Of Volcanoes and Legends

An experience of a lifetime, here’s the lowdown of my visit to magical Hawaii.

A long, long time ago, when fire-breathing dragons and Gods who controlled the oceans walked this planet, a little girl named Pele (peh leh) had no idea she was going to create a little piece of heaven. Powerful, passionate and capricious; she grew up to become the goddess of fire, lightning, wind, and volcanoes, creating the spectacular islands of Hawaii.

Feeding my need to #wanderlust, I visited these magical islands. It took all of three seconds to realize how much Mañana there was in the air. This feeling could have been influenced by the reference made in the movie ‘Aloha’ that I had just watched on the plane, but it sure did feel like it.

Look at the lustre on that rock!; Photo credit: Riccha Paul

Halema’uma’u Crater by day and night; Photo Credit: Riccha Paul

Aloha #fromwhereIstand

My experience at the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park was unique – my first visit to an active volcano. The Halema’uma’u Crater is located on the active shield volcano Kilauea; one of the five volcanoes that make up the island of Hawaii. It is adjacent to the Mauna Loa, the world’s largest volcano that stands 30,085 feet from base to summit, taller than Mount Everest! My first view of the crater was at night- a bright orange glow bursting out of the earth’s surface in a screen of smoke. It was such a perfectly executed magic trick that I had to crouch down and hold onto the ground because it felt like the earth was going to swallow me whole. It was a reflex that makes no sense in retrospect but felt absolutely natural when it happened!

Ocean charging against the solidified lava cliffs & Aloha #fromwhereIstand ; Photo Credit: Riccha Paul

Preciousss Lava!

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is filled with many wonders. Enchanting trails to hike, magnificent caves, craters with steam vents; all made for an adventurous excursion.

Solidified lava covers a lot of the land- grey in color with a metallic luster. All I wanted to do was take some pieces back and proudly wear them as jewelry.

More than law and order, the legend of Pele’s curse stopped the kleptomaniac in me. It is believed that any individual who takes away something from Hawaii; be it shells, lava rocks, sand, pumice, will experience terrible luck until they return what they stole. Only then will the curse be broken.  Sounds like a grandmother’s tale? I’ve read of people mailing stolen rocks back to escape their misfortunes. Go figure!

A view of the Mauna Ulu trail; Photo Credit: Riccha Paul

Take me back, Curse of Pele!

Now, this may sound like something I made up to prove myself innocent, but I recently found little pieces of lava rocks stuck in the treads of my shoes. Did Pele cross the seven oceans to become a part of my life? Or did she deliberately want to feed my superstitions and plant the seed of another visit? Perched on my chest of drawers, these tiny bits of a legend stare at me every morning. I secretly want to blame any bad luck I experience on them, feeling compelled to return them in person. If only she’d bless me with an all-expense paid trip!

All photos courtesy Riccha Paul | Edited by Dominic D’Cruz