As I wrote last week, travel superstitions abound. Doing certain things in certain places should help you to do a particular thing. Kissing the Blarney Stone gets you the gift of gab. Newlyweds walking through a Moongate in Bermuda will be blessed. But what if all you want is to come back?
“Three Coins in a Fountain,” both the song
and the film, won Academy awards in 1954, capitalizing on the tradition that throwing a coin in the Fountain of Trevi in Rome ensures that you will return to that eternal city. In Rome today you can buy cards with three of the “correct” coins attached for tossing into the fountain. Judging from the summer accumulation of tourists and coins at or in the fountain, the superstition is alive and well, and Rome’s tourism industry has a happy future. Every destination should be so lucky, to have a “repeat visitor generator” like that romantic song!
Are there other places which espouse practices which help you to “ensure” a return? Readers, please tell me of others you have encountered! This is a difficult concept to Google. The usual research methods don’t turn up much, but I have tried. Read on.
Thinking that Hawaii might have superstitions relating to travel, I wrote to the Hawaii Convention and Visitors Bureau to inquire. I got this intriguing response from staff member Brandon:
“I was unaware of any Hawaiian customs and so I checked with a Hawaiian cultural specialist.
“He pointed out that there are no such customs in Hawai’i since “Good luck” and “wish making” are not Hawaiian concepts.
“While there may be new customs equivalent to tossing a coin into a fountain, these are not true Hawaiian practices. Falling in love with Hawai’i and developing a desire to return is a personal choice. It happens naturally from the experiences, the connections people make here, from beauty and spiritual connection with the land and ocean, and the people they encounter.”
I responded – “I found that it is supposedly BAD luck to carry lava rocks away from the islands. The luck follows the thief until the rocks are returned to the islands. This sounds like something made up by the park service, rather than an authentic cultural belief. What person traveling in seagoing canoes would take on rocks for keepsakes?”
And Brandon expanded the concept – “Removing lava rocks and “bad luck” associated with doing so is a somewhat newly developed superstition.
“Certainly people should not take lava rocks especially, from Volcanoes National Park since it is a continually observed and studied area, and native Hawaiians believe in the goddess Pele who is supposed to live in the volcano Kilauea. More so, I would not take rocks out of respect for the land.
“I remember my first grade teacher having rock samples of the two types of lava and black sand from Hawaii Island to teach us with. In situations like this, I can justify taking small samples. I think she mentioned saying a small prayer asking for permission before taking the rocks. To me it all has to do with respect.”
Well said, Brandon! Falling in love with Hawaii – or any place – is the best reason to make a personal choice to return. Coins and other “magic” tokens act successfully only if we follow through. If I can help you return or make a first visit to your own particular magical places, please call me!
Boundaries divide. Travel unites.
25 October 2012