Friday, October 25, 2013

Remembering Sandy

To mark the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, which devastated our city last autumn, and resulted in the deaths of about one hundred people across the United States, I have compiled here some of my writings and photography from the week that followed Sandy's landfall. During that time, most of the city's poorest areas remained without electricity and heat, while some neighborhoods even lacked running water. One year later, the flooded Financial District has bounced back, as has much of Manhattan, while the city's poorest residents on the peripheries of the city remain without essential services, and hundreds remain homeless.

October 29, 2012, late evening:
Hurricane Sandy makes landfall along the New Jersey coast. We were in San Francisco at the time, and we did not make it home until forty-eight hours later because the airports were flooded.

October 31, 2012, 8:53 PM: 
Heading into the "dark zone." West 25th Street is the dividing line here between power and no power. I took this photo as we headed home, walking eight blocks into this dark abyss as we groped to find our apartment! And of course it was Halloween, so ghouls and goblins threatened us around every dark corner.

October 31, 2012, 8:59 PM:
A full moon rises over our neighborhood in Manhattan. The only light here comes from automobiles and outer space.

November 1, 2012, 12:28 PM:
Dispatch from Sandy's aftermath, Day 4: Just a little update on our return to this great city. We were able to catch one of the earliest flights back into JFK yesterday, arriving at the airport at 4:45pm. The Airtrain is down, but we caught a bus to another terminal at the airport to catch a city bus, the Q10, to Kew Gardens... (By order of the Governor, all buses in NYC are free for the rest of the week.) That took us to Queens Blvd. where we then waited in a crowd of 30 others for the Q60 bus west to Manhattan. After waiting about half an hour, an overcrowded bus finally came and we all surged into the doors fighting for space. My wife and I just squeezed in the front door, having to stand well in front of the white safety line. We stood on that bus from 6pm well past 8pm! Our two hour ordeal took us down Queens Blvd. in slow motion; at every bus stop more people fought to get on while passengers simultaneously fought to get off. At one point my shoelace got caught in the front door of the bus (not a safe situation), but after a few more stops I was able to dislodge my shoe from the door! (That gives you a sense how close we were standing to the door as we barreled down Queens Blvd.) While our bus driver was supposed to take us over the 59th Street bridge, he refused to go that far. So we got out somewhere in Long Island City after 8pm and waited for another bus, a Q32, for Penn Station. That bus finally took us over the bridge, one of the few arteries in and out of Manhattan. We arrived at Penn Station around 9pm, four hours after landing in JFK! From there we walked south beyond W 25th street into the "dark zone." When we got to our apartment building, we found it completely black but for a jack-o-lantern glowing in the lobby. Inside our apartment, we found a pool of water on the floor (from our uncontrollably defrosting fridge). No power, no internet, no hot water, but we do have gas -- and yet our building has no heat. It was in the 40s last night, so we piled on four or five blankets and fell asleep.

Today, in the light of the sun, I can see what Chelsea is like. People without phone service are using payphones on the street. People are waiting for buses. NYPD crossing guards are stationed at every intersection because there are no traffic lights. No ATMs are working, but the ATM lobbies are full of trash and the doors are kept open 24/7, so it seems people are finding warmth and shelter there. All businesses in our neighborhood are closed but for a few bodegas that are dark yet populated by elderly men sitting around in the shadows drinking coffee. I walked up to Penn Station. The NYPD are trying to shut the whole place down, fearful I'm sure of hundreds of people loitering there for warmth and shelter. So I'm now at a Starbuck's on 7th Avenue for internet. People are piled over each other fighting for access to the power strips. Others seem to have been living here since 5am, just looking for warmth because all our homes are so dark and cold.

Yet through it all, a spirit of community and cooperation prevails. I give my great thanks to the FDNY, the NYPD, and the MTA for their tireless work these days. I can't even begin to imagine how much overtime they are putting in.


November 1, 2012, 6:25 PM:
Below 25th Street on 6th Avenue, a beacon of "freedom" rises out of the ashes of a decade-old terror while hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers live without power or heat or hot water for the fourth straight day. I wonder, did the city light this up to inspire us or to mock us??

November 1, 2012, 6:29 PM:
more darkness

November 2, 2012, 8:31 AM:
Union Square becomes a staging ground for electricity companies from all across the East Coast

November 2, 2012, 10:21 AM:
 Hester Street, Chinatown

November 2, 2012, 11:33 AM:
At CAAAV on Hester Street in the Lower East Side/Chinatown, pieces of paper with the addresses of known or suspected elderly residents in need of assistance are taped to the shuttered metal doors of nearby businesses. Volunteers sign-up their names in groups of six or eight to bring food, water, batteries, and information to tenement buildings, public housing, you name it. I went on two errands: up a six-floor tenement and then up a 13-floor public housing unit. Needless to say, there is no elevator service in these buildings and complete darkness in the stairwells.

November 2, 2012, 12:26 PM:
Walking down a hallway in Baruch Houses, a public housing complex in the Lower East Side. Residents have been living in the dark without power or hot water here for five days. Those with mobility issues have been unable to descend the stairs to access emergency food, water, or any reliable information about this crisis. So we went door to door from the first to the thirteenth floors with supplies and information in English, Spanish, and Chinese. Outside, FEMA trucks and their generators are humming, but inside, these residents are figuratively and literally in the dark. Some are afraid. Some are alone. Many rightly feel abandoned.

November 2, 2012, 12:28 PM:
Volunteers from GOLES and CAAAV in the Lower East Side/Chinatown inspect a public housing unit near the East River that has no power, no hot water, and no elevators. Residents are living in complete darkness without access to reliable information; those with mobility issues are unable to even leave their floors. Some residents told us that they are afraid to go into the dark hallways and the dark stairwells, and some are afraid to open their doors to strangers. We were an impromptu team of volunteers, but among us we spoke English, Spanish, and Chinese, so that helped us reach more residents and provide accurate information. These residents have lived in the dark for five days now and not once, they say, have city or FEMA workers checked up on them.

November 2, 2012, 12:54 PM:
Baruch Houses in the Lower East Side, a New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) public housing complex. The residents of this thirteen story building have no power, no hot water, and no elevators. Those unable or too afraid to walk down thirteen stories in the pitch black have not left their units since Monday. Our team of volunteers walked up to the top floor and then made our way down floor by floor in the darkness knocking on doors and distributing food, water, batteries, candles, and information to those in need. Residents told us that NO ONE - that's right, no one - from the city or from FEMA has come by to simply do what we were doing: to check on them. Outside we saw people filling up jugs of water from a fire hydrant on the sidewalk. Inside we found an elderly woman with insulin but no ice to cool it. There are little crises here in the LES that threaten to turn into bigger crises if help is not delivered. Behind every door we knocked on but heard no reply might be an elderly or infirm person alone, afraid, and in need.

November 2, 2012, 1:03 PM:
U.S. military presence along Grand Street
 
 November 2, 2012, 1:14 PM:
Back on Hester Street, Chinatown

November 2, 2012, 7:40 PM:
Dispatch from Sandy's aftermath, Day 5: I took the M14a bus down to the Lower East Side. Besides a few downed trees here and there, things looked normal in the daylight. Then I arrived at CAAAV, an Asian-American community organization on Hester Street. It was fifteen minutes before 10am when they "opened" to help residents affected by Sandy, but already the sidewalk was crammed with over fifty Chinatown residents waiting in line to charge their electronics and receive free food and water. I was put to work making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for about an hour at first. Those sandwiches ended up mostly in care bags prepared for elderly and infirm residents living in the nearby tenement buildings and public housing units. When I announced to a CAAAV organizer that I spoke a bit of Mandarin, I was immediately placed with a team of volunteers doing outreach. We began by visiting a 19th-century six-story tenement building on Chrystie Street. All the residents inside spoke Chinese (maybe they preferred Cantonese, but they at least understood my broken Mandarin well enough). We found some elderly residents who accepted food and water. Some residents needed batteries for their flashlights, so we distributed those. Our next assignment was more challenging: we went to Baruch Houses, a public housing complex near the East River. The building was thirteen stories high, but without power the elevators were not working. So we walked up to the top and then proceeded down floor by floor, door by door, distributing goods and information. We were told by residents that no one from the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) or FEMA had yet visited them, despite the fact that many elderly and infirm residents were unable to descend the stairs and so have been cooped up for five days in the dark now. FEMA has set up food and water distribution points in the neighborhood, but the elderly and handicapped are unable to get downstairs to the street to access those.

The scene near LES's public housing was most distressing. Some residents without running water were filling up jugs of water from a street-side fire hydrant outside, then lugging the water upstairs to their homes. Once in a while we saw U.S. military trucks barrel by, but they never stopped to check in on the public housing residents. Inside the buildings it was dark and cold. Some residents were afraid to go out in the hallways or the stairwell for fear of their safety. We heard some reports of opportunistic crime: of people posing as Con Ed workers and then forcing their way into residents' apartments.

I just read this evening that power has been restored to the Lower East Side/Chinatown. Hopefully that is true. But regardless, I will be heading down to LES again tomorrow morning to see if people still need help. For info on volunteering in the LES, see: https://lowereastside.recovers.org/

I hope that life returns to normal in LES/Chinatown this weekend. But even so, it will be WEEKS before there is any sense of normalcy (or sense of justice) in the hard-hit and ignored Rockaways, or on Staten Island, which despite being hardest hit by Sandy (and suffering the most deaths) was largely ignored by both the media and the government until recently. To help on Staten Island, see: https://statenisland.recovers.org/

Best wishes to everyone.

November 3, 2012, 9:26 AM:
Hester Street, the next morning

November 3, 2012, 10:29 AM:
Helicopters over the harbor. On my way to Staten Island by boat...

November 3, 2012, 11:32 AM:
A gas station full of abandoned cars. New Dorp, Staten Island.

November 3, 2012, 11:38 AM:
Crossroads Church, a storefront church in New Dorp, Staten Island, became an impromptu base camp for donations and volunteers after the storm. It serves the hard-hit shore communities of New Dorp and Midland Beach on Staten Island's eastern shore. When I showed up around noon to help I was told to just head straight down to the shore, grab a shovel or rake, and get working.
They will need hundreds of volunteers everyday for the next few weeks.

November 3, 2012, 11:43 AM:
In a back hallway inside Crossroads Church in New Dorp, Staten Island, volunteers assemble fresh sandwiches and prepare care packages to distribute to residents that have lived without power for five full days. Even worse, some families lost their homes altogether.

November 3, 2012, 11:43 AM:
Inside Crossroads Church in New Dorp, Staten Island, every available space is filled with food donations to be distributed to residents in need. Although it has been five full days since the storm, practically all of New Dorp is still without power, thus many of these families are without heat, hot water, and refrigeration.

November 3, 2012, 11:52 AM:
Waiting for gasoline...

November 3, 2012, 12:00 PM:
A reminder that even those who keep us safe need a helping hand sometimes. An NYPD school safety officer receives a bag of supplies from the donation/distribution center at New Dorp High School on Staten Island. We have to remember that our bus drivers, police officers, and electricians have been working overtime for a week, and they haven't had the luxury to stay home and take care of their own problems such as flooded basements, power outages, or gasoline shortages. They will be the last ones to rebuild after Sandy is long out of the headlines. I have such deep respect for their service.

November 3, 2012, 12:09 PM:
Outside New Dorp High School

November 3, 2012, 12:21 PM:
Debris from a family's overturned life

November 3, 2012, 12:24 PM:
Walking past a house that once was there

November 3, 2012, 12:27 PM:
This family's gate kept out much of the flood debris from Sandy. But it could not keep out the water. Seen along Cedar Grove Avenue in New Dorp, Staten Island.

November 3, 2012, 12:29 PM:
A house ripped completely off of its foundation. A family's personal items scattered across the ground like refuse. What does one do at this point? Think of the family now living in an emergency shelter. How long will it be before they put everything back together again?
Seen in New Dorp Beach, Staten Island.

November 3, 2012, 12:29 PM:
Another house, destroyed

November 3, 2012, 12:30 PM:
The top of a house, now on the ground
 
 November 3, 2012, 12:32 PM:
The house remains, but the insides were put out in the street

 November 3, 2012, 12:33 PM:
 A muddied Elmo doll is a reminder that children once lived in these now-ruined homes. It is sad, but true, that some children died on Staten Island during the height of Sandy's storm, ripped out of their mother's arms.
A perfectly clean and straight campaign sign (that couldn't possibly have survived Sandy's 100 mph winds and 14 foot storm surge) is a reminder that Election Day is just three days away (and someone was obnoxious enough to put a sign right there in this community at this time). These voters, however, have been disenfranchised. Disenfranchisement-by-hurricane, we might call it. For it is an unreasonable burden to ask someone who has lost their home and all their belongings, who sleeps in an emergency shelter and eats donated food, who is burdened with worries over insurance claims and other legal and medical matters, to go to their polling place on Tuesday and cast their vote. Yet Election Day goes on without them.

November 4, 2012, 11:07 AM:
Dispatch from Sandy's aftermath, Day 7: Just want to say that if you live in NYC and were thinking of helping out our Staten Island neighbors in need, but you're not sure about how to get there or what to do, read on. Today, Sunday, is a great day to head over to SI to help out.

Yesterday I took a bus down from Chelsea through the Lower East Side (which is doing better now that they have power) and down to the Battery. Lower Manhattan below Wall Street is still without power. The streets are lined with trucks with labels like "Disaster Preparedness Inc." Water is pumped out of basements and into the streets and the sewers. There are no traffic lights. But the buses go straight to the ferry terminal. The ferry terminal has lights but all the shops are closed. After the 30-minute ferry ride, we arrived at St. George, Staten Island. They have power. So here I could finally buy a coffee! Then I got on the S74 bus headed from the ferry terminal to New Dorp, Staten Island.

The whole journey from Chelsea to New Dorp (on the eastern shore of SI) took about two hours. But it is worth it. Walking east down New Dorp Lane to the ocean, suddenly there was no power. Streetlights are still out. I passed at least two gas stations that were shuttered; cardboard signs read: "No gas! Sorry!" At Hylan Blvd. there was one gas station open, guarded by NYPD personnel. There was a line of forty pedestrians with bright red jugs waiting for gasoline. There was also a line of cars four blocks long waiting for gasoline. Drivers said the wait was well over an hour.

Crossroads Church on New Dorp Lane was bustling with volunteer activity. Inside were piles and piles of food donations, while young women formed a PB&J assembly line in a back corridor of the church making sandwiches for the needy. About 25,000 Staten Islanders are still without power, which means sleeping in 30-40 degree weather at night if they are not sleeping in an emergency shelter. These people need warm clothing, food, water.

Further down the street, towards the ocean, I reached New Dorp High School. This weekend the school's gymnasium has become a huge donation/distribution center for clothing and household goods. Dozens of volunteers sort out clothing donations. A sign outside reads: "We can no longer accept clothing at this time." They have too much. But outside, in the blistering cold at Miller Field, a public park that was completely flooded by Sandy and still smells of salt and is littered with storm debris, another pile of boxes of clothing and goods has formed. People come with empty shopping carts from their damaged homes or from emergency shelters to find dry clothing they can wear. Because they may have lost everything in the flood.

Further down New Dorp Lane, you start to see the buildings missing roofs, missing windows. Flooded basements, then flooded first floors. Families marching in and out of their homes taking out furniture, books, mementos, everything they own, and dumping it on the side of the street. Everything they own is ruined. On Cedar Grove Avenue, along the ocean, there are homes ripped off their foundations, homes with roofs below the level of the first story, homes that look like 100 mph wind ripped through them and the 14 foot storm surge lifted them up and dropped them back down. The NYC Department of Buildings has walked around and posted green, yellow, and red signs on each property indicating whether they are safe, potentially safe, or not at all safe for habitation. Most houses here, or what are left of the houses, have yellow and red signs.

The people of New Dorp and Midland Beach in Staten Island will be rebuilding their lives for weeks, even months. Yesterday hundreds of volunteers from all walks of life helped make sandwiches, sort donations, rake debris, shovel out muck, and help residents move water-damaged furniture out of their homes. If you own a rake or a shovel, bring it. If you have work gloves and work boots, wear them. If you have a car or a bike, that is helpful, too. But I went down there with nothing but my camera, and that is helpful, as well. It is helpful to tell stories, to let people know what's going on down there. Whatever you do, please consider volunteering to help out your fellow New Yorker.

On Staten Island:
https://statenisland.recovers.org/

To keep up with volunteer opportunities all across the city, especially in the hard-hit Rockaways that also need our help:
https://www.facebook.com/OccupySandyReliefNyc


November 4, 2012, 3:31 PM:
As the recovery enters Week 2, one big issue will continue to be housing. The city estimates that 30,000-40,000 residents of public housing have been or need to be evacuated from their buildings and sheltered elsewhere. New York already has over 40,000 long-term homeless, overflowing city shelters and sleeping on the streets. Post-Sandy, NYC has a homeless population of 80,000. We don't even know what the true number is right now...
***

As of October 2013, hundreds are still left homeless from Sandy, and overall the total homeless population in New York City has surpassed 50,000. The immediate crisis is over, but the long emergency continues.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Last Hawaiʻi Research Adventure

Hawaiʻi Research Adventure: Days 32-36

The View from Koko Head, looking east towards Molokaʻi

After driving through Waiʻanae on Day 30, I took a break on Day 31 (Sunday), but then hit the road again one last time, with Constance (my friend's car), to explore one last nook of Oʻahu. Day 32 was Labor Day, so the libraries and archives were all closed. I had been to the Windward Coast, the Leeward Coast, and the North Shore. What was left, then, was to see the southeast corner of Oʻahu, that place between Waikīkī and Kailua, an area that some call Hawaiʻi Kai (named for some nasty-fancy development there), but what I call Koko Head, titled after the large crater that away that is even taller than the more famous Diamond Head!

So I drove out in the morning down the interstate[!] highway past Waikīkī until the highway ended and became a smaller road hugging the coast. In Hawaiʻi Kai I stopped at some yuppy-yuppy coffee shop and sat amongst an almost all-white clientele (keep in mind that white people make up only 20% of Hawaiʻi's population) sipping their lattes, reading their newspapers, and talking about their kids in college back on the mainland. (Yawn.) I was dirty and smelly and felt wonderfully out of place. Had a coffee and an acai bowl. And then hit the road to continue on to Koko Head.

Turns out there is actually a Koko head and a Koko crater. I was interested in the crater. On the way we passed a beach that was empty but the parking lot was simply overflowing with haole and Asian tourists. It's a beautiful beach, but I quickly wanted to get away from the crowds of people.

Beach near Koko Crater

So I kept on driving, eventually arriving mauka (inland) a bit, at the Koko Crater Botanical Garden. The place was basically empty. I wandered slowly and methodically for a few hours through the botanical gardens, especially the Hawaiʻi and Pacific sections, hoping to see plants that were historically important in the nineteenth century, the time period that I study.
A grove of trees indigenous to Hawaiʻi. I forget what they are called, but I remember reading that they have suffered from some disease and are struggling. The wall of the crater, which reaches over 1,000 feet high, is seen in the background. The botanical gardens lie in the bed of this crater.
Naio, or bastard sandalwood. After years of searching for real sandalwood (ʻiliahi) on my trips to Hawaiʻi, it was nice to at least find naio, if not ʻiliahi, in the botanical garden. It is speculated that the first shipment of "sandalwood" from Hawaiʻi to China in the early 1790s was actually naio. The Hong merchants of Guangzhou were not having it, and the onset of Hawaiʻi-China trade was set back a few decades at least partly because of that mishap, perhaps. Certainly naio ended up on ships bound for Guangzhou, and the Cantonese were never too happy about it.

 Flowers of the naio, or bastard sandalwood, plant. Koko Crater Botanical Garden.

After wandering the botanical garden for a few hours, I got back in Constance and drove all the way back to Waikīkī. Why? Well, because it was my last free day in Hawaiʻi for perhaps a very long time, and as much as I dislike Waikīkī, I figured that I deserved a day to relax there. So I went to Kapiʻolani Park, one of the most beautiful beach parks in all of Hawaiʻi. It was crowded, but still relaxing due to the presence of majestic old trees and lots of birds flying around. I grabbed some sushi and brought it to the park for a picnic lunch. Then I laid in the grass and read a book. Finally I took a short dip in the ocean and then I walked to a nearby pub and had a beer! Why not? :)

So that would have been it. My afternoon in Waikīkī. But... I did decide to do something educational, too. I went to the Waikīkī Aquarium

View at the Waikīkī Aquarium

I am not sure what I was hoping to learn at the Aquarium. I feel like I have been to so many between here and California. But it was fun. I wouldn't say that the Waikīkī institution is anything special. But it is decent.
A jellyfish at the Waikīkī Aquarium
A Hawaiian monk seal in captivity, Waikīkī Aquarium

I guess aquariums are really just zoos for aquatic animals. And I never go to zoos, because I am ethically opposed to the idea of zoos. So why go to an aquarium? Well, when I witnessed the sad scene above, of a Hawaiian monk seal in captivity, forced to do tricks and go "on parade" for visiting tourists, I decided that I had to leave. And maybe I will never go back. When I was at Kaʻena Point on the other side of the island two days earlier, there were signs everywhere warning that this was a critical Hawaiian monk seal habitat. If I had seen a seal with my binoculars, I would have been intrigued and filled with a sense of awe and wonder. Seeing a seal in a cage in Waikīkī, however, did not make me feel awe and wonder, except perhaps regarding our unique capacity to dominate over all other species on this Earth. There was a great piece in the New York Times magazine earlier this year about the complex politics of Hawaiian monk seal conservation. I highly recommend reading it. 

And there you have it. The end of my Hawaiʻi Research Adventure. On Days 33-35 I just did more research and especially a lot of writing and editing. I spent almost all my time in the Hamilton Library at the University of Hawaiʻi. Then, on Friday, Day 36, I had to drive Constance to the airport to pick up her rightful owner and hand her back. That evening I got a ride to the airport with both of them and caught a red-eye flight to New York City. That was in early September.

It is now mid-October and I still haven't gone through all my research notes from this adventure. I am just now posting up photographs and trying to reminder all the micro-narratives of my trip. As for the dissertation, I believe that my Hawaiʻi research is done, and if I never return back to Hawaiʻi before finishing my dissertation, I think that that will be okay. I will go back to California in a few weeks to continue the adventure over there, so stay tuned. It will be, perhaps, my last dissertation research trip. That's because the big goal now is just writing and editing the darn thing. Writing up those chapters and editing the ones I've already got is taking up a lot of my time right now, and will continue to throughout the year.

Besides going to California in November, there are no other major trips planned on the horizon. Perhaps that is a good thing. If not earlier, you will next hear from me in Berkeley, California!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Driving through History: Waiʻanae

Hawaiʻi Research Adventure: Days 30-31

I returned from Hawaiʻi about one month ago, but I never finished sharing my photographs and stories. So here it is, in two more posts: the conclusion of my Hawaiʻi Research Adventure.

After driving through history along the windward coast of Oʻahu the previous weekend, on days 30-31 (this weekend) I decided to go in the opposite direction. Once again I had the pleasure of borrowing my friend's car, Constance. (Yes, this car has a name.)

So on a Saturday morning I left Mānoa with Constance and began heading west, or leeward, towards the Waiʻanae coast.

Āliapaʻakai ("Salt Lake"), Honolulu, Oʻahu

First stop, Salt Lake. Formerly known as Āliapaʻakai, this is one of the most important sites in early Hawaiian history—one of the earliest interfaces between Hawaiian production and the global capitalist economy. Here salt was extracted in the early nineteenth century for sale to foreign merchants and empires. If you know about all the furs that were traded across the Pacific Ocean in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, well, all that fur needed salt for its preservation, so that it could be packed onto ships and transported to China. By the turn of the nineteenth century, salt became a hot commodity in Hawaiʻi—really, perhaps, Hawaiʻi's first global commodity, even before sandalwood.

So I had to go see Āliapaʻakai. Today there is an upscale residential community around what is left of the lake. The community is known as Salt Lake. But the lake itself has largely disappeared. I was able to capture the above photograph only by standing on my tippy-toes to look over a chain link fence at what is left of the lake. Instead, much of the lake has been filled in and is a park, and a golf course, and who knows what else. As Hawaiian salt lost its global appeal and marketability, the need to preserve Āliapaʻakai diminished. Unfortunately, one of the most important sites in Hawaiian environmental history is left, then, in a state of near-erasure.

What's left of Āliapaʻakai: a park and a playground, and a little bit of a lake. The rim behind the park is part of the wall of an ancient crater. This crater held the salted water in place, providing a space for its evaporation into crystals. Early observers described Āliapaʻakai as "as white as snow" because of all the salt encrustation.

On my way out of Āliapaʻakai and continuing west towards Waiʻanae, I saw this beautiful kōlea (plover) in a parking lot. These birds had just arrived in Hawaiʻi at the end of an epic migration from Alaska. Some of the birds even migrate as far south as the equator, something I learned when studying the guano islands south of Hawaiʻi. Hawaiian migrant workers there in the mid-nineteenth century noted the kōlea. Well, they were all over Oʻahu in late August this year.
  Welcome back to Hawaiʻi, Kōlea!

Next I drove up to Keaʻiwa Heiau in the hills of ʻAiea ahupuaʻa. Readers may refer back to previous "driving through history" posts for my thoughts on heiau (temples). I arrived at Keaʻiwa Heiau in the rain, so I did not linger very long.
Keaʻiwa Heiau, ʻAiea, Oʻahu

Behind the heiau is a large forest preserve with a 4.5 mile loop trail. I had not yet done any hiking in Oʻahu since arriving two weeks earlier, so I thought this was the perfect opportunity for a hike. The 4.5 mile trail took me about one and a half hours. I hiked at a pretty good clip, except in the heights of the forest where the atmosphere was damp and the trail became muddy mush.
On the ʻAiea Loop Trail, Oʻahu. Note that the land drops off on both sides of the trail here. Pretty cool, if perhaps a bit dangerous.

View of Pearl Harbor and the Pacific Ocean, from the ʻAiea Loop Trail, Oʻahu

One of the most interesting parts of the ʻAiea Loop Trail came at the halfway mark, when I was treated to this scene: Hawaiʻi's Interstate Highway, in the midst of the forest. I have elsewhere remarked on how crazy it is that Hawaiʻi even has an interstate highway—how can this be "interstate"? Does this highway link with any roads in any other state, thousands of miles away? But seeing "the machine in the garden" here after hiking miles into the Oʻahuan forest was a nice reminder that there is no such thing as "wilderness," and that human history is everywhere. I was not only driving through history, but hiking through it, too.

The Machine in the Garden. ʻAiea Loop Trail, Oʻahu

Anyway, the best thing in all of ʻAiea is not the forest, or the heiau, but the manapua. No, seriously, I couldn't help it, but after my 4.5 mile hike, I was so hungry that I needed some food. My guidebook recommended a tourist trap called the Chun Wah Kam Noodle Factory which apparently has the best manapua (a Cantonese-Hawaiian hybrid) in all of Oʻahu. I got a purple sweet potato-filled one, and also a red bean-filled one. Yum!

My manapua breakfast in ʻAiea. Had to take a bite out of each one so that you could see what's inside. :)

And, finally, I was off to Waiʻanae. Some people (and even my guidebook) had warned me about Waiʻanae. It is a very "native" place, they said. Not so friendly to tourists. It is very "local" there. (As I have mentioned before, "local" is such a loaded, heavy word in Hawaiʻi... it can mean a few different things, but "local" certainly excludes haole [white] malihini [newcomers] like me!)

Anyway, as I suspected, these warnings were actually just codewords for saying that Waiʻanae has one of the state's most concentrated indigenous populations, and that a very large percentage of these are poor and working-class Hawaiians. So if I was your standard Waikīkī-going tourist, yes, then perhaps Waiʻanae—with its real people and real world problems—would be a bit off-putting. But I rather find Waikīkī with its fake people and its fake prosperity off-putting, so Waiʻanae was refreshing. There is nothing refreshing or relaxing about poverty, or about Hawaiian history in general, which I was driving through, but the historian in me could not help but recognize that Waiʻanae is full of important moʻolelo—stories to be told—stories that differ from those told in other, more commonly visited parts of Oʻahu.

And then again, some of the moʻolelo here are exactly like the rest of Oʻahu, such as this beach that I found and sat upon for about an hour. There was also a touristy hotel nearby (which I did not photograph). I went for a short swim. The history of tourism was evident here as much as anywhere on Oʻahu.
Makaha Beach, Waiʻanae Coast, Oʻahu
 Makaha Beach, Waiʻanae Coast, Oʻahu

Another note here, looking back at my guidebook of Hawaiʻi, not only does this guidebook seemingly discourage tourists from going to Waiʻanae, but it also grants only a few pages of text to describing Waiʻanae, whereas it gives scores of pages of information on the windward coast of Oʻahu. You can see the ways that race and class influence tourism here. But is it that most affluent tourists seek to avoid majority Hawaiian and/or majority working-class areas? Or is it that the guidebook assumes as much and seeks to steer tourists into more white, affluent parts of the island? Or is that the people of Waiʻanae desire to keep tourists out, and to keep their coast unattractive to tourism and over-development? It may be all of these things. This is certainly a complex issue, although one wishes that the race-based and class-based assumptions implicit in the guidebook were put out into the open and made explicit—so as to lay bare the history, to let tourists know what is and what isn't, rather than allowing malihini to just go on imagining and romanticizing Hawaiʻi as they always do.

Anyway, after my swim, I drove on past Makua Beach—the scene of important anti-colonial actions in the late twentieth century, where Native Hawaiians sought to reclaim areas controlled by the U.S. army and to camp openly on Makua Beach in defiance of the government. I drove on to Kaʻena Point, to the end of the road. And then, where the road ends, there is a footpath to the actual point, the most western edge of Oʻahu, where the seabirds reign.

The view back towards Makua Valley from the Kaʻena Point trailhead
The Kaʻena Point trail follows an old railroad that once went up the Waiʻanae Coast and connected with the North Shore of Oʻahu. It is long gone, but you can see the old railroad ties in the photo above. Now you can't even drive a car between Waiʻanae and the North Coast. Only foot traffic connects these two shores.

 Another view back towards Makua Valley and the Waiʻanae Coast from Kaʻena Point. Here I have just passed through a gated barrier that is meant to keep rats and other predatory animals out of the protected seabird nesting area. I am not sure if this fencing system works, but it is crucial for the survival of seabird chicks that no rats are around to gobble them up.

I had hoped to see seabirds at Kaʻena Point, but I barely saw one or two. I heard some, but I couldn't spot them, even with my binoculars. I guess it was just the season when seabirds are away, but their chicks were still here. Especially shearwater chicks. Their nests are underground. You could see the nests everywhere, and little feathers scattered around here or there, and hear some sounds. But it was really hard to see any of them!

Protected seabird nesting area at Kaʻena Point. View of the North Shore of Oʻahu in the distance.

Then I hiked back to Makua Beach from Kaʻena Point. All in all, today I had walked nearly ten miles! Good exercise for a bookworm, if I must say. It was now nearing sunset. I drove back down to Waiʻanae, the major city on this coast, for dinner which I then ate along the beach at Pokaʻi Bay Beach Park.

At the park is another heiau (temple). This one looked particularly majestic amidst the setting sun. 

Kuʻilioloa Heiau, Kaneʻilio Point, Waiʻanae, Oʻahu
 Heiau stones quarried centuries ago, basking in the light of the setting sun. Kuʻilioloa Heiau, Kaneʻilio Point, Waiʻanae

I had a plate lunch of mahimahi, white rice, and mac salad, and I sat at a picnic table near the heiau, just watching the sunset.
Sunset at Waiʻanae

Sunset at Waiʻanae

After dinner I drove back to Mānoa. The next day I stayed in Mānoa and worked more on my writing. Then, on Monday, because it was Labor Day, all the libraries were closed and I was forced to take another day off from my research! That was the day of my last adventure with Constance across Oʻahu. And that will be the story of my next post.