Tuesday, July 10, 2007

10-July 07

We slept in and spent a leisurely morning before heading to Kauai's Hindu Monastery for a tour (they offer them at 9 AM and 11 AM on Tuesdays only). Located in Kapa'a on a quiet residential street, it's a 458-acre sanctuary that serves as a theological seminary; home to swamis (under lifetime vows, in orange robes), yogis (in the latter half of the lengthy swami training, in yellow robes), and sadhakas (who take vows two years at a time, in white robes); a temple; and a destination for Hindus who come on pilgrimage from around the world.

These aren't your ordinary monks: they maintain an extremely informative, up-to-the-minute website, online academy, and prolific publishing center (where they produce books and the magazine, "Hinduism Today")--in fact, they have been credited with creating the world’s first publishing network, earning Apple Computer’s MacConnection User of the Year Award in 1987!--they tend native and exotic plants in their gardens ("we do have someone mow the lawns," the monk told us, "and last week we hired someone to weed, but he never came back!"), they sew their own clothes, they cultivate and prepare their own food, they perform community service, and they build.

And I do mean build. As in construction. Of an Iraivan Temple. It's an in-progress, pure white granite open-air pavilion carved in India entirely by hand and now being erected ten thousand miles away on this Garden Island by Indian master stone masons (it's scheduled to be complete in 2012). Using nothing but hammers and chisels (which we got to feel and also see and hear in action), they fit each and every one of the 3,000 blocks of stone together (like Legos, he told us) to form a monument of sacred art and ancient architecture that is designed to stand for ten centuries and more. The obvious dedication and attention to detail are astounding.

(There's a free-rolling ball of granite within the lion's mouth.)

The Wailua River runs through the monastery, and the land is considered sacred to native Hawaiians. It's an extraordinarily beautiful, harmonious, and peaceful place with its temple (at least one monk is always praying there so that worship goes uninterrupted around the clock), fish and lotus ponds, gardens, groves, statuary, and more. There was an uplifting energy all around.

Mike stayed with the kids in the car while Noby, Susie, and I took the actual tour, but afterward they visited and took advantage of the opportunity to write down and then burn away their burdens, challenges, and confessions into a smoldering cauldron.

We headed to the Koloa Fish Market to pick up an inexpensive but fresh and generous lunch (including shrimp cocktail, sushi, pork lau lau, seared ahi--to die for!--noodles, nori salad, and more) to bring to Brennecke's Beach to watch the boogie boarders. After eating, Mike spied a bunch of turtles just off the shore! (Man, are those buggers hard to capture on camera.) While it was on my wishlist to swim with sea turtles, I was without a suit at the time (you are asked to dress modestly at the monastery, including long pants and no t-shirts)--so for now I have to settle for "could have swam with sea turtles had I been an exhibitionist." It was great fun to observe the turtles "body surfing."

After freshening up back at the hotel, we made our way to the Grand Hyatt Kauai (a beautiful place--lovely, bird-filled atrium, especially--if a bit stuffy) for cocktails and pupus in the Seaview Terrace lounge (our server was affected, distracted, and put out by everything and everyone, but we didn't let her dampen our spirits!) with live music by Leilani Rivera Bond (outstanding voice, but the mics were up so high on the guitars that she was drowned out--shame!), a torch-lighting ceremony, and an adorable keiki hula show (girls from age four to twelve performing hula, New Zealand poi ball dance, and Tahitian dance).

During the keiki show, the young dancers selected a few good men from the audience (by placing a plumeria behind their ears)--Mike included--to perform hula on stage (he's not quite as natural as his mother and his daughter, but he was a sport!). Then we walked down to dinner at Tidepools restaurant (also at the Hyatt--it felt very private and had great atmosphere with its various thatched roofs and koi ponds and delicious, elegantly presented food), where our waiter was none other than the super friendly Mike, the crew member from Liko Kauai Cruises who caught the fish yesterday! He recognized us immediately, he loved showing Noby's digital camera shot of yesterday's catch to a fellow waiter, and he earned himself a hefty tip for being an all-around great guy.

Sign of the day:

Only in Hawaii:

(Sawyer's been waxing poetic about the Woody Expedition--we haven't seen it in several days.)


At July 18, 2007 1:13 PM , Kimbocita said...

My FAVORITE is Sawyer's picture of the Woody. It's very life-like and I looks exactly like the pictures of the Woody on your blog. The only thing I wish it had --- the driver flashing the "Hang Loose" sign. AMAZING job Sawyer! Maybe you can create something for my blog. XOXOXO - Auntie Muscles


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