Anthony Doerr on Hawaii

Faculty member Anthony Doerr‘s essay “Discovering Hawaii’s Big Island” appears online at Conde Nast Traveler.

The Valley of the Kings, or Waipi‘o (think Y-P-O) Valley, is twenty miles shy of the northern tip of the island. Here, says my guidebook, you’ll find the only place in Hawaii that isn’t friendly. Here, you stay on trail, respect private property. Here, you obey kapu (the ancient Hawaiian system of religious taboos) or else. Here, when drivers wave hello—if they wave at all—they raise only one finger off the steering wheel, as if to say, “Yes, I see you and your big backpack, haole, but let’s not pretend I want you here.”

A sign at the overlook reads, “If not invited, please respect this sacred valley by enjoying its beauty from this lookout here.” Behind it three other signs say, “Falling Rocks!” “Hazardous Cliff!” and “Flash Flood!”—each featuring a cartoon man suffering spine-shattering mishaps.

Mark says, “Were we invited?”

I say, “Depends what you mean by invited. . . …[Keep Reading]…

Anthony is the author of The Shell Collector: Stories (Scribner, 2011).


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