Cooking Pans in Paradise

One of my earliest, vivid memories was being dropped off at the beautiful Ala Moana Hotel in Waikiki and being herded into the elegant lobby by Soane Harrell... all twenty-some new Volunteers destined to become Tonga Viii. There we were in this elegant, upscale hotel carrying our backpacks, cooking pots and pans hanging and clanging from the straps. Lots of camouflage peace symbols, and scruffy beards in this Vietnam era. Cooking pans in Paradise?

We had completed our training in Hilo, on the Big Island. Six weeks of intense language and cultural training with the wonderful overlay of working with an Indonesian batik artist, and interacting with the local population of the Big Island.

The training culminated in our first true cross cultural experience- our Christimas dinner. The trainers brought in a big fat 'piggy' which was tethered to a coconut palm outside the training center. We all naively walked by 'piggiy' all morning scratching his nose and being Americans. Much to our horror, sometime around noon we heard an unearthly squeal and then silence. 'Piggy' had been prepared for dinner. I think that is when cross-cultural truly meant something to me. Much later that night we were offered 'piggy' for dinner. I am ashamed to say- that I walked out with several others...down to the Hilo Lagoon for something not offending our sensibilities. It also lead to some deep soul searching on food and where it comes from. 

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“Sunset at the Railroad” by PCV Nicholas Baylor Hall. Namibia, 2011.