With about 2 weeks left before I head to the mainland for the summer of hell, I’ve been looking back on my time out here in Maui. I will have spent 8 months on the island and despite having spent so much time here, I never really got around to doing as much as I wanted to in terms of exploring the island and really getting into the life out here. I’m just now getting used to the difference in time zones after spending most of my life in the east. Now I get to do it all over again, when I go back, and when I return.
To be honest, I know, a rarity for me, my mindset was not good when I got here. The previous year and a half, starting with losing the cats, giving up the boat life, dealing with the maniac landlord, a bout of some kind of flu, and some extreme financial issues, my little brain was not into adventure and exploration upon landing at OGG. All I really wanted to do for awhile was relax, have some quiet time, try to regain some health, and get the finances back together again. It all happened. As I get ready for a 14 hour/6 time zone/hope the airlines don’t beat me up on the plane, odyssey back to Pa., I am feeling much more better than when I came here.
I was able to get a few things accomplished. I saw enough of the island to change my status from Floridian to Hawaiian, at least on paper. I got a real good feel for what life is like out here beyond the touristy crap. And when I return in September, I will, hopefully, be in a more better mindset to get out and do more stuff.
Other than the landlord I have not met anyone nor done any socializing since arriving. The past two years proved what real friends are and given I have so few of said friends, making new ones was not on the agenda. I do see people I recognize now and then. Regular bus riders, worker bees at the stores, but I have no desire to interact. The only place I even bothered to go out to was the Moose for the football games in the fall. And even then, I would have preferred to follow the games at home online. Being unsociable works just fine for me right now.
The only real thing I don’t like about Hawaii is the cost of food and some goods. I knew it would be expensive, but still, it’s been a bit of sticker shock. I try every week to keep the food costs down but it’s not easy. Lower rent would help immensely but for what I pay, and what I have for living accommodations, it’s worth it for now. As far as I know, I have the place when I return in Sept. I am assuming the rent will be the same and the landlady has not indicated any issues. We seem to get along fine, don’t interact very much, and nobody is getting drunk and bringing loudmouth hookers home. However, I am making contingency plans just in case. Years of experience have proven when times are good, something bad is about to happen.
Maui is probably the most expensive island to live on out here in terms of affordable rent. I’ve seen some cheaper places but they are mostly half assed cabins, tree houses, tents, or farms where the owners are trying to get free labor in exchange for shelter. Now and then a place shows up which looks ok, but I am content with what I have for now.
Oahu, and more specifically, Honolulu has a lot of cheap apartments and rooms for rent. But again, it’s a big city with a dense population, lots of crime, traffic, noise, and all the things I would prefer not to deal with. I want to go there for a short term visit, like a month perhaps, but no more. As cheap as it is, and enticing financially, I don’t see it happening as a long term place to live.
The Big Island intrigues me more and more. It’s big, for one thing, hence the name, and judging from the ads there are a lot more places to rent down there. Hilo is a slightly larger city at 40,000 people, with all the shopping and has plenty of rentals, but to the south, close to the volcano, there are a lot of rural areas with off the grid type stuff which are inexpensive, private, and look like a nice change of pace. When my current digs have to be changed, assuming I don’t find anything more better on Maui, I may go to Hilo, grab an AirBnB for a month, and see what I can find. One slight problem, should I do wind up down there and move to a more rural area, a vehicle may become a necessity. Not something I particularly want, but given the lack of public transport, and long distances to the stores, a motorized vehicle may happen. If it does, it does. There are plenty of cheap vehicles for sale out here.
Plan C, should I fail to find another place out here, and again, this is all speculation, but it never hurts to keep some sort of back up plan at the ready, is to return to Key West. Since land accommodations are pretty much out of reach on my budget, a boat in the mooring field is the main option. I will have the resources, if necessary come the middle of summer to purchase another vessel if it comes to this. Nothing fancier than what I had before, but factoring in the $335 a month mooring field rent, it would mean being able to live in Key West under way more favorable financial terms. However, given I am now 62, and need to lose some serious weight, and get back into a more better physical condition, dealing with a boat, the weather, battling pirates, accommodating mermaids and purring sea serpents, and generally taking care of said vessel looks like a lot more work than it used too. Still, as I have said before, you can take the captain off the boat but you can’t take the boat out of the captain. I still shop the boat ads every week because old habits die hard.
And yes, there is a plan D. Should all else fail, I lose my happy home in Maui. I can’t find another place out here. A boat does not work out. I would go with the rv lifestyle again. Find some sort of combination be it a jeep/teardrop, motorhome, camper van, whatever, I would be perfectly fine with living in campgrounds again. Being 62 opens up a lot more options especially for retirement parks where there ain’t no damn noisy brats running around and crime is way less. It’s not a bad lifestyle and not very expensive assuming you stay away from the really fancy rv parks.
A plan E? I may, or may not go ahead and get a passport when I come back. I have no real plans to go any foreign lands and given the current political climate, said travel may not be available, but who knows. If nothing else, I would have another form of id. Just a consideration.
So, the options are there this time and I will be in more better shape to pick and chose where and how I want to live, which not too many people can say or do. How would you like to be choosing between living in Key West or Hawaii? You could if you been paying attention to this blog. Anyways…
In my many years on this planet I have lived in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Florida, and Hawaii. I’ve lived in big cities, out in the country, small villages, and a few islands. I’ve lived in the mountains, near the ocean, on the ocean, and sometimes on the road. Of all my travels, through all my adventures, only one place has every really remotely felt like home and I am afraid to say, it’s not Hawaii.
The one place I always felt drawn too, the one little spot on the map where I seemed to belong, is the little village where I was born in Pa…..just kidding.
It’s Key West.
This goddam little 2 by 4 mile of rock at the end of the Overseas Highway has had a spell on me from the first time I visited there back in 1974. Living there, despite all the issues seemed like the right thing to do. I cannot ‘splain it, nor would I try but I have always felt I belonged in Key West. I am really surprised, even way out here in an island paradise, I am still homesick for the place. The island inspired me to write 3 books. It definitely attracted a lot of you Fritter followers to this here blog. A quirky little island full of really weird people put a hook into me which I cannot remove, probably never will.
Please don’t misunderstand. I am not dissing Maui nor Hawaii. I have absolutely no regrets making the move out here, but these islands don’t feel like home, yet. It’s probably not a fair comparison. I’ve only been here 8 months compared to 9 years in the Keys and 39 years in Florida itself. Given more time I suspect Hawaii will get more of a grip on me. I will know more better when the plane takes off on the 9th of May headed for the mainland how much I will miss it out here and how badly I will want to come back.
The trip back to Pa., as much as I despise the place is a necessity for the moment. My family is in ill health and they could use some help. Financially, the trip will give me a chance to build up a hefty cash reserve allowing me to come back here to Maui and fully enjoy all the island has to offer, without getting to fancy.
The four months I will be up there in the dank, damp, depressing hinterlands will give me a good opportunity to figger out what I want going forward. If i can avoid eating like a pig, unlikely, and not put too much more weight on, when I return to Maui, I am planning on doing some hiking, maybe some biking, and who knows what else. It may be time to get back in the water again. A little paddle boarding perhaps, maybe even some scuba diving. It’s been awhile and Maui is a good place to be doing such things. All in good time.
Key West will always be home. I may never go back there to live or even visit, or I may go back and never leave. Either way, it will still be home. Maui and Hawaii have a long ways to go to get to Key West status but I am more than willing to give it a chance. The move out here, whilst not at a good time mentally, was the right thing to do. I’m glad I am out here. I am getting pretty used to the sandals/shorts/fishing shirts lifestyle now. Hawaii is not perfect, although the weather comes pretty close, but no place is. It’s just less imperfect than most other places I have been. We will see what comes next when I return.