Wednesday, February 29, 2012

                       Guest Bloggers Ken and Nancy Tripp
ALOHA from Maui! 

Our first three days were in Kihei on Maalaea Bay.  Yes, the sunsets looked like this every night.

The paddle of a lifetime for these kayakers.  Jealous?  I was!

The views from 10,023 feet at the summit of Haleakala "Crater" were spellbinding.

Our whale watch adventure brought us to a "competition" group.  The males push each other down and sometimes cover the other suitor's blowhole.  What guys will do to get the girl.  Geez.

Visiting "The Garden of Eden" on the way to Hana gave us a chance to view beauties like these.

Hiking around Black Sand Beach in Hana.  Do you see the dragon on the right?

A bamboo forest.  The sound of the clacking stalks became my new favorite.

Charles A. Lindbergh
"...If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea..."

MAHALO to Dane and Amy, our dear and gracious friends.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

                         North Maui -Big Air
                                                This one's for Dan P.

Monday, February 13, 2012

                             I saw a hero today at Koki Beach

When I pulled into a spot overlooking Koki Beach, I looked down and saw a little kid, maybe 8 or 9, with a small life vest on, floating alone in the waves on a boogie board. But as I watched, so quickly he started floating out into the choppy waves to the open sea. He kicked to shore but to no avail.  The tide was stronger than he.
I had heard of the strong rip tides at Koki Beach. There were signs of caution around.  I saw it all happening, and just as I realized how much trouble this kid was in, as the pull pushed him farther away from the shore, I saw a man swimming steadily toward him. It was clear what was going on, to the kid as well. He was panicked and flailing.
            The father finally reached him, and it took some time, but he brought him in, shaken and exhausted.
            As I sat in my car from above, I realized that I had just witnessed something important. After a while I went down to the beach where the family sat close together, the mother, child and father, an average man with a little paunch, his youth behind him. I thanked him, and told the kid, “I hope you know, your father’s a hero.”

Sunday, February 12, 2012


           We took the ferry from Lahaina to the small island of Lanai (18 miles x 18 miles) and saw about fifty whales on the way over. It’s their yearly migration from Alaska to the waters between Maui, Molokai and Lanai to birth their pups each winter and then head back north. To see the whales was not why we went to Lanai, but it was a bonus to the trip. Lanai is a different story. Actually we found it to be a sad story, the story of Lanai.
            Lanai had been most known as being the pineapple center of the world, but no more, not now. We found Lanai’s history to be one of exploitation as it tries to cling on to its history.
             Because it was believed to have evil spirits, Lanai was only populated about 800 years ago, and then the island went untouched by much of the world until the early 1920’s when James Dole bought the entire island (can you imagine buying an entire island where people live?)  and began what became the Dole Pineapple Corporation.
 Dole built a town in the center of the island for the local workers, much like a Levittown, and called it Lanai City. (This is a misnomer, as the whole population is and was only about 3,000)  
Farmed by the natives, the company thrived until the late 1980’s.  But because of cheaper labor in other parts of the world, Dole moved elsewhere, pulled up the plants and left a decimated landscape of barren valleys stripped of life.
The entire (97%) of the island was sold to David Murdock who made tourism the island’s focus. A luxury hotel was built at the most accessible beach, and two pro golf courses were made.
                           The natives shifted from being farmers to wait staff. And I felt a resigned sadness in its people -very different from the people we have met back "home", and an obliviousness in its patrons.
            But there were wonderful sights to see. Amy said it was great snorkeling, and she saw these fish and more in the corals:
                                           The coast was rugged and inspiring.

         To be sure there was much that was beautiful, but its beauty seemed somehow superficial and peripheral to an island and its people. Amy and I were glad to have had the experience, but it is not one we are likely to repeat.
          When we left on the ferry back to Lahaina we saw more whales and we both agreed: this was the happiest part of the trip.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

           While Amy has been working at the clinic (and she promises that she will post a blog about her job and experiences as the doctor of Hana) I have been working with juniors at Hana High School with their preparation for the spring SAT test.  It’s what I know how to do. It’s what I’ve done.
In many ways the students I have are very similar to what I know from back home in New Hampshire. Kids are kids.  I doubt this is different world over. However there are distinctions.
First is grade performance. Although it’s a small school -graduating classes of 20 plus or minus- the top score for the previous SAT test was 440. That’s the top score. The national average is 500. So I knew from the onset that I had much to do. It’s not that the kids are dumb; as I said, kids are kids. It’s just that there are other factors.
First: Education does not seem to be a cultural priority. Families have been here for generations. Everyone is related. Large families of seven siblings or more are the norm. And then there are the aunts, uncles and grandparents all living together in the same, sometimes limited, quarters.  Education for the sake of mobility is not a societal focus. Hence, absenteeism and the dropout rate are issues.
Secondly, this is paradise, and the students are very aware of this. The temperature never gets below 64 and never above 85 –all year round; the beaches and land are beautiful; the people here have a rich culture and history; and they are the happiest people I have ever met. There is much to be satisfied  with.
I understand the attitude of questioning.  Where in the world is it better?  As an educator, this leaves me with a motivational challenge.  Sure, I could give the pitch about learning for its own sake, but in this case that doesn’t really work.  For the short time I’m here, my sole job is to push for learning not for learning’s  sake, but rather, learning to do well on a test. Clearly, I’m conflicted.