Knock-Knock

Aloha!
There was a bellower in the hospital bed across the hall from me. He
would yell Eeeyyyy! (not in the cute Arthur Fonzerelli style), and because this
is Maui, the nurse would bellow back. He’d bellow, she’d bellow. My pretty young doctor came in and said she’d only been on Maui a month but she was already moving to the hospital on Oahu. Seems she couldn’t take the “community” style of doctoring here, which is a nicer way of saying what might be considered “unprofessional” elsewhere…Like that bellowing nurse.

The reason I’m in the hospital is because of a botched (gallbladder) surgery from five years ago. Everyone told me not to have surgery on Maui, and because I hadn’t done it before, I didn’t believe them. What could possibly go wrong? Plenty. Three more procedures later, I thought everything was solved, but no, Here I am, back in the hospital.

I’ve lost track of the number of physicians I’ve had at Kaiser on Maui. You see, they move to Paradise thinking everything is going to be perfect, and when they find out how little they make compared to the cost of housing, or how much private school will be for their children, they leave. Then there are the ones like my young doctor in the hospital who just moved here from Chicago and simply can’t take the country-style feel of medicine on Maui.
Remember the movie “Doc Holiday?” It’s kind of like that, except there’s no
happy ending, where the doctor actually stays on.

The big joke here is that when you check into Maui Memorial Hospital, you don’t check out. You’re dead. A friend of mine is married to a radiologist on Maui and when he got blood poisoning he refused to stay in the hospital. And he cited the above quote as the reason why.

Another practice on Maui is “rent a doctors.” Doctors and nurses come here because it sounds like fun to be in Paradise for a while. And they are only temps. The question is, where did they come from? How good are they? Are they running from problems elsewhere?

I’m not saying you can’t find a perfectly fine physician to treat your cold or flu on Maui. I absolutely love my GP and my OB/GYN (both female.) You just might want to rethink the whole surgery thing. So that means getting on a plane when you feel like snot to FLY to Oahu or the mainland to have your surgery. And guess what? Kaiser frowns on the practice and won’t pay for your airfare!

Much of the basic problem with my healthcare started with the fact that I had a surgeon five years ago who hadn’t had enough practice. We’re only a population of 150,000 people (100,000 twelve years ago). How much practice can they get? Always ask how many procedures a surgeon does per year and compare it to Information online that states how much experience a doctor should have. My doctor on Maui was performing about 1/10 the number of procedures needed to stay proficient. Another thing people don’t think about when they move to Paradise…

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
Orange.
Orange who?
Orange you glad it was me in the hospital, and not you?

Many, many thanks to those of you who wrote to express your
good wishes while I was in the hospital. Mahalo nui loa for your care and
concern!

A hui hou!  Mahalo for stopping by.
Aloha,
Jamaica

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MIA

Aloha!
I have been in the hospital and apologize that there has been no new content. Please bear with me and I will have a new post up soon…thanks for your patience.
Mahalo Nui Loa,
Jamaica

Dog in a Cat Suit

Dog in a Cat Suit

Aloha!

Our cat Lili eats all kinds of Hawaiian fruit: papaya, mango, lilikois. Cherimoyas are her very favorite, but they’re hard to come by. Actually, Lili eats all fruit. Come to think of it, she has never turned down anything we’ve ever offered her, including onions and champagne. She has a very adventurous palette. Here she’s finishing up the last of a papaya:

Lili Eating Papaya

And here she’s working on an avocado:

Lili Eating Avocado

We put that little cat-print fabric down because she’s a bit of a messy eater. We stumbled on all of this when she was a kitten and Mike sat down to watch a football game with some caramel corn, and Lili jumped up and asked for some. He made the mistake of sharing with her…and she has expected to eat whatever we are eating ever since. She jumps up on the banquette in the breakfast nook every morning and waves her paw in the air like a music conductor, until someone notices and offers her something like bacon and eggs or mango smoothie. Pretty good table manners.

She also comes skidding to the door on two wheels whenever company arrives. Lili loves company. The original Party Animal. People can’t believe she greets them at the door. They are always saying, “That’s the most amazing cat” and we say, “We know…it’s like she’s a dog in a cat suit, except we can’t find the zipper!”

Since she has such expensive eating habits (our own fault, we know) it would be nice if we could find a way to get her on Leno, or maybe Live! With Kelly and Michael. She’s way more entertaining than a lot of the acts they have on. Here, she’s helping to dictate this blog post:

Lili Dictating Blog Post

If anybody has any connections, give us a shout. ‘Cuz now she’s asking to go to college and this is going to get expensive.

A hui hou! If you’d like to subscribe to this bolg, please click the Follow button on the Home page. Mahalo for stopping by!

Aloha, Jamaica

The Best of Maui, 2012

The Best of Maui, 2012

Aloha!

Every year The Maui News runs a contest for people to vote on the best of everything Maui, including restaurants and activities. It is the Valley Isle’s “Best of Maui” survey, established in 1992. The results are in…and while I whole-heartedly agree with some, others leave me scratching my head. Huh? For instance, Alan Wong’s new “Amasia” won “Best New Restaurant” and since we were just there for my birthday (and the review will be posted later on), I can’t say I back up those reader’s opinions.

But that’s what Opinions are all about, right?

However, as we sat at Amasia (at The Grand Wailea) we looked around, and comparing it to other restaurants, said, “You just can’t beat “Mama’s Fish House” for ambience on Maui–and sure enough, listed under

“Best Ambience” was Mama’s Fish House.

Best Water Activity: Teralani Sailing Adventures. I have been on almost every boat EXCEPT the Teralani!

Best Lu’au: Old Lahaina Luau. I disagree. I would move in and live at “The Feast at Lele” luau and let them feed me their gourmet food for the rest of my life. (We have friends in Europe who say that their night at The Feast at Lele was the highlight of their entire Hawaii trip, which included multiple islands.) But I’m talking food here, and the Old Lahaina Luau’s buffet line and watery drinks just don’t do it for me.

Best Restaurant Overall: Lahaina Grill.  Oh, my. Don’t get me started on the last time we went there. A mix-up with our gift card (we were in the right, they were in the wrong)– had the waiter chasing us down the street as if we’d robbed the place. Not a fun way to end the evening. Anyway, as Mike just said, “Why would anyone go there, when Gerard’s French Restaurant is just down the street? It’s way better.”  I can’t agree more, though Gerard’s did win for Best French Restaurant.

Best Ethnic Restaurant: A Saigon Cafe www.mauivietnameserestaurant.com 1792 Main St., Wailuku. Again, sorry. Just can’t agree with those who say they crave the “exotic and fiery rice in a clay pot.” Their food doesn’t win me over, the place has a strange smell from those clay pots –maybe Chinese Five Spice?  and it has always seemed a bit seedy, but the article on its win says that it’s under a renovation that should be completed next week. But there are obviously people who love this place.

Best Kid-Friendly Restaurant- Ruby’s Diner 275 Queen Kaahumanu Center www.rubys.com  Kids’ menu available for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Best Resort Restaurant: Ko at the Fairmont Kea Lani Foods from Maui’s illustrious plantation heritage: Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Portuguese. It just re-opened this spring after a $5.1 million renovation. It’s next on our list of places to try, but I’ve heard really good things about it from friends.

Best Sushi: Sansei, in both Kihei and Kapalua www.sanseihawaii.com This is also our choice for sushi because of their early-bird and after-10 pm discounts.

Best Pizza: Flatbread Pizza Company, Paia www.flatbreadcompany.com

Best Seafood: Mama’s Fish House www.mamasfishhouse.com What’s not to love about Mama’s?(other than the large dent in your wallet) Its ocean-view, cove-like setting makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time to Trader Vic times, only better, much better. I once asked about their many wow-factor tropical floral arrangements and was told they have their own floral designer who works only for them. So that explains it. I’m not even a fish eater…but I love Mama’s.

Best Bakery: Komoda’s Store and Bakery in Makawao. They’ve been in business for 96 years, they must be doing something right! They’re best known for their cream-puffs, however all the breads are done by hand, 100% from scratch. No automation involved.

Best Steak: Ruth’s Chris Steak House. www.ruthschris.com. They have two locations, one in Wailea and one in Lahaina. We go for their prime time special, between 5 and 6 PM; the three-course special runs $42.95 and is more than we can possibly eat.

So that about wraps it up… What is your opinion of this year’s winners? Who would you add or subtract from the list?

A hui hou. If you’d like to subscribe to this blog please click the Follow Button on the Home page. Mahalo for stopping by!

Aloha, Jamaica

The Sounds of Silence

The Sounds of Silence

Aloha!

Yesterday we decided to go for a hike to the Swinging Bridges. It’s one of those hikes that I’ve been saying for 13 years I was going to go do, but for a variety of reasons including never knowing if it was really open or not or if it required a permit or not, I’d never done. Just to be on the safe side I googled it to see if the permit would be required, and was chastened to find out it is now closed, permanently and irrevocably. As in razor wire and high fences. The website said “another casualty of Maui Revealed, ” referred to as “that damn book” at the concierge desk where I worked, because it gave away every last local secret, and places like Swinging Bridges got overused and trampled by tourists, though the final nail in the coffin was probably that Adam Sandler filmed there in “Just Go With It.”

So we gave up on that idea and headed out to a favorite hike Upcountry, which promised the possibility of fresh blackberries to be picked. It has been blazing hot where we live, at an elevation of 1500 feet. When we built our house we assumed we would never need air conditioning. But each year it has seemed hotter and hotter and eventually we broke down and put in window air conditioners, which cost a small fortune to run, and we use sparingly. I thought maybe it was just my imagination that it’s been hotter, but then I read an article which stated that Hawaii is running an average of 10° hotter in the last decade. Global warming, indeed.

This hike is at about 3500 elevation, and cool as shave ice after the heat we’ve been experiencing. The soil is black, not red, and moist, not chalky
and dry. I breathe deeply… The smell of wet earth mixed with moss and wet green grass on this mid-morning stroll fills me with joy. We pass a house with two friendly goats in the yard. They trot to the fence and Mike pulls grass and
feeds them. They are comical looking, and one has the most beautiful brown
markings on its face that I’ve ever seen on a goat. The cows stop grazing and
lift their heads to stare at us as we pass. One bull stands so stock-still, I
think for a moment he’s a statue, until the telltale flick of his tail.

We climb and climb, and now we have a view of Oprah’s Maui house
below us. You would not believe all the people who are fanatically interested in
where Oprah lives on Maui. The thing I remember as we hike is an article in her magazine where she talked about spending a long time at her house one summer. She said in all the years she’d been trying to lose weight, that just hiking with her dogs on the hills behind this house had made the pounds melt
miraculously, with no diet required. We are hiking those same hills now, and I
know I will feel it tomorrow.

Up and up, and now we have a clear, unobstructed view of the channel, and there’s Kaho’olawe, parked in the ocean, with the crescent shape of Molokini nearby. All of this below us as far as the eye can see, ocean, fields, islands surrounded by water, and not a single sound. Not one. Not so much as a car or a lawnmower. Finally a lone dog lets out a woof and it echoes across the air. Then stillness again.

I am blessed/ cursed, depending on the situation, with acute hearing. Engines rumbling on a plane ride for instance, are anathema to me. So if somehow I could live in this perfect silence I would. Mike mentions that we should buy acreage for a retreat, up here where it’s cool, where we would be away from the cane burns and fertilizers… And I think Right, sure…with the money we have squirreled away in a sock in the drawer. Nice thought, though.

We come to the end of our hike, and another farmer’s gate with a sign beseeching us to lock it behind us because cattle are grazing, and we do. I find myself not wanting to leave, not wanting to go back down to the heat and the dust and noise and the people and the work that’s waiting for us. Just another few moments, please.

Just as those who visit Maui on vacation, and don’t want to go home, when a week or two is never long enough… these stolen moments on a perfectly silent Sunday morning have not been enough. But they will have to do.

A hui hou. Mahalo for stopping by!

Aloha, Jamaica

A Tourist’s Card

A Tourist’s Card

Aloha!

In the September issue of the Costco Connection under the Travel section, there is an article titled “Discovering the Dominican Republic.” The article states that upon landing in the Dominican Republic, visitors must purchase a (tourism tax) Tourist Card before clearing customs. The card costs US $10 per person and must be paid in cash.

The endless possibilities for corruption with so much cash notwithstanding, I find the concept intriguing. In my recent blog post “Time to Shape Up,” I discussed how the amenities available to tourists in Maui, such as the park systems and restrooms, are old and run down, including the Kahului airport. But the cry in Hawaii is always that there’s not enough money, no matter how many tourists come.

For those of you unfamiliar, the problem comes down to the General Fund in Hawaii. It’s basically a catchment system that all money is funneled into and out of. Problems arise when one particular entity needs money or has even raised money… but it must filter first through the General Fund, and often does not land where intended. The most recent example of this is the libraries system. The Friends of the Library were consistently raising money to benefit the library system, which was then placed in the General Fund and unavailable to the library system. See the problem? I am quite
pleased that this was recently revised, and any monies from benefits and/or
fundraisers for the library will stay within the library system, where it belongs.

Which brings us to the concept of a Tourist Card. If Hawaii is consistently strapped for money, which it is, then why not institute something of this sort, which could pay for the infrastructures which the tourist’s use? For each time that a tourist checks into a nice hotel on Maui (and pays a hefty “Resort Fee” per day for the pleasure) they are also using the Maui roads, infrastructure, parks systems, and beaches. Not to mention the airport, which is badly in need of an upgrade.

As Mike and I discussed this at length, we came to realize the inherent problems with such a card: who would say where the money went, and how? Every politician would have their hand in the pot, unless some strict guidelines were in force. For instance: each island could get to keep the money that was collected from a tourist’s deplaning on that island only. The money would not go into the General Fund, but rather a Tourist Fund, per Island. Returning Hawaii residents would be exempt.  For each year’s money
collected, a pet project could be chosen: this year the roads, next year the
park restrooms, et cetera. And no one could claim that the system was unfair as far as monies collected, because the number of tourists arriving would equal thenumber of Tourist Card dollars staying on that particular island. Oahu mightcollect more money because of more tourists, but those tourists are also using the Oahu roads.

The Dominican Republic is able to monitor this because their tourists must pass through customs. In our discussion Mike and I realized the enormity of setting up such a system in Hawaii, especially where the collection point would be concerned. Collection would fall either to the airline for its passengers, or a deplaning station would have to be built and instituted, sort of a security line in reverse. Difficult yes, but not impossible, certainly.

So the question is this: as a tourist, would you be willing to pay a small fee, say $10, for a Tourist Card, if the money went strictly to amenities for tourism, or roads, on that island? And would you balk if you were to Island-hop and that $10 fee was applied to each island? What about if it was $10 at an origination point and only $2.00 if you island-hopped? Or what about $2.00 per island, period?

None of this too pricey for a honeymooning couple, perhaps, but for a family of four it could really add up. Unless the system included a way to notate the tourist’s origination point, and the tourist would not have to repay. Then we would have the neighbor Islands screaming because too many people had originated at Oahu and the dollars would not transfer (though that is changing somewhat in that the airline hubs are moving to outer islands.)

This is obviously just a rough idea. Please share your thoughts on whether or not you believe a Tourist Card could be a viable idea and whether you’d be willing to pay for one if the bugs were worked out.

And I’d like to hear any and all ideas you have in regard to same.

A hui hou. If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the Follow button on the Homepage. Mahalo for stopping by!

Maui Weather Today: High of 85, Low of 71

Aloha, Jamaica

Living on this Island

Living on this Island

Aloha!

People are certain a move to Maui will strengthen a marriage; eliminate job stress, and take them away from the grime and crime of their area. People dream about moving to Maui, however, few take the leap due to fear of the unknown and losing touch…

Would you be able to live on an island? I really don’t think about being surrounded by water here, but there are people whom it really bothers. I knew a woman named Linda who lived Upcountry and had this view:

West Maui Mountains

I thought the view was spectacular, but it drove her crazy. She said that because she could see the island end to end, she knew all the time that she was surrounded by water. Her husband was an engineer who had come to Maui to oversee the cleanup of Kahoolawe, so they were only going to be here for a few years… But she left after two years, she couldn’t take it.
Interestingly, people say the cut-off is two years for how long newcomers last in Maui. The novelty wears off of going to the beach every single day. People drive around and around the island and realize they’ve seen everything. What’s next? But that’s it, we’re on an island.

Or they see that their favorite band is going to play on the mainland, and they start realizing all they’re missing. Or they start thinking that the family that drove them crazy back home wasn’t so bad after all. And they think that their friends on the mainland will come visit more often than they do… But airline travel is very expensive and annoying now. And they find out that when the sugarcane is burnt they get headaches and their lungs feel heavy…or if they have asthma, they simply can’t breathe when the Vog (volcanic organic gas) from the Big Island rolls in.

I know a girl who works for one of the moving companies, and she told me this story: a Woman moved here with her two children. She moved everything, and was still unloading the crate from the shipper when they burned the sugarcane. The woman was horrified, both her children had asthma, and she had no idea that they burned the sugarcane. She loaded the crate back up that minute, and left the island. They never even moved in. The girl at the moving company told me they all thought that was some kind of new record.

Moving to Maui is a big commitment. It isn’t like the mainland where you can just put stuff in a moving truck and drive across state line. It takes so much thought, preparation and money, that if you get here and decide it isn’t for you, you can’t just turn around and leave.

Do you think you could live on an island? Would it bother you to be surrounded by water? Could you leave your friends and family? Would you be willing to have your pay cut dramatically and yet have your housing costs practically double? Would your work skills even translate to Maui?

Moving to Maui, like marriage, should not be entered into lightly.

A hui hou! If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the Follow button on the Home page. Mahalo for stopping by!

Aloha, Jamaica