From Mauka to Makai


Was today the weekend? No. Did it feel like it was? Heck yeah it did! On this magical Monday morning I was off to visit the three sites of He’eia that maintain the traditional Hawaiian model of sustenance. The idea is in the post title, from mauka to makai. In english, the phrase is ‘from the mountains to the ocean’. In this system, there are 3 systems that need to be maintained: freshwater, carbs (taro) and protein (fish). Those 3 sites in He’eia are called Papahana Kuaola, Kako’o oiwi and Paepae O He’eia respectively. So we took a stroll around each site with one of the guys working on each hunk of land to hear about the history of the place, what they’re doing now and their own cultural input for the projects. We started at Papahana Kuaola, where Kainoa lead us through the place. He was so spiritual and inspirational, I just felt so aware and reflective of the natural energy there it was fantastic. Getting grounded in Hawaii.

The following is a mish-mash of some of what he said that stuck with me, especially as a water-based person:

“To me, Hawaiian is all about sounds. The sound of the water, the sound of the wind . . . it’s important to just come here [to the stream] and listen to the water.”

“Water is in us, it’s around us, it’s in the way we move.”

“The water is what connects everything; it’s not from one valley to the next, what connects the ahupua’a, not the mountains. It’s the streams, the water . . .”

“The water is how we flow, like nature – water doesn’t go upstream. It goes its course, then it recycles, you know, to start anew.”

“You can either go around with your hands up, asking for things from people who don’t want to, aren’t going to help you. Or you can turn your hands down and work for it yourself. Don’t go around asking for things, start doing them.” [holding his hands out cupped upwards, then downwards] – there’s a word for this I can’t recall

Just full of vibrancy, tuned into nature and positively radiating good vibes. It was my favorite tour of the day from his energy alone. Another point of interest he discussed was their heiau, or temple. He talked about how their site is still in progress and needs to be closed off, but when they need something that they have to ask the gods for they perform the chants or rituals in the area below. In addition to channeling all of their energy in the center, he said all of the stones used to form the walls there are facing each other so that they support each other and can’t fall. This way the energy is all centered inwards, so when we chant, we focus our energy in and so does the land”. Amazing stuff here.

Next was Kako’o Oiwi, where I went for the Community Day weekend 2, as can be refreshed in Taro & Triumph. We’d already seen a lot of it from last time, but I learned that they have this endangered bird, the ae’o, that apparently has a world population of only 1,800 nowadays. The site has 7-8 birds, which we didn’t see today but is pretty amazing. We also took a backtrail into the site to see a road they’d cleared in just 3 days which went back pretty far. There are a fair number of invasives/non-natives there, including mangroves and banyan trees.

I also got to ride in the truck bed here, which has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid! Of course, it got banned on the mainland before I could go for it, but not in Hawaii. Right on. I was even on the highway for a teensy-tiny bit, despite snarky commentary from everyone I was with about my being injury prone & it being a bad idea. I swear, I’ve been fine before Hawaii and I’ll be fine here. Fools.

The last stop of our outdoor tour was Paepae O He’eia, which is the fish pond! It’s 800 years old, has a huge wall, acts as a nursery for baby fish and (I believe) helps with flood and sediment control. Very gorgeous, very new management (for nowadays – like I said, this is a way-old tradition that’s just getting a revamp) and very interesting. It got its own photoshoot too!


For lunch we hit up this place called Fresh Catch and sweet jesus take me now, they caught some fresh stuff indeed, the latest being my heart and stomach. They had so much mouth-watering fresh fish & made a Hawaiian specialty, poke bowls. It’s a delicious bowl of rice with yummy fish cuts on top of it, and there are sooo many options for what type of fish to choose. I ended up picking the tako poke, or octopus done up in a sweet and light, more Japanese-style. Then the guy at the counter gave me a sample of ahi shoyu, which is tuna in a thicker soy sauce-y glaze. I was so confused. Both options were so good, yet so different. What was a girl to do? Well fret not, because this guy told me I could do both, and so I did.


What I noticed after I got my food was that while the tako was $12.99/lb the ahi shoyu was $16.99/lb and I didn’t see a thing before my order (clever b******). Regardless it was still hella cheap, and I even got my beloved Arizona green tea because it was finally reasonable there, only $1.39 vs the standard $2. That’s one of my biggest irrelevant complaints, is that they legit doubled the price of my tea vs its consistent 99¢ at home. But as I said, minor and meaningless overall.

Once we got home I had some nice family calls and took a breather. Then I decided to become Julia frickin’ Child, minus any skill whatsoever, and proceeded to fry more chicken cutlets than Jesus could use during his desert trek. I mean, what the hell was I thinking? Am I a family of 72? Last time I checked, no. And hold on, checking again – still no. I mean look at this mountain of poultry pandemonium!


WHY DID I DO THIS? It’s looking like a chicken breakfast-lunch-dinner-and-snack sort of week folks. Here’s the start of that; I made sweet ginger-soy somen with chicken cutlets.


My final thoughts of the evening: cock-a-doodly-crap.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Patricia nagy says:

    Morning Elizabeth ( or should I say Julia) I think your going to become very spiritual learning about Hawaii. It was good to hear from you yesterday. Just think with all that chicken you won’t starve all week love grandma


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