Aloha, Miami! The first stop on my 112-day voyage was Hilo, Hawaii. For those of you unfamiliar with Hawaiian geography, Hilo is located on the big island of Hawaii and is home to some pretty cool natural attractions I had the chance to learn about first hand.
Currently, I am enrolled in an introductory astronomy course, and we learned about the Mauna Kea Observatories. Translated to “white mountain,” Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano on the big island and home to 13 world-renowned telescopes.
What makes Mauna Kea a premier location in the world of astronomy is its ideal location. Dark skies, clean air and its altitude above most of the water vapor in the atmosphere makes Mauna Kea the best site in terms of optical and infrared image quality.
Cool fact: Though it reaches an altitude of 13,803 feet above sea level, much of Muana Kea is below sea level. From its oceanic base, Mauna Kea measures 33,100 feet, which is more than twice Mount Everest’s base-to-peak height.
My peers went zip lining, hiking and some even attended a “cave rave,” but my day was much more peaceful. I was required for my mixed media art class to attend a field lab and, though the adventurer inside of me was itching to partake in the fun, I obliged.
We first went to the Contemporary Museum of Hawaii. On display was a collection of busts sculpted by Ingrid Fregeau. Her muses for the display were local Hawaiian artists.
I was fixated on the facial expressions. They were so human. Fregeau captured more than a facial expression or physical features – she captured the artists’ spirit. Looking in the eyes of a ceramic bust, I could strangely feel that.
“I wish for these busts a very nice journey in the present and the future. May their gaze inspire others to pay attention, to look at our world carefully, to be creative, inclusive and open minded. Works of art have a life of their own, and these busts will carry the features of our celebrated artists of East Hawaii to the future generations of art lovers.” – Ingrid Fregeau
After we left the museum, I had the chance to wander around a local farmers market in downtown Hilo. This was my favorite part of the day. I had the chance to talk to local farmers and vendors who were so friendly and welcoming.
I bought an avocado for $1 and ate it with a spoon as I browsed the different jewelry and specialty goods booths. I bought a few interesting items listed below:
Hawaiian shirt – $7.50
2 bars of handmade soap – $6
Lepidomite stone – $2
Avocado – $1
Shop local! Wow, it was such an incredibly different experience to speak to the people who make and grow the products I, as a consumer, was buying. It was so much more satisfying to hand money to people who live and love to produce the goods I was purchasing.
Prior to this experience, I feel like I was wrapped up in the necessity of buying “things.” Buying Chipotle. Buying clothes from the mall. Buying posters from Amazon. These “things” seemed so necessary at the time, routine almost, but when I went to Hilo, I bought goods – emphasis on the good.
The biggest lesson I took away from Hawaii was its sense of community. Hawaii has a caring culture that I will carry that with me as I move my way across the Pacific to Japan. Until next time!
Jamie Servidio is a junior majoring in journalism at the University of Miami. She is spending spring 2015 studying with Semester at Sea.