This weekend I had an assignment for my Hawaiian Language class which required me to go to Kahana Valley and work in the taro patch, which is where Hawaiians traditionally grew kalo, which is a starchy potato-like root that was then boiled or steamed and sometimes made into poi. Poi is purple and sticky like a paste; many people who try it don't like it (I LOVE it... I guess people like what they're raised to like). Taro is considered the "staff of life" for Hawaiians; many genealogies actually trace Hawaiians as the younger siblings of the taro plant. Cultivation of kalo requires extensive knowledge of the environment, sustainability, irrigation and agriculture, and it's a very labor-intensive crop. The labor part is where my classmates and I came in! At first I was made because it was on a SATURDAY, and I had to wake up at 5:45 am (on a Saturday... come on! You'd be mad too ) and drive all the way out to Kahana from town, which is like an hour or so if traffic is moderate. Bah humbug!
Even though I initially didn't want to go (on principle!), I learned so much and had fun! Here are some pictures; I didn't get to take that many because we were supposed to be working. I got really dirty and muddy; I fell into the irrigation ditch like a goober.
A view of the taro patches from a hill; the ditch I fell in is behind the clump of dark green trees in the far right corner
The flag of the Hawaiian Kingdom, now appropriated as the State flag; the Union Jack on there is to honor the friendship and international treaties between Great Britain and the Hawaiian Kingdom during the mid 1800s.
Opening the imu/underground earthen oven. Traditionally in Hawaiian culture men did all the cooking and preparation of food. When we went to Kahana, we had baked pork and chicken, banana, sweet potato, pineapple, white rice, freshly made poi, apple and coconut gelatin, and lots of other yummy foods. There was also kava, which is an intoxicating drink made from roots (but I don't like it so I didn't drink any).
Preparing laulau (baked pork wrapped in taro leaves)
My Professor pounding the taro into a paste for making poi. We are all sitting on huge mats woven out of lauhala/pandanus.