Hello Friends and Family,

1982 - HI, Moloka’i, Part 3

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

I took this photo on the Kalaupapa Overlook which provides a wonderful view of Kalaupapa National Park, a peninsula that was formerly the prison without bars for residents of Hawai’i who developed Hansen's disease, also known as Leprosy. Kalaupapa serves as a reminder of a nation in crisis when Hawaiian people were exposed to diseases for which they had no immunities. Options for preventing the spread of contagious diseases were few. Isolation for leprosy seemed like the best solution but came at a high personal price.


Once drug treatments for Hansen's Disease were found, all the residents of Kalaupapa were treated and the quarantine was lifted. Although free to leave the peninsula, many chose to stay since it was, for them, the only home they ever known. Those residents were permitted to live out their lives here but no new residents (other than park personnel) are permitted to reside here.

I have visited Kalaupapa one time — coming here by small plane. For me, it generated mixed feelings — sadness of the forced separation for the people infected by Hansen's disease but also heartfelt joy of the people who came to Kalaupapa to treat the afflicted — both medically and spiritually.

The most famous of these was Father Damien who arrived in 1873 and stayed until his death in 1889. From Wikipedia, "Father Damien also cared for the patients and established leaders within the community to build houses, schools, roads, hospitals, and churches. He dressed residents' ulcers, built a reservoir, made coffins, dug graves, shared pipes, and ate poi with them, providing both medical and emotional support." He contracted Hansen's disease himself but continued to care for the residents of Kalaupapa until his death.


It is clear from this photo of the cliffs why this peninsula was chosen for this medical quarantine. Even today, access is challenging. As I mentioned one can arrive by small aircraft — but also by boat, on foot following a trail down the face of these cliffs or by mule along that same trail. According to what I read online, access to Kalaupapa is currently restricted to medical and park personnel (I assume due to COVID).


Where I was standing to take the previous photos, there is a pleasant forest with trails. Those are quite pleasant to hike, with lots of pine needles lining the pathways.


But I was not simply exploring, I had a destination that I had read about.


And here it is — Ka Ule O Nanahoa, also known as the Phallic Rock, is a fertility site not far from the Kalaupapa overlook. According to Hawaiian legends, the fertility god, Nanahoa, lived nearby. One day his wife, Kawahuna, caught him admiring a young girl who was staring at her reflection in a pool of water. The wife was outraged and attacked the girl. Nanahoa was equally outraged and struck his wife — she rolled down the cliff and turned into stone. Nanahoa then also turned into stone. The Phallic Rock is Nanahoa — or at least one part of Nanahoa.

In Hawaiian tradition, a woman who wanted to conceive would come to this spot and present offerings to the rock (Ka Ule O Nanahoa) as well as praying for fertility. Further, she would spend the night here and return home pregnant.

One reference I read said that the forest was planted only a few decades ago. Previously, the hilltop was without tall vegetation and the rock could be seen for miles. Further, there is a companion stone a short distance down the hill which is Nanahoa's wife, Kawahuna. And the legend is that as long as the female stone remains nearby, Nanahoa will remain erect.


And now a trip to the eastern side of Moloka’i which is dominated by mountains and fish ponds along the shoreline.


As you can see there is very little development here. I did spot a sign for a tropical flower farm and I stopped to check it out — but the mosquitoes were ferocious — I left quickly so, sadly, no photos.


But this was my real destination on this side of the island — Halawa Valley, seen here from an overlook.


I found the following description online, "Halawa Valley is an historic Hawaiian valley with towering waterfalls. It’s believed that Hawaiians inhabited Halawa as early as 650 AD, and over 1,350 years later, it’s currently Hawaii’s oldest spot known to have been settled and continuously populated.

With many hidden heiau’s (place of worship) it’s easy to see why this spot, half a mile wide, 3-4 miles deep and blessed with beautiful vistas is one of the island’s most historic areas. The area possesses one of the most complete collections of ancient residential sites. More than a dozen heiaus and a large-scale irrigation system. It is believed to be the longest continually occupied site in Hawai’i.

The land in the valley is privately owned so a visitor should not hike here without permission. That is why, last week, I mentioned Moloka’i Fish and Dive as a place in inquire about guides to this valley — they live here and have permission to bring guests. I assume you that it was very much worth it for me to take the paid tour. Hopefully, the prices are still reasonable.

Here is a link to the photos I took of Halawa Valley back in 2008 — click here.


The water from the mountains, cascading down fabulous waterfalls, eventually reaches the ocean here.


The local kids are pros at enjoying the water safely — notice, no parents or guardians.

This concludes our visit to Moloka’i. Next week a brief visit to O’ahu.


Life is good.

Aloha,
B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com