Thursday, January 13, 2005


KuewaOn my right bicep is a tattoo I got the last time I was in Hawai`i. It depicts a petroglyph (rock carving) version of a wa`a, a Polynesian double-hulled voyaging canoe. These canoes were often quite large, cut from koa trees, with two long and thick hulls lashed parallel to one another and connected by a platform upon which the sailors lived and stored their supplies. On these types of long-distance canoes the Polynesians crossed huge expanses of ocean, making their way from island to island with only the stars and their knowledge of tides and waves to help guide their way, a feat which easily puts them in the category of the world's greatest mariners. They were guided by a spirit of exploration and self-reliance that allowed them to endure weeks without land, living only off caught fish and supplies, like coconuts, they brought along with them. They were solitary travellers alone on the endless face of the world's most massive ocean, the loneliest and most isolated position one could ever imagine.

I found myself drawn to this image the first time I saw it while researching the history of Hawaiian petroglyph art. Among the images of turtles, or `ihe-wielding warriors, or powerful kupuna, the images the Hawaiians carved of their canoes, the one piece of equipment to which they owed their life and livelihood, their very existence, seemed to hold a mystique and power of their own. I know my interpretation of that symbol is not the same as that of the ancient Hawaiians who carved them upon the bare rocks so long ago -- to me it represents a feeling of both the need for newness and a craving for adventure along with a more itinerant state of homelessness. I'm a wandering spirit in search of a place to belong.

A vagabond or wanderer would be kuewa (pronounced koo-eh-vah) in Hawaiian. Ka`apuni (kah-ah-poo-nee) means "to go around, to travel."

Soon I'll be travelling again. I've been too long in Tallahassee; it isn't where I belong. I belong in Hawai`i but it may be a long time before I get to live there; maybe never.

I've decided to accept the assignment in Guyana. I called my PO on Wednesday and asked him to send me my official Invitation packet. He said it should be here in a little over a week. I'm sold on Guyana and I can't wait to see the information included in the Invitation packet. If it's anything like my last one, it will be full of tons of interesting and enlightening reading material to prepare me for the assignment. I'll share on here what I can.

Interestingly, ka`apuni also means "revolution, revolving." My Peace Corps experience is coming full circle.


Anonymous said...

Congrats on your nomination but you really have to start putting some perspective on life in the PC. Fact is you already are setting yourself up for a kick in the head. I understand you have gone on your "3 day tour" before but after reading your blog for a bit, I worry that you are again setting yourself up for failure.

Take a deep breath and don't take any expectations with you. The only way you will make it for 2 years is to be flexible. I sense that that is not your strong point.

Good luck and be sure not to expect to much until after PST and well into your first 6 months at site.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your invitation!
I’m sure that this will be an amazing adventure for you.
Good luck and May it be everything you hope it will be (and a lot more).

Brian Reeves said...

Thanks, both of you! :)


Brian Reeves said...

One other thing: I've been wondering what I've written that has made people nervous. Can you help me pinpoint what areas might be unhealthy obsessions? I'm curious because if one peson says something you can ignore it, but if two people say it maybe there's something there. I want to have a successful PC experience this go-around, and if there's something I'm doing already that might undermine that, I'd like to know. I could use an outsider's opinion. But I need some specifics...