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October 27, 2004


I have been entertaining my parents who flew in from the mainland and I have been extremely busy playing tour guide. I took them to the Big Island for a day trip in hopes to see the lava flow I photographed in July.

Note to self: Check with the Volcanoes National Park website to find out if the lava is flowing at the last place you saw it 3 months earlier. That would have saved us a trip to the trail. Madam Pele (the Hawaiian goddess of fire) is very unpredictable.

Since I arrived on this island 13 years ago I have heard of superstitions that range from believable (if I had enough shots of Jack Daniels) to downright stupid. AAMOF, at dinner with my parents the day before we left for the Big Island a waitress cautioned my mother against taking some of the sand from Black Sand Beach home with her. The bad luck that would accompany my mother sounded more like factual consequence than a “step-on-a-crack-break-your-mother’s-back” nursery rhyme. I rolled my eyes. In fact, at Volcanoes National Park there is a mound of returned volcano rocks from tourists who had bad luck and decided this was the only way to get rid of it. I think they watched too many episodes of The Brady Bunch Goes to Hawaii. Nevertheless, the superstitions of Hawaii are very cultural and a rich part of Hawaii’s history.

There are some superstitions that do stick out in my mind more than others. The first one being that bad luck will follow anyone who brings pork across the Pali Highway. I also have heard that you will not be able to complete the trip. What about the pigs that roam in that area? Are they doomed to bad luck pigs? I guess people would go all the way around the island to bring some pork lau lau to a party on the other side of the island.

Another one that I get a kick out of is the Woman in White. Supposedly, Pele roams the highways and back roads thumbing a ride. If you don’t pick her up then bad things will happen to you. I wonder how many serial killers could use this to their advantage and dress up as an old woman in white clothes.

Click HERE to read about some more omens and superstitions.

Needless to say, my parents were tempted to bring a little zip lock baggie of black sand from the island but in the end decided against it. Not because they were afraid of bad luck following them but because they followed the “take nothing but pictures…” vacation rule. Interestingly enough, my mother bought souvenir packets of sand at the airport gift shop. So, Pele gets pissed off if you take some of her lava rocks or sand or anything else off her islands but if you pay $3.00 for 3 tablespoons of green, black, and pink sand then Pele can find it in her heart to spare the bad luck. What about the tourists who have some sand stuck in their shoes and get back to the mainland? Do they suffer bad luck too for not cleaning out their shoes? I went back into the gift shop and, go figure, I could buy a fist-sized lava rock with a plant growing in it. I guess the ancient Hawaiian god of commercialism, Kumana wana Empty Your Wallet, is stronger than the fire goddess after all.


  1. Dude,
    I don't know if I would "tempt the spirits" like that. Those rocks were returned for a reason. I don't know if I believe all the jive talk, but I certainly am not going to challenge it.
    Thanks for your nice comments.
    I would really like to get together and hang out. I am just so fucking busy. Once Thanksgiving is done with, I think my schedule will be a little more flexible. Keep in touch dude.
    It sucks without you around here.

  2. Haha, what a blogger.

    I love how you step all over our culture as if you were not flipping off all of our cherished customs, memories, and cherished old timers. Nice to see civil, sincere conduct from am ambassador of the west.


  3. by the way, the person selling the rocks was probably an entrepreneur "hippie" who has about as much respect for our local legends and customs as you do.

  4. Take a moment and breathe, Gina. I didn't say anything derogatory about the customs and pointed out the fact that they are a part of the richness of the Island State.

    I was pointing out the superstitions of Hawaii, beliefs that are not based on reason or knowledge. Superstitions have been written about by local authors who themselves may or may not believe in them.

    Thanks for dropping by, although I doubt you will read this response since it appears that you are too hyper sensitive to have a reasonable discussion about anything if poking fun at carrying pork over the mountains is going to set you off.

  5. Oh, the people selling the rocks and sand are locals and are found all over the place- including the airports. Do you always disrespect your own people like that or do you reserve that honor for yourself? Pele forbid they try to make a living instead of becoming a tax burden to the rest of the population.

  6. No, actually, I'm kinda with Gina on this one. Cultural sensitivity, dude. You're not required to buy into the superstitions yourself, but the mocking tone is less than tactful. This is the kind of thing that makes the locals unwelcoming toward malihini.

    I understand if offense was not meant. But that's how this reads.

  7. Cultural sensitivity? Does that include charging for the sand that would otherwise should be left on the beach?

    You read the tone correctly in the (very) last paragraph of my post. It was a mocking tone and if people are too sensitive to accept that kind of attitude towards a superstition then that is their issue.

    It is a superstition, not a fact, not a belief based on anything other than fear or ignorance. It is the equivalent of mocking someone who holds their breath when driving by a cemetery.

    I could see the uproar if I was making fun of the Hawaiian's sovereignty claims, the long line of Hawaiian royalty. the perceived laziness of the local or even a wise crack at Duke Kahanamoku. But that is not the case. Perhaps the locals should focus their uproar on something more meaningful- like getting rid of a corrupt government or improving the education system so that locals do not have to rely on tourism as a way of life (Their words, not mine).

  8. Another stupid haole who lacks the respect Hawaii deserves. No come back and stay on the mainland then!!!

  9. Sorry, Anonymous. No can. Are you really Hawaiian or just a punk Philipino who thinks he is because his parents live in Waipahu?

    Namecalling- the last resort of the intellectually challenged.