The Garden Island
LIHUE — Wally Rita is the best cuatro player in the state, said Chucky Boy Chock of the Kauai Museum.
“There are some people on Oahu who say they are better, but even the Maui guys said Wally Rita is the best,” Chock said. “I’m not going to debate that. Wally is good!”
The national instrument of Puerto Rico, the cuatro is also what makes kachi kachi music what it is. The sound quickly attracted members of the audience onto the courtyard dance floor Saturday.
Wally Rita y Los Kauaianos anchored the Puerto Rican festival hosted by the Kauai Museum as part of its ‘Ohana Day events celebrating the different cultures that arrived in Hawaii to labor on the plantations.
“We always come to these cultural events,” said Maurice Lardizabal, who was looking for the artifacts in the Puerto Rican display set up at the museum. “Too bad there aren’t that many artifacts and the display is small.”
Chock said as part of their tour to New York to visit with the Hokule‘a, they ran into a Puerto Rican festival which was huge, attracting more than a thousand people.
“They had four booths with pasteles,” he said. “Each one had lines with more than a hundred people. You couldn’t even get in.”
Families had music, and during the parade, there were cars that jumped up and down in time to the music.
Nena Castillo, winner of the 2015 Pasteles Cookoff hosted at the Kauai Veterans Center, crated gandule rice and pasteles for fans Saturday.
“How did it become to be known as ‘gandudy?’” Chock said. “And is it ‘patele,’ or ‘pasteles?’”
Robbi Lynn Contrades, describing herself as “the real Borinque,” said the terminology evolved when people in the plantation camp mingled together.
“Oh, you mean like short-cut,” Chock said. “‘Gandule’ became ‘gandudy,’ and ‘pasteles’ became ‘patele’ because it was easier to say.”
Jane Gray, the Kauai Museum director, asked Charlie Pereira, quietly weaving his fishnet, if he was Puerto Rican.
“My name is Pereira,” the weaver said. “My roots is in Madeira, but my birthday was Wednesday.”