Kalaupapa is not a state park yet, but they are expecting to receive that status eventually and it is maintained by the state as a historic area. It is restricted to visitors who are invited guests of the current residents - all former patients and their families, and to those on tours. After a 30 Min. wait we were greeted by an elderly, but spunky gentleman named Richard Marks. Richard, and most of his family, were ďcondemnedĒ to Kalaupapa and he is an expert on the history of the colony. I had read the book, Holy Man, Father Damien of Molokai, before we left home for a little background info., and the tour was fascinating to me. I wonít go into a lot of detail here, but if you are interested in history and culture, you should definitely do some reading about Kalaupapa before you visit it.
Father Damien was the only "leper" ever allowed to be buried in the church yard.
Richard Marks reflects by Father Damien's Grave.
We got on the ricketiest old bus you ever saw, and Richard Marks drove us across the little colony to meet the others in our group who were either coming down the trail by foot, on muleback, or coming in on the ferry from Maui. We spent the day touring the colony and peninsula, including their little museum, and stopped for a box lunch at a beautiful location that we recognized as the area where they filmed many of the ocean/mountain shots for the movie Jurassic Park. Our guide told us all about the history of the colony and the story of Father Damien who lived and died among the lepers and did so much to make their lives and last days tolerable. He also said that they expect Father Damien to be canonized in the fall. There are only about 40 very elderly (age 70+) residents left in the colony and they are all survivors of Hansenís Disease who, of their own choice, will live out their lives in Kalaupapa in isolation. In case you are wondering, although Hansenís disease is still common in 3rd world countries, the cure was discovered in the 1940ís and no one in the colony has the active disease today.
A memorial with Kalaupapa Bay in the background and Mother Marianne's grave.
Just as we were about to take off for our 10 min. return flight, there was a funny incident. We were actually taxiing down the runway, when a car pulled up at the airport and a local lady got out and started running towards the airstrip. Our pilot actually stopped the plane and allowed her to run out and board. She was carrying a pineapple upside down cake for a birthday party "up top". I'm sure that is the first and last time I will ever see a plane stop and wait for a passenger! On our brief flight out, our pilot circled the volcanic cone on the peninsula, Pu'Uao, and we could see tiny Crater Lake in the center of it. This is a fascinating and very touching tour and a "must-see" if you visit Molokai.
Rod and Denise at beautiful Judd Park - Some Jurrassic Park scenes were filmed here and the original leper's colony was on this side of the peninsula, before Father Damien moved it to the dryer side.
We got back to the Molokai Airport about 2:00 and headed back to the condo for some lounging by the pool. We had reservations that night for the Italian Buffet ($14.50) at the Molokai Ranch Lodge and enjoyed it every bit as much as we had the previous two nights. Yes, we ate the same place three nights, but except for a plate lunch place that closes at 6:30 (The Paniola Cafe) also in Maunaloa, there isnít anywhere else to eat at the West End.