Read Molokai, by Alan Brennart. It is a touching story about a little girl, Rachel, who at age 7 or 8, gets taken away from her family because of her disease. That's how it started for me. I was hooked. Although it is a work of fiction, I needed to see where the author was inspired to write about this tragic time in Hawaiian history. At age 75 and 63, my husband and I chose the fly in and out option from Waikiki.(Great choice) Admittedly, there was down time, but the experience was outstanding although a little pricey. Kaulapapa is a mystical place. The sea cliffs are amazing and the beaches are absolutely beautiful, there is a feeling of peace. The town itself is small but full of history. Visiting St. Damiens and St. Marianne's graves just reminded us of the selfless lives led by people who help the patients. It was amazing to picture in ones mind how people who were just left to die in this beautiful open prison, were able to build productive and meaningful lives for themselves. Our guide was fine, could have been a little bit more detailed with his information. Perhaps relay how people lived their daily lives, married, what happened to the children they bore, etc. That's the true story. The down side, is that you are not allowed to wander by yourself, which is totally understandable, given there are still a few patients there by choice. The book store had several good reads and videos. This is not an excursion like tubing or snorkeling in the islands, it is an opportunity to witness first hand true occurences in history. It leaves you with a mark on your soul. I can only compare it to visiting Machu Pichu in Peru. I was so moved, I came home and read Molokai again. It was so satisfying reading and picturing the Kaulapapa streets, trail, and sites as described so vividly in the book.
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