Nov 11, 2004

The more I know

Though devoid of the myriad of hideous buggies found in other parts of the world, there are a few evil critters, brought here from elsewhere, that you should know about. The worst are centipedes. They can get to be six or more inches long and are aggressive predators. They shouldn't be messed with. If you get stung, even by a baby, the pain can range from a bad bee sting to a bad gunshot wound. Some local doctors say the only cure is to stay drunk for three days. Others say to use meat tenderizer. ... Cane spiders are big, dark, and look horrifying, but they're not poisonous. (But they seem think they are. I've had them chase me across the room when I had the broom in my hand.) ... Regarding cockroaches, three's good news and bad news. The bad news is that here, some are bigger than your thumb and can fly. The good news is that you probably won't see one. One of their predators is the gecko. This small, lizard-like creature makes a surprisingly loud chirp at night. They are cute and considered good luck in the islands (probably because they eat mosquitos and roaches). ... Though not a bug, one animal you are almost sure to see is the mongoose. Think of it as a stealth squirrel with mean-looking red eyes. Mongooses (no, not mongeese) are bold enough to take on cobras in their native India and were brought here to help control rats. Great idea, except mongooses are active during the day and rats work the night shift, so never the twain shall meet. It was a disaster for local birds since mongooses love bird eggs. Kaua'i is the only major island to avoid the mongoose (and vice versa), and the difference between its bird population and the Big Island's is dramatic.

Vog is a mixture of water vapor, carbon dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. Each day (since the current eruption began) Kilauea belches 2,500 tons of sulfur dioxide which reacts with sunlight, oxygen particles, and water in the air to form a mixture of sulfate aerosols, sulfuric acid, and other oxidized sulfur compounds. Why should you care? Because our trade winds blow toward the southwest, carrying the vog from its source, down the coast where the winds wrap around Mauna Loa and head up the coast. Then daytime onshore breezes and nighttime offshore breezes rake it back and forth across Kona. If you have a severe lung condition or are very asthmatic, you may experience discomfort. ... Those who stay in Kohala and Hilo are usually free from vog. In all, it's probably less than the smog most mainland cities, but we did want to alert you to one of the few negatives to living on an active volcano.

There's no doubt about it, people really are friendlier in Hawaii. You will notice that people are quick to smile and wave at you here. (Those of us who live here have to remember to pack our "mainland face" when we journey there. Otherwise, we get undesired responses when we smile or wave at complete strangers.) It probably comes down to a matter of happiness. People are happy here, and happy people are friendly people. Some people compare a trip to an outer island in Hawaii to a trip back in time, when smiles weren't rare, and politeness was the order of the day.

One aspect of Hawaiian culture you may have heard of is Hawaiian Time. The stereotype is that everyone in Hawaii moves just a little bit slower than on the mainland. Supposedly we are more laid-back and don't let things get to us as easily as people on the mainland. This is the stereotype ... OK, it's not a stereotype. It's real. Hopefully, during your visit, you will notice that this feeling infects you as well. ... The whole reason for coming to Hawaii is to experience beauty and a sense of peace, so let it happen.

---Doughty, Andrew and Friedman, Harriett. Hawaii The Big Island Revealed. Second Edition. Wizard Publications.

1 comment:

Vittra said...

Speaking of bugs and insects, I have seen the cockeroaches you have mentioned. I dislike the fact that they possess the ability to fly and more often than not, scare me when they are around. Fortunately, the occurance of seeing these horrid creatures are far and few between, thanks to the helpful friend of the Gecko. I hardly encounter spiders or other unwanted pests, all thanks to these critters.

I noticed you mentioned that the Gecko is a symbol of good luck. Did you also know that it was considered a sign of faithfulness also? I found that out when I received a necklace that had a gecko as a pendant. The velvet box it came in had the information on the underside of the lid. It was news to me...