Friday, April 15, 2011

April 14th, South Kona, Hawaii


Okay, now for a little history on the last day before we leave.  I can't go to a place, even one as well known as Hawaii, and not try to learn something new about it.  We're staying just south of Capt Cook, a small coastal town on the west side of the Big Island.  So the history lesson is about the big guy.  And big he was (6'4"), a scottish farm boy raised in Yorkshire.  If his sailing and surveying prowess hadn't been proved in the 1750's and 60's while fighting my french ancestors at the Fortress of Louisbourg and in Quebec during the Seven Years War, he would never have been given command of the HMS Ships Endeavor and Resolution.  Contracted at first by the Royal Society to observe and record the transit of Venus across the Sun in the Pacific, he spent most of his time surveying the coastlines of eastern Australia, New Zealand, and the islands of the Pacific.

His second voyage took him further south to find for the Society a mythical continent beneath Australia.  Sailing eastward under the Cape of Good Hope, staying close to Antarctica, he thoroughly explored the waters south of Australia and New Zealand, but found nothing before continuing east under South America and home to England.

On his last voyage, he made for Tahiti to return a young native who had served as an interpreter for Cook on his second voyage.  But the real reason Cook embarked to the Pacific with dispatch was to try to find the Northwest Passage through Canada.  Upon reaching the western Canadian coast, he found both the Bering Sea and the local natives to be unyielding.  He did, however, map the North American northwest coast for the first time and determined the extent of Alaska.

But it is what happened next which matter to us.  On the way up from Tahiti, Cook became the first European to visit Hawaii.  He sailed into Waimea Harbor on Kauai in January of 1778, and named the archipeligo the "Sandwich Islands" after his sponsor, the fourth Earl of Sandwich.   On his way back home from Alaska, he sailed around the island of Hawaii and into the harbor just north of our beach house.  To his fortune, Hawaiians were celebrating Makahiki, a harvest festival in which the return of a God (Lono) was celebrated, and island circumnavigation was a common practice.  The month-long stay of Cook and his crew must have rocked the cove north of us, and his departure at the end of the ceremony would have been one to witness.  However, the mast on the God's ship broke, and they soon returned to the cove.  Quickly, relations broke down with the locals, and the second departure didn't go as smoothly.  When a group of natives stole a rowboat for its nails, Cook tried to lure a chief to his boat to hold him hostage for the return of the boat.  At the shorebreak, the Chief's wife pleaded for him to stay home, and things got out of hand.  As Cook turned to push his own boat through the surf, a member of the tribe struck him the head and another stabbed him in the back.  Cook was taken, and his death and the disbursement of his body parts has been recorded in many texts of the time.  Hawaiian culture would accept that he was given the burial accorded all Kings, where storage of royalty was treated not unlike our disbursement of bones of Catholic Saints to shrines all over the world.  After a time, some parts were returned to the Ship for a proper sea burial just outside the cove.  An obelisk stands at the Harbor head in memory of Captain Cook.  

We drove Ken and Dianne to the Airport, and then drove down along the coast to the point where in 1819, forty years after Cook's death, a revolt took place after the death of King Kamehameha.  Some in the ruling nobility had had enough of the old ways and the old religion.  The family's separate warrior forces had it out on the lava pictured above, and 300 (including the next King and his mother) are buried in cairns just above the surf.  Before the missionaries arrived to change the lives of Hawaiians, they were making big changes themselves.

There are a few other photos taken today, and they can be seen at: April14th, South Kona, Hawaii

We're flying home tomorrow morning.  Pat will be in her garden on Saturday, and I'm playing in a golf tournament at the Bennett Valley Golf Course.


Gregory and Pat

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