Monday, January 30, 2012

Learning Aloha in Maui

We visited Maui on a winter holiday this year.  Maui is the next island to Hawaii (the big island) in that chain of volcanic islands in the mid Pacific region.  Of course, it was warm and beautiful as described.  Many of the people whom we met greeted us with "alohah", a Hawaiian-language expression which some people explained as a loving hello, a word of compassion, an expression of personal interest in the other. 

We were greeted with alohah by workers in the hotel, by staff in stores, by people in the streets.  You might be thinking that most people don't mean all the richness in the word any more than people want a true answer when they say "how are you?" in our culture.  Maybe.

Maui receives alot of tourists from the mainland USA and from western Canada.  Maybe, using aloha as a greeting to visitors is just another way to create a special tourist identity for the place.

There are no adverstising billboards in Maui or even big signs on box stores to attract customers.  It is considered too disturbing for people who deserve to see their environment as it is.  When plastic bags were picked up by the wind and found all over the island, the government forbade the use of them.  People volunteered to clean up these bags everywhere and beauty was restored.

When we drove slowly up an unfamiliar mountain with many switchbacks, with sky on one side and mountain on the other, no one in the line of cars behind us beeped for us to get moving.  They just waited for us to pull over when a siding appeared.

I came home refreshed in patience, wondering if I can also practice the aloha spirit here in Canada.