Our days in Hanalei have been fluid and only loosely structured. A lot depends on the weather. It rains every night. Usually this includes a few torrential downpours with high wind that feel like you got dropped into the middle of a hurricane for about 10 minutes. They never last long. In the morning the showers dissipate and become less frequent. Walks on the beach or around the village punctuate time lazing about the house, reading, or playing dominos.
On Wednesday we all piled into one car and drove down to Wailua to go to the Smith's Tropical Paradise Luau. Yes, the name Smith's may seem a little strange when attached to a Hawaiian luau, but they have been doing the luaus for 30 years and are on their fifth generation of their family business. Ages ago some guy named Smith married a Hawaiian lady. Imagine that! The weather was a little iffy but it all worked out just fine. Arriving to the locale felt a little Disney-esque because first we were leied with shell leis, then we had our picture taken, and then we were put on a little tram for a tour of the gardens. Fortunately, that was the end of the “tour” and we were left to wander the gardens ourselves before the start of the Imu Ceremony. The gardens were beautiful and included peacocks wandering the grounds along with many other birds and prime examples of indigenous flora. I didn't take a lot of photos as the light was fading and I only had my iPhone.
The Imu Ceremony consisted of an explanation of the Hawaiian cooking technique used to make Kalua pig, followed by the unveiling of said swine. Basically they dig a pit, make a fire to create hot coals, add lava rocks covered by leaves, throw the pig on, cover with more leaves, and then a tarp and some dirt. The pig cooks in this oven for 12 hours. Sure enough, they dug up a pig and it was steaming hot! After that, we all processed into the dining area and found our seats. There was an open bar and a buffet of traditional Hawaiian fare, including that Kalua pig, which was delicious. During dinner there was some entertainement in the form of guitars and singing and even som hula dancing. They did a little demonstration and then got a few people up on stage to try the dance. The hosts and entertainers were very nice and sincere and had a sense of humor, so it wasn't too tacky. The food was delicious. There was a lovely cucumber salad that was a hit, as well as the pork and many other dishes. What was less of a hit was the poi. Poi is a local dish made from pounded and stewed Taro. Apparently it's what the early Hawaiians ate all the time and is still eaten a lot today. We've seen Taro plants growing all over the place. You have to cook the Taro root down for a long time to ensure it's edible. The end result is a rather unappetising, dirty grey, treacly mush. Oh, and it's tasteless too. We all agreed that it was surprising they didn't try to flavor it with something, like roasted garlic poi, or ginger sesame poi. At least the MC was up front about the likelihood of us liking the poi (or not). He was pretty funny. Here we are at dinenr.
After dinner we were directed down to the amphitheatre where the show would take place. The show was a collection of dances not only from the Hawaiian Islands, but also from other cultures that call the islands home and contribute to the overall Hawaiian culture, such as Japanese, Chinese, Tahitian, and Filipino. Then for good measure they threw in some other Polynesian based cultures to round it out – Maori from New Zealand and Samoan. The Samoan guy was very entertaining and nearly lit himself on fire a few times (probably on purpose!). All in all it wasn't bad. They included some history and explained some of the symbolism. It was a fun evening and I'm glad we went. However, now that I've been to a Hawaiian luau, I think I can check that off my list and won't need to pursue it again.
The next day we went to see the Kilauea Lighthouse, so stay tuned for more adventures in the next post.
Mahalo for reading!