Aloha, Hawai’i


Remember that old Beatles song “You say good-bye, and I say hello”? It might well have been written with our next target in mind. Aloha and welcome to the Nation’s most recent state (if you can call 1959 recent) Hawai’i. Yes, for the natives, that extra mark is necessary. They think it helps make the native language more comprehensible. For example, in Hawai’ian “moa” means “chicken,” while “moʻa” means “cooked.” I suppose this makes mo’a moa cooked chicken. So what is a pu pu platter?

Hawai’i has a unique history. It is the only State that used to be a sovereign Kingdom with its own royalty. The island chain was first united by King Kamehameha in 1810. The Kingdom was ruled by the same family until the monarchy was overthrown in a military coup in 1893. The coup was mainly instigated by owners and employees of Dole Pineapple, who wanted to exercise more direct control over the territory. When President Grover Cleveland became President, he thought the US should pull out of Hawai’i. As is so often the case, a later President saw things differently. President McKinley sealed the deal and eventually Hawai’i became the 50th State in 1959.

There are a few more unique things about our 50th State. It is the only State that is not part of North America. It is the only State that grows coffee, vanilla, and cacao. You need a lot of patience to grow vanilla, it can take five years before you get a single pod. Hawai’i has the southernmost place in the United States. The spot is named, aptly enough, “South Point”.

Hawai’i supplies 2/3rds of the planet’s supply of pineapples. I am not sure where the other third are grown, except that I can state, with certainty, they are not grown in any of the States already covered.  Except for all the ones growing in Tanglewood’s back yards.

Another unique thing? Hawai’i is the only State with two official languages – English and Hawaiian. And boy is that second one special. In fact, there are only 12 letters in the native Hawai’ian alphabet, most of which seem to be vowels. For those looking to get a head start on a Babble course, the letters are A, E, H, I, K, L, M, M O, P, U, and W. Any language that has a word like Humuhumunukunukuapuaʿa, needs serious help. (In case you are dying to know the translation, it means “trigger fish with a snout like a pig”, which is the official State fish.) Every word and every SYLLABLE must end in a vowel in Hawai’ian, this  is further proof that this is a language with serious issues. The world might be a better place if the Hawai’ian natives got together with the Welsh. If you put Hawaiian and Welsh together you might get something recognizable as a language by the rest of us.

By the way, to be called a native in Hawai’i one must be of native Hawai’ian descent. Everyone else is just a “local”, even if they were born and raised there. Even if their grandparents were born and raised there. Even if their great-great grandparents….I think you get the idea. You think New York can be called a melting pot – try looking at Hawai’i. There are so many ethnic groups there that no single one has a majority.

Ever want to take a trip around the world? Visit Hawai’i and you can experience 10 of the 14 climate zones found on Earth. You can run the gamut from tropical rainforests where it rains most of the time, to harsh desert where it hardly rains at all. You can even experience a periglacial climate, whatever that is.

Hawai’i is generally considered the most geographically isolated place on the planet too. The 137 islands that make up Hawai’i are a minimum of 2,000 miles away from anything. Of course, all that privacy does have some drawbacks, gasoline and almost all food products, are a lot more expensive than there are on the mainland – even costlier than in New York City. This scarcity leads to some fairly odd food choices. Hawai’i consumes more Spam per capita than any other place in the world. So, if you are ever wondering what to do with that mountain of cans of Spam that no one has, just send it to the Spam loving locals of Hawai’i. In return maybe they might mail you a coconut as a thank you gift. It is completely legal so mail a dried coconut through the US Mail! (But you cannot mail a fresh one, sorry.)

Hawai’i is the only State whose land mass is increasing every year without the benefit of landfills. Mount Kilauea has been erupting continuously for the last 30 years. As a result, Hawai’i grows by 42 acres a year! This is instrumental in why the Oahu Island smells so much better than Staten Island.

Did you know that all beaches in Hawai’i are public beaches? This is something you don’t hear Disney telling everyone about their exclusive resort there. (Okay, there are a few private beaches, but in a way we still own them – they are U.S. Government property.) And speaking of beaches there are a variety of colors to choose from. Besides the tranquil white sand beaches, you can try the black sand (volcanic rock), or pink sand (I found a number or claims for why), or green (olivine and peridot).

Hawai’i outlawed billboards and gambling. And snakes. You can face prison and a $200,000 fine if you are caught trying to bring a snake in to the State. Same for hamsters, gerbils, and squirrels – Hawai’i doesn’t have any of those either. However, there are some wild Australian wallabies! Some escaped from the Honolulu Zoo and there is now a colony of them living wild and free.

Like every other State, Hawai’i has its fair share of ridiculous laws:

For natives of the Orakama Tribe, men are not allowed to eat their second wife. Maybe they should be full if they ate the first one?

You cannot have more than 15 dogs and/or cats in a single home.

Identical twins are prohibited from working for the same company.

It used to be illegal to name a child Charles.

It is illegal to be in possession of a shark fin – you can spend a year in jail of caught with one. How anyone makes shark fin soup is a mystery.

On Kauai it is illegal for any building to be taller than a palm tree.

Shooting galleries are prohibited from offering booze as a prize.

But my personal favourite – it used to be illegal to leave your house without knowing where you were going. I am certain that this one had to be repealed as men never stop and ask for directions, no matter how lost they get.

Finally, if anyone ever invents a time machine, I will be relocating to ancient Hawai’i. Why, you may ask. Simple, the ancient Hawai’ians found obesity to be a woman’s most attractive feature.

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Betsey Ellis

Betsey is a recovering agent of Satan (.i.e. a legal professional) now working towards a lifetime goal of becoming a perfectly sane cat lady, medieval clothing designer, and occasional playwright. Maybe even finish my doctorate.....nyah, probably not, who needs another expert in Elizabethan Law and its effect on the growth of the middle class.