I’m leaving Hawaii soon, so I figure I better get back into the habit of writing.
Many people have a very romantic view of island life. They can think of nothing better than sitting on a beach with palm trees. That is their version of paradise. You go to the mall and in some kiosk is a guy selling cheesy back lit signs showing that very scene. You can find it on calendars, t-shirts, desktop wallpaper, etc. You take some personality poll online and one of the questions is: would you rather spend your time at the beach or on a mountain?
Having been to much of the Pacific now, I state categorically that there is a downside to island life that most people don’t consider in their fantasy. Every Pacific country (I can think of no exceptions) have remittances as one of, if not the largest, part of their Gross Domestic Product. That is a fancy way of saying that the chief export of most Pacific countries is people. (I say that thinking of Charelton Heston screaming “It’s PEOPLE. The chief component of their GDP is PEOPLE!!”)
Islands are expensive. You have to have everything shipped in, usually at great expense. They are isolated. You are months if not years behind the rest of the world in cultural and economic matters. They are poor. There are few opportunities and natural resources available on most islands.
Yet everywhere I went, I’d meet a very small number of white westerners who have made an island their home. More often than not they ran a hotel or a restaurant. (a surprising number of businesses are owned by foreigners). Sometimes they married a local. They are the ones who actually went out and lived out their dreams of living on an island.
Hawaii is a totally different animal from the rest of the Pacific.
Hawaii, with perhaps the exception of Noumea, is the only place in the Pacific that doesn’t have the downside that other islands have. (I suppose I’m leaving New Zealand out of this discussion. I don’t really consider it a tropical island) In Hawaii, you can have the best of both worlds.
You can walk around Waikiki and see a mix of Japanese tourist, sailors, families on vacation, and young couples on their honeymoons. You also see a small group of people who look like they showed up a few years ago and just never left. I got to meet several of them when I was in Maui. They tended to be younger people who were all looking for whatever job they could find and spending their time not at work at the beach. They are all sort of freaks with tans that put them in a league with George Hamilton.
As you can tell my by silence the last few weeks, I find Hawaii to be a very seductive place. The weather here is perfect. By far the best I’ve seen in the Pacific. You have all the benefits of living on the mainland with none of the downside of living on an island. I’ve been eating every other day at a seafood buffet that has all you can eat sashimi. How can you not love that?
I could totally see myself living here someday. Before that occurs however, I have the rest of the world to see…