final update: Jan. 20, 2003

You know the old joke about the argument whether Hawaii is pronounced Hawaii or Havaii? Asking the first native they encounter who answers 'Havaii' they say, Thank you, to which he replies, 'You're velcome!' I always thought that that was a 'Yiddish' joke, making fun of immigrant pronounciation. Imagine our surprise when we learned that it actually IS pronounced Havaii!

Hawaii ended on a very high note. After a fantastic week in Maui where we learned how to boogie board (kind of like surfing lying down on your stomach on a board), snorkelling in Molikini (a small crater island where we saw at least twenty species of fish in crystal clear waters, visited a tropical plantation where we learned how to husk coconuts, and hiked a dormant volcano at 10,000 feet, we flew to the Big Island, also known as Hawaii. For Shabbat, we were hosted by Sharona and Jon Lomberg, an Israeli artist and her scientist husband living there. It was beautiful and they had a son Micah's age and a daughter Noam's age so the kids had some great "kid" time. We hiked in a lava tube with them, which was very cool.

In fact, the word of the day for our second last day on the Big Island must have been: geothermal. We first went to an amazing ocean lagoon (HEATED by volcanic groundwater) and with fish. It was the first time Baruch wasn't the last one in the water. Then we spent the day at Volcano National Park where we hiked the volcanic area, with steaming vents, amazing moonscape-like craters, and then the highlight, which was truly seeing creation in action--red hot lava flowing into the sea (we hiked up at night), (see pictures). We were standing on four month old lava, and said many brachas in our amazement. But the down part was it was so dark that Carmi tripped and really hurt himself. We went to the ranger's station and fixed him up, and, as Hashem is always doing strange and wonderful things, at that very moment, when we were depressed, Carmi looked up and saw a very rare occurance- a moonbow, which is like a halo around the moon. All in all we learned a lot about lava- the two kinds are called in Hawaiian a'a and pahoihoi. A'a is very hard and sharp, and you say "A'A" when you step on it!Pahoihoi is smooth and rope-like, and you can really tell that it has flowed downwards by its shape.

Our very last day in Hawaii we spent in Honolulu at a fabulous Polynesian Cultural Centre, run by the Mormons. Once again those Mormons really know how to do things right! They have hundreds of smiling university students, many from the islands, take you through seven recreated Polynesian island- Samoa, Tonga, Tahiti, Hawaii, Aotaera (New Zealand), Fiji, and the Marquesas. In each island- somewhat Disneyesque although less commercial-there were cultural displays, shows, demonstrations, etc. All very professional. What was most impressive was that these students were earning their way through Brigham Young University in Hawaii by working there, and at every single chance they thanked you for making their education possible. Made you feel great about spending money! We also learned to love fresh pineapple and macadamaia nuts while in Hawaii.

Did you know that some native Hawaiians believe they are descendants of the ten lost tribes? Check this out: aloha (which means "I honour the Divine Presence in you) is linked to Elohim; their priest are called kahuna (cohen?) and they have cities of refuge where individuals who might get the death penalty otherwise could escape. (We visited one on the Big Island and saw a whale breach in the water while we were there!!) Wow- another set of landsmen!

updated: Jan. 2, 2003

Our first main touring stop is New Zealand, but we thought it would be nice to stop halfway in one of the Pacific islands to have a week of R and R before beginning our ambitious travel route. It took us a while to figure out what island to visit. Initially, we considered Hawaii, although we worried it might be too built up. Then, Western Samoa was suggested to us. But we couldn't get flights to either place. We were originally planning on visiting Fiji, but after comparing travel guides, we decided Tahiti had more exciting options. Finally, a different travel agent offered us to find us a way into (and out of Hawaii, so here we are.

We were scheduled to be in Maui but could only get a flight to Honolulu. That meant that after 12 hours of flying, we would still have to take a flight the next morning, (and lose another half day to travel). To our great frustration a plane to Maui was leaving at EXACTLY the same time at the neighbouring gate to ours!! Even though two agents had already summarily told us NO, Baruch, through polite insistence and great patience and unwavering faith in the goodness of customer service, actually convinced a gate agent to let us change planes in Vancouver and get straight to Maui. Of course, in order to do this, he had to locate our bags (already checked in to Honolulu) and get them on to the Maui plane. But the icing on the cake, was he even personally hand delivered our special meals from one plane to the other! We consider this gate agent the first 'Elijah the prophet' of our trip.

Our plans are to laze on the beach, climb both a dormant and an active volcano, swim in waterfalls, snorkel and hike rainforests. Sounds great, doesn't it? We'll be in touch.
Jan. 5/03
Hawaii is gorgeous- just like in the tour books. We've swum in an ice-cold waterfall (and Micah even jumped off a cliff into the water!), hiked in a lush green valley (the famous Iao needle), and seen whales and dolphins (on a whale watching excursion). Saw a black lava rock field (looked like a moonscape) and perfect hexagon-shaped basalt rock (see album for picture).
The rest of the week we plan on hiking the (dormant) volcano and snorkelling. There is also a black and red sand beach on the farthest reach of the island we plan on finding. Perhaps the nicest moment was our first sabbatical Shabbat. Friday night we had dinner in our little hostel, and managed to find organic grape juice (in the health food store) and a challah-looking Hawaiian sweet bread. We sat outside watching the sunset as we sang shalom aleichem; it was very spiritual.
Saturday we found the shul which was a lovely little house turned into a shul. The shul is led by an Orthodox trained guy who does Reform liturgy on Friday night and Conservative on Saturday! (He told us he does Orthodox services "on demand"...) Met some nice tourists there, the kind who choose to come to shul on their vacations, and so the spirit was very lively. (The service was led, in fact, by a fellow Canadian with Hanah Tiferet Siegel tunes and lots of 'ruach.') Our family all got honours. Interesting that there were very few regulars there though, mostly tourists- like other islands, the many Jews here don't in the least identify and in fact many have come here to "escape" and turn their backs on being Jewish once and for all. The kids are having a ball and its hard to get them to do their homework, but we are trying! Our next message will be from the other island (called the Big Island) next week. Check out the pictures by clicking on the 'album'. Miss you all!