On our second day in Hawaii we awoke to light gently streaming in through the shuttered balcony doors... Something we don't often get in Seattle.
(Me in front of one of the resort's indoor/ outdoor fishponds surrounded by morning light.)
We lazily got out of bed and enjoyed some kona coffee on our balcony before heading out to officially greet the day and go for a ukelele lesson.
The cultural center at the resort offers wonderfully prescient classes and entertainment free to guests throughout their stay. I love all types of music, and already play the guitar a bit, so I was really looking forward to this! Tristan could of taken or left it prior to the class but after singing and strumming in class he left singing its praises too!
(The ukelele we learned on.)
We were each given the smallest version of ukelele to learn on. There are several kinds: the smallest is soprano, then concert, tenor, and lastly, baritone, which is the largest. Every ukulele also has a variety of string amounts, with the four string kind we learned on being the most common. Our instructor was a lovely women named Barni (short for Barnett) Fischer. She hummed, strummed, and guided us through doing the same. We learned several simple chords. The three others in the class and ourselves were all musically inclined enough to pick it up rather quickly. Barni even noted that she was impressed and by the time we left we were even able to play several easy songs. Amongst the simple child-like songs, we were able to learn a traditional Hawaiian tune about net-fishing called the Huki-lau. Barni also gave us useful cultural backgrounds, notes, and antidotes throughout the lesson.
(Barni and I.)
It was a great experience and so much fun! I was hooked!
I knew I was interested in getting a ukelele before Hawaii (the small travel ready size and sweet sound appealed to me) but now I definitely wanted one! Barni even gave me great tips on what to look and listen for when buying one and where the best places (with the best quality and best price) to buy were. I even learned my favorite Hawaiian word from her in class: poniolo or cowboy. Maybe it's the way it rolls off the tongue or images of wild untamed land and people but I just love it...
(Lush greenery dotted the Mauna Lani's landscape amidst the dessert.)
After gorging ourselves on the generous (and delicious) portions we were on our way back to the room when we saw lei making going on in the cultural center as we passed. So we popped in to learn just how it was done.
We sat barefoot on the large traditionally woven mat and were guided through making our first DIY leis ever.
Unfortunately we forgot to take pics of the process but... To make a Ti leaf lei you fold two of the leaves in half length-wise, drape them in your hand so as to leave a loop, hold them tightly between your thumb and forefinger, and twist. When your almost out of leaf you fold two more in half, add them in, and twist some more. You keep twisting, creating a rope like texture, till you reach your desired length then you tie the end off with a knot that will tuck through the loop you made at the start to close your lei. At this point you can wear your lei as is or you can decorate it by tucking in flowers or elaborately twisted Ti leaf roses between the layers of your lei. Once your satisfied, your finished!
Some things we learned while making our leis:
Leis are worn for special events, parties, and spiritual ocassions. As such they are considered sacred unto themselves and should never just be thrown away! They should either be saved, placed someplace holy, or given back to nature somehow. A popular, and beautiful, way to do this is to wade out into the ocean sending both prayers and your lei back out into the world from whence it came. Pregnant women should never wear a closed lei, theirs should always be left open. This is signify that the gestation process is still continuing, a closed lei would signify that it was over and is therefore thought to be unlucky. A Ti leaf lei can be kept green for up to a whole month(!) if kept in a ziploc baggy inside your fridge (of course you may have to replace any fresh flowers after a week) or it can be left out in a cool dark place to dry.
We also learned about several other traditional Hawaiian artisan processes and all the time that goes into creating them and how the islanders are trying to revive them. It was a really fun experience with a fun new skill and creation to show for it!
(Tristan in front of one of the sea turtle ponds wearing the Ti Leaf Lei that he made.)
(Me in the lobby wearing the Ti Leaf Lei that I made as well as my arrival shell lei and my brand new Panama Jack, just in case you noticed I switched hats. Mine was way too hot and didn't have a wide enough brim to protect me from the sun... Boo! Bonus: I've had my eye on an authentic Panama Jack for quite some time and now I have one that reminds me of my awesome trip too!)
More of Day Two to come!
(All images created and owned by Krista Carson, please ask permission prior to use.)