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Teaching Hut

Village Gate


by Paul Waters and Tom Vonderhaar

Aloha International's assistant director and bodywork instructor, Susan Pa'iniu Floyd, has a reputation around the world for turning ordinary events into unforgettable experiences. Here are different versions of the same event, as seen through the eyes of two students.

VERSION ONE - by Paul Waters

The principle of Aloha now carries special meaning to our Kino Mana class held in February 1996 with Susan. It was our fifth day of the course, learning Lomi-Lomi techniques and movements, Kahi Loa skin massage, a 19th century hula, chants, and outings to places of spectacular natural beauty on Kauai. The weather was overcast with gusting winds up to 30 miles an hour as we met that morning. There was a chill in the air, yet we unanimously elected to take a nature hike in Kokee, a wilderness area in the mountainous interior of the island. So the eight of us bundled up, gathered enough foodstuffs for the day and headed out in two 4x4s up 4000 feet through the breathtaking Waimea canyon to Kokee, stopping often to absorb its beauty.

Paradise has its price, however. To see some of the gorgeous views of the canyon requires lengthy traverses on rough trails well off the Park roads. It was on one such as these that we encountered THE RUT. You might have seen something similar. It's a situation where solutions are difficult to see and options seem to limit themselves, so creativity and power must be used to keep from being stuck. And we were STUCK! Eight shaman nature walkers 4000 ft. up a mountain, with a 4x4 entrenched in over 2 feet of muck, mud and mire, spinning its wheels deeper and deeper with each attempt to move. Luckily it was stuck less than 50 yards from the trail we were to hike on, so a few of us went ahead while the others contemplated how we were going to get out.

The first idea was to make a rope, tie it to the other vehicle and try to pull it out. With a bit of ingenuity, one of our shamans made a strong cord out of some clothesline and nylon fiber Susan had brought. We then tied it to each vehicle, had 2 people stand on the back bumper while others lifted and pushed the front end of the stuck truck. A good idea, but not for this rut.

Remembering as shamans that there is always another way to do anything, we thought some more, until a new idea popped up. We would gather sticks nearby to put under the wheels for traction and use large branches from nearby trees as levers in the front of the truck to pry it out as we again attempted to pull it out with the other vehicle. Again it would not budge and the wheels kept spinning.

We had been working at this for over an hour now with seemingly little success. My ku was reminding me of earlier, similar experiences in my life where frustration and anger might have set in, but this day was different and this group was special. After all, to love is to be happy with, so jokes were being made of the situation and a spirit of teamwork prevailed. It was suggested that someone go to for help, but no one wanted to leave the group, so new ideas were created.

We decided to bail out the mud from the rut to possibly get a reassessment of our predicament. Another hour or so later (this muck was DEEP!) we could finally see far enough under the truck to notice the rear axle firmly propped on the center hump of the rut. Enter another idea. We would jack up the back of the truck as high as possible and start digging out the hump. Our tools for this endeavor consisted of only a small 12" shovel and the jack handle. Although the truck was jacked up in a very precarious position we had little choice but to crawl under it carefully and dig, and dig, and dig until we thought it would be clear from the rut when we let the jack down again. It was now time to again jump in the mud, lift the front end and pull the truck out from behind with the cord made earlier. Still joking and in amazingly high spirits, everyone took their positions and gave it one final, all out effort. Success! It moved! I think the elation and shouts of joy could be heard all the way back in Germany!

Now on to a glorious view of the canyon from atop a remote mountain deep in its center, where we shared the power and incredible vista of one of the most beautiful spots on Earth. I give a big mahalo and Aloha nui loa to all who participated in this fantastic adventure.

VERSION TWO - by Tom Vonderhaar

On Wednesday of our Kino Mana classs Susan suggested that we needed to get out and hike in the forests of Kaua'i. After a vote, we all piled into two "4-wheelers" and off we went. We stopped at a Menehune Food Mart for our picnic lunch and were off for our big adventure. Down to the south end of the island we went, and up Waimea Canyon Road. The views were beautiful, even if Hi'iaka, spirit of the wind, was especially active that day. She was so active that the wind was clocked at about 50 miles per hour, which made the light drizzle feel like a sandstorm. After stops at the two lookouts and lots of photos we set off for a spot for lunch and our hike.

We drove off the main road and back into a forest that could have been in the Amazon Rain Forest, for as good as the roads were. After lunch at a picnic table by one of the gorges that make up Waimea Canyon, we loaded up the 4-wheelers again and set off down roads that didn't look like anyone had been down them for years. The potholes and ruts in the road were incredibly deep, and Susan seemed to be making sure that she hit every single one of them.

As we bumped along, getting bounced first this way then that, Susan remarked that we were almost there. "In fact," she said, "a lot of people park here and walk to the trail." Thirty seconds later she drove into a puddle that resembled a small lake and was stuck, stuck hard. Her 4-wheel drive was not going anywhere. The water was almost covering her tires. With no chain in either car, Uta braided a nylon rope and tied it to the rear of Susan's car so that the other car could perhaps pull it out. Then the adventure really began.

Susan in her rubber shoes and old clothes waded into the small lake and said, "Come on in, guys, and help me push!." Paul and I, being the only guys in the group, started taking off our shoes and socks and rolling up our pants legs for the big push. Not only was the water cold, the mud and water were deep - about 18 inches in spots. With everyone in place, we started to pry the car out. Not even a budge. Out of the mud we both came, covered from our knees to our toes. Susan sent some of the others on to the hiking trail while the rest of us tried to come up with a solution. Someone thought we needed to empty "Lake Susan Floyd," but with no buckets on hand it called for some creative thinking. First the cooler, then the juice bucket, were called into service. I crawled back in while Paul (who, originally coming from Chicago, was the expert of the group in freeing stuck vehicles) went looking for sticks to give us traction.

After about ten minutes of bailing, with no obcious effect, Susan said maybe we should dig a trench to drain the pond into a nearby drainage ditch. Now where were the Menehunes when you really needed them?

Someone mentioned maybe it would be easier if we chanted. The chant that came to mind was too obscene to be repeated here. Presently Susan noted that her strength weakened when she laughed, which at this point was often since I was on comic overload. Serge says that when you laugh you are stronger, but we were not feeling very strong in spite of our laughter. Davina then pointed out that the laughter released the tension and renewed us. "Wow!" said Susan. "What a great lesson." (Gee, Susan, could we have learned this profound lesson in an easier way?) More obscene chants, more bailing. I tried to get Susan to levitate her car out of the slime to no avail. More obscene chants, more bailing. After about thirty minutes of this we actually began to get close to the bottom of the water, which left only the six inches of thick soupy mud. It was now time to try prying the car out again. Still no movement, and the time was getting late. Soon it would be getting dark.

I climbed out of the mud while more brainstorming took place. This fashionable Hawaiian mud bath and the 60 degree temperature were getting old. Going to get help was brought up for the tenth or eleventh time, but was rejected as impractical - only Susan really knew how to get out and she wouldn't leave her car.

Paul suggested that if we could jack up the rear of the car and put sticks under the wheels to get more traction, the car would come out. When the car was fully jacked up he suddenly noticed that the differential was stuck four inches deep in the hard clay between the deep ruts on either side, which finally explained why pushing, pulling and prying had not helped.

Susan and Paul got down on their hands and knees to start digging out the red clay under the differential, with Paul loosening up the dirt with the jack handle and Susan using her small shovel to push the clay out of the way. After they had cleared out a path for the differential we waded back into the mud bath, and after a good, hard push, out she came. Celebration time!

We then hiked the fifty feet to the start of the trail and went on to see a spectacular view. We also managed to get back to the main road just as darkness fell. Perfect timing.

The moral of this story is that the 7th principle really works, effectiveness is the measure of truth, and when Susan says you're going on an adventure, it is sometimes more of an adventure than she plans.

I would like to say a special thanks to the whole class for making our big adventure such an unforgettable experience.

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Copyright by Aloha International 2001
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