It gives me great pleasure to be joined on the blog today by fellow mystery writer and great friend, Laurie Hanan, to tell us about life in Hawaii. Take it away Laurie:
Honolulu, on the island of Oahu, is the United States’ eleventh largest metropolitan area. If you are one of the five million people who visit Hawaii annually, chances are you’ll arrive at Honolulu International airport, one of the busiest airports in the world. And it’s almost a sure bet you’ll stay in Waikiki. You’ll join the throng of tourists on the sidewalks, shop at ABC Stores for sunscreen and one-dollar tee-shirts, enjoy the raucous nightlife, and if you’re lucky you’ll manage to wedge yourself into a vacant spot on the most crowded beach in all of Hawaii. If you want to taste the real Hawaii, you’re going to have to get out of Waikiki and leave the beaten concrete path.
What is the real Hawaii—the one you’ll miss if you stay in Waikiki? It’s many things: canyons, rain forests, beaches, volcanoes, snow-capped mountains. The islands are home to some unusual animals: our state bird—the nene goose, the pueo—an owl unique to our islands, mynah birds, albatross, wild peacocks, fruit bats, wallabies, mongooses, and more. We share our oceans with Hawaiian monk seals, green sea turtles, dolphins, and sharks, to name just a few. In winter, our waters are graced by humpback whales that travel here to give birth.
Our islands, formed by undersea volcanoes, are home to the most isolated population on the face of the earth. We are 2390 miles from California, 3850 miles from Japan, 4900 miles from China, and 5280 miles from the Philippines. We have our own time zone. Hawaii is the widest of all the United States from east to west, home to the world’s most active volcano and the largest cattle ranch in the U.S., the only state where coffee is grown, and the only state with a royal palace and a national anthem.
Probably the most special thing about Hawaii is the people. As a parent, I can think of no greater way to raise my children than as minorities in a place where there is no racial or ethnic majority. Hawaii is an imperfect melting pot where everyone is a minority, providing endless life lessons in getting along.
My family—the dog included—has has two favorite pastimes: surfing and polo. No need to say much about surfing, it speaks for itself. I’ll say a few words about polo in Hawaii. The sport here dates back to the last decades of the nineteenth century, and is intimately intertwined with the culture of the paniolo, the Hawaiian cowboy. Polo was introduced in Hawaii not via America, but from Asia, through an Australian cowboy visiting from India. Colorful, romantic and dramatic, polo is a blending of East, West and Polynesia that defines the best of our culture. My daughter Eliana, age 15, is pictured here with her horse, Kula.
In my Louise Golden mysteries, Almost Paradise and How Far Is Heaven? I try to give the reader a feel for life in Hawaii. The stories are told through the eyes of a mainlander—a woman who came here as an adult and is trying to find her way and be accepted among the local population. The third book in the series, Stairway To Heaven (coming December 2012) will showcase our local polo community. Visit me at the Independent Authors Index for links to my books, my website, my blog, Facebook, and Twitter. http://indaindex.com/laurie-hanan/