Shark Attack Victim Dies

I am sad to report that Jana Lutteropp, a 20 year-old German tourist, has died one week after a shark bit off her arm while she was snorkeling in Makena. It is not known what kind of shark was involved in the attack.

“Jana fought hard to stay alive,” her mother and sister said in a statement.”However, we are sad to say she lost her fight today.”

The last time someone died of a shark attack in Hawaii was in 2004. A Tiger shark bit Willis McGuinness in the leg while he was surfing at S-turns, (near Kahana) 100 yards off Maui. He suffered severe blood loss and died onshore. The last fatal attack before that was in 1992.

Tuesday, Hawaii officials announced they plan to spend the next two years studying Tiger shark movements around Maui, amid what they call an unprecedented spike in overall shark attacks since the beginning of 2012.

There have been eight attacks statewide this year, and 10 in 2012. Hawaii usually sees 3-4 per year.

What can be learned from this? Mike Turkington, uber-surfer and former fireman/water rescue guy, said that in both of these shark-related deaths, the water was murky. After a rain, there is often run-off into certain areas and dead fish or dead animals are floating in the water. Exactly what a hungry shark would be looking for.

So heads-up: don’t snorkel, or standup paddle, or surf in, or near murky water. Your life could depend on it.

Rest in sweet peace, Jana.

A hui hou! If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the “follow” button on the homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

Enough to go around

I am of the opinion that there’s enough stress to go around in this world, no matter where you live. And that includes Maui.

We got up this morning to the telltale signs of termites munching happily on our beautiful cherry floors. See their little holes? There are suddenly about eight of those.

Here’s what that looked like in the big picture. Look closely and you’ll see the small pile in the foreground:


This is a headache, because termite treatment is a) expensive and b) a pain. I have refused to tent this house, because first of all, we’d have to move out, and second of all, there is an alternative method now to all those nasty chemicals: orange oil. This is what we used the last time the termites invaded, and we’ve at least fooled ourselves into believing it worked. Until now.

The termites are the least of what is on our minds on Maui right now. I presume you’ve heard about the latest shark attack, where the German tourist’s arm was bitten off in Makena? And in the last month, two people died while snorkeling off Black Rock in Kaanapali (separate incidents); one guy was a well-known newspaper reporter from my home town in California. Black Rock is very deceptive. People think that they’ll just swim out and take a gander at the turtles. The time I tried that I got caught in the riptide and couldn’t get back in, and almost drowned myself.

Then, a father and son had to be rescued by helicopter while hiking in Iao Valley last week. It rained very hard last week, and they got disoriented.

It’s a jungle out there.

And the jungle is now in our houseā€¦ so excuse me while I go call the orange oil people.

A hui hou! If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the “follow” button on the homepage.
And thanks for reading along…

Aloha, Jamaica

Skinny, White, and Blonde


Because so many of you write to me with the dream of living on Maui, but you have children, and you’ve “heard things” about the schools here and are concerned…I give you the following:

I’m sure that bullying takes many forms at schools across this country. What I find interesting is that what might get a kid bullied at one school could actually gain them entrance to the cool kids club at another.

Take Jennifer (not her real name), an 18 year old that I recently had the pleasure to meet here on Maui. Jennifer is not only tall and blonde, and white….she is also quite thin. Pretty much sounds like the Hollywood standard for young starlets, doesn’t it?

Jennifer grew up on Maui, but I knew something was “off” when she started sharing how many schools she had attended here (drugs? stealing? poor grades?) Then she told me she had been sent to the east coast to finish high school (pregnancy?)

But no, it was none of these things. “I was bullied in school because I was so white. And thin. And blonde…” she says hesitantly. (As opposed to big and brown?) “I didn’t fit in and it was so bad that I wouldn’t go to school, and cut class. So I flunked out.” Then what happened, I ask. “So I got sent to live with my family on the east coast, but the schools there are so advanced compared to Hawaii, I couldn’t keep up. I mean, I didn’t know ANY of the stuff I was supposed to know. So I flunked out there, as well. I came back to Hawaii and got my GED.”

How far do we think Jennifer will get in life with only a GED? How would she fare in college either here, or on the mainland, if she doesn’t know any of the stuff she’s supposed to know? All because of the accident of fate that she was raised in Hawaii and bullied, versus raised on the east coast with the rest of her family…where she might very well have been the Queen Bee of popular kids because she looked the way she was “supposed” to look, to fit in.

But instead she was ostracized in Hawaii and flunked out of school.

And this begs the question: would those big, brown girls from Maui get bullied at school if they were sent to live on the mainland? Because of the way they look, because they speak pidgin?

I polled a group of my friends, one of whom is a grade school special-ed teacher here on Maui, to find out their views on bullying. I shared that I do not remember bullying going on when I was in school. One woman who is a young 70, commented that when she was in school all of the problem kids were weeded out by junior high and sent to “reform school.” That’s the way I remember it also. Another friend shared that teachers have lost all the power in the classroom (and I also remember teachers being able to use a paddle in my grade school in the midwest, and the THREAT kept most kids in line.) In fact, my father was a teacher, and his gift when graduating from teacher’s college was a paddle carved with his fraternity letters. Something tells me new teachers don’t get those anymore.

I’ve tried to figure out why Jennifer’s story got me so riled. I think it’s because I could finally put a sweet face to a bullying story. How long has bullying been going on in this country at this level? (And I’m talking even before social media, which is so sneaky that kids never have to own up to their behavior). As one friend put it, “Before a kid could only whisper ‘Jimmy’s a fag,’ but now it goes out in giant letters from a social media site around the world in a flash…and those kids don’t stand a chance.”

So, what gets kids bullied where you live? Have your children experienced it personally?

Hollywood has done an excellent job of making people believe that Hawaii is a perfect paradise. So I share this with all of the parents who think if they can just get their family moved here, that everything will be wonderful. One movie that does tell it like it is, is NORTH SHORE, available through Netflix. It’s not just the girls who are bullied; the boys are bullied for surfing in the “locals only” spot, driving the wrong vehicle, dating the wrong girl. And the boys use their fists.

The tagline for this blog states, “Sharing what it’s really like to live on Maui.” And that is what it’s really been like to live here, for Jennifer.

A hui hou! If you would like to subscribe to this blog, please click the “Follow” button on the homepage. Thanks for stopping by.

Aloha, Jamaica

How for speak Pidgin


As I get settled back into the way of life on Maui after being gone for so long, I thought I would share with you one of the major differences between the mainland and here. It’s a funny and very true depiction of speaking pidgin.

If you’re trying to keep up while watching it, think, that’s how it would be if you lived in Hawaii!


Aloha, Jamaica