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Stepping into the Ancient Valley


Recollections from the Expedition Leader in the Hawaiian Islands

It was early January. Silence overcame the valley as we all waited in anticipation for the return call of the pu (conch shell). The guests were lined up behind our storytellers, Danny and Anna Akaka, and our cultural kapuna Greg Solatorio. The breeze blew through the kukui nut trees, creating little windows of light that danced upon the forest floor. An ancient echo passed through the valley as if to beckon us with its call. We had been invited to step deeper into the valley and enter the hale of the Solatorio family.

Upon our arrival, Danny and Anna represented our group as the givers of the ho`okipa (gifts). The next few moments were truly unforgettable. The sounds of the pu being exchanged back and forth between Danny and Uncle Pilipo were enough to give everyone goosebumps. It was beautiful to hear both Danny and Anna chant in Hawaiian, on behalf of the group, to present the ho`okipa and ask for permission to enter Uncle Pilipo’s property. As Uncle Pilipo responded back, you could feel the mana (the power) that filled the air during this exchange.

Shortly after, we watched Danny, Anna, Greg and Uncle Pilipo all exchange the honi, and then we followed suit. There’s something beautiful in the exchange, the intimacy of touching foreheads and noses to breathe the ha (the breath of life) by simultaneously inhaling through our noses. I love to watch as our guests step outside their comfort zones and immerse themselves in this culture.

Having Danny and Anna present for this particular week in Halawa Valley made for a very special and unique experience. You could see and feel the power and aloha that resonated within them. The entire experience almost brought Uncle Pilipo to tears. He commented on how wonderful it was to have someone wear their own colors and truly represent the culture. We were so fortunate to be present in the valley on this special day.

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