Blog: A taste of what you may find on Maui

On being a tourist where you live

I I told another condo owner that we were going on vacation. He laughed – I always wonder where people who already live in Hawaii go on vacation! Good question. Let me tell you. We go back to the ‘mainland’ to visit family. We may even do some touristy things while we’re there!

You know how it goes, you don’t really appreciate the wonders of where you live until you consciously do touristy things. It’s amazing how many sights we didn’t see when we lived on our farm in Chilliwack BC. Now that we live on Maui, we finally have time to explore our former stomping grounds with our family.

By the same token, we don’t do many touristy things on Maui either. You will laugh – months will go by when we don’t even go to the beach. We’re just busy with life and work. I do try to do some touristy things for you, my blog readers. After all, I do need to have new things to write about!

But part of me is also hesitant to be a tourist in my chosen home. We’ve lived on Maui for 6 years now and my Canadian accent is still stubbornly there. Although sometimes when speaking with other locals my voice does start to emulate the sing-song local-style speak, I definitely don’t speak pidgin. Pidgin, the local-style English which goes back to the immigrant sugar cane plantation workers. Generally as a (more recently landed) Caucasion or ‘haole’ you look a little foolish speaking pidgin.

I admit it irks when a well-meaning waitress or store clerk aiming to make small talk kindly asks how my vacation is going. I can’t blame her, I am Caucasian and that Canadian accent is there… ‘Oh, we live here in Kihei.’ Really, she asks, how long have you been here? Six years is an impressive number. Six years means there is a good chance you’re staying. Six years means you’ve pretty much committed to Maui. Too many newcomers come for a year or two before leaving again, not quite able to stay in Hawaii.

Why do people leave? There are many reasons. I think probably the biggest one being, reality sets in. Moving to Hawaii doesn’t mean being on permanent vacation. It is expensive here, there is a real housing crisis, education options are limited and well-paying jobs are hard to find, though the island has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation. It is not uncommon for people to hold two jobs just to make ends meet. Pair this with distance to friends and family, people do reconsider their move.

It can be difficult for newcomers to fit in and make friends unless they are able to connect with other recent newcomers. Locals are wary of newcomers who come and then leave again. You invest in a new friendship, only for it to become uprooted when the person moves away. While you know it’s not their fault, with time you learn to guard your heart and maintain some distance so it doesn’t hurt so much.

Back to the being a tourist at home topic. Our kids proudly wear their Canadian tshirts and Canadian hats on Maui. While I sometimes wish they didn’t dress like tourists, I do understand. They are proud of their heritage.

As we fly on vacation to Canada, the kids proudly wear their Canada shirts. And yes, the lady at the checkin counter asks how our vacation was.