Ask the Right Questions Before Vacation on Maui

Aloha!

We just had the staycation from hell here on Maui (the vacation that wasn’t). So even though we asked all the right questions before staying in this condo, we still got burned, so I thought I would share the questions always to ask before renting a place here.

Realize that the west side of Maui was first settled in 1969, with a few resorts. Condos then sprung up along the shoreline and across the road from the ocean, and those units are now 30 to 40 years old.

Condos that are part of a chain HOTEL property are required by their owners to upgrade to a certain grade, such as A, A+, etc. Not so with an individual condo owner in a little complex, who posts a rental on the web, complete with photos, and it looks just too good to be true. Perhaps it is.

Ask:
1) “How old is this unit? When was it last updated? Is there a dishwasher?”
2) “Is the subfloor between floors wood, or concrete?” You want concrete. I once rented an oceanfront condo in Honokowai with wood subfloors and the people above me scraped counter stools in and out at 3 AM for a week. Who knows what they were doing up there!
3) “Is it air-conditioned?” Most older units are not. (“But we have the sea-breeze!” they say gleefully). Realize this: red dirt blows all the time on this island. If the only means of cooling a unit is open windows, it is most likely full of red dirt, which is hard on allergies. Ask also: “Is it central air, or a room air-conditioner? Located where?” I once stayed in an old Kihei condo while attending the Maui Writer’s Conference, and I’ve never been so hot my life. The window unit was in the living room and the cool air never got close to the back bedroom.
4) “Is it carpeted?” Many places have tile floors. That’s a good thing, because all that red dirt and dust and sand is otherwise trapped in the carpet.
5) ” Is there shade on the property for the pool/lounge chairs?” My favorite property on Maui, the Aston Kaanapali Villas, (http://www.astonmauikaanapalivillas.com) is beloved by guests who return every year because of it’s wide expanse of lawn with lounge chairs under glorious old shade trees….absolutely perfect for stretching out with a summer read.
6)” Is there road noise?” This is obviously subjective, because I asked the woman before we rented the condo, and she said no. I didn’t sleep a wink. We checked in one day and checked right out the next. (After hauling a week’s worth of food, drinks and clothes up a flight of stairs. The idea of a condo is to be able to eat in it. So then we had to haul it all back out.) And the road noise was just one of many issues, like no hot water!
7) Which leads to, “What is your cancellation policy?”

When you go online and see these cheap units in Kihei, Honokowai, Mahinahina, Kahana and Napili, it’s tempting to whip out the credit card and book. Realize how old they might be, that many have never been upgraded or have been done cheaply or shoddily.

So don’t forget: ASK QUESTIONS.

And remember, the closer your unit is to oceanfront, the quieter it is more likely to be (and more expensive).

Now, if you rent a house, room, or ohana someplace like Paia, Kihei, or Upcountry, I’m afraid you’re on your own. Here’s a hint though: your first question should be “Are there roosters in this neighborhood?”

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

Aloha, Jamaica

Where is the Cabana Boy?

Aloha!

When you live on Maui, an odd thing happens: you never go on vacation. Having grown up in Hawaii, Mike just has a really, really hard time spending money for a hotel, when we already live in “Paradise.” And we are probably just like you, in that if we stay home, all we do is work! I am currently on a writing deadline, so I thought I’d share with you the thing I wish I could say right now:

image

But obviously, I can’t complain! It’s warm, the sun is out, and even though I am chained to my desk right now, I am well aware, every single day, of where I live. So here’s what I really need to say:

image

I hope you have found your Paradise, too.

“It is neither wealth nor splendor, but tranquility and occupation, which give happiness.”
– Thomas Jefferson

A hui hou! Mahalo for reading along. If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the “Follow” button in the bottom right corner of the Homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

Michelle Obama Visits Oprah on Maui

Aloha!
Just in case you haven’t heard –because you haven’t dug out from under that snowdrift yet– Michelle Obama is visiting Oprah Winfrey on Maui.

I love how the news sources get it wrong. Breitbart.com said that Mrs. Obama was partying at “Oprah’s Maui Beach House.” And yet Oprah’s house is nowhere near the beach. It is a ranch. A ranch on the side of Haleakala Mountain. Oprah can see the water, yes, but she is not at the beach. (See this blog’s Post “Where Does Oprah Live on Maui?” Nov.25, 2012.)

The news first hit here on Maui because a man trying to take his normal bike route near Oprah’s house was blocked by Secret Service agents and alerted The Maui News. (http://www.mauinews.com)

White House reports indicate the First Lady stayed behind this week in Hawaii to chill out with friends before her 50th birthday. Sources with direct knowledge tell TheDC that the First Lady is relaxing in Maui at Oprah’s estate with CBS’ Gayle King, Valerie Jarrett and Sharon Malone, who is Attorney General Eric Holder’s wife.

“Yesterday, we saw bomb-sniffing dogs and Maui police in the bushes,” Heather Long, the manager of nearby Grandma’s Coffeehouse, told The Dailey Caller. “We’re very close to Oprah’s property. They’ll probably walk up and down the road.”

Winfrey stops by the coffee shop regularly, but employees “try to not to make it a big deal,” Long said.

http://www.Oprah.com says this of the Hawaii home:

Once an ordinary little gray ranch that Oprah saw “for less than 10 minutes” and considered a tear-down, Oprah’s Hawaiian home has been transformed into the perfect 21st-century farmhouse, with great pieces of folk art, beautifully embroidered curtains, comfortable furniture, and inviting colors:

image

Michelle Obama’s extended stay is reportedly part of a birthday gift from the President. The Obama daughters headed home to Washington. A birthday weekend without the children…sounds like Mrs. Obama needed some R&R.

And what better place to get it than here on Maui, land of plumeria breezes and sunsets that make you feel like you’re at the center of the earth?

A hui hou! Mahalo for reading along. If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, please click the “Follow” button in the bottom right corner on the Homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

Smokin’ New Year on Maui!

Aloha!
If you’ve ever been to Maui for New Year’s Eve, you know that the celebratory fireworks are even bigger than Fourth of July here. I’m talking legal at-home fireworks. The air in our neighborhood was so thick that we couldn’t see, as a neighbor and his buddies set off firecrackers, etc. for four hours (I’m pretty sure that copious amounts of alcohol were involved) and we stayed inside with all the windows closed and the air conditioner on (I have asthma and am no fun when I can’t breathe). Since we don’t have a fireplace, of course, we made a picnic supper on the coffee table and lit candles and told New Year’s Eve stories. Then we started a new tradition: we lit a pillar candle, our “New Year’s Eve Candle” and everybody made a wish, and we all blew it out at the same time.

image

2013 was the Year of the Shark on Maui. And Same-Sex Marriage, and a new group called SHAKA (opposing Monsanto GMO’s) and…Shopping!

There were numerous sharks sightings on Maui but in August, visitor Jana Lutteropp, 20, from Germany, was bitten in south Maui waters and died a week later. It was the first shark bite fatality in about a decade. Then in December, kayaker Patrick A. Briney died after a shark bit the foot he had dangling in the water while fishing with a friend.

Environmentalists think the exhaustion of the food supply due to overfishing has caused the predators to move into shallower waters, while the followers of the “old knowledge” say the sharks, a potent Hawaiian aumakau (family god), are a symbol or omen that call attention to desecration of Hawaii’s land and ocean resources.

The attack on Briney came three days after an unidentified woman was attacked (but survived) at Keawakapu Beach about five miles to the north. This presents a worrisome trend: There have been at least eight shark attacks around Maui in 2013, with 13 shark attacks overall reported around the state, according to state data and recent reports.
Attacks in Hawaii have risen sharply over the last two years compared with the last decade, when Hawaii saw only one fatality, in 2004.

In 2013, Maui victims have been attacked while swimming, snorkeling, surfing, and now kayaking. “We are not sure why these bites are occurring more frequently than normal, especially around Maui,” Hawaii Land and Natural Resources Director William Aila Jr. told the Associated Press. “That’s why we are conducting a two-year study of shark behavior around Maui that may give us better insights.” http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-maui-shark-attack-20131203,0,457677.story#ixzz2onWTovvb.

As for Same-Sex Marriage in Hawaii, in November, the House passed SB1, the Same-Sex Marriage Law, and the Senate followed, to the chagrin of some and celebration of others…but not without a whole lot of shoutin’ and fightin’ going on all along the way.

The SHAKA group: Monsanto was in the news frequently, in regard to what the heck they are growing on Maui and what anyone can do about it. An article in the Maui Weekly said it best: “Who could have guessed that a generation that ingested practically every known chemical substance in their youth would, as they aged, suddenly converge on food safety as a major threat to public health? But that indeed was the big story of the year.

The GMO (genetically modified organism) protests drew the largest crowds seen on Maui in recent years, and larger, louder gatherings throughout the state. The show of force gave credibility to the existence of a broad base of support.

On Maui alone, there were three different mass marches, with a very large and vocal contingent of “Mother Power.” The moms and their kids in strollers, wagons and on foot were highly visible at all the local events.

There were marches through the spring and summer, and by year’s end, a new group called the SHAKA Movement (Sustainable Hawaiian Agriculture for the Keiki and the ‘Aina) announced that they would put a GMO moratorium on the Maui General Election ballot in 2014.”

And finally, Shopping: a new outlet mall in Lahaina! Mauians will now have more choices and may even save a few pennies. The Mall is located behind Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse Lahaina, where the Front Street Cinema used to be (it’s now a Gap.)

If you seriously want to know everything that went on on Maui this past year, you can see more at: http://mauiweekly.com/page/content.detail/id/532057/Year-End-Wrap–GMOs–Boldface-Names—Shark-Bites.html?nav=13#sthash.cJCCC9kM.dpuf

And also: mauitime.com

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

Hau’oli Makahiki Hou! (Happy New Year!)
Aloha, Jamaica

image

Only in Hawaii…

Aloha!

Let me just say, you chase your tail a lot when you live in Hawaii. Here’s my recent example: I got dinged with a library book fine for “having SAND in the plastic book cover.” You know, like I’d toted it to the beach.

Two problems: I never took the book out of the library. And, there was no way to pay the fine!

Yes, I checked the book out. But I was leaving on a trip… So I walked it from check out to book return, all within one minute. So how exactly did I get sand in this book cover? Yet a very formal (threatening) letter arrived from the State of Hawaii about this fine, and it was all of two dollars! As in, they spent almost in much in postage as the fine would be.

And here was the major catch: the book was from the Pearl City library (books are shipped for free interisland, it just takes a month or so to get them) and there was no way to pay the fine, because the fine had to be paid IN PERSON. I live on Maui, Pearl City is on Oahu, do we see the problem here? I could not mail a check, mail cash, or do it by credit card.

So I drove down to the Kahului library, and had a meeting with the librarian, who told me to write a letter in return and plead my case. For TWO DOLLARS?

I have to laugh, because this is one of those going-around-in circles things that happens when you live in Hawaii. For the most part, the government says no to everything….It was easier for them, back in plantation days, when people were illiterate, or did not speak the language well, to JUST SAY NO to everything! (way before Nancy Reagan jumped on the bandwagon.)
Just try to get a building permit here, for example. The immediate answer will be no, and they will make it about as difficult as you can imagine.

And so it is that they make it impossible to pay a library fine, (for SAND in the book cover) yet are perfectly willing to lend books to another island such as Maui.

Only in Hawaii…

For the record, that major fee was waived after they put an inspector on the case, and determined that YES! the book never left the library under my name. And how much do we think this inspector cost the State? Absolutely archaic. Shake your head and laugh so you don’t bang it against the nearest wall.

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

Aloha, Jamaica

What Are You Dreaming Of?

Aloha!
Do you have a dream? Maybe something small that you harbor in your heart, sure you will find a way to do it one day? Or do you try to remember what it even felt like to dream…as you put one foot in front of the other in your daily grind?

Meredith Novack, 37, just completed her dream of breaking the world record by swimming the Auau Channel between Lanai and Maui, twice. It took her 11 hours, 1 minute to swim the 20 miles, and broke the previous record by 44 minutes. A former US Masters national champion in the open water 3K, Novacks trained for 10 months to prepare.

She said she did it because “Number one, no woman had ever done it, and number two, because I felt I could break the men’s record.” She said she made sure to follow strict rules for the world record attempt: “You can’t grab onto a kayak. You can’t use anything for support and people can’t touch you.”

Novacks wore an electronic device called a shark shield that kept her safe from a 15 ft. Tigershark that her escort team did not tell her about, till after she finished. They did not want to let her know that the Tigershark had shown up with less than two hours to go, for fear she would not finish.

There is resistance in the water with each stroke. Steven Pressfield, author of “The War of Art” met with Oprah Winfrey at her beautiful Maui home for their interview on “Super Soul Sunday.” He says there is always resistance with a goal, no matter how worthy. The form the resistance takes is the thoughts in our heads: “I’m not worthy.” or, “It’s been done 100 times before, what am I going to say that they haven’t heard?”

Pressfield says we have to “Face the Dragon.” And then we will ask why we didn’t do this months ago…

Meredith Novacks faced her dragon and set a new world record.

“Tell me, what is it YOU plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Mary Oliver

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

Aloha, Jamaica

Hawaiian Name Woes

Aloha!

When you move to Hawaii, it is interesting to try to get used to the street names with their multiple syllables, and reading the names of people in the newspaper can be a challenge. The trick to Hawaiian words is to sound them out syllable by syllable, and pronounce everything.

Janice Lokelani Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele is in a fight with officials here, to ensure that her full name gets listed on her driver’s license.

The license only has room for 35 characters. Her name has 35 letters, plus a mark used in the Hawaiian alphabet, called an okina.

So Hawaii county issued her license, but with the last letter of her name chopped off. And, omitted her first name. I wonder if the number of letters in her last name holds some kind of record?

And you thought you had a problematic last name. I’ll bet it at least fits on your driver’s license…

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

Aloha, Jamaica