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Active volcanoes, lava fields and the world's most powerful telescopes: a trip to the island of Hawaii

Welcome to the southernmost point of the United States of America! And don't be told she is in Florida. Key West in Florida is the southernmost point of the continental United States. The southernmost point of the United States is located here on the Big Island, Hawaii. "Voice of America".

It all started with that. Lava flowing from the fault at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, gradually, layer by layer, built this island, the most massive and the youngest of the 137 islands of the Hawaiian archipelago. They call it that: Big Island, or the island of Hawaii.

On this island, not only the weather is constantly changing, but also the landscape. For example, this site was recently surrounded by palm trees, the natural pool of Akhalanui, with water heated by a hot spring. The roads that led to the beach now run into a dead end - a wall of solidified lava that completely covered the pool. But a new beach with black sand appeared nearby, which at the time of our visit was not in any guidebook.

The eruption of Kilauea, the most active volcano in the world, began in 1983 and lasted for three decades. The last massive eruption was here in the spring of 2018. A lava flow destroyed over 700 homes.

“We were 15 meters from the stream when it went,” says a survivor. - Everyone said that it was necessary to get out. You could throw a stone and hit, we were so close. There were branches, trees, cars in the stream. ”

The consequences of the eruption are unpredictable. After the eruption of 2018, part of the crater just sank inside, and with it part of the roads of the Volcanoes National Park.

From May to August 2018, more than 80 thousand earthquakes were recorded in this area. The Halemaumau crater has become about 400 meters deeper. If you look closely, the road that used to go along the edge of the crater ends up nowhere. And where it has survived, you won't go far. At first, it is not at all clear that this is a volcano. Kilauea Crater is 4 kilometers in diameter. The lake of fire Lau once raged here, which struck Mark Twain in the 19th century. Now haze is rising from the crevices in some places and pulling sulfur.

On the subject: History of Russians who moved to Hawaii

They say that it is under this crater that the goddess Pele lives. When she is in a bad mood, an eruption begins. But, apparently, her mood has recently improved, which is very frustrating for visitors to the Volcanoes National Park.

“We don't know when the next eruption will occur,” says National Park public relations specialist Jessica Ferrakein. - It can happen on Kilauea, on Maunalua, on one of two active volcanoes. But this does not mean that there is nothing to see here. We have a whole history of eruptions here, which took place for more than a hundred years. ”

Some visitors collect volcanic pebbles as souvenirs.

“There is such a belief that the goddess Pele curses the stones that are here. This is absolutely not true. First of all, nothing can be taken from the national park - no stones, no twigs, no animals, because you are taking a piece of history for future generations, says Ferrakein. - You do not come to visit, do not open the refrigerator there and do not take what you want. You don't have to do this in the national park either. Some people send stones back out of superstition, but we are trying to convince not to take them in the first place. ”

The most surprising thing is to discover how fragile the lava is. When lava flows out of a crater, its top layer solidifies quite quickly, forming tubes or tunnels through which the lava continues to flow. When the source dries up, these tubes remain hollow and can easily collapse. But on the Big Island, people continue to build houses, including directly on solidified lava. If necessary - on piles.

Just as the Eskimos have dozens of names for different types of snow, Hawaiians have names for different types of lava. Smooth lava, similar to whipped black protein with sugar, is called "pakhoykha". But much less picturesque lava with sharp edges is called "aa". One guidebook joked that the name was invented by the person who tried to be the first to walk along it barefoot.

Photo: video frame YouTube / Voice of America

Rarely where can a person boast that he is older than the land on which he walks. There are many such places on the Big Island. Ferns and the ohea tree are the first to grow on volcanic soil - an unpretentious plant that does not need soil. A beautiful local legend is associated with this tree. It is said that the goddess Pele once met a handsome young hunter named Ohea. She offered him a hand and a heart, and when she was rejected because he was in love with another girl named Lehua, she hastily turned him into an ugly tree. And his girlfriend Lehua cried so much that the gods took pity and turned her into a red flower that blooms on this tree.

According to local legend, if you pick a flower from this tree, it will certainly rain on that day, because heaven will mourn the separation of two lovers.

Another unique phenomenon of Hawaiian flora is giant banyan trees. In order to hold onto the ground, this tree produces hundreds or even thousands of giant roots that grow directly from the branches. It turns out such a tree-grove. A whole street of banyans is named after the celebrities who planted them: one tree was planted in 1934 by 32 US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, another by King George V. There are trees of former President Richard Nixon and famous aviator Amelia Earhart.

To avoid confusion: the youngest state of America is also called Hawaii, but its capital is located on another island of the archipelago, Oahu. There is the infamous Pearl Harbor Bay, which was attacked by the Japanese Air Force, forcing the United States to enter World War II. But on the Big Island, aka the island of Hawaii, was the first capital of Kameamea the Great. Associated with this is a legend suspiciously reminiscent of the story of King Arthur. In the center of Hilo there is a volcanic cobblestone weighing more than 3 tons. It was believed that one who manages to turn this stone over will be able to unite the Hawaiian Islands. And supposedly the future king of the Hawaiian Islands Kameamea turned this stone over when he was only 14 years old.

And in 1810, Kameamea united the seven inhabited islands into one kingdom with strict laws. The list of bans was impressive: for example, men and women could not eat together. Women were not allowed to eat bananas and pork. A terrible crime was to get your shadow inadvertently falling into the shadow of a representative of the local aristocracy. There was a special shelter where the violator of the sacred kapu prohibitions could ask the clergyman for forgiveness of sins and escape from the persecutors. True, for this it was necessary to cross the bay teeming with sharks. Today it is the national historical park Puuhonua o Honaunau.

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One of the reasons for the destruction of the kapu system in Hawaii was the arrival of Cook. It is believed that Captain James Cook was the first European to arrive on these islands. In 1778, he arrived on the island of Kauai. He did not expect to discover these islands at all: he was looking for the northern route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. But when he didn’t find it, a year later he returned to this archipelago, which he called the Sandwich Islands, and landed already here on the Big Island. A misunderstanding complicated by the lack of a common language led to Cook's death. Local residents stole a boat from the team due to metal nails.

“It was a misunderstanding,” says Larry Kimura, professor at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. - He died because of the metal, because the locals then had the hardest material for solidified lava. And one of the minor leaders decided to seize the boat and take it apart. Then Cook went ashore to take the leader of this island hostage, and such things are not done. "

Cook tried to take the local ruler hostage in the hope of getting the boat back. As a result of a brawl, Cook and 4 sailors from the ship were killed. Now the Cook Memorial, erected at the place of his death, is considered an excellent sign for a diving site.

If you felt sorry for the unlucky Cook: as a result of infections introduced by Europeans, from which the locals did not have immunity, by the end of the 18th century, about 300 people remained from the 000 population. When sugar cane was grown here and workers needed hands, in the mid-30th century foreign workers began to come to the islands: Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos, Koreans. Today, Hawaii is the only US state with a predominantly Asian population.

In August 1959, Hawaii became America's 50th state. True, Hawaiian sovereignty activists still meet here. At the same time, not all supporters of the revival of the monarchy are native Hawaiians. Among them are, for example, Woodstock veterans. But some Hawaiian families also believe that Hawaii could exist as an independent state.

By the way, only the indigenous population of the archipelago is called Hawaiians. Even if you were born here, you are simply “kamaaina” - locals (“child of the earth”). Now you can become a kamaain in 10-15 years. The indigenous Hawaiians call themselves “kanaka” - it means “people”.

The Hawaiian Islands are located in the center of the Pacific Volcanic Ring of Fire. For 200 years, four dozen tsunamis have hit Hawaii, almost everywhere you can stumble upon signs warning of evacuation zones. Hilo is called the world capital of the tsunami. But the southwestern region of the island, sunny Kona, is more protected from natural disasters. Ocean waves are the main source of entertainment here.

Surf in English is a surf wave. And surfing was invented right here in Hawaii. In Cajalu, only royalty were allowed to surf, while women were not allowed to ride. But over the years, knowledge has been passed down from generation to generation and now surfing is available to everyone. Children start learning from 3 years old, and in surfer families - from 8-9 months. But, as the founder of the surf school, Captain Rick Green, says, not everyone who comes to Hawaii with the goal of realizing their dreams and starting their own small business succeeds. Most leave after 3 years, bankrupt and losing everything. This is a beautiful place, but the difficulties of doing business, transportation costs are expensive. Many have to work 2-3 jobs just to survive.

Photo: video frame YouTube / Voice of America

Hawaii has its own dialect, and if you try to copy it, you can become the subject of jokes. Here it is called "brother tries." But you will clearly not be judged for trying to show the shaq gesture. It's kind of like showing a thumb up, but Hawaiians add a little bit of their own. So you can say "waved", "aloha", "thank you" - it's all positive.

The Big Island has 10 of the 15 known climatic zones on earth - from tropical heat to frost. Coldest at the top of the White Mountain. They say that this is where the snow goddess Poliachu lives. And also, if you count from the base at the bottom of the ocean, it is the highest mountain in the world, above Everest. At the top is the largest astronomical observatory with 13 impressive telescopes, with which scientists from 11 countries work. The total power of these telescopes is 60 times that of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Among them are the largest optical infrared telescopes in the world and the largest submillimeter telescope in the world. At sunset, telescopes unfold and open for night work.

Photo: video frame YouTube / Voice of America

Using Hawaiian telescopes, unknown moons of Jupiter and Saturn and galaxies that were not previously visible were discovered. From here, a search is being made for exoplanets and asteroids that could put Earth at risk.

Photo: video frame YouTube / Voice of America

One of the major astronomical discoveries with the participation of Hawaiian telescopes occurred in 2019, when scientists first managed to capture a black hole. She was even given the Hawaiian name of Powehi - "an ornamented bottomless source of endless creation."

The Hawaiian language, in the alphabet of which only 12 letters, is one of the most melodic in the world.

Luau - Hawaiian Party
Lanai - veranda
Mahalo - thanks
Aloha - greeting

“Aloha is love. But that's a lot more, ”says a local flower jewelry saleswoman. - This is what you share, what you give. This is the joy you give. It is humility in dealing with other people. ”

“For me, it's empathy,” says Professor Kimura. - Ability to understand situations through empathy. Seeing not with your eyes, but feeling them. This is what is called Aloha. You can say this in a bad situation or, conversely, in a very good one. It could mean “what a nightmare”, but in the travel industry it is more often used as “welcome”.

Real Hawaii is unthinkable without hula - this traditional dance will show you at any self-respecting resort hotel. But the real hula is not danced to the accompaniment of a ukulele, but to the rhythm of percussion instruments made from dried pumpkin. Hula is almost like sign language: every movement in the dance is a symbol.

In Hawaii, flowers are very fond of, everyone knows the famous lei flower necklaces. They can be bought, like bouquets of flowers, for a birthday, for an anniversary, just as a sign that you are happy to see a person. The correct way to part with everything that was given is to bring it back to the earth. Do not throw lei in the trash can. Some people put them in a special place in the yard as an offering.

Yellow hibiscus is the flower of the state of Hawaii. In fact, flowers in Hawaii are also cultural codes. The flower behind the left ear is like a ring on your finger, meaning you have a soul mate. Behind the right ear - means that you are free.

Even if you've never been to Hawaii, you've probably tried poke. Basic poke consists of diced pieces of raw fish marinated and seaweed. “Poke” means “diced”, not necessarily fish, it can be anything. This seemingly inconspicuous Da Poke Shack was named the best restaurant in the United States in 2014 by the recommendation of Yelp users. It was in this restaurant that the so popular poke bowl was invented today, which turned poke from a snack into a full-fledged dish with the addition of a base of rice.

To get to one of the most beautiful valleys in the world - Waipio - you have to take a road with a steep slope. The ride is scary, but it's worth it - the valley is home to one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Hawaii and a lot of secret corners where only locals can take. This valley is called the Valley of the Kings. In ancient times, leaders met here when it was necessary to make important decisions. Once upon a time, tens of thousands of people lived in this valley. in 1946, after the devastating tsunami, Waipio became empty. Now about 50 people live here.

What would you take with you to a desert island? The Polynesians, who arrived here about one and a half thousand years ago from the Marquesas Islands, brought pigs, dogs and taro root. Before that, a lot of beautiful, but little edible, grew on the islands. This root vegetable is also called tropics potatoes or elephant ears for the specific shape of the leaves. Beef, fish, or sweet potatoes are wrapped in leaves and steamed to create a lau-lau. And a viscous, sweetish mass is prepared from the tubers, which is eaten as a side dish or dessert.

For 150 years, sugarcane plantations have been the main source of income on the Big Island. The last cane processing plant closed in 1996. Now Hawaii is making money on tourism, assimilating the state budget thanks to military facilities and exporting macadamia nuts, pineapples and coffee. Hawaii is the only American state where coffee is grown commercially. Kona County coffee is considered one of the finest and most expensive varieties in the world. Coffee trees planted over 100 years ago still grow here.

The Hawaiian Islands are the emerging tops of a massive submarine ridge formed by lava from a hot spot in the mantle of the earth's crust. Puu Loa - Mountain of Long Life - sacred to Hawaiians. People came here to put badges on basalt slabs: people, animals, canoes, circles, spirals.

Over 23 thousand images were discovered on the frozen lava here. These petroglyphs tell about birth, about death, about important events in human life. And since the Pacific plate continues to move, in the distant future, the volcanoes of this island will go out and it will turn into an atoll, and then completely go under water.

But just south of the Big Island in the Pacific Ocean, at a depth of about a kilometer, a new island in the Hawaiian archipelago, Luihi, is already growing. And it will come to the surface in just some 100 thousand years.

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