Pork over the Pali Highway

Background information: OLP is a 21-year-old student at Georgetown University. in They were raised in the Bay Area, but currently live in DC for school. Their parents met in Hawaii, and they were born in Honolulu. They visit frequently with their family, and their dad was raised there. OLP is white, Filipino, Mexican, and Japanese American.

OLP: You aren’t supposed to take pork over the Pali Highway in Hawaii. This comes from the Hawaiian myth that the goddess Pele had, like, a bad breakup with her boyfriend who was a pig god. So they divided the island between them, so taking pork from one side of the island to the other can anger Pele. This is pretty well-known in Hawaii but I’ve also heard from friends of my parents who said they’ve taken pork over the pali and their car broke down. The superstition says you won’t be able to finish your journey and you might be surrounding by spirits. A lot of locals take this very seriously and I think it’s an important way for people to show respect for Hawaiian traditions as well.

Me: So your family and family friends all observe this practice when you visit?

OLP: (laughs) Well…I’m vegetarian so yes. But yes, especially since so many people have had experiences where, like, something has happened if they tried. And it’s just good to respect things like this sometimes.

This is one of the only pieces of folklore that I collected in which someone had heard the same story directly from multiple people. I think this is very interesting, because it shows that these practices are alive and well, and that although Hawaii is often just seen as a tourist spot or getaway, there are traditions and cultures that need to be respected there. I think it’s really important that pieces of folklore like this – things that come from a time before a specific place or culture was colonized/occupied – continue to be shared and made known.