It was a steamy day, and I was standing in an intimate pose—forehead against forehead—with a man I’d never met before; a man wearing a pair of wild boar tusks around his neck, at that. We stood on the cusp of the sacred Halawa Valley on the Hawaiian island of Molokai. Together, we both inhaled, and as I looked up into his eyes I caught a flash of knowing wisdom, and then all too quickly we separated. As the valley kupuna (revered elder), this man had been responsible for allowing me passage into this part of the island (through a series of ritual conch calls and chants), and as the keeper of this protocol he allowed me a peek into Molokai’s sacred—but no longer so totally secret—history.
To enter the Halawa Valley, you must leave an offering of thanks.