Locations: The Polynesian Cultural Center and BYU, Laie, Oahu.
Our journey along the coast to the PCC: Best friend Terri was driving. It was rainy and overcast all day but no less gorgeous, so we couldn’t have cared less.
I loved seemingly incongruous objects like light poles and metal signs in the same shot as the tropical landscape and native foliage. I cannot even describe it. I knew I wasn’t in “Kansas” anymore.
We arrived after close to an hour of driving and strolled onto 42 acres of tropical getaway, starting with warriors at the Aotearoa (New Zealand) village and a group of Easter Island Moai (one of them forgot his hat somewhere). There were 7 villages in all—Aotearoa, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Tahiti, Marquesas, and Hawai’i.
Here is a 3D map of the place that you can explore if you have the Google Earth plug-in.
Eye Candy alert, ladies.
The day’s Canoe Pageant along the long waterway that meandered through the PCC. Talk about dancers getting down! Loved it. ❤
Eye Candy alert #2! LOL~
A canoe ride (during which our handsome guide referred to us all as “family”, loved that), the IMAX theater where we watched the sensory aerial film Hawai’ian Journey (and I do mean sensory… we were gently tossed to and fro by our seats, splashed and misted, etc. during the course of the movie, so cool), and an unexpected tour stop at Brigham Young University, Laie, where some of the grounds were getting maintenance.
The two college students acting as our guides were polite, helpful, and easy to talk to, sweet girls with bright futures ahead.
Then it was time for dinner and dancing (with and without fire!) under the big lodge at that night’s luau. They even had kimchi on the menu. 🙂
The diversity at our end of our table was cool. There was me and Terri (two ordinary moms—one black, one white—from Metro Atlanta who happened to be writers), a young college student of Chinese descent who spoke perfect English and his pretty mother who spoke Chinese and no English at all, and Dick and Trish Wheeler, a lovely couple from Kentucky celebrating a milestone wedding anniversary. Mr. Wheeler and my dad are both retired military, which means we’re family.
We six had a bang-up time getting to know each other, breaking bread together, and watching the festivities—the college student’s mom’s face lit up when we took turns saying “您好 !” to her (Nín hǎo, “Hello!”), bless her heart. When the host of the luau show invited married couples celebrating anniversaries onto the stage for a special song and dance, we gave Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler a hearty round of applause when they went up. Aw. ❤
It was a blessing when they asked if I would take a picture of them to remember the moment, because now they’re in my cell phone gallery, forever a part of my trip of a lifetime.
Think Broadway, and then add flaming knives: Our final experience of the day was at the PCC Pacific Theater, watching the breathtaking 1.5-hour evening show Hā: Breath of Life, a story of birth and death, love and family, triumph and tragedy on one of the most massive, intricately built sets I’ve ever seen. It was like a village hidden in the side of an escarpment. What a stage!
Of course, no photos or filming were allowed during the show and I didn’t begrudge them that. In person is the only way anyone should see this stunning play.
By the time the show started, all of these empty seats (and more that you can’t see, on the other side of me) were packed full.
It was a Bucket List-worthy day. But, make no mistake, Terri and I were too pooped to pop when we got back to Honolulu going on midnight.
All I wanted was my bed!
↓ Postscript: Had the pleasure of chatting with the Wheelers via text yesterday. Very happy that they’ve been well since we all got back to our homes, and delighted to get this picture from them—one of their luau leis, in the sand. This, I think, is what life is all about. The small things. How others can enrich you with a simple “hello.”
Thanks for allowing me to share this with you today, friends. More to come.