we discovered the lovely miss estores on our "girls of hawaii" talent hunt. we know a good thing when we see one
Lourdes Ann Kananimanu Estores seems to have sprung forth from a fantasy recorded in a shipwrecked sailor's log: "After 40 days on the open sea, clinging to what was left of my lifeboat, I washed up on a South Pacific beach. I lay there virtually lifeless for I don't know how long. Suddenly, a native girl appeared; a dark-haired angel so beautiful that all thoughts of thirst and hunger left my body . . . . I rubbed my eyes to make sure I was not hallucinating . . . ." Lourdes (Loor-dess) is no hallucination. She exits in the town of Haleiwa, on the island of Hawaii. Part Hawaiian, part Filipino, part Spanish and part Tahitian, she is one of 22 members of the Estores family, a good chunk of the total population of Haleiwa. Her father was an Army musician and a part-time fisherman.
At the age of four, Lourdes used to accompany her mother to cockfights, where they would sell the day's catch. At night, the family would gather to play music. Those were especially happy times for her, fostering a deep love for music and dance; Bach and Bartók became her favorites. Her days were spent in school or frolicking on the beach. The uniqueness of her upbringing and her environment has not been lost on her. She is a child of paradise and knows it.
"This is paradise," says Lourdes. "Everything is perfect here!" Everything? "Well, we do sometimes live in fear of the tsunamis, the tidal waves. I've been through two: The sea gets very quiet; the air becomes still; the birds don't chirp. They can sense it coming. All of a sudden, the sea recedes as though it were being sucked into a huge vacuum. Then a wall of water 30 to 40 feet high grows and moves toward the island. We've lost two fishing boats in tsunamis. It doesn't really pay to build strong houses here."
Living in awesome beauty threatened by destruction has given Lourdes a feeling for the flow of nature and an excuse to fully enjoy it.
"There is a feeling of wholesomeness to the environment here," she says. "People have a healthy glow and take especially good care of their bodies. That's important, because you don't wear much." Lourdes keeps in shape as a physical-fitness instructor for a local health spa. She also moonlights as a cocktail waitress and delivers Mary Kay cosmetics via bicycle in her part of the islands. It's a vigorous life but by no means hectic. "We're not in a hurry here. The Hawaiian way is to lie back -- what's the rush? Don't be so uptight! -- and it's reflected in our health. There are not too many people here with heart problems or high blood pressure." For a time, Lourdes traveled on the mainland, putting on Polynesian shows while attending the University of Southern Mississippi as a dance-and-accounting major. While she found the people of the South every bit as hospitable as those at home, it just wasn't the same. "It took going away to make me realize just how dumb I was to have taken it all for granted," she declares. "Living on the mainland can never compare with this."
Lourdes clearly loves her way of life. What does it take to be so content? "Practice," she says. "You have to practice enjoying life."
Photography by Ken Marcus