Halawa Valley is located on the West Coast of Moloka’i and home to Anakala. The area is beautiful, you can only discover it with a local as it is public property so Anakala runs tours to a scenic waterfall.
I like waterfalls but I don’t make a trip specifically to see one. After seeing Iguazu Falls there aren’ t many that are impressive.
This one isn’t either.
But you don’t go on this tour to see the waterfall, it is only the backdrop to listening to Anakala share the story of his life and the land. Now 71, Anakala grew up in the valley, he survived a tsunami in 1946 and at 15 he lied about his age to run away from Moloka’i and join the navy.
His grandfather had decided it would be Anakala who would pass on the stories of their family and as we walk through the land his ancestors have lived for generations he tells us about the plants and Hawaiian traditions of natural medicine. It’s amazing to spend time with someone so connected to their home.
Things are different now. He tells us about when he was forbidden to speak Hawaiian and how the language is changing. As English speakers were the ones to document names and places on a map, many of the names were wrong and Hawaiians could not correct them as it meant speaking their language when it was outlawed. Now the language he speaks is different from his grandchildren.
At times he is emotional because he is happy we are there to learn, and without any grandchildren living in the valley I wonder who he will pass all of this knowledge onto.
When the tour is done he explains we do not say goodbye because there is no word in Hawaiian for it – only a hui hou which means we’ll see each other again if not here, on the other side.
When I get back to my truck I looked at his business card and smiled because it did not say tour guide as I expected but storyteller – and that’s exactly why you need to meet him.