Wednesday, August 11, 2010
No shoes required!
On one of the tiny Hawaiian Islands lie a place full of soft speckled sand, mouthwatering fruit, and color changing flowers. Kauai is an island where the sounds of a rooster’s crow and waves breaking upon the shore can be heard day or night. It is paradise… And a place where shoes seemed to be an option.
This summer I traveled to the East side – Waipouli Beach Resort in Kapa’a, Kauai and spent most of my time barefoot.
The "no shoes" Hawaiian mentality thrives in the traditions of their culture. Their lives are based outside in the sun: fishing, gathering, swimming and surfing. The enjoyment of plant and animals and magnificent waves would deter any person from the walled confines of a house.
Also the Hawaiian relaxed lifestyle is represented in not wearing shoes. Taking my shoes off that first day after arriving from a 16 hour trip from Boston was amazing. I soaked my sock tan lined feet in the ocean water and took a deep breath in of the fresh tropical air.
Everyday I got a free pedicure by walking on the beach with the sand squishing between my toes and the salt water from the ocean washing it way. Almost any activity didn’t require shoes – surfing or swimming, kayaking, hiking and boating too. Even the performers at the lu’au went shoeless.
The day we went hiking with Catherine, our kayaking and hiking guide, she walked a “Hawaiian mile” – which is more like a mile an a half anywhere else in the United States – without any shoes. She said it was safer. With shoes a person can’t feel where they are stepping and can’t make sure they are stepping down with their whole foot. “Shoes just get in the way,” she said. And recommended we do the same.
On our hike she told us about the Menehune people and how they lived long ago on the islands hidden in the forests. These people who were much smaller than the people today, they could build walls, dams, temples, roads and houses in one day. As we walked by the now destroyed and eroded wall claimed to be built by the Menehune people she said that no one is sure why the people disappeared, but one theory is settlers who came to the Islands forced the Menehune people to build for them. After being forced to use there gifted ability to build things fast they fled underground not to be seen again. However, whenever anything happens such as misplaced keys or socks the Hawaiian people say the Menehune did it and delight in the idea that they still exist by these little acts.
Taking off my shoes in Hawaii was like taking off pounds of stress that had accumulated from being on the hustling and bustling streets of Boston.
And the mentality from having to get things done "yesterday" switched to "tomorrow."