So I visited the big island this past week and I learned some interesting things about Hawaii:
I never knew so much exotic flora existed. These flowers look like some sort of candy from the Gene Wilder Willy Wonka movie.
Hawaii produces delicious goat cheese. Fresh goat cheese with basil and macadamia nut? Yes, please. It still was not as good as the goat cheese I tasted in Greece. But goat cheese brought by a cute Greek boy that says "my mother just milked the goat this morning" is a hard act to beat.
When they decided to build cattle ranches up in the hills of the big island, they brought in Mexican cowboys to teach the locals. The Mexican cowboys enjoyed it so much that they stuck around, and now there is still a strong Hawaiian cowboy culture on the big island.
The Spaniards have their bullfights, the American West has bull riding, and the Hawaiians have shark round-ups. What is a shark round--up? It is exactly what it sounds like: you lasso a shark and tie it to the boat. It all started when cattle would either fall of the cliffs into the ocean or they would drown when the cowboys would swim them boats for transport. Obviously, sharks began to congregate in these areas to catch an easy meal. So these crazy Hawaiian cowboys would go out to these areas and lasso themselves a big ol' shark. People still do it today because Hawaiian have spirit animals - for many it is a shark - and they like to get close and personal with their spirit animal. I'm a bit conflicted with the whole shark round up. I keep asking myself if I would go on one if someone offered - which will never happen - and I'm still not sure what I would say.
The best doughnuts in the world are Portuguese. They are the best because they are so light and fluffy. (I also had a Hawaiian tell me that the Portuguese in Hawaii are the equivalent to the Polish in America). I don't understand why they say that; they gave you the best doughnuts ever. So if you are ever in Hawaii, go to Tex Drive In for the best doughnut in the world.
The State of Hawaii
Hawaii is one of the most recent states to join the United States, and while in Hawaii I read Benedict Anderson's book, Imagined Communities. It was an interesting place to be reading a book that postulates about the modern phenomenon of nationalism. I finally plucked up enough courage to ask people how they felt about being a part of the United States. The answer I got was that it was hell for white people to live in Hawaii during the 60's and 70's. While the younger generation seems to be more ambivalent about it, the older people still feel strongly about it.