Hula at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, and Tears

It’s Merrie Monarch week and it’s absolutely the best week of the year here in Hilo. 

We went down to the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel this afternoon and watched the free hula performance by Puanani Crumb’s Halau Hula O Hilo Hanakahi.

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It was wonderful. The music, the hula, the crowd. Hula Legend Uncle George Na‘ope was there, wheelchair-bound now, wearing a green running suit, white Crocs and then of course his hat and his wide gold bracelets running up his arm. 

I just love it all. The tiny kids who dance. The older ones who dance and who are so, so lovely. The crowd, appreciating. The smell of the plumeria lei the dancers are wearing. The emotion. The power of the hula. The stories.

Drew Kekaualua was singing with them, Pua’s nephew, and she told a story about how he and his brothers would back up their mother when she used to dance to the song “U‘ilani.”

She said, “But then I realized they don’t really know the song. And I wanted them to know it, so I taught it to them. And then I taught my alaka‘i to dance it. I’ve never seen anybody dance that song.”

She said she told her nephew (who has a beautiful voice) to sing it the way his mother used to sing it; not the way they all sing now.

So they played U‘ilani, and he sang it the way his mother used to sing it, and her alaka‘i danced. Pua dedicated the song to Drew’s mother, Bobbie Kekaualua, who was in the audience.

It was beautiful. It was beautiful. Bobbie stood watching, rapt, her hands making the moves of the hula, a big smile on her face. She was moved. Afterward, she told me she cried.

I absolutely love Merrie Monarch week, when all the focus is on hula, and stories and beauty and all that culture comes to the forefront.

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Big Merrie Monarch Push at BigIslandOnTheCheap.com

It’s almost Merrie Monarch week here on the Big Island. I love this week, when Hilo town shimmers and comes alive with people and flowers and hula everywhere.

Over at Big Island On The Cheap, we are going to be hitting Merrie Monarch hard. We’ll have a bunch of features — where to eat, half- and full-day trips to take around Hilo, all the exciting things going on with Merrie Monarch itself, some great local coupon deals that are exclusive to our readers (whether residents or visitors),  and some other surprises, too, which are already in the works. 

picture-5I just finished writing up our first Merrie Monarch-related post. It’s about taking a day trip up to the Volcano area, and it’s up now. 

So that’s what I’ve been working on.

Are you coming over for Merrie Monarch? Attending yourself and sitting on those hard hard benches (totally worth it)? Watching on TV? Sitting this one out?

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Needed: Merrie Monarch Tickets

Does anybody have extra Merrie Monarch tickets I could buy from them (at cost)?

merriemonarch1
Photo Thomas Tunsch. Used by permission

One year my friend was on a mission to get Merrie Monarch tickets and asked a stranger in line at Starbucks, and said stranger indeed had extra tickets.

I haven’t asked at Starbucks yet, but how about you, online world? Surely you’re more effective than hitting up strangers at Starbucks!

I’d throw in a signed copy of my Exploring Historic Hilo book, if it helped.

Please ask around, tell your friends, all that. Let me know! I would really appreciate any help.

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Macario’s Big Island

Macario is publishing a new online magazine and you should have a look. Wow. It’s eye-popping.

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His photography is always great, and in this new magazine, called Macario’s Big Island, he combines his photos, interviews and commentary to illuminate some of the Big Island’s most interesting people in the world of arts, food, music and more.

He just put up what is only his third post there. It’s a feature on the Waimea architect Clemson Lam, and in a stunning turn of events – I’ve just now been able to get my jaw to shut again – he had 300 hits in the first day of it being up. It’s only his THIRD POST! How did he DO that?

He actually made WorldPress’s “Growing Blogs” List, which is a list of the top WordPress blogs in the world in terms of how fast they are growing in popularity. He came onto the list at 97. Isn’t that amazing? I find that amazing.

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Culinary Mystery Novel “Captain Cooked” by Stephen Grogan

We went to Hilo Bay Cafe for dinner the other night while my mom was here visiting. That is such a great restaurant – inside it’s really got the ambience happening, in spite of its unlikely location in a strip mall adjacent to Wal-Mart, and the food is always so fresh and good.

While there, I talked with them about getting some recipes for an author I’m working with. Stephen Grogan, a Las Vegas author of a previous book called Vegas Die, is, interestingly enough, writing a culinary/mystery novel set here on the Big Island. He hired me to edit the manuscript for Hawai‘i references and history and culture.

Stephen Grogan
Stephen Grogan

He actually found and hired me through this blog, which proves that blogging is definitely worth the time and effort. We did all our business together by email.

Steve’s new book’s title is great: “Captain Cooked.” How could I resist that? I did the edit, and helped him gather up some Big Island recipes to go into the book too. The chef at Hilo Bay Cafe has agreed to provide a couple recipes, too.

There’s an interesting gimmick in Steve’s previous book. He hid a dagger somewhere in the metropolitan Las Vegas area, the book provides (kind of hard) clues to its location, and the person who finds it takes $25,000! 

People have been actively seeking it for quite awhile now. There’s even a forum where they go to discuss clues and such. 

He’s going to do the same thing with Captain Cooked, so stay tuned for how to win your $25,000! I’ll let you know when the book is coming out.

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What Do Andy Bumatai & Imiloa Astronomy Center Have in Common?

We are about to announce the winners at our On The Cheap websites. We had several contests — 14 in all — to celebrate our big launch. Did you enter?

Andy Bumatai
Andy Bumatai

Andy Bumatai is choosing names out of a hat for the Honolulu On The Cheap contests, and he’s doing it live and on the air today. Watch it at 1 p.m. HST; it will also be posted on The Andy Bumatai Show’s website after it airs.

Tomorrow our good friends at Hilo’s ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center are going to pick winners for our Big Island On The Cheap contests.

Watch our sites to see who won.

And then I’ll come back and tell you some of the other writing jobs I’m working on. There’s lots going on — It’s truly never a dull moment around here!

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FBI Blogs

This blog is now part of a brand-new network of blogs, all from the Big Island and called FBI Blogs — get it? From Big Island?

It’s the brainchild of prolific blogger Damon Tucker, and a terrific idea. I have to say, I learn more about what’s going on this island over at FBI Blogs than I do anyplace else.

Twenty-something bloggers, all with different interests and access to different information — it’s an incredible resource to learn what’s happening on the Big Island, and also to “meet” some Big Island characters. 

I like being a part of this interesting crowd. Go have a look if you’re interested in Big Island goings-on.

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Our “On The Cheap” Sites To Launch 3/10

Leslie: “Oh, nothing much; what’s new with you?”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACTS:
Leslie Lang
hawaiionthecheap@gmail.com
808 964-1494
Twitter: @LeslieLang  

Kris Bordessa
hawaiionthecheap@gmail.com
530 295-0887
Twitter: @KBordessa

“On The Cheap” Websites Highlight Best Bargains on the Big Island and in Honolulu

Hilo, HI – March 6, 2009 – Tuesday, March 10th is the official launch of two new online sites – Big Island On The Cheap and Honolulu On The Cheap – which are dedicated to bringing Big Island and O‘ahu residents and visitors up-to-the-minute information on free, discount and cheap things to do and other local deals.

Motivated by the current coupon-clipping climate, Big Island writer Leslie Lang and former Hawai‘i writer Kris Bordessa started the websites, which are updated most weekdays, to help Hawai‘i’s residents and visitors get out and about “on the cheap.”

To celebrate the sites’ launch, both Big Island On The Cheap and Honolulu On The Cheap are having daily contests for the first week – or more – starting March 10th. “We’re all about deals, so we’re getting off to a good start by giving away all sorts of great Hawai‘i-related gifts,” says Lang. “Chuck Moore hula girl t-shirts, Macario photographic prints, locally created ceramics from the Hilo art gallery High Fire Hawai‘i, some Hawai‘i-related books, a gorgeous woodblock print donated by Volcano Artist Margaret Barnaby and there will be some other surprises, too.”

In addition, Big Island On The Cheap.com is offering printable, discount coupons to ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, and Honolulu On The Cheap.com is offering discount coupons to the Waikiki Aquarium. “We are excited to promote both of these great attractions that we ourselves enjoy,” says Bordessa, “and also honored that they were so enthusiastic about offering support to our new venture.”

Over the past several weeks, thrifty readers of Honolulu On The Cheap and Big Island On The Cheap have learned about free Hawaiian music concerts, yoga classes, history lectures and even an Avocado Festival. That’s in addition to dozens of deals on everything from malassadas and sub sandwiches to hotel rooms.

“Everyone—including us—is looking for deals right now,” says Lang. “And they’re out there. We’re just trying to make it easy for people to find them.”

Listen for Leslie Lang on the radio Tuesday morning; she’ll be discussing the websites and their official launch at 8:05 a.m. on the Big Island’s Mynah Bird show, which is at KHBC/92.7 FM and KONA FM at 92.1 FM.

Big Island On The Cheap and Honolulu On The Cheap are part of a rapidly growing network of independently owned and operated “On The Cheap” sites, which are launching nationwide on March 10. A complete list and links to Cities On The Cheap websites are available here.

About Leslie Lang
Leslie Lang is a Big Island–based freelance writer who works as an editorial consultant (writing press releases, newsletter items, blogs, speeches, reports and more for businesses), as well as a freelance magazine writer and book author who specializes in writing about Hawai‘i. She blogs at http://blog.leslielang.com.

About Kris Bordessa
Kris Bordessa, formerly of Hawai‘i and now living in California’s Gold Country (where she also runs Gold Country On The Cheap) is the author of several books and writes regularly for national magazines about family travel.

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Isabella Bird & Other Historical Non-Fiction to Read While Traveling

I have a good friend coming to visit here on the Big Island next week, a history buff like me, and I’ll have to find out if she’s ever read Isabella Bird.

isabellabird

I love reading an interesting book about a place while exploring it, and I highly recommend Isabella Bird’s book if you’re planning to visit (or if you live in) Hawai‘i.

I can remember reading Sarum when visiting Salisbury Cathedral, and Jane Austen in, of course, Bath. And Michener’s Iberia (or parts of it anyway; I remember a great section on gazpacho that sent me seeking the stuff at every turn) while in Portugal. And, oh, The Agony and the Ecstacy while in Rome — that was a wonderful decision.

Isabella Bird was born in England in 1831, and (from Wikipedia), “was a sickly child and spent her entire life struggling with various ailments. Much of her illness may have been psychogenic, for when she was doing exactly what she wanted she was almost never ill. Her real desire was to travel.”

Gotta love that. 

She sure did travel. Among many other adventures (and writings), she was in Hawai‘i in the 1870s, and later wrote the book The Hawaiian Archipelago: Six months among the palm groves, coral reefs, and volcanoes of The Sandwich Islands. She was a thorough, descriptive and upbeat writer and I enjoy reading her accounts. I also admire her for traveling alone as a woman in the 19th century and having so many great adventures.

Here’s a description of Hilo from her book:

What Honolulu attempts to be, Hilo is without effort. Its crescent-shaped bay, said to be the most beautiful in the Pacific, is a semi-circle of about two miles, with its farther extremity formed by Cocoanut Island, a black lava islet on which this palm obtains great perfection, and beyond it again a fringe of cocoanuts marks the deep indentation of the shore. From this island to the north part of the bay, there is a band of golden sand on which the roar of the surf sounded thunderous and drowsy as it mingled with the music of living waters, the Waiakea and the Wailuku, which after lashing the sides of the mountains which give them birth, glide deep and fern-fringed into the ocean. Native houses, half hidden by greenery, line the bay, and stud the heights above the Wailuku, and near the landing some white frame houses and three church spires above the wood denote the foreign element. Hilo is unique.

Hilo still looks pretty much like that! I can picture it. It’s a great book if you’re interested in reading more, and it’s easily available in paperback.

What books have enriched your travels? I’d love to hear.

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Happiness is a Warm Pond

Another place I sent my mom and her friend recently, while they were here touring the Big Island, was Ahalanui Park. It’s next to the ocean down in Pahoa and has a lovely, thermally heated pond.

The pond used to be part of someone’s estate down there in volcano country. Long ago owners enclosed the ocean end of the natural pond with rocks. They left a channel between the rocks, so the tide still moves in and out throughout the day. Now the pond is part of a county park.

The water feels delicious, like a very, very warm bathtub that never goes cold. And the setting is beautiful. Slipping into this water, in my book, is just about perfect.

Once I took a visiting friend there around lunchtime and we sat there, soothed and happy, talking until it got dark. 

My mom and her friend loved it, too.

We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful place.

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