Shamefully, after nearly three decades of Hawaii Island residence, last night marked my first visit to Uncle Robert’s celebrated Wednesday night extravaganza. My immediate reaction: I’m going again next Wednesday! The urge to revisit is prompted primarily because I discovered Lebanese food for sale after I’d already ordered something else – I’m a fool for baba ghanoush – and also because the delectable vegan ice cream folks from Pahoa, Nicoco, have a stand there, too. But I also want to go again because next week I’ll include time for a hike to the nearby (relatively) new black sand beach, because the market is a visual delight, and because soon I’m leaving Hawaii for a bit and want to absorb what I can.
A few weeks ago, I said aloha to my privately-situated, day-time quiet, but cold and rainy Volcano home and am now ‘camping in a house’ near the ocean, where it is very not cold. Here I can wear shorts, sleep without layers of clothing and blankets, and listen to the waves break on the nearby cliffs. It is altogether different from my former home. I like it. Very much.
But back to the Night Market. Besides an amazing variety of fruit for sale, I found the expected Lower Puna merch: tie-dye, herbal remedies, and unbreakable smoking pipes. There were fairly lights and countless vegan options, but oddly no patchouli, perhaps a happy result of all the novelty soap available.
Central to the event is live music, complete with Dancing Nancys (no relation). In the crowd, there were many languages spoken and a respectable representation of human body types swaying to the music. Some people wandered happily in their leather kilts or with feathers and sparkles in their hair; there was a huge assortment of food for sale. It got crowded with both ‘local’ people who seemed very happy and out-of-towners who stared bug-eyed at the spectacle before them. I captured some of it with my camera, but the photos don’t do it justice, of course.
One of the groups of performers was comprised of mixed race folks playing uncommon instruments, wearing clothes of seemingly mixed origin, and singing in languages I couldn’t discern. I turned to one of my common-table seatmates and asked what kind of music it was: Vietnamese folk music was the answer. Um, that seemed way off, and the beer I had just finished encouraged me to respond “Are you bullsh*tting me?” He gestured towards to his comrade who was the source of this knowledge. After a lengthy description of the types of instruments being played, the sartorial choices of the performers, and references to Ghana, East Asia, and the Caribbean, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “Hey, it’s Kalapana.” That explained all.
Here are some photos of the market, as well as some of the Lower Puna coastline, for good measure.
Hawaii in October . . .
Live all you can; it’s a mistake not to.