Posted by: Waheeda Harris | April 16, 2014

Learning my Hawaiian – kai

It’s no surprise to me that these islands, located far from any major land mass in the middle of Pacific Ocean, came up with a way to play in the big waves on their shores he’e nalu (to ride the waves) or what we now call surfing.

Maui - caught the wave at Makena

Surfing is fun and serious business in Hawaii – its something that everyone can learn, but its also a way to connect with kai (salt water) in the most intimate way.

Although the stereotype of surfers are those who seem slightly stupid or just to fixated on the movement of ocean water, in reality their knowledge is deep – they understand wind and waves, tides and storms. They spend so much time in the salt water, they can feel its changes – whether its temperature or what can be found in the water.

surfer heading back in, Waikiki Beach, Oahu Hawaii

Life on a surfboard is very different – it means getting up early to greet the rising sun and the changing tides to catch a wave. It means to be aware of others around you, to insure that everyone has their spaces and yet also their chance to get up and ride the wave.

Maui - Makena beach collage

And when things go wrong, like when the waves broke this surfer’s board, it shows the power that kai (salt water) has over all of us. Like Mother Nature, the natural forces are bigger than we think.

Seeing surfers is a part of any Hawaiian experience, but understanding the power of kai, is the first step in understanding life on these islands.

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