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NOWRAMP 2002

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It's not the destination, but the journey!
Laysan Transit
Posted By Bonnie Kahape'a

September 18, 2002

The hot sun shines its light and turns the ocean to colors of blue and green. As we leave our sixth destination behind us, I reflect on the journey thus far. I am humbled by my colleagues. Their revolutionary ideas, leadership styles, humility, and fun-natured need to enjoy each other's company, has made this experience all the richer. We have gone to some of the most wild and rugged places on the planet together. Each day we have become more comfortable and more real with each other. We are learning to move about our day, giving space, standing in silence, laughing uncontrollably, and sharing food, together. We seek each other out, feel the void when one is on a side mission, and thrive on meaningful conversation. As a group of people, kanaka maoli (Native Hawaiians), we talk about saving the world, with passion. Not like ending world hunger, or saving the rainforests in Brazil, but saving our own `aina (land and sea, that which feeds) and teaching our own children! We are discovering our own kuleana (responsibility), not only to this group, but also to our communities back home. Each of our paths' is perhaps long and challenging. We are each here together on this journey for a reason and together we now share a common burden. Where is this experience taking us? What are we going to do when we get home? Rising to the challenge and accepting the kuleana, we are fueled by the stories of our kupuna (ancestors, elders). I am in awe of their accomplishments, of their wisdom, and of their practicality. Only by working together and persevering, can we hope to walk in their footsteps.

The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are ancient. Millions of years older than our island homes, everything is just simply OLD. The weathered stones that remain on the landscape hold the ancient wisdom of our people. They were here. Each step I take is like traveling back into time. Native birds, plants, and animals go about their day like they have been for thousands of years. I joke about it being like National Geographic and the Travel Channel, but that's what it really is! It is so isolated and pristine that at times I question my own footprints in the sand.

At each island, we seek connection to our past. What did our kupuna call this? Did they come here? How did they live with so little resources? At Gardner Pinnacles, a monk seal greeted us. As the Captain studied the swells and planned his approach to the wave swept shore, the monk seal peered at the zodiac. In his large deep eyes, he reflected ancient wisdom, and in a silent voice he called to us…e pae mai, e pae mai!



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