Friday, February 28

Molokai, final day

Kalaupapa National Historic Park is a peninsula on the north side of Molokai.  This little spit of land was, in the mid-19th century isolated as a ‘leper colony’, originally using the east side of the peninsula, Kalawao.  That original settlement, in 1866, was developed over several decades into one that supported about 1,100 patients, largely cared for by Father Damien, Sister Marianne, Captain Dutton, and often their own family.

We began our tour with a 7-minute flight to Kalaupapa, as there is no road in or out.

approaching Kalaupapa from the west, after crossing to the north of the island

A guide picked us up at the airfield there in Kalaupapa, then drove across the peninsula to Kalawao.  The settlement was relocated to Kalaupapa in the final years of the 19th c, and what remains now is cemeteries, ruins of buildings, and two churches, Catholic and Protestant.  These churches are still used once/month by the 5 remaining elderly former patients—ranging in age from 79-95—and the 75 resident workers who maintain this National Historic Park and care for the few remaining patients.

The Catholic church was built from coral, rarely used as a building material, and quite beautiful and acoustically rich.

St. Philomena Catholic Church–built of coral

What made this peninsula the choice for such isolation is, in large part, the cliffs that make it practically inaccessible except from the water.  The views of those cliffs were certainly dramatic, from the plane approaching (first video above) and leaving, from Kalaupapa and, especially, from Kalawao.

View from the shore of Kalaupapa
View from the shore of Kalawao, on the east side of the peninsula
From the flight back from the peninsula

After returning ‘topside’ (what they call everything that isn’t the Kalaupapa peninsula, i.e., above the cliffs), we headed over to have dinner at the only real restaurant around, at the Hotel Molokai.  A table by the water, gentle breezes, and surprisingly delicious food made us very happy.

We’ll be sorry to leave this place.  For sure, we could stay here longer.