My name is Jamaica Michaels and I moved to Maui on a whim 16 years ago. Lots of people do that, it seems. That’s why they peddle those t-shirts on Front Street in Lahaina that say “Sell everything–I’m never coming home!”
Someone, maybe you, manages to take a vacation here to soak up the sun, the beauty of the ever-changing ocean, and the majesty of the West Maui Mountains. Suddenly, the cubicle back in Des Moines, or the overheated house in Alberta, or the snow-covered used-car sales lot where you just know you won’t make a single sale when you get home–not so appealing. So, you leap.
My reason for moving to Maui was simple: I had skinny, bony feet and never wanted to wear real shoes again. My move to Maui itself was ill-conceived and even more poorly executed. I took everything sentimental and left all the practical stuff–because of course I could just replace it here–ha! (At that time you couIdn’t even buy silverware on Maui; I had to go to Oahu and bring it home on the plane). I shipped my car, because of course I was staying forever. No trial run, just bam! here I was.
You have to understand, this was not me. I’m a planner, a Details person. I’m an ASID licensed Interior Designer, and with that comes the ability to problem-solve and execute details in my sleep. But Maui had bewitched me: it was the last morning of my first cruise of the Hawaiian islands with my mom. The cruise ship was chugging toward Maui, our last stop, and I stumbled up on the deck at 5:45 am with a crook in my neck from the small bed, and in dire need of a gallon of coffee. Just then the apricot dawn was slowly turning to a turquoise sky and I could only stand transfixed at the sight of the sunrise cresting Haleakala and spilling over the West Maui mountains. I turned to my mom, said, “By the way, I’m moving here,” and that was that. I hadn’t even set foot on the island. Wise woman, she didn’t even argue, figuring, I guess, that there are worse places for her only daughter to end up and besides, she’d get a free place to stay in Hawaii.
In this blog I will be sharing with you what it’s really like to live on Maui. Not the picture postcard /movie trailer/ cue the music version, but the day-to-day reality. For the past 12 years I have worked as a concierge at a Maui hotel, and I’ve also built both a house and a business from scratch here, and I’ve pretty much seen it all. I live “Upcountry”, where regular, Maui people live, which is to say not at the beach, but at an elevation of 1,500 feet, at the base of Haleakala mountain. I have one man (former professional surfer Mike Turkington), one cat, two chickens and lots and lots of papaya trees, banana trees, lilikoi vines, oranges, herbs and tropical flowers. That’s “Talulah” the boss hen, that I’m holding in the photo at the top, and we get nice brown eggs every day:
Moving to Maui is like getting married for the first time while young and naive. It doesn’t matter how much you think you know, you’re never prepared. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had the trial run of other relationships, marriage is a capital “M” . Just like Maui.
I promise I will give it to you straight: all the glorious, messy details of what it means to live in “Paradise.”(“Tell them about the cockroaches–be sure to mention the cockroaches!” my niece who is visiting just insisted.) So yes, the cockroaches, the red dirt, the pitiless wind (“Every day is a bad hair day on Maui,” Mike’s Mom says every time she steps off the plane.) The sky-high prices of absolutely everything… and the work-arounds that those of us who live here come up with. But also the enchantment that each sunset works on us, and the utter joy of getting up almost every single day to blinding sunshine.
So if you want to move here, or just love visiting Maui, stop by this site and we’ll chat. Just remember, in Maui, all things being equal, your hair will always look like crud.
A hui hou! (til next time). If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the “Follow” button on the right. I post about twice weekly.
Some day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.
Copyright Jamaica Michaels, 2011,2012,2013,2014,2015,2016. All rights reserved. May not be reblogged or reprinted without written permission of the author.