By Michael Wagg
Sitting beside Ka’eo, staring westwards into the Pacific, I’m sure I haven’t the words to describe the week. Here on Hawai’i’s big island it’s felt like quite the trip of a lifetime, and I know we all feel very fortunate to have been given the experience. It’ll take time to reflect and, frankly, I’ll soon be ready for another splash in the ocean, so for this week’s blog I’ll take a leaf out of Ka’eo’s book, sit still and listen.
To try to give you a sense of the week just gone (we have done some work, honest!) this week’s dispatch is a five-person Hawai’i highlights show: our own Hawaii Five-Oh! Here we go …
Annabelle: Swimming with a turtle! I’d never seen a sea turtle before and I got to feed it, too. A local person told me it was a blessing that it was there – a blessing on our tour.
Roger: Swimming with a puffer fish! It took me completely by surprise.
Anne: Pineapple cocktails! They didn’t disappoint. We went to a restaurant called Pineapples and drank pineapple flavoured cocktails served in pineapples! It was ‘Hawai’i in a drink.’
Claire: At the workshop at Waiakea High School in Hilo, a boy who at the start was really struggling with the exercise suddenly started to flourish, and found his voice. He turned out to be one of the best ‘weird sisters’ I’ve ever seen.
Waggy: It was a pleasure meeting English professor Mark Panek and working with his class on a difficult scene. Afterwards Mark gave me a copy of his book about a Hawai’ian sumo wrestler. (I was glad to return the favour by giving him a book about East German Football!)
Anne: At the end of the first performance this week, at the university in Hilo, we were each given a lei (a flower garland traditional in Hawai’i). I wasn’t expecting it; such a kind gesture. We wore our leis with pride and thanks.
Roger: The first, sunset swim in the velvety ocean, here in the shadow of Mauna Kea [the tallest mountain in the world from its underwater base, we’re told].
Claire: Snorkelling! Here at Kauna’oa Bay. I’ve never done it before and rarely put my head under water, but I had a go and it was brilliant. I was alone with the ocean.
Annabelle: Meeting Sam and Kristin at the Kahilu Theatre – a really lovely theatre – and doing the world’s smoothest tech rehearsal!
Anne: And they gave us Twinings tea and cheese & biscuits, to make us feel at home!
Waggy: The grey cat we met on our first night on the island. I couldn’t get over the fact that you could live a cat’s life and live on Hawai’i!
Anne: I loved the Tropical Botanical Gardens in Hilo. The colours, the smells, the shapes – it was like being in Jurassic Park! Very humid too: the island has lots of different climates and we’ve been lucky enough to experience them.
Annabelle: The shaved ice was delicious. It came with flavoured syrups and coconut condensed milk. We’d just finished quite an intense workshop, with just four students who became our four weird sisters, so it was the perfect refreshing treat after work.
Roger: The precious opportunity to watch, up close, the balletic feeding of the manta rays.
Claire: The performance for the whole school in the gymnasium at Kohala High School was a really special one. I noticed a girl in the front row, with a flower in her hair, who was transfixed for the whole show. We’ve been told that for many of the students that will have been their first experience of live theatre. Hopefully she’s hooked.
Waggy: Morning coffee with Ka’eo.* Watching hula dance, then diving into the ocean as the sun goes down …
talking of which …
With Aloha, and Mahalo.
* Ka’eo is a 47-year-old red, yellow and blue macaw, soon to retire, and I’m sure the wisest voice around.