Monday, Monday

Aloha!

It seems Monday is the day people most often dream of running off to an island where the living will be easy.

Every day when Mike goes to work as the Captain of The Scotch Mist (www.scotchmistsailingcharters.com/) out of Lahaina Harbor, some tourist will say, “Wow, you must have the best job in the world!”

So here is a look at Mike’s day. First up, the Hawaiian monk seal on the beach in front of his friend Barry’s house, where he often stops off before work:

image

Being a monk seal must be hard work, because he needed a nap

image

Then, onto the boat. They are still seeing whales this late in the year on the whale watches
image

And then there are the champagne sunset sails (well, everyone but Mike and the crew gets champagne…)

image

From the outside looking in, yes, Mike’s job looks perfect to many. He’s basically getting paid to live a Jimmy Buffett song, right?

But scratch the surface and you will find long, long days in the hot, hot sun. And the skin cancer that required 30 stitches in his left cheek. During the busy whale season (January-April) he might leave the house at 7 am and not get home till 9 pm. And although his commute isn’t bad, it does take 50 minutes.

Sometimes boat trips get canceled due to not enough passengers. So he might have a snorkel trip that’s over at 1 pm but the evening sail doesn’t start till 5 pm, with no sail in between. He’s sitting in Lahaina with no work–a “split shift”, and not paid for those extra hours.

If there are no trips scheduled yet for a workday, he is home but on call. Like a doctor, but without the fabulous wages…yet still responsible for twenty-five lives. He can’t really go anywhere or do anything, because he might “get a trip.”

But in all, when he’s actually on the water behind the wheel he’s loving life. So, all in a days’ work, eh?

image

Hope wherever you are, and whatever you do, you’re having a good Monday.

A hui hou! If you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow” button to the right, or on the Homepage.
Aloha, Jamaica

Advertisements

You Can Check Out Any Time You Like

Aloha!

Remember the line from the Eagle’s song “Hotel California” that says, “You can check out anytime you like… But you can never leave”?

Seems like someone could’ve written the same about Maui. There are tourists who come here, fall in love with Maui and Hawaii, and really don’t want to go home. I was one of them.

This can have a flipside. I’ve talked to many people who move here and then can’t leave, even if they want to. They’ve quit their jobs. They’ve paid a lot of money to shut down their lives on the mainland, ship their cars, all their paperwork, and all their worldly possessions, and here they are. Stuck. Can’t afford to do it in reverse.

One man had a business here where he placed banks of computers in hotel lobbies, including the hotel where I worked. When we chatted he said, “(Expletive) Maui. I moved here with my wife, found out we can’t stand it, and now we’re stuck here.” And his business was quickly obsolete – the hotels installed Wi-Fi for guest’s laptops and iPads instead.

This is why I encourage anyone to give Maui a trial–run before pulling up stakes, selling their homes and businesses, and paying shipping fees to get their lives here. A recent blog post had a letter from a reader on Kauai who moved there five years ago. She gave a wonderful overview, but also said, “Would I do it again, knowing what I know? I don’t know. ”

Recently a friend who came to Maui twenty years ago said, “When I moved here, everyone told me, ‘Maui is healing place.’ Well, they neglected to mention that you’re supposed to get healed…and then leave!”

Could be why so many people stay only two years. They’ve gotten what Maui could offer them, from the sun, the ocean, a major change… and they’re done. Yes, my friend is one of those who feels stuck….bought a home and is self-employed. Now what? (“We are all just prisoners here, of our own device.”)

Realize, too, that each Hawaiian island is different. Each has its own culture; on Oahu it can be a bit easier to assimilate because the military is there, and they are used to outsiders. There are that many more tourists, that many more more people. It’s different on Maui where people who grew up here often have a very negative view of people who move here and “spoil” their island. Caucasians are suspect, because in their history it was the Caucasians who stole their islands from the monarchy. The same person who posted the long comment recently beginning with “You seem to have left a lot out” also said, “Once you submerge yourself into the culture, ‘Welcome to Hawaii…now leave,’ has quite a bit of meaning and truth to it.”

There are those who come here, love it, and would never dream of leaving. And then there are the others, whose dreams go up in (cane) smoke. Food for thought, in case you’re considering checking into The Hotel Maui. (“Last thing I remember, I was running for the door… I had to find the passage back to the place I was before.”)

A hui hou! If you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the Follow button on the Homepage.

Aloha, Jamaica

An Entirely Different Point of View

Aloha!

A reader sent the following letter in regard to this blog. Could be they didn’t read past the Homepage, because in many of my posts I do talk about the hardships on Maui, and the downsides. This reader feels I make it sound like all rainbows to live here…and yet another reader wrote to say I talk too much about the negatives. I do work hard to present a balanced opinion. Here’s the letter:

“You seem to have left a lot out. I lived there for 4 years. It was great, but you sound like a concierge selling the island as usual. You didn’t mention hardly any of the hardships that most everyday people and locals experience… almost everyday. …Yes, Maui is amazing, but you have illustrated an almost whimsical reality. I’ve traveled quite a bit, especially in the states, and everywhere has it’s ups and downs. What you speak of sounds like the ultimate paradise, as if all dreams, goals, and aspirations will occur simply because you moved there. I’m a realist. I have lived there. I love it. I have some great friends, but the reality is, that not everyone’s experience has been so great. Many a local are not simply comforted by having sunshine everyday, or the ocean. In fact, many feel plagued by it at times, as if there was no escape. Many people can’t find the time in between work and family to start the business of their dreams. Many people don’t have union jobs that, let’s face it, are very hard to get released from. Many people look for love on Maui all day long and never find it. Many people work 2-3 jobs, can’t find descent (sic) housing, and get ripped off by the slumlords. Overworked, underpayed, overwhelmed, and overpopulated is just a little something that my local friends want to add into your blog, especially for the newbies. Aloha:)

So, let me know what you think…particularly if you have lived on the island and left. (Some people move here, then leave…then move back again. Sometimes multiple times.) I spoke with my niece’s teacher on the mainland who said, “I used to live in Hawaii. I was so over it by the time I left. Six years was plenty!”

Looking forward to your letters.

A hui hou! if you’d like to stay in the loop, please click the “Follow” button on the Homepage, or to the right.

Aloha, Jamaica

Job Postings on Maui

Aloha!
So you think you can dance? Parade magazine recently reported that the job of “dancer” has the highest relative concentration in the state of Hawaii as compared to other states.

We are back on Maui, and I’ve been plowing through a month’s worth of mail and backlogged newspapers. Readers constantly write to me about moving to Maui, and inquire about jobs. So here, from August 10, were some job postings in the Maui News. (Alison, some of these are for you…)

At the Kaanapali Beach Club…
Director of Food and Beverage
Server
Host/hostess
Sales manager
Vacation counselor
Activity concierge
Hospitality agent

For Valley Isle Excursions…
Hana Tour Drivers.
They make 38,000+ per year with paid time off, paid medical, and paid training. Sounds good, right? Here’s the caveat: “Must have lived in Hawaii for five years, prefer Maui restaurant residents. Must be able to work weekends and holidays!

For the Hawaii State Judiciary…
Court reporter II
Forensic Interview Specialist
Social worker I, II, III and IV

For Child and Family Services…
Case Management Specialist II. B.A. or Masters in Human Services or related field required.

Hawaii Health Systems Corporation…
Chief Executive Officer. Graduate-level education or equivalent and at least 15 years of progressive senior-level hospital executive, administrative, and leadership experience required.

Enterprise Rental Car Company…
Management Trainees/ Bachelor’s degree required.
Customer Assistance Representative, part time.

So, we know some people who moved to Maui and the husband got a job on Haleakala with the Pony Express. How? Because he had a clean abstract, a heavy equipment operator’s permit, and was a horse wrangler. How’s that for specialized?

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

Weekends and Holidays on Maui

Aloha!
Recently a reader named Antonio saw my post “Mainland Observations”, and asked the following question:

Hi Jamaica,

I’ve never been to Maui but would love to see it, I live in Central California. Sorry, but I don’t know what you mean by the following observation:

“The weekend really does feel like a weekend on the mainland. But Maui is a 24/7 society.”

I really appreciate how honest you are in your posts.
Antonio

Aloha Antonio,
Thank you for your question. Other people might be wondering too. I’ve written in the past that social life in Maui can be hard because so many people work in the service industry. So if you’re having a BBQ for Labor Day, half the people (or more) that you invite won’t make it, because hotel workers, for instance, work shift work, seven days a week…the same for waiters and waitresses, bus boys, concierge, cooks, massage people, activity agents, activity guides (hiking, biking, water sports), boat captains and crew (including fishing boats), retail/shop workers, bus drivers, etc. Mike and I will get invited to dinner at someone’s house, but can’t go because he leaves at seven in the morning to be a boat captain, and doesn’t get home until 8:30 or 9:00 at night.

Whereas here on the mainland, so many people have office jobs, tech jobs, teaching jobs,etc. that when the weekend or a holiday arrives, everyone is off work at the same time. Easier for sure for friends and family to all get together…

Thanks 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

Reader Question Answered

Aloha!
Since Mike had his knee replacement I have been behind on answering letters. Could be because I am bringing him ice, making him food, giving him shots and working through the exercises with him…anyway, his rehabilitation is going much more slowly than either of us anticipated.

A reader named Susan wrote:

Hi Jamaica,
Your blog is very informative. My daughter lives on Maui and has for the past 6 years. She loves it. I’m 61, single, a retired teacher and am seriously considering moving to Maui. I have visited the islands many many times and know I will have to work but don’t want to teach again..so I’m thinking I can make my way in the tourist industry with skills aquired in teaching. It will be a forever move..I am planning on selling everything and moving..I also think buying a condo in Lahaina vs renting may be more practical for me..My concern is getting to know people who are around my age..How easy is it to socialize? I’m not a drinker, I don’t frequent bars…and it seems like the island is full of young people. ..so what can u suggest to get settled and make some friends.
Susan

Dear Susan,
I take it that your daughter lives in Lahaina and that’s why you want to live there. We found that the Westside was full of young people, and also there’s a whole lot of drinking that goes on there. There’s a bumper sticker that says “Lahaina: a drinking town with a fishing problem.”

So that’s the basic reason we moved Upcountry. But there was more to it. We were looking for a community feel, less touristy and more local. Everyone seems to start out on the Westside… they think they want to live near the beach. But then they discover that living among the condos and hotels and tourists can get very annoying after a while. For that reason, I would suggest that you rent at first to get a feel for it and not buy right away.

Volunteering is probably your best in-road to meeting people. There’s the Lahaina Historical Society, and the library. If you’re willing to drive, many people volunteer at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center (known as the MACC) and you’d get to see free shows, to boot. The Humane Society near Kihei is also always looking for volunteers.

You can find a cause and join, such as the Sierra Club, or fighting the GMO’s, or do beach – clean up, or join a hiking group. There are Maui Meet-up groups for things like boardgames, hiking, etc. (google Maui Meet-up). Many times, getting involved in these groups is what will lead to a job.

Otherwise, people can find it a tough go… They have skills from the mainland, but find that it’s mostly the hotels where those skills can be used, and there are many, many people in line in front of them for those jobs. Sometimes, a nonprofit is a better bet for your type of skills. For instance, recently there was a job opening with Canines for Independence in the front office… Low pay, but probably very rewarding. It just takes lots of time and patience to find a job sometimes. That’s why I always advise people to move to Hawaii with a fully padded bank account.

Susan, I wish you the very best as you plan your move to Maui!
Mahalo for reading along…

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

Aloha, Jamaica

Movers and Shakers

Aloha!
You forget how slow the lifestyle really is in Hawaii, until you spend some time on the mainland. I have lived on Maui almost 15 years, and didn’t realize that Starbucks is now the center of the universe on the mainland. (Just kidding… sorta). We rarely go to Starbucks in Hawaii, it’s just an added expense. But we are away from home, near San Francisco, and we’ve been hitting Starbucks for 3 PM coffee time. It certainly is different here.

We sat outside on a perfectly still, sunny day sipping coffee, observing the Starbucks customers in a San Francisco surburb. (I wrote “still” because the wind is always blowing on Maui. Also, there is no humidity here. How could I have forgotten that? I hardly know how to act.)

Across from us there was a 20–something with her $1,200 handbag and expensive shoes, working her laptop and iPhone simultaneously, trying desperately to buy a house. We could hear everything she was saying, and every word involved stress. (As I read the other day, a CLOSET costs 5 million dollars in San Francisco.)

Then here came a 30-year old, striding purposefully into the shop, or her phone, trading stocks. Loudly.

All this commerce, this striding purposefully, the guys in suits and sports coats, the women dressed to the nines…this doesn’t happen on Maui. People in Starbucks on Maui are there simply to drink coffee. They aren’t trying to change the world, or even their own world.

People can fall into a groove on Maui. They work as waitresses, bellboys, or in a surf shack. They know life isn’t likely to change or improve. That it isn’t likely they’ll ever be able to afford a house. They have settled into dead-end jobs just so they can go surf or swim every weekend. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it removes some motivation. It removes a certain amount of razor-sharp wit and intelligence needed just to keep a good job in other parts of the country.

Often, they moved Maui only to find out it’s much harder than they ever thought it would be. They end up working two or even three jobs….And if they grow weary of that, they move back home.

Sometimes, I miss the striving. Just sitting back in Starbucks and watching this smart/swift/sharp group of people navigate life here is a revelation. Eat or be eaten.

In Maui, the sharks are in the water.

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