Today was probably the most laid back, lazy day that I can remember in the longest time. I got up at 7 am (Maria had gone, come back, and gone again before I awoke), so I had breakfast, tended to the sunburned thighs, and then just continued to read my book on Kalaupapa. I think I even dozed off again before Maria returned so that we could put together the baskets for the patients at Bingo tonight. Since not everyone wins at Bingo, the general thought was to have something for each one of them.
Once we made the baskets, I went with Maria to the bookstore, where I discovered that they now take credit cards - bring in a little connectivity to the peninsula, and watch commerce take over! We got there just before the bus of tourists arrived. I did small, insignificant damage on the card (a mere $100) and picked up a few things.
It was a breezy day, but again very hot. Walking in the afternoon just about drains you! We got back and everyone was finishing up the food for bingo, and Aunty Erma was back from emergency eye surgery on Oahu. Jessica (Maria's daughter) absconded with one eye patch to bedazzle it, and make Aunty a party eye patch. 😽
We started massing up boxes of donations at around 3, and the guys went over to the hall a little early (McVeigh Hall, a recreational center made for the residents of the peninsula in order to be able to socialize) to clean up. We got in the vehicles and went over a little after four in order to set things up. The tables were loaded with goodies, and Aunty Erma and Aunty Lani also had some cash envelopes made up as well. We took many pictures of the setup, but were reminded some five or so times that we could not take pictures of the patients without their permission. I did remember that from our hike down here in 2006, so my iphone was already tucked away by 5:30 pm.
People were slow to arrive, at 6:15, there was a very small number there, but Aunty Lani kicked things off with a pule to bless dinner, and we were off and running. I loved it that when she was told people were just starting to make their way over to the hall and to just wait five minutes, she said "I don't care," and just kicked things off. You can tell she's pretty high up in the pecking order of the annual visitors to Kalaupapa. We wound up having 3 patients with us this evening, and they all got their baskets and leis, and members of the staff here will drop off the other 4 baskets. The deformities of the Hansen's Disease patients is not as severe as I expected; however, these patients were largely diagnosed after the introduction of sulfadone. But, like their predecessors, Kalaupapa has become their home, and they do not wish to leave. They leave their bones at Kalaupapa.
Geronimo was our dee-jay for the evening, and he interjected levity with the reading of numbers. We were playing bingo until well after 9 pm, and it got to the point where the Aunties were saying that bingo winners should grab three selections from the table!
Finally, the last game of blackout bingo was played, and there were 9 winners! Insane. But as soon as the cash was distributed, all the players disappeared home. We did a thorough, albeit quick, cleanup, and started home. The vans were parked and not running, so a number of us just decided to walk home. Twice I was asked, "Aunty, you wan' ride home?" :) I am feeling my age now, surrounded by these 20 year olds who think I'm ancient! 45 is nothing! I showed them while snorkeling, though, and when I got the shots of the black tips.
The stars over Kalaupapa are magnificent at night. The only place where I can remember them seeming brighter and even more numerous was Kalalau, but this is an awfully close second.
As I was walking home, I could almost feel the presence of other beings around me. And I was certainly stared at by a large number of feral cats. In their eyes you can almost see the knowledge and awareness of the place where they live. Silent, staring, and knowing. I guess I should have gotten chicken skin, instead it was quite peaceful.
And then it was back home to bed, too late for another treat of beer and ice cream, but no matter. I will be getting up with Maria tomorrow in order to go to the ocean view pavilion in the early morning to get some sunrise photographs.