Monday, March 21, 2016

Tortuga Lingua #SOL16 Day21

Experiencing diverse cultures and local color rank among my favorite reasons to travel.

The sights and sounds of Polynesia fed my spirit today, reminding me of the myriad people's and flavors of this big blue marble we share. 

In Pocatello we have a growing Polynesian community of Hawaiians, Samoans, Tongans, and other Pacific Islanders. They enrich our community with music, dance, and savory eats. 

Yet we were surprised when we met a bus driver our first day in Hawaii who lived at one time in Idaho. 

As an American living in the 48 continuous states that comprise the mainland, I hadn't thought about the possibility that a state wouldn't look like those I've visited and lived in. Yet Hawaii is a melting pot of Pacific cultures. White people like my husband and me are the minority, and encountering non-English speakers happens frequently. 

We attended a Luau that featured songs and dance of Polonysia. Throughout I thought about my Samoan students, whose culture features fire dancers:
 Although I don't know the Pacific Island languages, I still enjoyed the storytelling conveyed in the songs and dances. I learned about the battle for mountains and the seafaring travels of Polonysian people. I recognized stories and dances I've seen in school assemblies during our celebrations of Polynesian culture.

Earlier I pondered the isolationism promoted among candidates who dot the landscape while on our Atlantis submarine excursion. The sub provided whisper sync narration to guests in a variety of languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, and others. It was a Lingua smorgasbord!

Impressively, our guide spoke numerous languages and often referred to sea life in several. Each time he spotted a sea turtle, he shouted: "Tortuga, Tortuga." Something about the word made the sightings more exotic, more unique.
As we learned about the University of Hawaii's partnership with Atlantis to restore reefs along Waikiki, I thought about how interconnected we all are to one another. 

I sat next to an Asian man, and even though we didn't speak, and even though we had never met, together we shared this experience of diving 120 feet to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, something one tenth of one percent of the population experiences, according to our crew of divers. 

Hawaiians embrace their exotic culture and language, and both pull visitors like myself to this fiftieth state. 

I wonder: What would Hawaii lose, what would the U. S. lose without the multi-vocal Tortuga Lingua of this Polynesian world? 


  1. Enjoy your time in Hawaii. It's a special place to vacation and hike and to celebrate story! There are amazing stories to be heard while you are there!

  2. Enjoy your time in Hawaii. It's a special place to vacation and hike and to celebrate story! There are amazing stories to be heard while you are there!

  3. What great pictures and what a fantastic experience. I have never been to Hawaii but my brother has. He couldn't get over talking about the beauty and culture of where he stayed, Enjoy.

  4. I love it! You are so right. It is our rich diversity that makes us who we are. I am so glad you are enjoying your trip. I knew you would, but it's been fun to read about it.

    1. Thanks, Dana. I really enjoy the island flavor and hearing all the different languages.