Thursday, May 23, 2013

Day 3 - Hawaii

Passing along Waikiki - the surf is unseasonally big!

Flying over Diamond Head - at 2,500 feet

The open Cessna Caravan cockpit

Flying along the steep and high Molokai Island sea cliffs

Our wings - the Cessna Caravan on Kalaupapa (Molokai Island)

The Kalaupapa Peninsula on Molokai Island - home of the leper colony

Our wheels on Kalaupapa

St Francis Catholic Church on Kalaupapa - the effigy of Mother Marianne Cope (now a Saint) is on the left

A portrait of Father Damian - just before he was diagnosed with Hanson's Disease (leprosy)

St Philomena Catholic Church at Kalawao with our 75year old guide in the centre. This church was founded by Father Damian in 1869

Father Damian's grave (his remains were removed in the 1930's to his home country in Belgium. Now this is a sacred site for all missionaries and Catholics alike - located in Kalawao

Guess who at Kalawao, Molokai Island

The unfortunate souls with leprosy were forced to swim from the ship that brought them here to the beach on the far right. The ship would anchor between the pointy island and the land mass nearby. Many drowned. This was the first settlement for lepers on Molokai before Kalaupapa was firmly established. For those who are interested with the story of lepers on Hawaii, the movie Hawaii (James A Mitchener) and the 2009 Molokai details the sad history of this part of Hawaii. 

We were collected at our hotel at 7am and headed for the light aircraft terminal at Honolulu Airport. Our flight to Molokai Island was in a Cessna (9-seater) Caravan that flew at 5,500 feet all the way to Molokai - a 30 minute flight. On board was an American woman who became one of those obnoxious loud-mouthed tourist who had to share all her experiences with anybody in earshot - we avoided her as much as we can. We landed at the Kalaupapa Airfield and was greeted with our tourist bus - an aged old school bus. To picture this part of the island it is an inaccessible peninsula for lepers back in the 1860's. They were treated badly until the 1940's when a cure was discovered. Apparently there are 13 residents still living there now and the youngest is 64 years old! We met one and you could not see any signs of his disease. It is now called Hanson's Disease and the title "leprosy" is not used today. Our guide was a 75 years old knowledgeable male (his name was Buzz!) and he told us many personal stories that happened on this part of the island. The 13 patients are free to go anywhere they like have their own homes and basically don't want to leave their paradise. The area now is under the control of the National Parks. Kalaupapa and the old nearby colony of Kalawao ( it was moved to a better part of the peninsula away from winds and harsh conditions) was made famous by the Franciscan Catholic Father Damian (also a Saint). He treated lepers with dignity and care until he succumbed with leprosy in 1889 at age 49 years. His unselfish duties was taken over by Mother Marianne Cope who was just canonised recently. Their stories are portraited in the movies "Hawaii" and "Molokai". Overall it was a good experience visiting this island and amazed at the paradise these people endured once the settlement was firmly established. Our Cessna Caravan brought us back to Honolulu at 3:45pm and after dinner we tried to attend another ballroom dancing. Unfortunately only established lessons were offered so we ventured back to Duke's Bar for those great lava flow cocktails. That is all for today. Tomorrow we have another tour - a Small Group O'ahu TV-Movie Location Hummer Tour starting at 1pm for five hours. Cheers

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