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.