Image courtesy of Hawaii Magazine, USGS
Chances are that you have heard about Kilauea’s recent and ongoing eruption on The Big Island of Hawaii. Indeed, the media coverage has been extensive over the past few weeks and certainly the number of evacuations and repercussions has been notable. Watching the fiery lava spill across roads and homes and precious land freezing everything in its path is scary. While native Hawaiians and travellers alike have always been aware of the steady volcanic activity in the area, I am not sure that anyone predicted the number of fissures that have since opened, the countless earthquakes and the flow’s most recent encroachment on the nearby geothermal power plant. Needless to say, the situation at hand warrants careful and continuous monitoring as the volcano’s volatile activity reaches heights not seen in the past one hundred years.
Interestingly enough, my husband and I heard on the morning news how tourism has since been affected with less and less people venturing to the usually well-visited island. Businesses have really noticed the drop-off in vacationers and they are hoping to spread word about the reality of the size of the area that is/has been affected by Kilauea. In fact, some Hawaiians are really upset that the media has blown the issue out of proportion, no pun intended. As a frequent visitor to the South Pacific Isles, I can understand why many locals are upset, since a good percentage of their economy relies on those of us looking for some fun in the sun in amongst a paradise like no other. However, I am left to reflect on those who have remained steadfast over the decades that tourism has negatively affected the Polynesian’s true culture and ways of the land. I truly wonder how these oppositioners feel now. Separate from the four square miles of the volcano’s reach, are they silently relieved that they are temporarily able to reclaim some of their spaces, or are they now rethinking foreigners and their role? I ask the question with not the faintest of ideas, prejudices or judgements about what the answer would be. It is something that I honestly ponder given the current circumstances while knowing that the travel industry plays and has played a huge part in Hawaii’s state of affairs, like it or not, visitor or not.
Having been to the islands half a dozen times ourselves and knowing how busy it gets, especially during peak times, I can certainly empathize with the Hawaiian people who are trying to life their lives simply. The truth is that when out and about during our own visits there, WE have even been frustrated at times with respect to the number of people crowding the beaches, the streets, the vendors and all of the usual touristy-type attractions unique to each island. Having said that, we have always been treated with kindness wherever we have gone–one of the many reasons that we have even considered relocating there.
All I know is that despite what’s going on now and our well wishes for all of the people who have been affected by the volcano’s latest developments, we northerners have very much appreciated being able to visit one of Mother Nature’s true beauties on Earth and we certainly plan on going back to Hawaii the very next opportunity that we have. Hopefully, our respect for Hawaiians and their connection to the land will be honoured as always. Aloha and Mahalo!