The Psychology of Place 2


Our friends in Sonoma, California met a girl who moved there from Maui, and she complained, “There’s nothing to do here! I’m used to going to the beach every day.” Well, that may be, but if you move to Sonoma, California, you’d better be prepared to like hiking, biking, wine, and excellent food (and have the money to support that lifestyle.) Otherwise, why be there?

When we are on the outside looking in, thinking about how great it would be to live in a place, the dichotomy is that we can’t really know a place until we live there. To know the “psychology” of the place.

Vacationing in Maui doesn’t count; even part – time residents who own a condo near the beach and “play” the whole time they’re here, can’t really know.

It’s the people who work two and three jobs, long, long days to support a family on an $8 to $12 per hour salary while paying $7.00 for a gallon of milk, who know. Any place can put its best face forward to visitors – particularly if those visitors rarely venture outside the pristine, landscaped, hotel/restaurant areas where all the other visitors are, who look and act the same as them. A place doesn’t announce its ills, its economy, its prejudices or its wounds to the visitors it counts on for its life blood. All of that is kept under wraps – it’s best foot forward, always.

That is why the weathermen call the VOG (volcanic organic gas) here “haze.” As a boat Captain, Mike talks with tourists who think the VOG is just fog. And they have no idea that the sugar cane is burned, because it’s done at 4:30 am and far away from their hotels in Wailea…

The psychology of any place is a mix of history, change, job opportunity, education (or lack of it), racial tensions, shunning outsiders or accepting them, feeling agitated or at peace with where you find yourself in the world… and Maui is no different.

A hui hou. Mahalo for reading along. If you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow” button on the Homepage, or to the right.

Aloha, Jamaica

10 thoughts on “The Psychology of Place 2

  1. Hi Jamaica!
    I’ve followed your blog for a very long time and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. I was on Maui in 2011 and I decided that it was the most wonderful place on Earth to live. So, being so very motivated, I came back in 2012 and spent 10 days on Maui, with a twist. I knew, to some extent that seeing Maui as a tourist is so much different from living there, so I spent a good bit of time away from tourist areas. I love Kihei and I thought that’s where I’d move. So, I talked to locals wherever I went, and spent one long afternoon wandering through Safeway there. I feel like I learned a lot, but I still wanted to make the move. As I checked out Safeway, I saw that there were some things that I wouldn’t be able to buy regularly, and also some that I could. And, almost all of the locals said that they wouldn’t move away, and didn’t suffer from “island fever”.
    So, I returned home to continue my thought process, and, along the way, discovered you. I can’t begin to tell you how helpful your comments have been. VOG, red dust, insects, tourists, the scarcity of “every day” items in stores, all were important to my thought process. Do I think I could still do it? Probably yes. Will I? No. I live in Clearwater, FL, and am a retired gay male in a gay-friendly area. I have to realize how good I have it here and just plan another trip to the islands in the future.
    I hope you’ve been told how beneficial your writing has been to others.
    Thanks again.

    Bob Groves
    Clearwater, FL

    • Aloha Bob,
      Thank you for taking the time to write, and for your kind words. It’s really nice to know that the blog was beneficial to someone like you, trying to make up your mind about whether to move to Maui. I strive to give people both sides of the story, so that people can make a conscious choice.
      Thank you for reading along!
      Aloha, Jamaica

  2. You could write about this endlessly, Jamaica, and I’d be endlessly interested. I’m familiar with soul-soothing Hawaii, with Hawaii’s intriguing and surprising history, and with its world-class geography, but the the wrenching of its politics, its subtle and overt hierarchies, the wounds of its history, its humdrum dailiness..those are difficult for a visitor to get a confident feel for. One more thing–I know it’s not a matter of everyday or even ultimate importance, but–as somebody who grew up in a resort town, and who’s been in the travel business for more than 30 years, I can say that tourists may flock, and “look and act the same,” but they don’t necessarily think the same.

    • Aloha Tom,
      The “Psychology of Place” posts have really seemed to touch a nerve with readers, as I have gotten lots of mail on this subject. I’m glad you found it interesting, and I really enjoyed the way you describe Hawaii. Lots of people are only familiar with the “soul – soothing” side of Hawaii. And you are absolutely right… there is so much more to it. I try to give a balanced view of it, but people sometimes ignore the wounds of its history and “the humdrum dailiness of life” here, if they have a fantasy view of it and are determined to move here anyway. But as the blog title says, I’m “Sharing what it’s really like to live on Maui.”
      Thank you so much for taking the time to write. I’m glad you enjoy the blog!
      Aloha, Jamaica

  3. It’s interesting that you post the psychology of a place and you make an excellent point. I read a lot of blog replays to your first blog and I’m embarrassed to sound like the majority…”I was here on vacation…” I did some research about social problems in Maui sad to hear about populations impact on the environment and freshwater. I don’t want to move there and be part of the problem so I’m really looking into all aspects of life there to make sure im not a starry eyed hopeful but instead an educated, informed starry eyed hopeful! Thank you for your honesty!

  4. Hi Jamaica,

    I moved my children to rural Alaska in the early eighties, having never been there ( I was raised on the east Coast ). Never regretted it. I read everything I could get my hands on and took the plunge.

    I am writing you today because I am visiting Maui in January- I am staying in Hana the entire time and plan on taking in the tourist area at some point. Having never been to Hawaii, and dreaming of it for years…I chose Hana, Maui. Already I think of living there.

    What can you share about the Hana area ? Advise?

    Thank you for your great blog. I am learning more and more.

    • Aloha Laura,
      You have probably done your research and know that Hana is as remote as you can get on Maui. It’s quiet and quaint and slowed-down, so If that’s what you’re looking for, you’ve got it. I would definitely suggest you take all supplies with you, because the road back to town can be torturous, and can even flood out if it rains. Other than that, friends of ours just rented a house out there for month in August, and came back looking extremely relaxed and happy!

      I hope you have a great time… Thank you for writing.

      Aloha, Jamaica

      • Thank you Jamaica. I am pleased to say that I specifically chose Hana due to the remoteness. Obviously, living where I live I am not accustomed to being around crowds of people. I am anxious for January!

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