Month: October 2012

On moving to Maui and hunting for home Pt. 1

This is a place of transients. Vegabonds. Beach bums, vacationers, time-share holders, escapees, the young, the restless.

The locals are kind and warm, weird and wonderful. They’re weary, careful and curious. They’re helpful but suspicious. You can see the look on their face when you say you just moved here: “She won’t make it longer than six months. Most people don’t.”

Calling around for places to live, I encounter some incredible and strange characters. Depending on what area of town I’m looking, people are all different, but I think everyone shares a similar love for the islands, the weather, the way of life.

I drive to Paia, the sleepy little surfer town on north shore Maui. I’m looking to rent a room and share a place, get to know some people. I find myself eye-to-eye with Kimo, a local surfer dude whose house reeks of pakalolo. Hey, no judgements, of course, but not exactly a place I want to call home. The house has seen better days (to put it kindly), so I thank him politely and I’m on my way.

Driving down to Kihei in west Maui. I knock on the door of a guy named Jon’s house. The floors are all torn up and it’s a certifiable bachelor pad. The room has no flooring or carpeting. The kitchen is falling apart. Welcome to the tropics.

Another place in Kihei offers no refuge. My roommate would be a 40-something shave-ice shop owner originally from the UK. Another bachelor pad. Not a bad room, all things considered..and my own bathroom! It could be nice. When I mention having visitors (friends, family), he grimaces and mentions sternly that the room would be “just for me.” Point taken.

My new job had me working from home, so I needed quiet. My boss suggested Haiku, a quiet “upcountry” spot. Very lovely, unlike anywhere I’ve ever seen, but a little too remote for my tastes right now. I humor him and check out the most bizarre situation yet.

I pull up to Sonya’s home in the hills of Haiku…it’s honestly a lovely home, well manicured and taken care of. She also owns a vacation rental that she rents out to make extra money in addition to designing homes. She answers the door, half clad, her shorts unbuttoned, her midriff flopping about. She seems out of sorts. I’m led to the room I’d be staying…a decent size but full of stuff, including a blow-up mattress that her husband and his girlfriend sleep occasionally.

“So you’re husband still lives here?” I ask.

“Not technically. But we’re divorced and he will never leave me alone!” she lamented.

Great. So I’d have that presence to battle against. Not to mention the GIANT black safe in the corner of the room.

“He’s an ex-military guy,” Sonya starts.

Enough is enough. The last thing I need in the corner of my room is a giant safe full of god knows what from an ex-military guy. I know those types and have been warmed adamantly to stay away from them.

It wasn’t until a day or two later that I found my current digs: a nice, quiet studio in the country of Haiku. The place is great except that I don’t have a washer/dryer or a stove. I cook on a hot plate and go to the laundry mat. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s not exactly what I’m looking for at the same time.

My humble abode

This begs the question: What AM I looking for?

The answer became clearer to me after spending about a week traversing around the island, meeting people, talking story with locals and feeling out the vibe. Although the west side is touristy, it’s what I need. I need a bit of a scene. I want to get involved, to meet people and friends. I want to make some connections and work on a boat. I’d like to work outside, preferably, and live close to work.

Sometimes exactly what we want is too much to ask for.

A woman named Kristy at a bar on Front Street isrestaurant owner from Atlanta and was giving me advice about being a free woman, following your intuition and scoping out the best possible scenario for yourself.

“It’s all about just riding the horse. Sometimes instead of trying to control everything, you need to let go and let things happen. Just sit up on the saddle and ride it. That’s life,” she said.

I’m going to heed that advice. I’m going to find the most ideal situation for me where I can get involved, meet people and make a difference. I want to make some money and have fun on my days off. I just have to give it a chance here is all.

The learning curve is high. This is an island, people have island attitudes. They are jetting off to all over the place, visiting from all over the world, but mostly California. Its no wonder why the locals have a reason to be suspicious of newcomers.

I’m going to prove them wrong. I want to be kama’aina (a local), to carve out a little life for myself that’s unique. The opportunity is there, I just need to go for it.

Reconnecting with Aloha

I am back island side after 2 long months of traveling, visiting family and friends around the mainland, and making a trip to Thailand.

What a whirlwind year! When I think of it all, it almost makes me crazy to think of all the times I’ve taken off, landed, stuck my thumb out for a ride (still need to return that favor when I see hitchhikers) and laid my head to rest in various parts of the world.

That’s a whole lotta travel!

With the stresses of moving halfway across the world to Maui, I have found that it’s been a bit of an adjustment to come back to Hawaiian time and the Hawaiian way. I’ve officially been here one week and I’m just now starting to slip back into the ways of Aloha. What do I mean by that?

Moving automatically makes you self-driven, operating in survival mode, ready to throw elbows against competitors and nay-sayers. I know this is the sort of attitude I developed, and I want to flush it down the toilet. I already managed to piss off one friend by calling him out for not picking me up at the airport. Though I think we both over-reacted, I can’t afford to make enemies before I even make friends. That’s not my lot in life.

Detoxing from the mainland takes some time. When I was gone from Hawaii the first time around, it took me almost 3 weeks to be born-again. I arrived and I looked haggard. My skin had faded to a pasty white and I surely put on some pounds from eating so much red meat back home (yummy but not good for my body or complexion). I was wound up from the mainland, riddled with anxiety and nerves and I was overall a big mess. I guess you can say much of the same this time around.

I have a lot riding on this move. I sold my car back home, I said goodbye to my friends and family…I jetted off into the unknown where I only knew one person (who probably seriously hates me now, but what can I do?) and I’m attempting to carve out a life for myself. For now, more question marks than answers are in front of me. I’m nervous that I’m burning through money too fast, spending more than I’m making and wondering if I’m getting the “best deal.”

But then it occurred to me that no matter where I am in life, that’s where I’m supposed to be. So what if I’m a little uncomfortable to start and a bit lonely? Worrying about making friends isn’t going to help me make them. Worrying that I won’t have enough money to survive here isn’t going to make me money to survive here. Thinking it’s all about me without counting my blessing is my biggest mistake yet.

With coming to the islands and living aloha, you respect and give blessings and thanks for everything you have in your life. You live with love, awareness, humility and kindness. Instead of worrying with negativity, you anticipate with positive energy. Instead of blaming, you appreciate. Instead of being out for yourself and your survival, you see the world with new eyes, eyes that help you see that the world is a product of your mindset. If you treat it poorly, it will treat you poorly in return.

It will take me more time still to figure out my role here on Maui. I need to continuously be grateful for all of the opportunities afforded to me, have follow through, be committed and do my best. I need to smile more than I furrow my brow, quit worrying so much, and appreciate the natural beauty around me. If something this beautiful can exist from behind my eyes, than I have to know things will be okay:

Sunset at Ho’okipa Beach. Photo by author


I sat on the beach the other night, alone, worried. As I was sitting there on the rocks, I had a conversation aloud with Maui about how hard this last week has been for me, and even though I’m strong, I can’t handle too many more curve balls. I  admitted that I’m lonely and constantly going over negative thoughts in my head. I promised to have respect for the island and to be pono (do what’s right).

As I sat there and offered all of myself up to the island, watching the Pacific rolling in and the sun dipping into the clouds, eight large green sea turtles began to crawl onto shore. In Hawaii, honu, or turtles, are symbolic of good luck. As if answering my prayers for a sign that things will work out how they’re supposed to, almost ten turtles emerged from the sea onto the shore to “rest.”

Photo by author

I felt so humbled and blessed at the same time. Never before had I seen so many of God’s beautiful creatures up close and in one place: and they were crawling toward me! I am going to forever remember that special moment for inspiration when times are lonely and hard: that good luck is here with me always, I just have to be wise enough to believe it.

Mahalo ke akua!