Living on Maui

Autumn ShieldsIsland Life


Moving from Colorado, I have spent the last three years on Maui and am often asked, “What is like to live on Maui?” I saw this post about snacks and thought I would share it because there are so many new foods I have experienced. Fun Foods“>Check out some fun foods here

In addition to food, I hope this little list gives you insight to Maui life through my experience:

1. Many people that visit here, think if you live here, you speak Hawaiian. Although I try…I’m still struggling just to say the street names. I have been asked at luaus, by visitors, if I can translate the show. The answer: “I’m working on it.”
2. People are very transient here. Many of the friends I met when I first moved here are already gone. People that have lived here for a long time are cautious about spending time with new people because it hard when friends leave. Everybody thinks they will be here for a long time, but many leave within months of arriving.
3. Online dating is quick and casual. It only takes about 10 minutes to go through the profiles and there are no expectations of what a date needs to look like. Meeting to say hi at the grocery store, at the beach or at a nice restaurant are all fair game.
4. I woke up one morning and realized I hadn’t heard a train since I moved.
5. It is weird not to have squirrels running all over place. Instead there are chickens everywhere. The birds are loud here. Many times I will be on conference calls and have people think I have birds in the house.
6. Generally speaking, slippahs or slippers (flip flops) are the only kind of footwear worn on the islands. There are casual and formal slippahs. You can were them to ANY occasion.
7. There are bugs…BIG bugs! There are cane spiders the size of your hand that jump, centipedes that bite, and cockroaches the size of mice that can fly! On the upside there are no land snakes here!
8. Geckos are cute and they are everywhere, but they do poop in the house.
9. Ants are everywhere and I mean everywhere. I have killed at least 3 million.
10. Hurricane news is similar to blizzard news. You never know really know if it is going to hit, but there is prep and excitement over it.
11. Sunsets are an important part of the day if you live where you can see it. There have only been a few days that I have missed watching it. Everyone pauses and watches the sky. When you post a sunset pic, you get to see the same sunset from about ten other places on the island from your friends posting their pics on Facebook at the same time.
12. Holidays are not a big deal here. The stores are not trying to sell you Valentine’s Day things the day after Christmas. There is no hype. Holidays are usually just time with family and friends.
13. Retailers can’t use plastic bags. Many, including Wal-Mart, do not have ANY bags. You have to bring your own or buy a reusable one when checking out.
14. You can get SPAM at McDonald’s.
15. You can see a surf competition or a recording of one at many restaurants. Regardless if an event is going on, such as a business-networking event, surf is on. It takes the place of the news being on all of the time. In fact, not only do we live on a rock, most of us living under a rock when it comes to the news.
15. It is rare to see a woman of Caucasian decent with great hair. It takes an enormous amount of hair product to have your hair do anything. My hair usually looks like the “before” pic or like I stuck my finger in a light socket.
16. We live a few blocks from the beach and sand is everywhere….and I mean everywhere!!!
17. It rains, but I rarely see lightening or hear thunder.
18. People have an enormous of plants in pots in their yards. I’m not sure why they just aren’t planted. Pots everywhere!
19. Living here is expensive. Food, housing and utilities are high. However, car and health insurance are only half of what I paid in Colorado. Surprisingly, registration on my car is only 1/7th of what I paid in Colorado. Many people have multiple jobs to be able to afford to live here. In addition, many people have numerous jobs because they have a skills that are needed on island, so they wear numerous hats.
20. You may have to wait months to see a specific type of doctor or dentist. When I called to schedule my annual doctor and dentist visits I was told they are booking six months out. Don’t wait to book.
21. When repair people or mechanics say they will show up this week, they don’t necessarily mean that they are going to show up. Or they say they are on their way and then show up three days later…or not at all.
22. Round-abouts do not confuse drivers here, but 4-way stops do. People are nice and let each other go, so no one can figure out who goes next at the intersection. My son was told in Driver’s-ed that the “Braddah with the biggest truck” goes first. It’s true.
23. There are only a few miles that you can go 55 mph. Most major roads are 40 mph. I’m not sure why anyone would have a fast car here.
24. People watching on Maui is fun. Paia is the best place to do so. I have heard Maui called the land of misfits.
25. Maui is also known as the healing island. Many people come here ill or with a broken heart and Mother Maui heals. Maui is also known to spit you out if you don’t belong.
26. You refer to your elders by calling them auntie or uncle.
27. People will stop while in line to “talk story” and catch up. You can’t be in a hurry.
28. Prepare to hug and sometimes even kiss, everyone you meet. You do this when arriving and leaving. Handshakes are rarely used.
29. It can be difficult to work in coffee shops, because many places don’t have outlets for your computer or the internet, due to electricity costs.
30. Don’t expect people to arrive on time. They are on “Hawaii time.”
31. Many locals speak Hawaiian Pidgin. It originated on sugar plantations as a form of communication used between English speaking residents and non-English speaking Native Hawaiians and foreign immigrants. It took me a long time to be able to understand it, but now I catch myself using it. In addition, there are so many different cultures on Maui. Due to different immigrant groups coming over to work and have lived here for generations, it makes for many diverse groups. Filipinos now make up the second-largest racial group in Hawaii.
32. When you live in Hawaii, you become an unpaid tour guide for all of your friends and family…many which you haven’t heard from in twenty-years.
33. You can buy an entire frozen pig at Costco. Yes, the whole pig.
34. Palm trees do not have coconuts. Coconut trees have coconuts.
35. Many bus stops, that don’t have benches, have chairs that people have dropped off to use.
36. The sugar cane fields allow much of the island to look very plush and green however when burn season happens, things look and smell very different. When they burn the fields it causes a lot of smoke and ash in the air. Many times I walked outside and my car is covered in ash. At times as you drive on the highway by the plant and get a smell of the irrigation system, it is the worst “poopy” smell you have ever smelt. This season is the last season of the sugar cane burning. The industry is over 100 years old and is now done.
37. Mr. Woody exists. I was told by a group of students that when they went through sex-ed class, that the students are given Mr. Woody, a wooden model of a penis, to practice the use of putting condoms.
38. Visitors on the island….ugh! I was a visitor many times before I moved here, so I try to extend the same patience I am sure people extended to me.
39. If you go shopping for something as simple as curtains or a whisk for your kitchen, you may not be able to find one. Prepare to be told, “They are coming in on the next container.”
40. A baby luau is a first birthday party. Expect the village and an abundance of food. They are bigger than most weddings I have attended.
41. When you arrive at someone’s home, many times you have no idea which door to walk up to. Many houses are divided into many units and have separate entrances.
42. People still suffer here. It’s life just like everywhere else. There are people who are hungry, homeless, injured, addicted, abused, broke and/or broken hearted. People have many needs that are not being met here. We are all in this world together regardless of the specific location…and all we have is each other.
43. To me, this island is paradise. Not only are the beaches and ocean amazing, but Maui offers many great trails and breathtaking waterfalls. I could go on and on about what the water and land have to offer, but what makes this paradise are the people. The locals here, have welcomed people here with the Aloha spirit, (and have had good experiences and horrible experiences by doing so), and continue to smile and throw “shakas.” People here continue to seek out the simple and be present in the moment. Many are fulfilled by simply “talking story” with each other and are not seeking the next material thing that will satisfy. They love to eat and share food from their different cultures and when they bring food, they bring it by the truckload! Local potluck means bring enough food for everyone, not just a side dish to share.

I am forever grateful for the opportunity to share this place called paradise. Thank you for your embrace Maui!