Sunday, April 17, 2016

Hawaii - Honolulu Day 1


I had not visited Hawaii, or Honolulu since 2001.  When we pulled into the harbor, I realized that it had been much too long! The islands of Hawaii always make my heart skip a beat - they are so beautiful, and even the ever-growing and bustling Honolulu, with it’s terrible traffic, is still something lovely to behold.

Honolulu is the southernmost major city in the United States.  The skyline boasts more than 400 high rise buildings, which puts it fourth in the nation.  And more are being built!!!  

The first people to arrive and settle in Hawaii can be traced all the way back to the 11th century, when Polynesian immigrants from the Marquesas primarily, journeyed here.  Captain Cook and other American and European explorers showed up in the late 1700’s.  The first missionaries arrived in 1820, from the eastern coast of the United States.  

Since we were overnighting here, I had booked 2 ship’s tours - a short one the first afternoon called Missionaries and Monarchs.  We also drove out to the Pali Lookout where we stopped to take in the views from the mountaintop all the way out to the sea.  It was windy and cold, but that didn’t really matter.  The view made up for it.  Back down the mountain and to the site of the first missionary settlement on Oahu.  Called the Hawaiian Mission Houses Historic Site and Archives, the site sits down the street from Iolani Palace, home to the Royal Kamehameha families in the mid and late 19th Century.  

The first missionaries brought with them their families, of course, wood for building their homes and church, and a printing press.  Their goal, of course, was to bring Christianity to the islands.  They built their churches and also built schools for the native Hawaiian children.  They adapted the Hawaiian oral language to the English alphabet, published newspapers and printed the first Hawaiian language translation of the Bible by 1826.  I found it very fascinating to learn that, until the missionaries arrived, there was no written form of the Hawaiian language.  

The Hawaiian alphabet has 8 consonants and 5 vowels.  H, K, L, M, N, P, W, ‘ (‘okina), A, E, I, O and U.  In the late 1800’s, the head of the Kamehameha schools announced that instruction would only be given in the English language.  Students were punished if caught speaking Hawaiian in school.  Because of this, the number of native speakers of Hawaiian dropped from 37,000 in 1900 to less than 1,000 by the 1980’s.  Fearful that the language would be lost altogether, in 1984, language immersion preschools were started and other programs followed soon after and continue in existence today.  

Our last stop was Iolani Palace.  I’m not sure what the entire name Iolani means, but “lani” means heavenly in Hawaiian, so maybe it translates to my heaven, or heavenly place.  It was built by King Kalakaua, also known as the “Merry Monarch.”  It is a beautiful multi-story structure with only several rooms per floor, and a central wooden staircase made from koi wood.  Queen Liliuokalani was actually imprisoned in the palace during an overthrow of the government in 1894.  You can blame the sugar plantation owners and American businessmen for her downfall, as they were concerned about protecting their rights and control over the flow of business on the island.  The queen had been attempting to change the law to allow all island citizens to vote, instead of just land owners.  This would have diluted the strength of the businessmen who owned the sugar plantations, so they sort of did an end run around the queen and she lost the throne.

Today, the palace serves as an historical monument/museum.  You can go inside and see the rooms as they were at the end of the 19th century, as well as tour the basement area where many of the royal jewels and other artifacts are on display.  

Sail in - our first view of Honolulu

We docked fairly close to the airport

The Aloha Tower - our docking port area

Downtown skyscrapers

Pali Lookout

Brrr!  It was cold and windy!!

Feral chickens and roosters!!

A mock up layout of the first missionary village

The original mission buildings

Front view of Iolani Palace

The beautiful koa wood staircase

Dining room inside the Palace

Sitting and music room.  Check out the beautiful tusks in the lower left side of the photo

The throne room and where events and ceremonies took place

Some of the jewelry and artifacts saved and donated

"Book 'em, Danno!"  This is the famous TV show Hawaii Five-0 headquarters, with a statue of King Kamehameha out front.

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