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Hawaiian Trade Winds

Wouldn't it be nice to take a couple of weeks off and go to Hawaii to warm up? Imagine the shift to your senses. Instead of drinking hot chocolate and smelling wood burning in the fireplace, you're tasting fresh pineapple and feeling sand between your toes. A vacation offers all kinds of opportunities to stimulate the senses. When The Savvy Traveler's Robert Rand visits Hawaii, he feels something special...in the wind.

Hawaiian Trade Winds
by Robert Rand

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Radio: "You are listening to NOAA Weather Radio broadcasting from the National Weather Service Forecast office, Honolulu, Hawaii. Gentle to fresh trades with dry, subtle weather through the beginning of the new work week. In summary, normal weather with sunny afternoons, mild nights, a few trade showers and trade winds keeping things comfortable."


When I first visited Hawaii, I stayed at a hotel with an elevator that opened into the out of doors, right into the burly arms of some pretty vigorous trade winds. Management had posted a placard-sized notice nearby for all guests and residents. It said, "High winds warning. Once again it is that time of year for the high winds. You may experience some difficulty with the elevator doors closing all the way. In the event that this should happen, do not panic."

In Hawaii, the wind has 200 different names. Meet a man who knows just about all of them.

Lake: "My name is John...Lake."

When John Lake was a child on the island of Maui, a hurricane force wind rolled down a mountain towards his home.

Lake: "And as it approached up in the distance from the mountain heights all of a sudden you saw these poles flying in the air and structures flying in the air...and as the winds came towards the house we knew, oh, we crumped under the bed for one thing, because we had seen our neighbor's garage lift up in the air, and when the winds came it didn't do anything to the house. Just rattled the windows."

John Lake says the hurricane winds miraculously parted, like the Red Sea, and gently tip-toed around his house, leaving his home and family safe and sound... but not untouched...for the incident gave John Lake an appreciation for the power and mystery of the winds, and the place they occupy in native Hawaiian philosophy and song:

Lake: "With the winds, as like the forests and the skies and the ocean, each of them become the composite of Hawaiian beliefs that there exists a spiritual force. For all the things that we see around us, such...wind...in our beliefs you personify them, and we give them names. They have personalities."


Lake: "We have an expression, yehayeminokanakanii, the winds are callers. and you can hear the whispering of the winds through the trees, so that becomes a metaphor for...a...silent voice into the dark, as like a lover coming to call upon his special one. Winds can be lovers...it surrounds you. It cools you. It embraces you.

Lake: "We have a chant that goes valakhoulai kulawahney. That's the fierce, hot winds and they can tear up the land very fast and disappear. And in our literature we refer to that as a beware of the wrath of a woman scorned, so you'll feel the wrath or her hot, fiery winds.

Lake: "The personality of the trade winds are the gentle, cool, calming winds, usually gives a balance to the heat of the day in the evening. These are the winds that are gentle and just seem to embrace, pick you up and caress you like a mother would caress a child."

John Lake teaches Hawaiian history, culture, language, music and dance in Honolulu.

This is Robert Rand reporting for The Savvy Traveler.

Savvy Resources for Hawaii:

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