Yeah, you read that title right. I got leid! It was a pretty magical experience. Check it out.

(The necklace I’m wearing is called a “lei” and a person put it on me)

The main research thing we did today was observing the plants, geology, and topography in a dry/arid coastal environment. Then we made a walmart stop, and went back to the hotel very early around 1 to get to leave for a Luau at 4:30.

Today was overall a really nice day. It was really hot, probably in the 80’s, but it was a bit windy which cooled it down. We spent most of the morning at this dry coastal area bordering the ocean (Not sure what it’s called). It was mostly full of very short-lying plants, especially this one Hawaiians called Naupaka. That one was everywhere.

The purpose of going here was to see how plants have adapted to a very arid, hot climate where the sun shines brightly and there is less than 20 inches of water per year (so its considered sub-tropical). The first exercise we did was pretty basic. It just involved brainstorming different adaptations to the arid environment. Because there is little water, Naupaka and Sesuvium, a different small herbaceous plant, store water in their leaves. This is a characteristic of many arid plants such as cactuses and a plant that has these kinds of leaves is called a succulent. The plants are also relatively low to the ground to keep the plant relatively close to itself to prevent water loss. One of the things that Mr. Huddleston pointed out is that the leaves are often light green, yellowish, or sometimes on the Hina hina, silver and they are also often shiny. These different colors and shininess are attempts to reflect or mitigate light off the leaves to prevent further water loss. The second exercise was about population ecology. In groups of 6, we were supposed to count all of the number of plants of each species within a 50×2 foot plot (so basically a long swath) up a hill of the arid environment. This exercise wasn’t as effective, I don’t think, because we didn’t end up completing it. After we counted them all, we just got on the bus and left for Walmart without discussing the data. People were hot and antsy and didn’t really have energy anymore, it seemed like. We’re planning on doing that tomorrow morning instead, but by that time I’m not sure anyone will care. But it was still kind of fun doing ecology-related studies.

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Next, we went back to the hotel and I slept for 2 whole hours and I had a dream of discovering a new species of plant and being heralded as the greatest botanist ever. Not bad!

So the luau was next! You know the kinds of luaus that you see on Tv and depicted in pop culture? Well this wasn’t exactly that. Firstly, there were a huge number of people there, maybe 300, and most of the people here were white tourists, and secondly, we didn’t actually get a real chance to dance! There was one part during the dinner when the MC invited people up to learn the dance to “The Hukilau,” a traditional Hawaii song that I learned in 4th grade, but that doesn’t really count because it was too small a stage.

It was a short bus ride to the Luau and as we got off, this pretty girl put a lei around my neck! And she smiled at me too. She smiled at everyone else too as she put necklaces on them, but I know it was a different smile for me. So I got my necklace and then we went onto one of those golf car-trains that has a bunch of cars behind it and is often used for tours and stuff. So the driver took us all around the land. It was a really big place with very diverse and robust plants from all over the world and some natives. We saw some cool plants along the way. We saw the candlebush, a shrub that has fruits that are yellow and look like candles, as well as the candlenut tree, the nuts of which were cracked open by native Hawaiians and the oil inside used for candles. The Hong Kong Orchid or Orchid Tree was interesting because most orchids are small herbs, but this one was a freaking tree! Pretty sick. We also saw taro, the older brother to the Hawaiian people (as described in the mythological story I described in an earlier post). That was pretty neat because we later ate poi, the dish that is made out of the roots of the taro. Though it wasn’t very good, but Mr. Huddleston and Brian said that the poi wasn’t prepared correctly. I look forward to trying some more in the future. A couple other plants we saw: star fruit tree, breadfruit tree, christmas fruit tree. We also saw Moore Hens which are endangered birds found on Hawaii. It is said in Hawaiian mythology that the bird held the secret to making fire and Maui, the demi-god like in the movie Moana, strangled the bird until the bird showed him how to make fire so he could show it to the Hawaiian people. Then, because Maui was a jerk (just my own explanation), he rubbed the top of the bird’s head against a log in order to get a spark, and that’s why the bird has a red spot on its head. There were also beautiful peacocks and chickens there.

So after the bus ride, we had some time to walk around, and so I walked around with this nice girl named Shelsey from Mexico. It was nice having someone to walk around the place with.

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After taking some photos of the cool things on the grounds, we saw this fun ceremony where a pig was removed out of the ground where it had been cooking in an underground stove. It is the Hawaiian way of cooking stuff: add a bunch of food to a hole, then heat very porous rocks and put them into the hole in and around the food, then cover the hole and let it cook for the day.

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(This particular moment was the excavation of the pig before dinner)

Then a couple guys called using conch shells and we went to dinner!

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(No, we didn’t eat peacock, I just felt like putting this photo here. Peacocks were everywhere, and they make very weird noises, google it if you’re interested!)

Dinner was good. I had 2 full plates with all your basic stuff: 4 different salads, 3 meats, 3 breads 4 veggies, and fruit, jello, and some weird but good white stuff for dessert. And taro which was ok. It was good overall.

I had just gotten back to the table with my plate of jello when everyone left for the ampitheater. So I ate quickly and Shelsey and I went over and we got good seats in the middle where we could see the whole stage. The show was very fancy. They had like 5 different stages which was pretty impressive and it was all outside. To start the show, Pele, god of fire (and also in Moana), emerged from a volcano in flames (special effects) and shot a fire bolt across the stage and lit up a torch on the other side. Then we walked through lots of different traditional Hawaiian dances as well as ones from other cultures like Tahiti, the Philippines, and New Zealand. My favorite was this war dance that was done by the men (one of the only dances that they did actually, there were a lot more female dances). There was a lot of stomping and slapping their chests and drums and shouting. It’s basically me when I wake up in the morning.

And then we got back to the hotel and I sat down and wrote this blog! the end, come back tomorrow!

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