism with minimal regard for actual Hawaiian history or culture.

I must have seen at least 50 photographs depicting ancient Hawaiians and early Hawaiian culture while touring around all over Maui. In none of them do I recall seeing a girl wearing a coconut bra. The women were either topless, or were wearing a modest shirt/dress-like item. And given that many of the women in the photographs were on the husky side and had breasts larger than the average coconut, stuffing one's goods inside a hard husk probably doesn't bring ideas of comfort. Or offer any support, for that matter.

Granted, you can't have topless women dancing the hula at a G-rated luau dinner where children are present, and I don't have a good alternative, other than just having the women wear some sort of a modest top, but it was a little ridiculous watching the hula dancers run around with their coconut bras. It kind of diminished the authenticity of their supposedly "most authentic" luau.

I would have used half-coconut shells as a cup for their male warriors. That makes more sense...

Nathalie waiting by the pit to watch the unveiling of the kalua pig that's been cooking in the imu, or pit oven, for 6 hours.