On 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.