The Hawaii Money Can’t Buy.
A recent Bloomberg story described how the very rich and the super-rich are treated when they come to Hawaii and stay at an ultra-luxury resort like Hualalai on the Big Island. “Pampered” just barely describes it.
The thing is, why did they come all this way? Most of those people don’t have the first little inkling of what Hawaii is really all about.They spend a week or ten days here, maybe going out for a fancy dinner a few times, but spend most of the time right there at the resort. And they’re missing all the good stuff.
Probably forty years ago, when I was working for the City of Honolulu, my office gang organized a weekend camp out at Kualoa Beach Park, a spot right on the beach looking out at Chinaman’s Hat, a small island just a few hundred yards off shore.
Everyone brought food, but on Saturday night we planned to cook a pig in the traditional way: in an underground oven called an imu. After the pig is prepared, the pit is lined with banana leaves, the pig’s carcass is filled with red hot lava rocks and placed in the hole. It’s covered with more banana and ti leaves, more hot rocks, more leaves, then a thick layer of burlap bags, and finally it’s all covered with dirt.
As it happened, a relative of one of my staff was visiting from the mainland and he was, of course, invited to enjoy the weekend with us. The gentleman was probably 60 years old and was, by extraordinary coincidence, a professor of anthropology at—if I remember correctly—the University of Chicago. As you can imagine, he was thrilled at the opportunity to see a whole pig cooked in the traditional Hawaiian way and he took copious notes and many photographs.
Two young Hawaiian men from the City’s Refuse Division had been recruited to dig the imu, and prepare and cook the pig in exchange for all they could eat and quantities of food to take home. The whole process takes several hours and when the pig had finally been covered up, the professor approached the two boys who, by this time, were sprawled out in the shade drinking beer.
Pencil poised, he asked the two guys a number of questions. His last question was how they knew when the pig was ready … when it was time to open the imu, haul the pig out, and dine.
“Easy,” said the older of the two. “Once da buggah been covered up, we lie down undah one tree, drink a case of beer, and take a nap.”
“An’ when we wake up,” said the other kid, “the pig is done!” Peals of laughter followed.
See what all those rich folks at Hualalai are missing?