Beautiful start to summer! Observations from this past year: Lovely folk from USA, Canada, Brazil, Australia in recent months. Emphasis on validating the host culture in as many ways possible throughout the day, in an effort to highlight some of what makes Hawai’i so precious, and so much more than just a hotel on the beach. Tours have been including fragrant fresh flower lei greeting, lei which I string by hand.

There’s the option of guests making their own during their tour in an authentic open Hale, traditional Hawaiian setting, sometimes gathering the flowers and learning proper sustainable gathering techniques. We sometimes visit a wahi pana or sacred site and pay homage to the Kupuna or ancestors and Spirit with chant, protocol, reverence, reflection and meditation, in short, respect. We have gone into the lo’i (taro patch) and talked story with the mahi’ai (farmer.) Afterward, we visited a fruit stand where one of my former students from Kula Kaiapuni (Hawaiian immersion school) works, and as she and I talked in her native tongue, the guests got to hear Hawaiian being used in conversation, perhaps one of the only times they’ll hear Hawaiian spoken on their visit.

Recently we visited a Halau Hula (Hula school) and after watching the Kumu (teacher) and Haumana (students,) continued the experience at a picnic which ended with the guests trying their hand playing a set of traditional Hula implements. The picnic commenced with a polite Hawaiian toast and pule ‘ai or blessing over the food which the guests partook in, and meal included such things as a sampling of ten fruit mostly from my organic farm, fresh baked goods, taro, sweet potato, coconut pudding, etc. Bamboo cutlery, lau hala items, table cloths with kapa design all reinforced previous discussion of canoe plants and their ethnobotanical use. Every area visited has a Hawaiian name, story, legend, history, song, anecdote, unique native flora and fauna, geological significance, and it’s shared to the degree of the visitors’ interest and receptivity and scope of the tour.

Place names and their translation are shared whenever possible with the sincere desire to preserve the original names and meaning so that they can be forever remembered. It is my kuleana (responsibility) to do my part to perpetuate some of the traditions and knowledge so generously and graciously imparted to me, for which I am grateful and deeply blessed. Aloha kauwela! Summer love!