Breathe the breath of life

Trip Start Sep 16, 2011
Trip End Nov 20, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Hawaii
Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Elwood had a restless old night so the morning came around way too soon! I had a bit of a sleep in this morning.  High five!

Noah had some work to do so we decide I will take Woody out for the day, and Noah will be able to get some bits done uninterrupted and hopefully, achieve greatness.  So we rustle up some snacks and head up the coast to the Polynesian Cultural Centre. 

This is what we knew about the Cultural Centre – it is owned by the local university and both the Cultural Centre and the university are part of the Latter Day Saints Church.  The centre aims educate on Polynesian Culture (the clue was in the name!) and provide jobs for the students.  That sounds nice.  And there are themed section to represent the different Polynesian Islands with activities and shows on each 'island'.  I thought this sounded great and would appeal to the curious mind of my boy.

So we turn up, and we buy a ticket which includes dinner and a show.  It’s going to be a long day!  But Woody and I are keen.

I get that ticket and head to the entrance and the place feels fantastic – it has such a nice feel to it.  And it is beautiful; tropical gardens, ‘lagoon’ separating the ‘islands’ and glimpse of gorgeous beach.  It is so relaxing to walk around. 

Our first stop is Tahiti where we listen to the cultural presentation.  There is a group for about 20 for us , sitting on a circle of benches under a tree, and a man gives us a talk about history of Tahiti.  This is not what I was expecting, and frankly, it immediately made me tense because I was thinking Elwood will not sit through m(any) of these.  They start drumming, and suddenly Elwood is interest.  And then a girl in a grass skirt starts weaving some magic with her hips and I think Elwood is quite sold on the ‘cultural presentation’ thus far.   After the presentation we try some coconut bread (delish...) but Elwood has heard that you can try fishing, so he is super keen.  Elwood talks about going fishing quite a lot.  He fishes with a bamboo rod in the lagoon and he thinks this is just fantastic and taking it quite seriously.  He is also offered a tattoo, but he declines.  Bummer...

He wants to go on a ride.  Crap.  Disneyland sure does raise children’s expectations of a day out.    I am panicking about how I am going to enthusiastically talk about the cultural presentations so they sounds a bit like rides, when Elwood says ‘Lets have a ride on a canoe’  Phew.  Canoe ride we can do.

Elwood loves the canoe ride through all the ‘islands’.  He keeps his eyes peeled for crocs (safety first, safety second) and generally behaves like Indiana Jones.  We get off the canoe and there is a stand for that well known island food, hot dog. Fate can be a beautiful thing.

We are wandering around are drawn to the sound of pounding drums and we find ourself  in Tonga.  We watch as they teach people to beat drums and then there is mentioned of spear throwing and basket weaving activities.  The little fella throws himself into his pushchair and says ‘lets go see the  swords’.  We have the same conversation over and over again with me saying ‘they are spears’ and Elwood saying ‘yes, but they are really swords’.  I try and entice Elwood away from the spears and encourage him to do the basket weaving.  He is 3 years old and I think this is the right thing to do.  Elwood looks at me like I am a crazy so we head to the spears.  We watch the spear throwing competition and Elwood is not content to watch.  I tell him if he wants a go, he needs to go speak to the people running the spear throwing.  So he does, and gets a 1-on-1 spear throwing lesson.  As I write this, I realise how crazy this is.  But, it is done now, I hope it does not come back and hit me in the face (or anywhere for that matter!).  Ha!

At this point, Elwood needs a sleep.  He cannot sleep in the pushchair as it too small, so he wants to go home to sleep.  We have no way to contact Noah and no way to get home for another 7 hours.  Oh dear....  Elwood climbs on everything, especially the dangerous stuff, and am feel exasperated.

The Canoe pageant is about to start, so we go sit on the grass by the lagoon and listen to the music and eat some dried pineapple.  Mmmm, tropical.  Elwood relaxes and we both recover from his mad half hour.  All the islands have a float on the lagoon and come past singing and dancing (and in the case of New Zealand - getting ready for battle).  Elwood really enjoys this and even gets up and has a bit of a go at a tribal dance. 

We then (ironically) head to Hawaii and watch another cultural presentation.  It is really interesting and is about the different musical influences in Hawaiian music.  Elwood manages to sit through it all, and we both enjoy the music and dancing.

We then head over to Fiji and Elwood really needs a sleep.  I fashion a pillow for him out of his spare clothes and a sarong and he looks much more comfortable and I think he might sleep.  I watch the cultural presentation from a doorway which looks brilliant.  Everyone is pounding bamboo sticks on the ground and it sounds brilliant.  However, this may not have been the best idea for getting Elwood to go to sleep. 

Next, I am ashamed to admit, I let Elwood watch Pingu on my Ipod.  This feels like a very ‘bad parent’ thing to do at a cultural centre but if he is not going to sleep I at least want him to rest – we have a show to get through tonight.

So with my child essentially watching TV, we go to Samoa.  We watch a man crack a coconut, make coconut milk in a very many fashion, and see a man scale a tree with bare feet.  It is great fun and I loved it.  Elwood looked up from the ipod when I pointed to the man up the tree, and I think he liked that, difficult to tell...

Our last stop on our whirlwind island hopping we go to Aotearoa (otherwise known as New Zealand).  A lot of the welcome was wasted on me as it was in Maori, I think this was because there was a visiting Maori basketball team.  The dancing was fantastic and the Hakka was brilliant.  I worried it might scare Elwood but when I looked down he was watching music videos.

That was all the islands done, so we head for dinner at the Island Buffet.  The food was fantastic but it was a bit of a drawn out affair with Elwood trying to insist / persuade me that he did not have to eat his dinner to get dessert.  Elwood may have won with the Ipod, but am pleased to report Round 2 went to me.  Ha!

So we finish our meal and I inhale lots of coffee and then we find our seats for the show – Ha – The Breath of Life.

The premise for the show folks:  A child is born; he grows up, becomes a man and finds his place in the world.  He travels, falls in love, welcomes new life into the world, and ‘bids goodbye to the one who gave him life’.  In the process, he dances a lot, he clearly finds the time to work out, and dabbles with body oils.  I am trivialising tor the sake of humour, and mentioning his muscles, but it was actually the best show I have ever seen.  The story was subtle and touching and actually, really inspiring.  The execution was phenomenal.  The dancing and effects but the thing Elwood and I loved was the fire dancing.  These performers were just amazing.  I would watch this show again, in a heartbeat.  In fact, I would go to the cultural centre again, maybe even on this trip.  A really brilliant day with the show quite an exhilarating way to wind up.

Having said that, Elwood managed to doze off in the show.  Noah picked us up at the end of the show, and we headed home with our sleeping boy.

Noah had a great day, but in more of a work way than a fire dancing, spear throwing way. 

And that’s it from Hawaii, and indeed all the Polynesian islands, tonight

And so, the breath of life, goes on ....
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