PART II – Napoli Ghetto, Truck with Body Parts & the One Toothed Lady in Red

And the story continues Gangeh.
K, so after we left the Nunziatella we were all emotionally drained and then some. That story will need some censoring before it is printed. So let’s begin with the fact that the Secretary of the Nunziatella himself had advised us about staying on the proper roads in Napoli, and at that moment began explaining that it would be advantageous for us to hide our belongings so that they remain unseen. He continued advising that we should not stick our cameras out of the car to take pictures. OK, so that’s the 5th person who had given us these directions and now we are soooooo glad we listened. So we’re back trying to read the crappy road map and we try to find the autostrade, which means FREEWAY. We go and go and go and can’t find the road, we turn around, go up, come back, switch back and then turn around again. We go towards Vesuvius and somehow miss the on ramp. We figure, no problem right?  We’ll just catch the next on ramp. K remember, we’re still all hema jangs from our 5 hour visit at the Nunziatella with the Commadante et al, uzis….. yes uzis… real ones….. Military garb, jail barbed bars and espionage spies… no joke k, for real. We continued on but we became real silent as we started to see the city go from semi-drab gray to death trap black…. For real k I’m not even exaggerating. As we go deeper into the depths of the ghetto I’m reminded of what a gazelle must feel like when it enters the lair of a hungry lion. In other words, you know you’re in a bad place, you just don’t know how badly. It’s the ghetto and everyone is hungry for action.
K, so we go for some time and finally Alohalani says, “I’m gonna ask for directions.” She pulls over by a truck and I’m pretty sure she’s not looking at what the dude and the truck are doing because all I see is a mean looking buggah selling animal body parts out of the back of his truck… Well, I think they’re animal body parts. I saw lungs, hearts, brains, skins, intestines, snouts, and a whole bunch of other inner parts that I couldn’t immediately identify. “Mi Scuzi, mi scuzi,” Alohalani says to the dude selling body parts out of the back of his truck. He doesn’t hear, but this old lady in red whose passing by heard her pleas for assistance. K, so you guys remember that movie from the eighties called the Goonies? You guys remember the bad guys’ mama? Ok, that’s who this lady looked like. The only thing different from the bad lady on Goonies and this lady in red was that the lady in red had only one tooth. She heard Alohalani and began explaining with a mean irritated voice and along with hula gestures how to get back on the ramp that will head us towards Pompeii. Immediately after her gyrations and explanation she rushes up to my window. Like a deer caught on the road in headlights I was mesmerized. I couldn’t even think to roll up the window quick enough. She sticks her one toothed head into the window so close to me that I could smell her breath. She says to Alohalani in Italian… and I paraphrase… “Get the hell out of here, don’t turn around or come back here, it’s an extremely dangerous place.” The whole time she is talking her eyes are darting back and forth in the car probably checking out what we have in the car but thanks to the advice from everyone we’ve hidden everything. With a grazie we turn around and try not to get sandwiched in between cars. Whoa! We flee out of the ghetto without looking back not once. We drive around Napoli center again for a bit before turning back and relocating the on ramp. Whew! You ever had one of those dreams where you’re being chased and no matter how hard or fast you go you’re not gaining any distance? Yep…. That’s how it was.
After some more time and passing the massive pu’u of Vesuvius we safely make it to Pompeii.
I will continue that story on my next and final posting…..
K den Gangeh….
Kalei Nu’uhiwa
© 2009 Kalei Tsuha

Napoli (Naples)

So, you’ve already heard about our visit into the Nunziatella. Let me tell you about the trip to Napoli and then our departure after.
First, let’s set the background. Picture Spanish Harelm only 50 times more piha and bigger and THAT is Napoli.
Before driving to Napoli we were warned about hiding all of our valuables. We were told to hide our bags so that they were not visible, to put away our jewelry and to keep our cameras tucked in our bags. So we dutifully did as we were told. That’s the reason why none of us have many photos of the place. We get into the city and the place just screams bad juju. Everything is dark and black there. Nothing at all like Rome and even the ruins were tall, black and dreary. We couldn’t find the door locks and panic ran through the car. As soon as we found the button for the door locks we locked the doors and rolled up the windows. We got lost cause the place has terrible signage. We did notice that there were folks with jewelry and cameras walking around so we relaxed a bit and took some photos. Hence the count dracula castle you see in this posting.
Ok. So we finally find a safe place to park our car for three days without it getting ripped off or torn to parts and they kindly take us to the ferry port to get to Capri. We arrived stressed out but relieved that we found the place. So here’s the city from out on the sea as we leave Napoli.IMG_7763IMG_7755

That was our arrival into the city of Napoli. On our departure of Capri Island Kim requested that we find the Nunziatella Military academy which has been around for over 150 years. Kalakaua had sent James Kaneholo Booth to the academy from 1881 – 1884. Kaneholo died there during the Cholera epidemic that wiped out many Italian citizens.
Our drive to Nunziatella was CAAA-RAAAZY! We tried to read the maps however the things we were looking for had been in existence 100 years ago. The hotel that Kaneholo lived in had burned down and then the area it was in had been bombed during WWII. The street names in Napoli central were commemorative names of places that no longer existed. People didn’t know how to get to the Nunziatella. Finally after sending a Kanaenae to Kaneholo for assistance, Alohalani asked me to roll down my window so she could ask the person in the next car for directions. The dude was our saving angel. He said in Italian, “I’ll take you there. Just follow me.” Alohalani followed him like how a fly follows hum-ha. So let me explain something about Italian driving. The lines in the road are arbitrary. Just cause there’s three lanes doesn’t mean you have to stay within them. You are likely to find two or three cars side by side in one lane or driving simply on the line between two lanes. Everybody drives like that, including the cops! K, so we get on a turn about and we lose our angel. No can find him. Then, the next thing we know… Poof! The buggah reappears and is standing in the middle of the road. He again kindly points us in the direction we need to go. Bummers I didn’t get a picture of our savior but he sent us up this narrow single lane sized road where trucks, cars and buses drive. IMG_8223IMG_8224IMG_8226
We find a parking lot that says they are secure and then go to the Nunziatella praying that all our valuables will still be in the car when we return. Please see the other posts regarding the Nunziatella visit. I’ve got photos from within the Nunziatella establishment, but am unsure if we are allowed to post them. We didn’t ask so I’m not gonna do it. Here’s the building from the outside. Notice the HUGE door. Well there’s a small door within that huge double door that a military dude stands guard at. It’s like when you go to get the ‘ono Molokai cinnamon bread at 4 am in the morning from the Kanemitsu bakery’s secret alley door, yeah, li’dat.
Aww shucks. I gotta catch a flight. I’ll continue this story later. Stay tuned for part two of this story which will continue with the Napoli Ghetto, the truck with body parts and the one toothed Lady in Red.
Kalei Nu’uhiwa
(c) 2009 Kalei Tsuha

Translation for Auhea oe e Kaneholo

Translation was added per request.


Auhea oe e Kaneholo e


Na Kalei Nu’uhiwa

Pompeii, 15 Okakopa 2009

O oe o Kaneholo

O Kamakoanokalani

O Kamakawiwoole

E Kaneholo e, auhea oe?

Ke huli aku nei au ia oe e Kaneholo e.

Hoouna ia oe e ka lani Kalakaua

I Italia oe e noho a kupa

E Kaneholo e, auhea oe?

Ma ka poli o Napoli oe i noho ai

Ma ke kula koa o Nunziatella

He cadet i aloha ia e Luigi Cardona

E Kaneholo e, auhea oe?

Holo akula ka mai  ma Italia

Hala akula oe i Napoli

Ma kahi malu i ike ole

E Kaneholo e, auhea oe?

Eia makou ekolu ma Nunziatella

Ua kukala ka leo a noi haahaa e komo ma loko

A ae maila e holo i na holowe

E hoopa i na paia au i hoopa ai

E honi i ke ala o nei hale kahiko

E lohe in a kani o na kamaa cadet

E Kanehole e, auhea oe?

Ua ike makou i na palapala

Ua ike makou i na aoao lenalena

O makou ekolu kou ahaialono

I poina ole i kou moolelo

E Kaneholo e, auhea oe?

Translation as requested…..

You are Kaneholo



Kaneholo, where are you?

I am searching for you oh Kaneholo

You were sent by Kalakaua

To Italy where you lived and became accustomed

Kaneholo, where are you?

In the bosom of Napoli you once resided

At the military school Nunziatella

A cadet loved by his teacher Luigi Cardona

Kaneholo, where are you?

Cholera spread through Italy

You died in Napoli

Buried somewhere unknown to us

Kaneholo, where are you?

Here we three stand at Nunziatella

Heralding a humble voice to enter

Our passage granted to trod in the hallways

To touch the walls that you touched

To smell the smells of this old home

To hear the sounds of the treading cadet shoes

Kaneholo, where are you?

We have seen the documents

We have seen the yellowed pages

We three will be your messengers

So that your story is not forgotten

E Kaneholo e, auhea oe?

(c) 2009 Kalei Tsuha

Nice da lighting

Aloha kakou e kuu mau hoa heluhelu,
It’s 3:20am on the 14th and I cannot sleep. Frick. I’m two days behind on my blog so I thought I’d better write something. Plus, the internet service doesn’t like too many computers on at the same time, so I let the others get their thoughts down first. Let’s see where to begin. We rented a car two days ago. After a painstaking rental process, cause I couldn’t speak Italian and the nice dude couldn’t speak any English (which for me was frustrating ) so I repeated the last word he would say in Italian and he repeated the last word I would say in English. We both caught on to our lack of communication to one another and then mostly smiled and nodded to one another until Alohalani arrived to save the transaction. Yay!
So the moonphase was a Kaloa phase and it was the harbinger for what we were about to experience. Ok, let me preface with I’m sooooooooooo glad Alohalani was driving. Honest. K, we get on the road and go back to where our hotel was that way Alohalani could figure out how to get on the highway. We make our way through a few towns but for some reason the traffic is acting like the Farrington Highway after an accident on a rainy day. Saaaa-loooooow. Huge puo’a clouds, cumulonimbus clouds are building, gathering & huaka’I ‘ana in our direction. They were HUGE. Alora, which I learned means and den in Italian, huge rain drops start falling
I’m watching the weather and it’s blowing. I say to the girls, Titas don’t eat too much for lunch. Don’t eat anything acidic. It’s gonna be a rough ride on the sea. We finally get on to the freeway then zooom off we go back to where we started. I don’t know how it happened but it did. We continue on passing grape orchards, plowed fields, and country. We make a pit stop at a side road rest stop to get some lunch and go lua. We eat in the car and then zoooooooom off we go again.. We make a fast stop at a little town called Sperlunga. It had quaint homes built up on a steep limestone cliff. Think of the movie Mama Mia and that’s kind of how this little seaport looked. Now I’m watching the ocean and it’s rough. Not Alenuihaha rough, more like Pailolo after noon rough. The wind is blowing hard too. I say to Alohalani, “eh we better go I don’t know how it works over here but if it’s rough water maybe the ferry not going across.” So off we go again abandoning any ideas of stopping along the way.
K, so we go for a long while and just outside of Napoli (Naples) the lunch is kicking in and our driver is getting exhausted. So we turn off the road by a sign that says Magic World, k but we turn one road ahead into the service entry…. K, now start playing the Twilight song….doo-ri-do-da… doo-ri-do-da… doo-ri-do-da… doo-ri-do-da… Freaky ass rides with clown faces… I hate clowns… other disjointed colored rides and rusted lights and freaky blue Alladin Genies on crack. Spooooooooky! The road gets all strange and we notice two other tourists are following us. We go out at the entrance and emerge into… ok wait.. you guys gotta change the song in your head now to the banjo theme song for Deliverance….daga dang dang dang dang dang dang dang.. Yep, some town with statue dogs on one corner, live man eating ones on the next, I’m thinking Kentucky and then the road goes into ruins and landscape that reminded me of the Kawainui backroad to the dump. The road gets stranger and stranger. We make a U turn and go back to the deliverance town and know we have to get back on the freeway. We cross a bridge and then BAM going back to Roma. Aaaagghhh! At a gas station we go and then nice people point us into the right direction than off to Napoli we go. K, I’ll let the other ladies tell you that story.
Now we’re on Capri Island pronounced Cap-ree like in Capricorn not Kah-pree like in pants. I guess used to have goats on the island before cause that’s what it means. Anyway, it’s the lifestyles for the rich and famous over here. It’s lovely, think Kahala on roids or a steep crowded Kapalua. People cannot quite place our group. I just ignore the stares. Anyway, we’re staying at a lovely B&B and we’ve got a great view of Visuvius, which I’m silently kanaenae aku. The buggah is still alive Gangeh. The water here is blue, blue, blue. Think Keanakeiki only somebody when drop some blue dye in the water and that’s what it looks like. The ‘ili’ili are white from the marbleized limestone and so the blue from the ocean is azure blue, blue, blue. We walked all over yesterday and swam in the cold water (actually I just waded). The sea is cold (like Hakioawa on closing makahiki when we got to go hi’uwai before dawn), has a different smell and is extremely salty. What I like the most is the nehe ‘ana I ke kai. The marbleized ‘ili’ili make a lovely sound when the waves come in and out. It was a nice pit stop. We had lunch and then caught the bus back up to the town. More exploring, cappuccino in the square, decadent box of candy and more stares from the rich and famous. The best part for me was a visit to a sandal shop we went to that had a lovely sandal maker and his wife who had sandals made for Jackie O herself and others. His father-in-law owned the shop and now he, his wife and looks like granddaughter are still making sandals. All in all a good day of exploring. The only problem is that I lost half of my photos when I was downloading. I only have the trek down. Bummers. Oh well.
Today, when the ladies wake up, we will do more exploration and than it’s off to Pompeii. K den Gangeh… Spock you bumbye.
Kalei Nu’uhiwa © 2009 Kalei Tsuha

Father Damien

Aloha kakou e ku’u mau hoa heluhelu.
Greetings all my reading friends who’ve joined us on our excursion to lands unknown and unseen. Lands beyond Kahikiku, touching the skies of Kahikikepapalani. Yesterday was the canonization of Father Damien. The experience ended up being…..well…. I don’t know where to begin. There were so many experiences, observations, emotions, reflections. I ask you, how does one standing under a beautiful star filled sky describe just one twinkling star? It’s too grand…. And I suppose that’s how yesterday was too. Simply grand. So maybe let me start with my own family story.
When I decided to go on this trip I happened to be talking with my mom about the canonization of Father Damien and then this new thing called blogging. I told her that a blog is like writing articles only online. I told her about the Ku Makou E Hele Nei piece that I had written and how we were going to write about our Italian and Greek trip as well. We ended our conversation there, uneventful. Well, that evening she called me back and said, “You know. I remember your father talking about a letter. It had something to do with his uncle who died at Kalaupapa. I think it was a letter to his grandmother.” “Whoah, really?” I replied thinking how coincidental her recollection was as I did make a statement in the Ku Makou piece stating that every single Hawaiian family has been affected and impacted negatively by leprosy. I didn’t intend on researching or finding out about my own Hawaiian family, but now I know mine was as well. You know? Every Hawaiian sort of knows about the history of leprosy and since it was so painful and negative we try and forget about it. It seems that my generation sort of isn’t in touch with the story. Well… maybe I’m being too general and should just say that I hadn’t known my own story intimately.
The next morning my mom calls and says, “I found the letter. You want it?” Whoah! All these thoughts ran through my head. Of course I wanted to see it. My father had placed the letter in a ziplock bag and tucked it in a book. My great grandmother had raised my father for a significant chunk of his youth and this letter probably was kept as one hides a keepsake from others. So the next time I returned home to Maui, I visited my parents and they gave me the letter. It was a lovely hand written letter in a beautifully embossed envelope. The envelope simply said in the upper left hand corner; From Mamie Apiki, Kalaupapa, Molokai.

letter from kalaupapa
letter from kalaupapa

I gingerly opened the letter and began reading it. The letter writer was a woman named Mamie Apiki and she called my grandmother “Aunty,” as is customary in Hawai’i. What surprised me the most is that the letter was dated Oct. 1, 1941. Two things popped in my head about the date. The first and most immediate was that Oct 1 was going to be the day that I was flying to Rome for my trip. The second was, “1941? That’s not very far from today.” And then I remembered that people are still separated from the world on Kalaupapa. The letter returned $90 to my great grandmother which belonged to her son, John Nu’uhiwa. We are unsure if he had been inflicted with ma’ika’awale or if he had gone over with a friend of family member. My father said that his grandaunt had also been sent to Kalawao. So we are unsure if he had gone with her or if he had been sent there as well. The letter explained that he had left the compound to go fishing for the community and was found a few days later on the beach by another fisherman. A Rev. Alice Kahakuoluna had conducted the services for him and a Mr. Anderson was going to send the ashes and his personal belongings to my great grandmother.

The letter
The letter

Later I was sitting in Kona with Aunty Kalani Hamm who is a genealogy researcher. I told her about my trip and the letter. She told me about her family members and that she’d visit her family members in Kalaupapa every summer until 1976 when the last member died. She said to me, “You are going to this canonization as a pilgrimage on behalf of your grand uncle. Father Damien represents the sacrifice that we have all made. You stand before the Pope for the victory we will experience at Father Damien’s sainthood. You go on behalf of my family as well.”
These thoughts were swimming around in my head when we went to the ceremony yesterday. I am sitting here again wondering how I’m going to describe the experience of the canonization. Again it’s like describing a single star on the huge black tapestry in the evening sky. It was sensory overload. I didn’t expect to have any feelings about the catholic ceremony, but interestingly since I was raised in a catholic family all the rituals came back instantly. They spoke Latin, but I knew what was going on, when to stand, when to sit, when to respond. I did get choked up a bit a few times. Mostly because I saw similarities in some of our Hawaiian religious ceremonies, i.e. kaku’ai, hulahula & lupalupa, and the catholic ones. The blessing of water, the need for fire, the kinolau of iesu, and the mele kahoahoa that happens. The only difference is the bling and the angelic voices. The singing by the way was extremely moving. People from all over the world converged in the Vatican. Five individuals were being canonized. Four men and one woman. The other four were from spanish countries. Father Damien, however, had the biggest following. I visited the vatican the week previously and didn’t find any religion or spirituality, but yesterday I saw it, felt it, and heard it. So I will attach photos instead and you guys decide what you feel about. Sensory overload Gangeh. IMG_7094IMG_7130IMG_7140IMG_7207IMG_7349IMG_7071IMG_7089IMG_7237IMG_7441IMG_7379 I took hundreds of photos. Father Damien became Saint Damien. People from France, Belgium, Poland, Hawai’i, Moloka’i & Italy were all fans of Damien. He became the patron saint of Lepers, HIV/AIDS, diseases that separate the inflicted from the others & the State of Hawai’i right before our eyes. I got choked up again when the Pope came out and spoke ten different languages addressing all of the different countries who came to witness the event. As he spoke each language the crowd spoken to would wave their flags and cheer. It was very colorful. You know. I’m saddened by the fact that I cannot articulate the event properly to you all. Just imagine a clear bright blue sky, encircled pillared walls, bright colored flags of all kinds, priests of all kinds, nuns of all kinds, brothers & fraternities of all kinds, and people of all kinds. Everyone came to participate in one way or the other. Everyone was joyous. Everyone was kind. Everyone had embarked upon their own pilgrimage for whomever they represented. When it was over the bells began to ring and the throngs of people stood on chairs, waved their flags, and sang or cheered. You couldn’t help but get caught up in the fervor. I think my family members who lived and died at Kalawao are joyous that I made the pilgrimage on their behalf. I think those who perished upon the shores of Kalaupapa may feel some sort of atonement. Maybe not about the Provisional Government who forced them to be there, but for the sacrifices they were all forced to make.
Again I feel that I have done a poor job articulating everything. Just email comments and I will be more than happy to respond accordingly.
Eventually I’m going to upload all the photos on our website. I’ve got some up already from previous days.

Ciao Gangeh!
Kalei Nuuhiwa
(c) 2009 Kalei Tsuha

Wai – Water to flow

Our waiter, GINO, who took good care of us at lunch.
We promised to write about him in our blog. So GINO – lei è magnifico!

Howzit Gangeh, it’s all about Water to flow today and then a photo of our waiter who wanted to see his picture online. Which by the way was the bestest restaurant I’ve been to with food that was soooooooo ‘ono and orgasmic. Oh sorry…. Off the subject. K, change channel and back to the blog. Makaukau? ‘Ae… Holo.

He ui, he ninau…. E ui aku ana au ia ‘oe…. aia i hea ka wai a Voltumus? A query, a question. I’m imploring you, where is the water of Voltumus. Voltumus is a small river, but is also a Roman god of water. Included is a photo of the Tiber river and the thunder storm clouds that remained after the major morning storm.
Then there are the four water goddesses or nymphs. They are the mo’o. They are the keepers of water prophesy and childbirth. They are called the Camenae. These mo’o were goddesses of springs, wells and fountains. They were also affiliated with Venus and could foretell the future by reading signs or patterns found in water.
The first mo’o was named Carmenta. She was whom pregnant women prayed to for a smooth, flowing childbirth. She could also read signs in water & clouds.
The next one’s name is Egeria. She was first the second wife and counselor of the second King of Rome Named Numa Pompilius. She is the mo’o of wisdom that flows like water and was the goddess one prayed to for simple libations of water of milk (nursing mothers). The next two goddesses of water are Porrima who was in charge of a child born head first during labor. Postvorta was the one in charge if the child was born feet first. They also could read prophesies seen in patterns reflected on water. Postvorta was also in charge of time that flows in the past.
Water is truly the sign of a country’s wealth. Rome’s ancient aqueducts still flow fresh and clean enough for folks to drink straight from flowing fountains. These fountains are located in various locations and all one needs to do is bring an empty bottle and fill them up at these constant flowing fountains. The water comes out cold and tastes like mineral water that folks pay big bucks to get at fancy stores and restaurants. The fountain water is free in Rome and to me displays the wealth this city has to offer. Ok. That’s my short story for today. Tomorrow we go to the canonization. I will write about my family’s Kalaupapa story and about the pilgrimage I made to witness this event on behalf of those members who once called Kalaupapa their home.
Ciao Gangeh.
Kalei Nuuhiwa
(c) 2009 Kalei Tsuha

Lono has arrived

Good morning Gang. It’s 8:35am and I’m up sipping a cappuccino. I’ve been up for about three hours listening to the thunder and the heavy patter of rain on the cobblestone streets. The thunder here sounds different. The storm is happening way high up in the sky. It sounds like a sheet of metal being wobbled around as if the golden wings of Roman gods are fluttering viciously about. So, it has a metallic sound to it. Our thunder sounds like Kane and Lono themselves are picking up huge boulders and rolling them from one side of the heavens to the next as if they’re playing ‘ulumaika upon their celestial field.

The lightning is different too. Purple greenish flashes streak in cobweb patterns, flashing against a charcoal yellow tinged sky. The air has changed too. It went from a hot sultry summer evening into a crisp cool fall day literally overnight. The rain has different patterns here too. It falls at an angle to the left and then switches to the right. When it hits the ground, water fills into the spaces between the cobble stones creating glistening diamond shapes which quickly turn into a flowing torrential stream. The storm has washed the streets of all the debris left by the current Roman civilization. Even the smells have changed. You know how rain smells when it falls on asphalt differs from the way it smells in a rain forest or at the beach or on freshly cut grass? That’s what happened here. So now Rome doesn’t smell like motorinos, petrol powered smart cars, cigarettes and laundry soap (from the laundry mat on the corner). It now smells like crisp air, fragrant leaves and wet stone walls. I tried to take pictures this morning of the storm, but don’t know how to take no light photos of rain against a dark morning sky. Than I decide that it’s probably better for me to just enjoy the moment than to try and capture it through the lens. And, probably better for you, my hoa heluhelu, to have to conjure up the images yourself through these words.
Ok Gangeh. The rain has changed our plans for today. I think it’ll be a day of museums…..
Will let you know on the next ha’i mo’olelo ‘ana…… Ciao Gangeh!
Kalei Nu’uhiwa
(c) 2009 Kalei Tsuha

Bocca della Verita

Today was another adventure with the motorino. Check these photos out. I seemed to understand the motorino rules better now. You’re allowed to weave in and out of the traffic and even get away with driving on the wrong side of the road, which these photos will show. It seems that there is a hierarchy with traffic movement. First are the pedestrians, then the bikes, then the motorinos, then the motorcycles, and then any motor vehicle with doors. Buses are the last on the list and taxi drivers behave with motorino rules. If there is space for you to move in you are allowed to go there and don’t be surprised if five others follow you. In Hawai’i, we’d definitely punch a few guys in the throat if someone behaved thusly…. Eh there’s another word I never thought I’d write in a sentence too.

Ok. We first went to the Bocca della Verita which is a marbled flatten disk that was once a fountain. It is rumored to be the mouth of truth and if one sticks their hand into the mouth and answers a question with a lie, the mouth will bite your arm off. The church that houses this marvel is the church of St. Valentine. People flock by the hundreds to stand in line and take their turn with sticking their hand in the mouth. The church puts a collection box out front. When you’re done you are ushered through the church and then out another door. We pass Palatine hill and then head toward the Piazza del Popolo. That’s Pope-a-low. I made the mistake of calling it popolo like well… popolo. But it isn’t.
We have lunch at Ana’s. I try some lemon sauced veal, grilled vegetables, grilled squid cabbage(radicchio) stuffed with prosciutto and for dessert, mozzarella bufalo and prosciutto.
We just got back tonight from walking around the Center in the evening. Like a woman who dresses up in the evening with cocktail dress, fancy shoes and make up, so too do the streets and land features in Roma. Everything changes its appearance. So we went to some of the fountains, the pantheon and other landmarks to see the change with our own eyes. The cab driver who takes us back to our B&B didn’t know much about the world beyond Rome, but knew intimate stories about his homeland. According to Alohalani, his description of the historical evening decorations of the Basilica was very sweet and picturesque.
Well…. That’s all I have to report for this evening. I’m going to bed as we will be catching a train to meet Kim at the airport.
Ciao kakou!
Kalei Nu’uhiwa
(c) 2009

Early Morning

It’s the “early” morning quiet that woke me this morning. I guess I’ve finally entered officially into Roman time. I have brought my computer and camera outside to dutifully write my blog entry, which by the way happens to be one day late. Sorry.

I also made my first Italian coffee with steamed milk foam. My daughter who used to work at Starbucks would be proud of me. The sounds of people getting ready for a new day begin. Pigeons are cooing, wings are flapping and seagulls are already squawking, complaining as they pass high over my head. The sounds of traffic have just begun too. It’s the eighth and I’m sitting outside on the lanai where Alohalani wrote about the evening sky. I too cannot help but write about the beautiful sky. The ‘Olekukahi moon is setting in the west. Hokulei, Capella, is at my zenith. It seems so odd to see Hokupa, or Auriga directly above my head. A big bright orange planet is also next to the twins and I cannot immediately place it. It’s probably Mars, but I am unsure. Kekaomakali’i is also directly above me and their orientation seems almost upside down as I am high north from the equator. Nanamua & Nanahope are prominent in the sky and I understand why they were important ancient gods to the Romans. These are my gods too and old familiar friends. I also notice that stars don’t twinkle here so you cannot tell which are planets and which are stars. These old familiar friends, out of place in the lewa make me miss home. If I were home right now in Hilo I’d be watching some random show on the TV, listening to the rain on the roof and researching one thing or the other about ancient days and history of Hawai’i. Funny how I’m doing exactly the same thing here on my “vacation,” no? The only difference is that I’m writing about my experiences in the present while walking through courtyards, castles, halls and walls of someone else’s ancient past. You cannot fall too far away from the tree, I suppose, no matter how far you uproot your tree. Ha! Ok, enough with the profundity.

Yesterday we spent a good chunk of the morning at Castel Sant’ Angelo. Most may recall this fortress as one of the main locations for the story Angels and Demons. If you have ever seen or read a story where castles, dragons, nights and fair maidens were involved, this place would’ve been the epitome of your imagination. There’s a deep moat surrounding the foundation of the hill, which I’ve learned is actually a manmade hill. The Tiber river fronts the castle’s angel bedecked bridge and the entire building is surrounded with a steep impending wall full of nooks, crannies and purposefully angled windows to drop hot oil, shoot guns or levy canon balls the size of basketballs at any enemy. It’s a perfect place to conjure up all those stories you may’ve read about ancient battles. But wait a minute, what am I thinking?…. Those stories actually did transpire here. Firstly, Castel Sant’ Angelo was once the tomb of a Roman emperor named Hadrian. I think he had the building constructed to be his and his family’s tomb. He had the entire place decorated with statues of angels and on the top of the roof where the archangel Michael currently stands, was a huge bronze sculpture of a four horse drawn chariot called a quadriga. Hadrian also commissioned the construction of the bridge with all the angels as well. I’m pretty sure the angels were not holding all the implements of the passion of Christ at its construction as Christianity wasn’t quite big yet when Hadrian was still alive. My feeling is that those additional elements had been added later. The model seen in the picture above is what some ancient texts and drawings have illustrated about the place. It sort of looks like a huge birthday cake.

My understanding is that the place later becomes a tomb or mausoleum for many other emperors and aristocrats of the Roman empire until a dude named Caracalla. Sounds like he was not too favored either. Urns that held the ashes of these important folks had been kept in the center of the building now called the Treasury.
Some 400 years after Hadrian the place is recycled and turned into a military fortress. However at the fall of the Roman empire the infamous Visigoths burn the place down. Then the Catholics came into power and turned the place into a Papal fortress. At some point Popes utilize the place as a safe residence and like the story of Angels & Demons explains, had an underground passageway built between the Basilica and the castle. Raphael, Michelangelo’s apprentice, sculpts a marble statue of Saint Michael with a sword representing the triumph over the plague. The place later becomes a prison and is now a background where operas and stories are often told. Hence the opera Tosca and now the story  Angels and Demons which we seem to be very familiar with. By the way, the folks here were in an uproar over the book and the movie.
What does the place look like? Everything you’d imagine a castlewould with a bridge, circular hallways large enough for three men on horseback to ride and ramparts…. hey there’s a word I never thought I’d ever use in a sentence…. filled with canons, cannon balls and a huge ass crossbow the size of a Toyota truck. From the very top of the castle my mind goes into creativity at its best. I can imagine the trebuchets launching fiery boulders from across the Tiber river, large horse drawn wagons with mangonels and battle rams attempting to bash their way into the fortress. I see crossbows being launched, hear sounds of blades being unsheathed steel upon steel, feel the vibrations of the fired boulders hitting the walls and of course the horrific sounds of men & women in battle. Sort of invigorating. Then I’m brought right back to where I am today as the saxophone player for the MTV concert of Michael Buble is practicing discordantly on the other side of the castle. Shucks. What’s at the top of the castle you’re asking? A bar. What about under the huge angel? Tourists. Present company included.
Got a good workout from walking up all the stairs too.

We reluctantly leave the castle and then set off on the motorino to go find a shoe store  we saw the day previously that had some gorgeous shoes Alohalani wanted. Good thing I’m not a navigator cause I couln’t find my way back to that damn store. However we did find another store that provided lovely shoes for Alohalani. K, I did think about getting a pair for myself but let’s be real Gangeh. I’m as kanak as they get, hate closed toed shoes and love Italian sandals & slippers. No more any sandals right now cause it’s fall going into winter which means only a coocoo bird or a tourist would be wanting open toed shoes right now. Ahhhhh.
E Kalani & Aunty Pua, I had the best glass of Brunello today for lunch with a parmesan cheese/tomato/arugula pizza for antipasti then a plate of straccetti (strah-chet-ee) for the main meal. I nevah know that the food was going be so ‘ono and the plates would have so much of it in one serving. Haven’t eaten dinner for two days straight now due to the huge lunches I’ve been engorging myself on. No biggie though. I’ll go back on my diet when I go home.
K, well. I’m supposed say something about myself in these blogs by the request of some of you. So let me say that I came to Rome because it was a happy birthday wish of my friend. I had no idea that I would be standing before many buildings that Kalakaua himself stood before, thinking about how he was contemplating over the appearance of his own palace. I had no idea that I would be searching for fire and water in different lands.  I had no idea that I would be thinking about how Kalakaua stood before sacred sites in Hawai’i & Rome contemplating about the future of his people and that I would also be standing before the very same sites some 220 years later contemplating the same things.  I often find myself contemplating how my ancestors constructed the ones at home and also contemplating how I will save those same sacred

places. For me, time runs simultaneously. We talk about the past, are moving towards the future while standing in the immediate present. So when I come to Rome and see the many civilizations that have risen, fallen and risen again as something else but in the same shell not too far from their predecessors, I know that Hawaiians can do the same. I can appreciate many things but only through the eyes of a Hawaiian scholar who knows her culture well. Yep…. Same stars above my head….. Same stars indeed.

K den Gangeh….. Lataz….
Kalei Nu’uhiwa
(c) 2009