When my Silver Fox and I got off the plane in Kauai on a recent anniversary trip, I immediately started looking for flowers. They had to be just everywhere, or so said the tourism descriptions. And, after all, why else would Kauai be nicknamed “The Garden Isle?” Even though we chose to stay on the south end of the island where it is warmer and drier (rather than on the north end that is lusher and wetter), I didn’t have to wait long to see gorgeous blossoms of many varieties.
Our hotel was the Sheraton Kauai in Poipu. Just right down the sidewalk, you can wander the Plantation Gardens for a free visual botanical feast.
As we were taking in the sights near our hotel, we noticed signs mentioning an upcoming Orchid Show for the following Saturday in the nearby town of Hanapepe. Serendipity!!! Not only would we get to see more beautiful flowers, but we could soak up some local flavor off of the beaten tourist path. The members of the Garden Island Orchid Society (can you imagine being a member of such a group?) greeted us warmly, happy to show us their prize-winning entries.
When you add the hibiscus plants featured in landscapes everywhere, my expectations about the Garden Isle were more than satisfied.
We did, however, get a fun surprise. Chickens. EVERYWHERE. Running wild. Strutting roosters, hens and chicks.
They are at the airport, in parking lots, at gas stations, in shopping centers, on the sidewalks beside restaurants, in the woods, and near the beaches. We asked several people about this peculiar phenomenon, and here are the most popular theories:
1) Kauai has never had a serious predator for chickens. Other islands, yes, but not Kauai.
2) Natural disasters have led to the cross-breeding between Hawaii jungle fowl and domestic birds. The most recent was Hurricane Iniki that leveled this island on September 11, 1992. Thousands of domestic birds scattered everywhere.
3) Hawaii’s wild jungle fowl are a protected species. Although it is seldom mentioned and the punishment for harming these chickens is hard to pin down, catching one of the birds is still a crime in the State of Hawaii.
Considering the price of groceries on the islands, it is amazing that more of these chickens don’t find their way onto dinner tables. But, from what we understand, they are inedible. At least that’s what this old Hawaiian proverb suggests:
“If you like eat da chicken get two pots of water to a boil. In one pot put da pohaku (lava rock) and in the other put da moa (wild chicken). Once the lava rock is done da moa is ready to eat.” Moral of the story; you can’t eat the wild chickens, they are hard as a rock!
P.S. We flew from Maui to Kauai on Island Air, but we flew back to Maui on Hawaiian Airlines. Hawaiian Airlines has bigger planes with roomier seats, but the employees of Island Air add a nice touch to their service. All of the employees, from the gate agents to the baggage handlers, line up to wave good-bye to the passengers of each departing flight. The spirit of “Aloha,” for sure.