Monday, March 23, 2015

Living on Maui: A Beginner's Survival Guide, the A-Z Challenge 2015 Theme Reveal

What is life on Maui really like? What is it like to actually live on Maui instead of being a tourist? What kinds of problems and everyday challenges happen on Maui? What advice would I give to a newcomer to Maui?

(Shout out to Jennifer Poppy of Island Gypsy Hawaii for the idea of the"Survival Guide".)

Sometimes people fantasize about Maui because it’s a vacation destination and don’t realize that living in a place long term is very different from vacationing there. 

On Maui, we call it the “Honeymoon Period.” 

That’s the first month or two, maybe 6 months when everything is so wonderful and amazing and different, then reality sets in. Maybe it’s hard to get a job, maybe the cost of living is too darn high, maybe one gets tired of having to keep moving from place to place because the landlord keeps raising the rent or just sold your place, maybe one gets rock fever, maybe one is tired of the dating scene on Maui. Or maybe none of this happens to you.  

My blog does address some of these questions from time to time, but not in a step by step fashion.

My theme for this year’s A to Z Challenge is Living on Maui: A Beginner’s Survival Guide. I’ll do my best to answer some common concerns, provide helpful hints for living on Maui, and be entertaining. Some topics I won’t have time to tackle, and since this is a blog hop, I’ll try to keep my posts short.  Other topics I have covered already in previous A to Z Challenges. 

What is the A to Z Challenge? It’s a worldwide blogging challenge and bloghop in the month of April. Every day, except for Sundays, a post will be added for each letter of the alphabet, starting with A and ending in Z. Survivors of the A to Z Challenge earn bragging rights and hopefully, have had someone else do the cooking and cleaning in April!

If you are commenting from the A-Z Challenge, PLEASE include the URL of your blog so I can visit you too. You may comment in Disqus or Facebook, whichever is easier. 

To read posts from this year's challenge, visit the Archives page.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

When Target opened on Maui and Hawaiians marched in the street

The two events are not related. They’re only related in my mind. Maui finally got a Target last week and native Hawaiians formally marched around Maui to raise cultural awareness at the end of Makahiki season (Hawaiian New Year). They didn’t consult each other. The native Hawaiians didn’t look at retail reports and the Target executives didn’t study the Hawaiian moon calendar to plan their events. But both oddly significant events happened at the same time.

Busy shoppers at Target's soft opening while Hawaiians
participate in a torch-led march around Maui.

Why would Target's opening be a significant event on Maui? Because Maui doesn’t have a lot of big box stores. We have Wal-mart, Kmart, Macy’s, Sears, Costco, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Sports Authority, Barnes & Noble, and Ross.  There are some swanky stores at The Shops of Wailea and at the Outlets of Lahaina. Soon there will be a TJ Maxx at the Maui Mall. There’s even a Whole Foods.

The Target opening seems to put people into two camps: the people who oppose consumption, “Enough stuff already!” and those who want cheaper prices than at Wal-mart, “Bring it on!”

Some of my friends are sad about Target’s opening, because it represents Maui becoming more like the mainland, with another mainland store. I suspect the people who are most distressed about Target are the ones who moved to Maui to escape suburban sprawl. They had their fill of big box stores and are simplifying their lives, downsizing, living on Maui, trying to shop local. But it’s really hard to shop local on Maui when local stores don’t always carry what you need, or the prices are sky high because there’s not much competition and you’re living on low wages. There are also people who don’t want more malls on Maui but are secret Amazon junkies.  Confession: I adore Mana Foods, our north shore health food store/grocery store, but secretly crave Trader Joe’s.

Crowded aisles of Target filled with families.
We checked out Target. Surprisingly it didn’t take 4 years to build. The Target people must have paid extra to have quicker construction than is normal for this island.  The aisles were full of families with small children and their aunties, uncles, parents, grandparents, and cousins. We even saw a Tibetan monk in orange robes. Hardly any tourists and not a lot of Caucasians either.  I could be at the Maui Fair, except it was in Target, or Tarzhay.

I bet most of these people had never been in a Target before.  Looked like some of them even brought their high school dates along.

In the middle of a crowded aisle, DH and I ran into a friend. Because it’s Maui, there’s always a high probability of seeing someone you know while shopping. Jennifer Poppy grabbed me for a selfie and declared, “This is a historic moment! We will look back at this when we are old and gray and recall when Target opened on Maui.”  DH touched a gray hair and exclaimed, “I resemble that remark!”

Selfie snapped by Jennifer Poppy of
Island Gypsy Hawaii
We looked at house wares and laundry baskets and Easter bunny wine stoppers (really? I am torn between this is sooo cute and then thinking, WTF???) and groceries and then I got very tired and wanted to go home. DH was and is hoping for more competitive prices.  In his words, Tarzhay should “kick Wal-mart’s butt.” Maybe Wal-mart would restock their shelves more than once a year. They have been notoriously bad at keeping inventory. Friends have told me they know some of the people who work in Wal-mart, as if that explains the empty shelves. Of course!  Hand slapping forehead! It’s because so and so works there. Once in a while, we shop at Wal-mart, because there is a reason to go there (like motor oil or auto filters or flea collars under $20) and we take a deep breath, chin up, and walk in, hoping that the shelves are stocked. (In fairness to Wal-mart, other stores do have inventory problems. Maybe it’s the fault of the shipping schedule and unexpectedly high numbers of tourists that particular week, rather than Maui’s uber excellent work ethic.)

At the same time as Target opened, native Hawaiians marched for unity around the island of Maui last week. The last time they marched around the island, a 200 mile journey that takes a week, was in 2009. The ka’apuni (circle island march) was planned for the end of the Hawaiian New Year, with a visit to each traditional Hawaiian district of the island, called a moku. My understanding is that this torch-lit circle-march was held every year in the days of old Hawaii and is nonstop, like the Olympic Torch Relay.  

I think it’s a really important event, though I didn’t participate in it. Walking by foot to visit each traditional Hawaiian district of the island is the opposite of our dominant culture, where speed, efficiency, and concrete results are prized. My impression from what little I know about the march is that it was about paying respect to the ancestors and reconnecting with the land, literally step by step. Last year at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, a powerful film called Dakota 38 was shown, about a prayer ride in the middle of winter to honor Native Americans who were tragically killed. This event is in the same category for me, a prayer walk of reverence. It makes me think of pilgrims and other seekers who for centuries have walked the road to Santiago across Northern Spain, except this pilgrimage is in my back yard.

I would have liked to have participated in the walk, even if it only meant meeting the walkers as they reached my district. That didn’t happen because I didn’t find out ahead of time when they would be coming through my moku and I was not willing to stand on the side of the highway for three days, wondering, or driving 80 miles to meet them en route. It’s not the fault of the organizers.  I did not prioritize finding out their schedule ahead of time to meet them and so I did not get updated.  I wondered about the logistics of keeping their phones charged so they could send text messages or update their Facebook page. I wondered if they blocked cars behind them, or if people honked at them, in protest or in support. They walked during one of the wettest weeks on Maui this winter, after days of hot “summer” weather in January and February.

Whether or not I participated isn’t really important. What’s significant is that the event existed at all. In a world where it’s hard enough to get a bunch of people together for a meeting or an event, it’s really amazing to get a number of people together to physically exert themselves and take a week out of their lives to do something that does not translate into dollars and cents.  Something that is not as tangible and easy as going shopping.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

March 2015 Events on Maui

A list of some fun and interesting events in March (by no means complete):

Please visit the websites to make sure the event dates, locations and times are still correct.

Ka’apuni March continues from February 28, 7 day/7 night circumnavigation of the island of Maui by native Hawaiians marking the end of the Makahiki (Hawaiian New Year) season.  Details are TBA. All are welcome to walk for any distance. Visit the Ka'apuni Facebook page for updates.

Vegan Potluck and Kirtan (Singing) - Sunday, March 1. Haiku, 2 pm - ???. $10 donation. 

Annie Get Your GunFriday, March 6 - Sunday, March 22, see show times. Iao Theater, Wailuku. Irving Berlin's popular musical about sharpshooters Annie Oakley and her sweetheart Frank Butler. Confession: I have one friend on stage and another behind the scenes, so if I'm going, you have to go too. : )

Whale and Ocean Arts Festival – Saturday, March 7 – Sunday, March 8. Under the Banyan Tree in Lahaina.  Celebrating the annual migration of Pacific Humpback whales to Maui. Learn about whales by naturalists, listen to live music, watch free entertainment, and meet local artists. FREE.

Art by Juna. Saturday, March 7. 6-8pm. Juna's Debut Art Show and Benefit. Celebrate one of Maui's rising stars and be part of a special evening featuring art, kombucha, pupus and live music. Juna is only 4 years old. Free.

Grow Some Good Fundraiser – Saturday, March 7 – Hotel Wailea. School gardens fundraiser featuring gourmet dinner, silent auction and live music.

OmZone Maui Whale Watch Drum Circle – Saturday March 7, 3:30 – 6 pm. Join drummers and musicians – not your ordinary whale watch trip.  

Volunteer at the Earthbag Building Workday at the Ka Hale O Ke Ola Homeless Resource Center in Wailuku. Saturday, March 7, 9 am - 4 pm. 

Spring Bazaar at the Paia Mantokuji Mission, Sunday, March 8, 7 am -11 am. Like a church rummage sale with a Japanese flavor. Yes, there are also yummy Japanese food items to buy. 

ONO – One Night Only. ONO Lit, Monday, March 9. 6:30 pm. Wailuku. Maui Onstage presents readings by local performers.

Upcountry Sustainability: Understanding the Hawaii Legislative Process. Monday, March 9. For people who are interested in preserving Hawaii’s natural beauty and protecting the environment. Free.

Symphony of the Soil. Friday, March 13, 6:30 pm. Film showing and reception sponsored by the Merwin Conservancy.  

Ohana Day at Kapahu Farm. Saturday, March 14, Kipahulu. 10am - 1 pm. Volunteer in a wetland taro patch. Lunch provided. 

Rainwater Harvesting Workshop - FREE. Tuesday, March 17, 11 am - 4 pm. University of Hawaii - Maui Campus, Laulima 211. When opening the link, scroll almost to the bottom.

Storytelling: Legends & Ghosts in HawaiĘ»i – Friday, March 20, Maui Arts & Cultural Center.

Beach Cleanup with the Surfrider Foundation, Saturday, March 21. Waiehu Beach. Details TBA.

TedxYouth Seabury Hall – Friday, March 29.  Seabury Hall, Makawao. This event brings talented young speakers from Maui’s public and private schools to share their perspectives and gifts.  $10 and up.

Prince Kuhio Ho’olaulea – Saturday, March 28, 9am - 4pm. A day of hula, music, art, exhibits, and keiki activities under the Banyan Tree in Lahaina to honor Prince Kuhio. FREE.

The Hawaiian Pa'u Rider - Sunday, March 29, 11 am - on. Documentary film on Hawaiian Pa'u Riders (Decorated Horses and Riders), followed by workshops on Pa'u wrapping and horse leis. Maui Arts and Cultural Center.

FREE Gardening class on Grafting, Orchard Fertilization and Pruning - Monday, March 30, 10 am - noon. Haiku. Register by emailing hgsn2011 (at) gmail (dot) com. 

Maui Friday Parties are also free throughout the month. More information here:

Maui Short Story Contest – Write a Maui short story of 1500 words or less. Deadline: March 27th.