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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Naupaka: All natural Polynesian eyedrops

Naupaka is an indigenous shrub that can be commonly found near the beaches and hotels in Hawaii. The most commonly seen Naupaka plant is the "Naupaka Kahakai", which literally means Naupaka near the ocean (kai = ocean). Naupaka Kahakai can grow from a crawling shrub on the sand to a very large bush, with bright green leaves and tiny white flowers and white berries. The "Naupaka Kuahiwi" is a different variety that is hardy and woody and grows in the mountains (kuahiwi = mountains).

Naupaka Kahakai (Ocean)

Naupaka Kahakai Pua (Flower)

Naupaka Kuahiwi Pua (Flower)

Naupaka Kuahiwi (Mountain)

That's what I love about the Hawaiian language. It is very straight forward and poetic when you really get into it, but I'm just going to keep it simple right now. But for the most part, it is very simplistic in the sense that everything or place is called exactly what it is. For example, the beach at the end of the road is named "Ke'e beach." Ke'e means crooked and the beach happens to be at the end of a crooked road. The Tunnel of Trees to Koloa is named "Maluhia", which means "peaceful" and anyone driving through the tunnel would agree. And on the westside of the island is "Mana" (imagine a line above the na since I don't have it on my keyboard), which means "desert" and trust me, it is extremely hot and dry out there and you can see mirages on the pavement. This simplicity carries over in Hawaii's culture even in today's world. Visitors often find it amusing that the Honolulu City Bus is literally named "The Bus" and the Kauai Bus is guess what? The "Kauai Bus", of course! It makes perfect sense to me! Anyway, enough of my tangent.

Naupaka Kahakai is an excellent natural defogger. Locals primarily use it to defog snorkel masks, diving masks, and as eye drops. I swear this will be the best defoger you ever used and it's right there at the beach. No chemicals needed and it works so much better!!!

How to defog your mask:
  • grab a few Naupaka leaves and smash them up with your hand like your making a paper ball. It's okay if they break, it's supposed to.
  • Rinse your mask in the ocean and then rub the leaves all over the inside of the mask like your cleaning windows. 
  • Rinse the mask once when your done and let the leaves float away in the ocean. 
  • Pau! Squeaky clean, perfect visibility, non fogging lenses! 

Smash the leaves in the palm of your hand and rub on glass. Always say "Mahalo Ke Akua" (Thank you, God) to yourself before taking anything from the kai (ocean) or aina (land). One should always have respect for our home. This helps to increase your Mana (spiritual energy, power, essence).
How to use Naupaka as eyedrops:
  • Take a berry and pluck off the piko (the brown spot on one end of the berry that looks like a belly button) 
  • Squeeze the berry and put as many drops as you like in your eye. 
  • Pau! Better than Visine and free!

There is also a very beautiful Hawaiian legend about the Naupaka flower. In a nutshell, a Hawaiian God forbid a beautiful Hawaiian princess to be with a common man. One was turned into the Naupaka Kahakai and banished to the oceanside and the other was turned into the Naupaka Kuahiwi and banished to the mountainside.  Before parting, the lovers took a flower and split it in half and vowed that when they reunited the flower would be whole again. This is the reason why the Naupaka flowers are only half of flower. It is a very beautiful story with different versions, but this is the jist of it. 

My tatu of the Naupaka Legend, courtesy of Simeon Huuti of Papeete, Tahiti.

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