Larry the Hawaiian Santa ClauseFor those who followed my personal blog when I was in Hawaii, I referenced Larry a long time ago. For whatever reason, I haven't gotten around to giving him a proper introduction until now.
|My backyard- Aweoweo Beach Park|
I saw he had a few fishing lines in the water, so we started talking about that. I bragged about how I had become an accomplished spearfisher in Samoa. His response was, "oh well me, I don't do all that. I don't even like to say I'm a fisherman. I'm just out here feeding the fish." My boyfriend at the time brought us some beers to celebrate our move, and the next thing you know the sun had gone down and Larry was my friend. Over several months, it became ritual that I surfed after work, but if it was flat, I'd go "feed the fish" on the beach with Larry.
|The bike path|
He was always giving me food-- macadamia nuts, fresh fruit and veggies from his farm, fish, leftover plates from BBQs, etc. He even hooked up all these starter plants with local herbs and fruits for my apartment-garden.
|Starter plants gifted by Larry|
He gave me a ride to Costco once, and if pushing a cart around a Costco in Hawaii during sample hour isn't hard enough, he stopped to talk to nearly everyone in the store who called him by name. He was a celebrity! He, in turn, remembered everyone else's name and their kids' names. After he helped me unload everything, I tried to give him a big tub of macnuts, some chocolates, and a tub of fresh poke (raw marinated tuna). It was nearly impossible to get him to accept anything! When he finally did, I watched him go down to the parking lot to offer the bounty to some people returning from work.
|Waialua Sugar Mill|
After several months of "feeding the fish" with Larry, I found out later from my boss at Surf N Sea that Larry was a reputable legend. He basically ran the electric operations at the Waialua Sugar Mill before he and thousands of other immigrant workers (indentured servants) were laid off. The whole history behind sugar plantations in Hawaii is heartbreaking. They were bought out by big American companies, and the industry imploded when the supply couldn't match the demand. Waialua, the city where we lived, is something of a "ghost town".
Why did I think he was a bum? Why/how is the definition of "affluence" so different between Hawaii and the Mainland?
The Economy of Aloha
|Ray demonstrating how to remove the beak of the octopus|
With American roots in a Protestant Ethic, it is easy for tourists and transplants to dismiss these happenings as fate, or good karma returned. But living with this kind of assumption is the reason why haoles have bad reputations. Aloha isn't just a spiritual belief, it's built into the economy.
In America, a land of haoles (not just white people, but literally- "without breath"), I see so many people in an uncertain economy figuratively "holding their breath". What would it take to return to an economy of breath, of abundance, of aloha?
Maybe it's a solution as simple as "feeding the fish".
|one of many hats and leis Larry had given me|