Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Spirit of Aloha

Finally a hot minute to blog.  It feels like it has been ages.  Been busy.  Where to start?

Let's see:

First the ghost of Chavez cancels my Bolivarian adventure.  The general in his labyrinth.  Truly the specter of Chavez reigns down chaos on Venezuela, ending months of planning and excitement.  Truly a shame, as the US Embassy in Caracas had done a tremendous amount of work putting together the tour for Hawaiian slack key guitar greats Keola Beamer and Jeff Peterson, and hula master Moanalani Beamer.  Wonderful, meaningful collaborations with local indigenous musicians and really well-thought programming.  It would have been great public diplomacy.  And it may still be (Bolivarshalla).  But no the now.

So Keola and company and I had to scramble.  And re-arrange. And move.  DC was full to the gills with people in for the TEDMED conference, and there was no occupancy anywhere for a reasonable rate.  Even for an exorbitant rate.  So we left DC for Charm City, and began our limbo and exile in Baltimore.

Charm City earned its name with some deliciousness at the Inner Harbor Phillips.  Also some great beer at the catacombs of the Brewer's Art.

I re-arranged the schedule and flights and details of starting early in Brazil with Post Brasilia and we worked out coming in early.  Beamer and company visited the delights of the Walters Museum.

And NPR called.  Asked to speak to "the Paul Rockower of Gastrodiplomacy."  Should have saved that voice mail, I am wishing now.  Not bad when NPR comes calling about a field I made up.

We left our Charm City exile and returned to the GWU Inn.  The staff left me a really warm note welcoming me back, and left some delicious trail mix.

And I got an evening to hear the tales of Nica from Che Jari, and get to appreciate the margins of time once again.  I had no business being around to greet Sancho Harranza back, and yet here I am (Henneni) to see my brother home.

And we had a lovely day with a halau.  Kind of a Hawaiian hamula.  A halau is a Hawaiian school/group that studies hula under a hula master (kuma).  They hosted us for a day of delicious Hawaiian foods and "talk story" (Hawaiian vernacular for sharing stories and companionship).  My favorite was the gelatinous coconut cake.  Will have to work on a piece on Hawaiian gastrodiplomacy, but got to get there first.  Meanwhile, Keola, Jeff and Moana spoke of the spirit and history of hula and aloha.  I saw tears in the eyes of some of the audience after Keola played his legendary Honolulu City Lights, which was a huge hit when Hawaiian music first started becoming popular on mainland  in the 1970s.

I depart today with the Ambassadors of Aloha to a Brazilian cultural diplomacy adventure.  I have come to learn the meaning and spirit of aloha.  So much more than hi.  The spirit of Aloha is the spirit of love.  The spirit of kindness and compassion combined with love.  Peace be with you; peace be upon you.

I look forward to sharing the spirit of Aloha with the warm and wonderful people of Brazil.  I think it will  make for an amazing cultural engagement. 


John Brown said...

Paul -- I hope your adventures will turn into a book. Your postings are memorable accounts of public diplomacy in the field, where they count the most. Best, John

Paul Rockower said...

Bom dia Joao. Mahalo for the warm words. Working on putting some things in place so I may get to that much-discussed book one of these days. Till then, aloha!