“All figs have similar fruits as these ones,” David, the tour guide at the Botanical Garden, told us. “Each species of fig has coevolved to be pollinated by one and only one wasp species. In this one, the wasp tunnels up through the back-end of this weird fruiting structure called a synconium. This is basically a sphere that has flowers inside of it and is attached to a branch. So the wasp tunnels up into it, pollinates all the microscopic little flowers inside, lays its eggs, and dies. So you’re eating some wasp eggs whenever you eat anything with figs.” I always remember being fed fig newtons in lower school. That was just a staple snack food, yet my preschool teachers never told us that little tidbit of information. Then again, I can just imagine the horrified faces of little kids who realized that they’re eating wasps. They would never eat fig newtons again!

Yesterday wasn’t particularly eventful, so I decided to merge yesterday’s post with today. So starting with yesterday: I couldn’t decide what to do, so I decided to go to Downtown Honolulu where there is a lot of different things to do. That way, I could walk around a bit and see different things. I didn’t end up doing that much though. I spent my day at the Hawaii State Capitol building. There, there was a special event called “Kui’i at the Capitol.” January 18 (yesterday) is the first day of the year that Hawaiian legislators come together to pass bills. The Hawaii community organizes this event in order to remind the legislators that they exist and that bills should be passed with them in mind. So then my mom came because she wanted a vacation and we got dinner, checked into the hotel, and went to bed.

Today, I got up and for brunch, we went to this indoor food stand where we got this “traditional” Hawaiian dish called Loco Moco. It was really terrible. It’s hamburgers with eggs smothered with gravy and served with macaroni salad and rice. Eating McDonald’s is healthy compared to this slop. Really, if you value your taste buds, don’t do it. So then we went to the Waimea Valley Botanical Garden where I went earlier in this trip. After that, we returned to the hotel, played a card game, read some books, got dinner, and went to bed.

Yesterday morning was kind of sad. I had to say goodbye to the friends I made at the hostel. The hostel was really great. It was called the Beach Waikiki Boutique Hostel if I didn’t say it before. The ammenities were all really nice, the staff were friendly and accommodating, and the people in my room were very respectful overall (and it was cheap and very conveniently located next to the beach). I will miss my roommates Alan and Leo, and Ray who left earlier, the hostel staff Madia and Khianna, and Vlad, Alma, Jonathan, and Brandon, all of whom seemed like interesting people that I would have liked to have gotten to spend more time with.

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Good friends saying aloha! Aloha, Khianna!

So the first and main thing I did was the event at the state-house. I wasn’t intending to go there. I was walking on the road towards where a lot of the things that I had on the google map were, but then I saw a lot of people inside. I walked inside the giant, open building and saw a lot of people grinding a brown, slurry substance using a funny-shaped stone on these long, wooden boards. It was poi they were making. A lot of students from schools in uniform were there doing that. I sort of walked around awkwardly looking at everyone for a bit and then walked over to this guy who was at a table. He worked for some kind of farmer’s union. His name was Paul (though we never formally were acquainted). I asked him about the event and he told me that the purpose was to remind the legislators that the Hawaiian people should be who they are making decisions for, not tourists specifically. The Hawaiians are most concerned about water rights, according to this community-organizer Kamani whom I talked to.

The get-together surrounds making poi, the traditional food that Hawaiians ate. Poi is made from the Taro plant or Kalo in Hawaiian. The root is shaved to get the dirt and outer-layer off, then it is ground up into a paste that tastes really good. I got to make some and I documented the different steps! I was kind of nervous because I wasn’t sure I was allowed. But I saw other tourists doing it and so I followed this one person who was showing a tourist how to do it. She took some taro roots from this container and took a metal knife and shaved off the outside. “You don’t want any of those knobs in your poi or else it will taste bad. Nono.” I basically just followed them until it was time to get a board. Then I sat down and tried just smashing it with little success. “Do you need some help?” This kid said. I looked up. “Yes! Please help me I have no clue what I’m doing.” His name was something like Madikai. For names that aren’t really easy 1-syllable names or American ones, I tend to forget them if I don’t repeat them several times after they say them.

Anyway, Madikai instructed me how to do it. Before trying, I thought grinding just meant grinding, but there is a process of making the poi. “First, use the edge of the stone to sort of smush it. There you go. Now spread it back and forth along the wood until its all spread out and keep doing that over and over. Add water whenever it starts to stick to the stone. You want your poi to look really smooth and pasty like that lady.” He pointed to this lady to us. “Maybe I should have shaved some more roots,” I said, because I had only done two thinking it was enough, but it was barely any. The lady next to us overheard and gave me one of her roots. How generous the people are to dumb tourists. Tourists to Philadelphia do not receive the same treatment. If you go to Pat’s or Gino’s steakhouses downtown, they say, “Whaddya want. Tell me quick or get out of line.” Philadelphia hospitality right there. So then the next stage of making the poi is to smash it. That I could understand. I am good at smashing things. Except perhaps I was too good, because I brought it down once and some of the poi just went flying off the table. After bringing the stone down hard on it, you use the scraper to get it back into a neat pile so you can smash it again. And after like 10 minutes of doing that, I had my final product! Check it out!

So I walked around a bit, trying to find more people to talk to, but I felt a bit too nervous. I should have just tried engaging someone, but most of the kids were either making poi or talking with their friends. I felt uncomfortable interrupting them, but I think I should have done it anyway and just seen what happened. Oh well.

So I left around 2 and walked around downtown honolulu for a bit looking for lunch. I kept getting sidetracked though. First, I stopped at this memorial commemorating the soldiers who fought for the US from Hawaii. Then I stopped at this place called the Missionary Memorial, a building from the early 1800s memorializing the protestant missionaries who came and changed Hawaii. Then I went to Aloha Tower, what is apparently the second-most well-known landmark after Diamond-head mountain on O’ahu. It has some history, but I was more interested in just seeing the view. Perhaps it was because I was hungry and feeling a little disinterested.

After lunch, my mom came. It was really bad traffic and she had trouble finding what street I was on, so it took her like 20 minutes to get me even though she was right next to the capitol building the whole time (it is a large capitol building though). So we headed to this hotel called Turtle Bay. It’s nice and all, but not nearly as fun as the hostel. It’s only white people and it’s in the middle of no where and there just aren’t that many interesting activities. There isn’t anything I can do without a car whereas in Waikiki I could get everywhere on the bus. But it’s ok, I’ve had a lot of fun up till this point and tomorrow we go to Big Island where I may have totally new adventures.

Today, we had a late breakfast at this bad restaurant and then headed over to Waimea Valley Botanical Garden. I didn’t get to spend much time looking at the plants as I would have liked the last time I was there, so I figured that this time would be different. Though I still didn’t have quite the experience I was looking for. We got there in the afternoon and it already felt late. We did get a tour from this really smart tour guide though. His name was David. I don’t think he recognized me, but I had talked with him the last time I was there. He just knew about so many of the plants in that arboretum it was crazy. And then we went to the waterfall again which I enjoyed, but I didn’t get to climb the waterfall this time. It was nice seeing so many diverse plants.

And that was really the entire day, really. Not much else. We played this card game in the room for a while called Boss Monster where players play as the bad guys in a video game-like scenario and are trying to kill the heroes by building deadly dungeons. Not much else. So thanks for reading, see you later!

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