Love Hawaii? A Lovely Love Story…

Ocean Girl shrubs

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful girl living close to the ocean. One day she met a handsome but somewhat rugged looking boy who had kept his eyes on her a bit longer than was considered appropriate. A hot shock went through her body and she just knows:

“He is the one I have been waiting for. How do I get to know him?” She shouldn’t have worried because, well, he felt the same way. Encouraged by her unwavering eyes, he approached her, took both of her hands into his rather rough ones, looked at her and told her:

“I’ll be back. Wait for me. After seeing you, my beautiful Moana (ocean) girl, I know I cannot live without seeing you.”

But, there was a problem. She belonged to the Ali’i, the ruling class, while he was just a simple Kama’aina, a local resident. She sat at the ocean day after day, thinking about him. She picked fragrant flowers and fashioned a beautiful Lei which she kept around her neck. On the third day, he appeared like a mirage. He extended his hand to pull her up. They looked deep into each other’s eyes when she lifted her arms, took the Lei off herself and slowly put it over his head to sit on his shoulders. He knew it was her declaration of love. Both started laughing, then, after dancing a few hula steps they were running along the beach, in and out of the oncoming waves. It was a very happy day for both of them. They had many of those happy days – and the days turned into weeks and the weeks into months. Their love grew deeper every day.

On a stormy afternoon, one of her brothers came looking for her and saw what they had been hiding for a long time. He demanded they both come with him to see the Ali’i, the Chief, who happened to be her father. The young couple declared their love and begged to be allowed to get married. The father called for his wife, her mother, and both denied the request.

“You are a princess, you are promised to another Alli’i and you cannot marry a fisherman.”

The young girl, with a breaking heart, told her parents she would never, ever marry anyone else. The Kupuna, her grandmother, put a spell on both, the young girl and the unhappy young man.

“You, Keikimahine, be the ocean shrub, growing deep roots and never be able to leave the sands on the beaches. You will bring forth a simple small white flower, one hardly visible. And you, young man, you will become the same type of shrub but you can only grow in the mountains, far away from the beaches. You may develop the same flower and it will remind you of your forbidden love. You cannot ever again get close to the ocean girl. You will be forever the mountain boy. You may say Aloha to each other with a parting word.”

Ocean girl's half flower***************Two hearts were breaking as the young couple was released to go. They promised undying love to each other and forever display it in their flowers. The ocean girl’s flower shows only the lower half of the petals while the mountain boy’s flower only grows the upper petals. Both halves will make a perfect flower with petals all around as it was meant to be.

There was no release from the spell. There was no frog to kiss or a prince who could kiss the sleeping beauty. The way I see it, the half flowers are a reminder to all lovers to appreciate finding their “second half”.

Ocean girl shrubs at beach

Ocean girl shrubs at beach

Sorry, dear readers, I have never been able to go into the mountains to find “the second half” of the flower with the upper petals, the half of the mountain boy. But, I have been told by Malihini, my Hawaiian friend, that it does exist. Someone said to me “just turn two of the same halves around, wouldn’t it make a whole one?” It’s not that simple. It wouldn’t fit because of the way it grows. Let’s enjoy a romantic fairy tale that can be told in different ways. This one, I told ‘my way’, the way I remember hearing it told during a “plant walk along the beach”. That tiny little half flower pulls at my heart strings.

“Madame Pele – the Fire Goddess”

hawaii-volcano-1 The recent video of a tremendous fiery lava flow into the ocean on the Big Island of Hawaii was making the rounds on many social media sites. (also on my Facebook sites) It’s no secret the lava is flowing all the time anyway. Cruise ships, leaving from Kona, would make sure of sailing past at night to treat their guests to an unforgettable sight. At one time, I was on one of the ships. This new SUPER flow started just after New Year’s 2017. It went on for several weeks until a huge part of the cliff broke off and closed the exit. The massive flow of the boiling, liquid lava found a few new outlets – but nothing to compare with the fireworks of the previous weeks. I wonder what happened that made “Pele” so terribly angry!

You don’t know her? Pele’s mysterious story intrigues me. Naturally, there are several versions but I’ll tell you my take on it. Pele was born and grew up on Tahiti with brothers and sisters and parents who were “gods” of some kind. She had her share of family problems because of her fiery temperament. As a teenager, she seduced her older sister’s husband. Enough was enough and her father threw her out. Her brother gave her a canoe and she found a way to a small group of islands. With her “Pa’oa”, a divining rod, she tried but couldn’t make a “fire pit”. So she went on and lived on Kauai for a short time. Her furious sister, the ocean goddess Namakaokahai, had followed, found and attacked her, and left her for dead.

1024px-diamond_headPele recovered. She went on to Oahu. Here she dug several fire pits. The ocean goddess, her sister Namakaokahai, flooded them to drive Pele away. One of Peles Oahu craters is the well known “Diamond Head” in Honolulu. After a brief sojourn on Molokai, she fled to Maui. We are still in awe of the huge Haleakala crater she built on this island, extinct now for many years but famous for tourists who drive up in the middle of the night to experience an unforgettable sunrise. Tip: Dress warmly! Baby, it’s cold up there…

Namakaokahai, her sister, did not give up. She came to do battle. She killed Pele near Hana where a small hill is supposed to be her grave. Pele’s spirit, now a Goddess, made a home on the Big Island of Hawaii. Mauna Loa had thirty-three eruptions since

Awesome! The Earth is boiling!

Awesome! The Earth is boiling!

1843, the last one in 1984, is quiet right now but not to be trusted, and Mauna Kea, measured from the ocean floor higher than Everest, often covered with snow, are distinctive volcanic mountains. Pele made Mauna Kea her home and built her final fire pit, high enough that no ocean waves could reach it: the Halema’uma’u crater on the summit of Kilauea mountain. Kilauea volcano is one of the most active volcanos in the world; millions of visitors visit Pele’s last home year after year. The area of many square miles with several calderas, containing boiling lava, occasionally unbelievable fireworks, and constant fumes of sulfurous smoke, is now a National Park.

The Hawaiians still believe in Pele. To show respect, they talk about her as “Madame Pele”. There are stories about how High Chieftess Kapi’o lani, converted to Christianity in the 18th century, tried to prove that her new God is stronger than Pele. She threw something into the caldera – and was not killed as everybody expected. Missionaries ate the red berries “kapu” (forbidden) for humans and nothing happened. They proved a point and slowly Christianity was accepted. But – Pele is still very much ‘alive’ in the minds of Hawaiians. Some claim they have seen her, either as a tall, beautiful woman or as an old lady with a white dog, begging. If you do not share with her, you are severely punished. For years and years, volcanic eruptions were common and since 1983 a never-ending flow of lava pours into the sea.So far, Pele has added 220 hectares of land to the Big Island of Hawaii. Not only that, a new island is growing under the ocean, and the scientists have revealed that it is already close to showing itself above the waves.

I am fascinated by the lava. There are two distinctive types: the a’a lava, dense, crusty, up to ten meters thick, slow-flowing and the pahoe-hoe lava, fast flowing over the a’a, winding, twisting and finally, when cooling, looking like ropes. Caves and tunnels are created and the most famous tunnel, one even tall people can walk through, is located hawaii-volcano-2on the Kilauea summit. People have built a small community on this mountain: you can stay in an hotel, spend hours in a museum, buy and write postcards and post them right there in a small post office to get the special stamp. Living in harmony with Madame Pele? Hmm, I don’t know.The Hawaiians warn you about ill health or other serious problems if you take any pieces of lava or even black sand from some beaches on the island. I talked to the lady in the post office about it. She got quite passionate and, to convince me, she opened a door to a room full of unopened parcels, shelves full of letters from all over the world. Tourists, who didn’t heed the warnings, had sent back what they took away. I was able to read some of the letters, letters from people who regained their health after having sent Pele’s goods back. A huge pile of lava pieces next to the post office was lava sent back in already unpacked parcels.

Jack's house was spared - he still lives there

Jack’s house was spared – he still lives there

There used to be a road to drive around the whole volcano area. We did that drive once – but a year later, when we came back, the road was gone and meters of lava covered it. A whole small village was covered with lava, but one stubborn man, Jack, refused to leave his house on the hill. Incredibly, the flow of lava divided, surrounded his house and the house remained untouched. A green spot on a mountain of black! The same happened to a kind of spiritual circle. No wonder that superstition is ripe. We used a narrow path from the summit to the crater and were warned not to step off to either side. Sulfuric little puffs came out of the earth and, being curious, touching the ground, noticed it was hot. At one time, a teen had tried to run and pass other walkers on the path, sank into the ground and nobody could help. Depending on the daily forecast, this path and the road to the crater is often closed.

The last time I visited Pele’s home was in 2011. This time, flying over it instead of driving up to it, gave me a new perspective. The Big Island is made up of hundreds of square kilometers of lava flows. It is incredible how people have built villages and even dsc01934cities on this volatile ground, created many farms, beautiful gardens, airports and many new roads. The lava provides a fertile ground once men with their big machines have a go at it. The birds do their thing with droppings containing seeds and one can only wonder about the power of nature: create, destroy, then recreate. But the might of the volcano can not be harnessed. Looking into the crater from above, it’s a boiling gray soup. And, when Pele gets mad, beware!

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Our latest ‘Travel Story.’

Green Turtle

It’s almost funny. Maybe it is funny! Depending on how you look at it. Happy to be able to fly to Maui, our favorite Hawaiian island on short notice, we had a few hours to wait in Vancouver. We were at the right departure gate – but suddenly we heard an announcement the gate had been changed. The departure time was close, we had to hurry. When arriving at the new gate, quite a distance away from where we had waited, we noticed that it was the departure gate for a different airline going to the same place: Kahului Airport. Can you believe that we just made it back for boarding to our original gate? It really tickled my funny bone and I was in a good mood throughout the flight.

Lisa, one of our flight attendants, had a profile like an actress playing “Sarah” in the TV series “A Place called Home”, the Australian equivalent of “Downton Abby”. I couldn’t wait to talk to her. My chance came after I used the loo and stayed in the service area. I was surprised nobody else had ever mentioned this to her. She didn’t even know of the show. We chatted; I told her about being an author, naturally mentioned my books and when she heard of my genre she told me that her grandfather had written a similar book to my memoir “We Don’t Talk About That” – his about the history of the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. I had seen the title online, “Prague Winter” by Nikolaus Martin. I found it on and read it. There is another book with the same title by Madeleine Albright. I’ll read that another time.

KBH groundsThe three weeks at our ‘home away from home’, the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel, were sunny and, like always, wonderful. I learned more of the Hawaiian mysterious stories of sudden winds lasting only seconds and wrote about it on my Author Facebook ‘We Don’t Talk About That’. The beach was very wide, and by the time we had to depart, only one-third of it was left. The ocean gives, the ocean takes… During our time there, three weddings were celebrated on our grounds. All were glamorous. The couple in one was absolutely beautiful with the Hawaiian flower leis and their gorgeous outfits. He in a white suit, she in a gown that would take half of my closet to store. I couldn’t understand that at neither one the “Hawaiian Wedding Song” was played. To me, that song touches not only the heart but reaches the soul.

2/3 of beach gone

2/3 of beach gone

All good things come to an end. We left our hotel at 7.30 PM and arrived at the Kahului Airport about an hour later. I had trouble walking, so at check-in, they waited with a wheelchair. The nice person pushing me brought us through security and into the departure lounge. It was a very long way but we were early for our departure at 11.35 PM.

The following announcement from the staff at the departure desk shocked us shortly past 10.30 PM: “A message just popped up on our screen that AC 1828 is not leaving until 3.00 AM. We cannot believe it ourselves but we’ll keep you informed.” Lots of people went to the desk but no news other than ‘we don’t know ourselves, we’ll keep you informed. Please be patient.’

Many people had tried to avoid the charge for check-in luggage, so everybody had lots of carry-on cases. A new announcement asked: “Please check in more of your carry-on luggage since the plane is fully booked. There is not enough storage space. We will not charge you, this service is FREE.”  Now people lined up and in a short time, they had piles of suitcases standing next to the gangway door. The plane arrived early, shortly past nine PM. Not long after 10.00 PM the new crew boarded. We hoped the 3.00 AM departure would not happen since the plane was early and the crew on board!

After about half an hour another announcement came: “The departure will be delayed because of a mechanical problem.”

Several more such announcements were made but they never told us what the problem was. At one point they said the needed piece for the repair was not found on Maui but in Honolulu. A plane to bring it to Maui was on the way. Impressive! It was after midnight and the departure lounge by this time looked like a refugee camp, people sleeping on the floor everywhere. One couldn’t buy any food because all the shops had closed at 12.00 AM. I was pretty hungry having relied on food in Premier Class. One kind lady gave me a cookie. Also, we had nothing to drink. When I was ready to faint I was guided to a water fountain, it helped, and at least I could take a painkiller pill for my troubled legs.

Around 2.00 AM they started bringing the collected suitcases down the gangway. It was like a shot in the arm. People woke up, they stirred and new hope was flooding our veins. The next announcement was “The mechanics were able to fix the problem. We’ll start boarding as soon as the tests are completed.”

We were among the first to be called for boarding. We asked the person checking our boarding cards and passports what the problem was. “Oh”, she said, “It was a split wheel. There was none on Maui but luckily in Honolulu. The AC flight from Honolulu to Toronto diverted their flight to bring us the wheel.”

Wow! How happy the people in THAT plane must have been! We got some water and/or orange juice once seated, and roasted almonds. Once airborne, they offered chips, more roasted almonds, and chocolate. That was all the food till breakfast 1 1/2 hour before landing in Vancouver about 10.00 AM. My stomach was in knots and I could not even eat, not the breakfast in the plane or the food in the Vancouver lounge.

Naturally, arriving three hours late in Vancouver, our plane to Nanaimo at 10.20 AM was gone. We were listed for one at 3.25 PM. Our neighbour, who was at the Nanaimo Airport at 11 AM to pick us up, had driven home again after being told we had arrived late in YVR. We had no way to contacting her until noon from the lounge. She was kind enough to drive all the way out again to pick us up around 4.30 PM. This trip lasted almost 24 hours from leaving the Maui hotel and arriving home.

my birthday flowers 2017

Glad to be home again, even sick with the flu that had been with me in Maui for 10 days already. The first thing I did, I phoned for a doctor appointment next morning, which was my 83. birthday.

My Friend – The Green Turtle #Hawaii #Snorkelling #Swimming

Aerial view of Anaeho'omalu Bay Beach [Source: Wikipedia]

Aerial view of Anaeho’omalu Bay Beach [Source: Wikipedia]

One should never snorkel alone – but what do you do if you don’t have anybody with whom to snorkel? Give up? That is not in my make-up! So I did it on my own. Usually I didn’t swim too far from the beach but this time I swam straight out towards the horizon. I knew there was a reef across the bay and the sharks were on the other side of it. Looking around I did not see a single colorful fish. I was always looking for the Humu humu nuku nuku apua’a, the Hawaiian Statefish. I loved the coloring, the design as if a young child had painted it. Lots of corals and seaweed were under me here in the Anaeho’omalu Bay and it looked rather dark. I just kept my face down, hoping to see something and kept on swimming.

You know the sixth sense you have when someone watches you? I definitely had that sensation and looked to my left. I remembered that once on Cuba people were waving and screaming from the beach at me and when I looked around a Barracuda, about two thirds of my body length was swimming next to me. The waters on Cuba are very clear and I was not too far from the beach. I kept my cool and did not make any hasty movements and after a few more meters the huge creature turned away. But now, on

[Source: The Encyclopedia of Animals]

[Source: The Encyclopedia of Animals]

the Big Island of Hawaii, with all the darkness beneath me, it was different. When I looked to the right I was so shocked that I let go of my mouth piece and swallowed water. A small head on a long neck sticking out from a plated body was turned directly towards me, observing me with large slanted bulging eyes. It was a rather large “Green Turtle”. The Hawaiians call it ‘hona’. I was treading water and tried to get my breathing under control again while the turtle waited next to me. It then started to swim a few strokes, waited, looked back at me as if to say “come on…” and when I tried to turn around it kind of coaxed me to keep swimming next to it. I knew they were not dangerous, so I did what it seemed to suggest to me. After maybe another fifty meters it veered to the left. There was a great big light spot in the sea, lit up by the sun. Coming closer I was surprised to see a huge circular pit with light sand probably about thirty meters wide and quite deep. With the seaweed earlier I had no idea how deep the ocean under me was, – but this was an incredible sight. The sunlight was filtering down and the movement of the sea caused changing shapes and shadows just like an enormous kaleidoscope.

My turtle stopped a moment beside me as if enjoying my surprise, looked me in the eye and then swiftly descended for just a few seconds, came back up clearly inviting me to come down visiting with its family. I counted thirteen turtles, – five of them very large and the others all of different sizes, even some small ones. Growing children, I thought. They seemed to congregate in groups of three or four. I couldn’t help staring down at all this beauty for a couple of minutes before I felt a shiver and realized I had to get back. But now I knew what my friend had been up to. It had a purpose for accompanying me; it wanted me to see this little wonder in the middle of the dark ocean. I watched it while it joined a group of three its own size and one smaller one. Another shiver went through me and I turned and started to swim back towards the beach.

I hoped to get a bit warmer by swimming with strong strokes but I soon realized I was in trouble. I half expected my turtle friend to come back and help me on my return but that did not happen. A few times I was ready to give up. I was awfully cold and tired. Hypothermia, my brain registered. I knew my friend Elsa was at the beach waiting for me and was probably already worried. The beach was much farther away than I had realized swimming out. I had been too curious about what the turtle next to me wanted from me. I had seen a small paradise but it could have cost me my life. The last few meters walking to the beach with my flippers in my hands were almost too much. I fell onto the sand, Elsa was there with a big towel, she covered me and I immediately went to sleep. She and six other people stood around me when they woke me after two hours. I was lucky the sand and sun had been warm.

It was an incredible experience but I should warn you: Do not, under any circumstances, swim or snorkel too far from shore. Remember you need more strength for the return since your body temperature has gone down. It just makes you so very tired and it would be too easy to just give up. I have a very strong will to live. This was not the first time I just made it.

“Blue Hawaiian”…the Hula dance and Aloha #Hawaii

Pot of Gold?

Pot of gold?

Is there anybody out there who has NOT dreamed about at least once going to Hawaii? The TV series “Hawaii 5-0” and many movies filmed on these beautiful islands with some of the highest mountains in the world (measured from the ocean bottom), the many waterfalls and, for the history buff, the books about Captain Cook and Pearl Harbour have inspired generations, and they still do. Some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, the highest waves attracting world class surfers, the infamous ‘Road to Hana’, the drive up to Haleakala to see the most incredible sunrise and the rare silver thistle growing up there in the cold, the active volcano Kilauea, the pineapple fields, the romantic music and the Hula dancers telling stories with their movements and hands attract thousands of visitors year round.


Catch the wave

I just came back from a two-week holiday on Maui. After probably fifteen visits to the different Hawaiian Islands Maui has become a favourite and the Ka’anapali Beach Hotel our ‘home away from home.’ Why this hotel? Because the KBH is the most Hawaiian of all the Hawaiian hotels, employing Hawaiians with a team spirit that lets the visitor wonder who is actually in charge. You never notice it. The word ‘Aloha’ means many things: Love, compassion, affection, good wishes, hello, good bye and many more. The hugs you receive when coming back show you that you are part of the ‘Ohana’, – the Hawaiian family. At the end of your first holiday you receive a dark kukui nut lei (necklace), and each time you come back a pale beige kukui nut replaces a black one. Just count the beige nuts, add one year and you know how often a guest has been there. Since the employees wear these leis as well you wonder why so many have only light nuts around their neck. Those who do have been working there for 25 years and longer, no room anymore for black nuts…and everyone greets you with a big smile and ‘Aloha’, is happy and incredibly helpful. They truly make you welcome and feel like family.

Ka'anapali Grounds

Extensive grounds

The best thing about KBH along the famous Ka’anapali Beach with well-known hotels like the Westin, Hyatt, Sheraton, Marriott and many others is the very large green space with old trees, the privacy and choice you have to tan in the sun or rest in shade, unlike the other hotels where beach chairs are lined up side by side with no room to move. Free daily activities like pineapple cutting demonstrations, sand images, Hawaiian language instruction, cultural garden walks, lei making from flowers or leaves, leaf weaving, kiddies programs, ukulele lessons, singing, storytelling and last, but not least, hula dancing, which, next to the language lessons, is my favourite. Did you know that the Hawaiian language only has five vowels and 7 consonants in their alphabet? That’s why many words seem to be doubled up: “Humu humu nuku nuku apua’a” That’s the name of the Hawaiian Statefish! Naturally the grounds face onto the beach and the approximately two km long beach walk is the delight of all morning joggers and remains busy all day. If you see a group of people staring out to sea you know they are watching the whales playing, jumping, blowing and waving their tail greetings.

I needed a holiday. I was stressed out after my book “We Don’t Talk About That” came out in April 2014 and kept me very busy with lectures, book signings, book readings and mail from all over the world demanding or asking me for a second book, the continuation after a rather “abrupt” ending of my WWII memoir. Do you know what happened the second day?

Young Hula dancers

Children’s hula

You guessed it. A beautiful Hawaiian lady approached me asking if it would be possible to get together with several of her friends and her husband who had read my book and had questions…Another of my Hawaiian friends waited to have her book signed by me only to be asked by a guest from Minnesota who overheard our conversation to loan it to her to read on her trip home. With her ‘Aloha’ compassion she could not say “no”. She was promised that it would be sent back – I hope she receives it soon!

“Aloha”, my friends!

“We Don;t Talk About That” can be ordered from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters, Coles, iTunes, Kobo, FriesenPress

Paradise… #PearlHarbour #WWII

Sunset from our balkonyWhere is YOUR paradise? Try imagery; – when they tell you in a relaxation class or even for pain relief that you should imagine a beautiful place, let your thoughts fly there, remain, feel the sunshine, see the flowers, hear the waves – where are your thoughts going? Do they go to the mountains, to the sea, or to deep forests? Mine always go to the Hawaiian Islands. For me Hawaii offers ALL facets of beauty, it’s not just a feast for the eyes, the scent of the flowers please my nose, freshly cut pineapples make my mouth water, the warm sand under my bare feet and the sun on my back make me feel good but it is the serenity, tranquility and the sense of the “Aloha” that encompasses all of this in its people in the parts of the Islands that are still truly “Hawaiian”. To truly soak in the “aloha” don’t go where the action is, – look and find the quiet areas. Once, I was under a black velvet night sky with trillions of diamond stars close over my head that I thought I could touch them. It was so endlessly dark and sparkling but it was the unearthly stillness that got to me. I couldn’t help it but I wanted to kneel down and melt and become part of it all.

Does this make sense? It’s hard to explain. I went back to the same spot on the Big Island several years in a row but I have never seen the sky so near and never again had this almost out of body experience. It left a longing in me and I wonder if it will ever be fulfilled.

Ka'anapali - one of the 10 most beautiful Hawaiian beachesI love old movies. Purely coincidence: I happened to come across the movie “From here to Eternity”. A happy lighthearted soldier’s tale – until, – did you guess it? No, I don’t think so. ‘We Don’t Talk About That’ anymore. Until the Japanese planes appeared like a swarm of hornets and disrupted breakfast on a Sunday morning with many of the soldiers not even up or still in underpants. The scenes of the filming brought back memories of my first visit to Pearl Harbour many years ago. Taken totally by surprise thousands of young men were killed by an attack from a country with whom the US was not even at war. Most of the US Naval ships were destroyed on this fateful Sunday, December 7th 1941. And the USA who had diplomatically tried not to get involved in WWII was drawn into it and the rest is history.

By writing my memories of WWII down in the book published in April 2014 “We Don’t Talk About That” my friends always comment what a relief it must have been for me to “get it all off my chest”. I must admit that the opposite has happened. I have never thought about it as much as I do now and I have never been more interested and involved in war history as I am now. The more I think and read and follow the news and see the larger picture I do see many seemingly small incidents that have had large consequences. It’s almost like a network of roots branching out in every direction. I can’t help asking myself “what would have happened if …?” How would our world look today?

If you have not read my book yet, – do yourself a favour, click on Bookstore above and order it NOW! It will make you think and see how the past plays “catch-up” if we don’t become more alert. Besides, – “We Don’t Talk About That” makes a terrific gift for many readers who appreciate a book “that you just can’t put down…”