Letters for May 17, 2015
To the rescue
Surfing, snorkeling and biking on the sunny South Shore is the perfect way to spend an afternoon, especially when it’s raining on the North Shore or East Side! As my husband, Bob, was finishing his Mark’s Place lunch, I got my bike ready for a ride.
“HELP, HELP, HELP!” Loud screams and desperate hand waves from a middle-aged woman struggling in the ocean current directly across from Lawai Beach Resort rapidly changed my plans. After alerting Bob, who then ran to get the yellow rescue tube before swimming out (“Mahalo” to Dr. Monty Downs and the “Rescue Tube Foundation”), I noticed a young surfer nearby, walking briskly but calmly along the sidewalk, making her way towards the rocks to launch out to help this distressed snorkeler. Once out in the water, this brave surfer helped this weary tourist onto her board and, with two other swimmers, made their way slowly out of the rip and towards the Beach House where Bob assisted them the rest of the way to the beach. Thankfully, the exhausted but very grateful visitor was fine and needed no medical attention.
With that good deed done, our surfer heroine walked back to her truck amidst the claps and cheers of the tourists on the beach. What a surprise to realize that it was my co-worker, Kieren Pond, a paraprofessional from Hanalei Elementary! And if saving this tourist’s life wasn’t enough, as she drove back north later that evening, she witnessed a two-car accident in front of Long’s Drugs in Kapaa and was the first one, again, to get out and help the victim. Way to go, Kieren! We’re proud and blessed to see the “Aloha Spirit” of Kauai living in and through the beautiful people of this island!
Words from a whale
A few weeks ago I was out on the waters off of Poipu, when a humpback whale surfaced right next to my kayak, exhaling loudly and dousing me in its spray. It sure woke me up! After the initial shock wore off, I could see that it was a female, because she was accompanied by a small calf which was swimming close to her side. She swam slowly, keeping pace with my rowing, occasionally looking up at me. And then I noticed something attached to her pectoral fin. It appeared to be a large piece of paper. I rowed closer. As I approached, she lifted the fin out of the water. I reached over and grabbed the paper. Then she moved away and quietly disappeared beneath the waves.
I could see now that the paper had some writing on it. It was hard to read because it was pretty waterlogged — plus the penmanship wasn’t very good — but here is what it said:
“My name is Anana. I have been coming to Kauai for over 30 years. In fact, I was born here. I bring my kids and grandkids, too. Even my old man comes along. We love it here. The waters are warm and clear and the scenery is lovely. We have a lot of fun visiting with other family members — aunts and uncles, cousins, nephews — and making new acquaintances. We play games — like seeing how high we can jump out of the water, or how long we can hold our breath underwater. And we have singing contests. I wish you could hear them — the songs are just beautiful.
“But, sadly, the waters have changed from the days when I was a young. There are more and more boatloads of tourists. And there’s a lot more marine debris and old fishing gear that we have to watch out for. Sometimes it gets caught up in our fins and flukes and that makes it really difficult to swim or dive. Plus, it’s dangerous for the young ones, who aren’t as strong as we adults. I’ve often wished that you people would learn to pick up after yourselves. We’ve also noticed a lot more noise from your ships. The loudest one is a high-pitched pinging sound — I believe you call it sonar. Boy, it sure makes a racket! Why, we can hear it from hundreds of miles away. It’s literally painful to listen to. It sure would be nice if you moved farther away to make those noises.
“There are over 10,000 of us who visit these islands every year. Some of us come from as far away as Alaska. And we all agree that the National Marine Sanctuary should be extended. It would sure help us and, in turn, would help protect this beautiful paradise so our children and their children could enjoy it forever. We’ve been coming here for millions of years, long before any of you ever set foot on these islands. My parents and grandparents and, before them, their parents and grandparents, and on and on. So, rightfully, this water is our water, not yours. You are really the interloper here and it is you who are fouling the seas, taking its riches and never giving back. Isn’t it time you gave back?”