You see graceful palm trees and beautiful, rainbow sunsets.
I see high gas prices and horrible tropical storms that blow out the power.
You see clear, blue beaches all the way down the coast until it disappears behind a 5 star resort sporting an Olympic-sized pool.
I see non-moving traffic and smog congestion that causes a 10-mile trip to last for over an hour.
Hawaii is really not that great. My dad always told me that some places are for visiting, some are for living. Well, this is definitely a vacation spot. This is the place you go see for a week or two, a month tops. I've been living here for 29 days. 29 long, hot, rainy, expensive days.
The first week:
This was paradise my first week. I was in Hawaii. It was sunny everyday, there were palm trees, and everyone at home was freezing their butts off in about 18 inches of snow. Glorious.
I was stuck in Brian's barrack room on base, but when he got off work, we would go out to eat and I got to play in sunlight and go stick my feet in that crystal clear water that makes Hawaii wonderful. There were seagulls, cute little lizards, and tiny sand crabs. It was perfect.
The second week:
We began house-hunting. Not easy when the only place to look is on Craigslist and the going rate for an apartment is around $1500 a month for a tiny one-bedroom. We prevailed and got lucky when we found ours for a little cheaper than that. My hopes for a wonderful vacation-like year of living soared when we began moving our things into the new place. The counter tops were granite, the floor was a lovely slate tiling, and the view from the kitchen was of a lush tropical vegetation and pristine waters of Kaneohe Bay. We ordered our furniture, paid an ungodly amount of money for food and other necessities to get our little nest running, and settled in for a car hunt.
The third week:
By this point, I was getting frustrated. Housing and daily living expenses were taking their toll on my car hunt. Well, that among some Army paperwork mix-up (go figure). I was getting stressed out, Bri was getting stressed out, and the lizard I found in my bathroom was getting stressed out.
One thing you will quickly learn about Hawaii if you live here long enough (let's say, 3 weeks), is that cockroaches, ants, and lizards run rampant. It honestly does not matter how nice or rich you think your house is, half dollar-sized cockroaches and Godzilla lizards are going to get into your house. It's just the way it is. No one here uses windows in the normal mainland sense. They are glass panels that resemble regular blinds that are just thick glass and less of them. They snap closed, but not really and there is a screen behind them. No noise control and most certainly, no bug control.
The fourth week:
I finally got a car from a sketchy kid who needed the money to pay off his drug dealer, or his rent. I'm not really sure which. It is what is known as an "island beater". It needs lots of work, but for the price, it's wonderful on gas *cough*3.67agallon*cough*
I have begun the search for a job. Not happening.
You have to be fluent in Japanese or a native to do anything unless you PCS'd here with your military spouse in order to get a job on base. I did not, so I'm having a rough time of it. That, and I have a degree in English. Not a thing I can do with that over here. No one speaks English. It might have started out trying to be English, but along the way an alien-baby shat out some jibberish and a drunk Samoan ripped a tide of verbal vomit that twisted my wonderful language into a shmorgasboard of surfer-speech and JapAmSam island throat wheezing.
Sometime in the last 10 years, there has been a rumor that Washington state bought a ton of one-way tickets, gave them to their homeless, and sent them here. I believe it. 100% believe that. They are everywhere and they don't even try to hide. Most shelterly-challenged just chill in the main tourist spots hoping for some pity and a handout. It's amazing the amount of time some of them put into their little huts. Sad, but alas, it's one part that the tourism bureau manages to hide until you get here.
Let's get away from the housing, car, job, homeless people, and animals... Let's focus on food for a minute.
Every single item, whether it is native to this island or shipped in from Japan, the US, or China, is severely inflated. I don't understand how native-grown macadamia nuts are $2 more here than they are in the Cont. US. Bananas and pineapples are included in this category. A normal week at the grocery store for the daily needs can run a 2-person household around $200 a week, if you skimp on the chips, cookies, and ice cream. Eating healthy is almost not an option, because produce is kinda high and meat is ridiculous. They obviously do not have cows over here for what I am paying for a pound of the dead thing.
Restaurants are the biggest let-down. There are a few good ones that one does not normally see, such as Jack in the Box and Blazin' Steaks (Yum). But common Hawaii!!
No Olive Garden?!?
No Chick Fil A?!?
No Bahama Breeze, Steak N Shake, Quaker Steak and Lube?!?
Preposterous, I tell you!
1 Wendy's. ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ISLAND!
Alas, in the distance... I see the gold arches. Could it be? A McDonalds?
I can already taste the crisp, cold sweetness that is the $1 sweet tea. I walk up to the counter with my dollar bill, ready to suck the life out of that straw for tiny remembrance of home and summer days. I ask the nice lady behind the counter for a large sweet tea........
"We don't have sweet tea."
After that, I have given up on this place. I quit.
If you want to try to change my mind, feel free. But so far, I have been let down. Paradise is my shoddy little town in West Virginia where rent is $400 a month, my car is super nice, McDonald's has sweet tea, Wendy's is right down the block, and the longest traffic jam I have to deal with is my dumb dad parking the truck in front of me and blocking the driveway. Paradise is where WalMart isn't a 6 hour day trip through rush hour, bumper to bumper cars, and a parking garage nightmare or the nearest (and only) Target isn't full of welfare-suckers that have 5 screaming kids running all over store destroying shelves.
Yes, Hawai'i is beautiful, has good barbeque, great beaches, perfect weather, and neat things such as the Pineapple Plantation and Waikiki. You can see all of those in 2 weeks or less. Keep it that way, you'll be happier.