National Geographic : 1969 Oct
tourists, the celebrated "aloha" spirit of the islands has been over-commercialized, if not buried. "Aloha" is the word Hawaiians use to say hello and goodbye, and to express an assortment of emotions. It symbolizes the hospitality and graceful style of life for which the islands have long been known. As the pace of life has increased, and with many more people to be hospitable to, there have been distortions of the old ways. Some leis hung round the necks of new arrivals lack the fragrance of the tropics, for they are made of plastic. It costs more to say aloha with flowers now.* At a recent luau I attended, the traditional poi-the starchy dish made from taro root-was served in paper cups. One of the persons concerned about such changes is ex-Mayor Blaisdell, who is 66, 530 healthy, sports-minded, music-loving, open- armed, and in many ways epitomizes the city he governed so long. It pains him to hear what passes now for island music, he told me. Still, Mr. Blaisdell is confident the aloha spirit will survive. "People make the aloha spirit," he said, "and I don't think they'll lose it. The Chinese always conquered their con querors. We do the same thing here." I think I agree with him. Sometimes it takes a newcomer to remind us kamaainas how exceedingly beautiful Honolulu's setting is. A tourist did me this favor as we both looked down on the city from the 500-foot-high volcanic cone of the Punchbowl (pages 512-13). The man handed me his camera and asked me to take not one but two pictures of him *See "The Flowers That Say 'Aloha,'" by Deena Clark, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, January 1967.