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Understanding the People of Molokai

I certainly do not pretend to be an expert on this topic.  However after many years of being privileged to be a guest I do have some insights that may be useful, particularly for the first time visitor to Molokai. 

 First and foremost, the people of Molokai are friendly, kind and loving people.  If you are nice to them, they will absolutely be nice to you and be happy to have you around.  They are very family oriented and love children.  They also love music and dance.  Molokai is the birthplace of Hula.  Most people play music and if someone is playing music, someone else is likely to get up and dance the Hula.  They are a very respectful people and have great respect for the land and tradition. 

 The people of Molokai are not interested in their life styles changing.  There are no traffic lights on the island (not even a caution light) and that’s the way they like it.  As a result they are strongly opposed to development (ex. La’au point where the former Ranch Hotel wanted to build upscale homes).  This is very hard for visitors to understand, even visitors from Maui and other Hawaiian islands. Perhaps you can remember where you grew up and how much it has changed over the years.  For many decades life has not changed much for the people of Molokai.  Even though they have many of the same dreams and aspirations as other Americans, they are steadfast in not being willing to disrespect the land to have a better job or a nicer car.  They are very proud of Molokai and are more concerned about its well being than they are about their own financial well being. 

 Do not mistake their concern for their land as some sort of dislike for visitors or un-American attitude.  They are very loyal and patriotic people with many veterans and a proud and active VFW organization.  It is a mistake to say “Back in the US” even though you may slip once or twice at first.  They are truly happy to have the few visitors they get and will treat you with friendship and respect as long as you treat them in this manner. 

 One last thing, this is an island that moves at a much slower pace than even the other Hawaiian islands.  It would be rude to fuss or complain about the waitress not taking your order quickly or about your meals not being all presented at the same time.  Just pretend you are a visitor in their home and conduct yourself accordingly.  Relax, your food will come.  Ask them about their families and children.  Let them tell you what to do and where to go while on the island.    Even the music moves at a slower pace, with the musicians often spending as much time telling stories as singing.  This used to bother me until I realized they were treating me as a member of their Ohana (family), talking with me, singing a little and then talking with me a little more. Imagine that you are sitting with family and friends in their home.  Now I look forward to their stories as much as I look forward to their wonderful music. 

 We have been fortunate to make many new friends in our years of visiting Molokai.  I truly believe the people of Molokai are its most valuable treasure. 

 Wishing you a warm Aloha and Mahalo for visiting Molokai,

 Will and Sandy Fleenor


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