P. Edronkin

The heterodoxy of Hawaii

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Contrarily to common beliefs related to the islands, the original physiognomy of Hawaii was very different to today's popular images, and there are other weird things related to them that only a few know.

Those who have never visited Polynesia and particularly the Hawaiian islands imagine the islands as ripe in animal and vegetal life with lush rainforests and all sorts of bugs, fish, birds and so on. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to visit the Hawaiian islands can confirm that; however, a thousand years ago things were rather different there.

Polynesians were consummate navigators and mariners, capable of sailing thorough vast expanses of water only with the help of the sun and other stars. In such a way, using their catamarans, they were able to settle all across the Polynesian triangle, taking with them everything they needed to survive while at sea and once they arrived to their destinations. They used to sail with pigs, dogs, seeds, plants and a lot of other things that they later used as they arrived to other islands.

It was a wise thing to do, for even if they had to stop in the middle of the way on unintended or unsolicited islands, they still could leave settlers and after a couple of years, enjoy the results of their hard work. In such a way they created stop-overs for their long journeys, increasing the safety of their ventures and the easiness with which they navigated, for the task is always easier if the distances between waypoint are somewhat shorter.

After a while they managed to build a whole network for navigation, with resting points, better references and so on. So believing that they were just primitive illiterates would be quite incorrect indeed: Their feat was eventually to transform whole ecosystems to their advantage, and that's not precisely the work of the ignorant. The Portuguese later used similar techniques to expand their commercial empire thorough the globe (Ver Ships of Adventure, Exploration and Survival).

Hawaii was also the first nation that recognised Argentina as independent, and an Argentine corsair ship, back in the nineteenth century, had a Hawaiian crew.

On the other hand, believing that the Hawaiian islands are a purely tropical scenario would be wrong: Some volcanoes there, like the Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa and Haleakala are thousands of metres high and you can even enjoy a skiing season on top of them. But the existence of those mountains, in fact, spell death to the islands and in geological terms, turn their existence into a mere accident: It has been estimated that eventually, those volcanoes will collapse and take down a good deal of the archipelago with them into the sea. That would create an enormous tsunami capable of wiping out most of what would be left and of course, affect coastal areas located far away of Hawaii.

One of those volcanoes, the Kilauea, is erupting almost uninterruptedly since 1983 and aside from being a tourist attraction, is also one of the biggest contamination sources of the world, filling our atmosphere with various sorts of sulphurous compounds.

All in all, I believe, Hawaii is a place to visit whenever you can, while it lasts.

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