HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND – Seeing Hawaii When You Aren’t Here


By Kelly Moran

Seeing Hawaii When You Aren’t Here

People have a tendency to see what they want to see. And if you want to be in Hawaii, don’t be surprised if more and more things start you thinking of Hawaii.

I don’t mean the ads and articles in travel magazines. Whether you’re a longtime subscriber (to what I heard a frequent-flier call “travel-porn”), or just back-date browsing in a waiting-room, those articles and ads are deliberately intended, designed, tweaked and polished for the purpose of making you think about coming here.

I also don’t mean “Hawaii 5-0,” or “Lost,” either. Nor the mystique of “tiki” that has likely propelled a million visitors into the Pacific. Ever since Trader Vic’s first opened, thousands of bamboo-torches have lit up back-yard bars. And upscale establishments with superficially thatched roofs (like the Tonga Room in San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel) have been popular for decades.

No, not those things. It’s little things I mean. You’ve just seen a mai-tai on a passing tray, and suddenly you think of the first mai-tai you had on your first visit to Hawaii. There’s a palm-tree on the breast-pocket of someone’s sport-shirt, and you remember looking up under a real one, to see if the nuts might fall. (Actually, in Hawaii’s public parks, coconuts are removed so they don’t.) Your menu has a less-familiar Hawaiian word, like “haupia,” and because you know that means there’s coconut in it, you start wondering what an airline ticket costs now. Maybe it takes only hearing or reading the word “coconut” . . . ?

There’s a wonderful feature in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin’s online edition called “The Search for Signs of Hawaiian Life.” People send in digital photos from all over the world — pictures of mainly (and literally) SIGNS: for restaurants, shops and other businesses that somehow echo things Hawaiian. There isn’t much surf on the Adriatic coast, but here’s a picture that a friend took, just outside of Dubrovnik, in Croatia. Makes you want to hang ten, doesn’t it?

Incidentally, in light of my recent blog asking if you are ready to live here, a new book may be a cautionary tale. It’s called “Off the Grid Without a Paddle,” by Lynne Farr, who moved to the Big Island with her husband before they had really checked the place out.

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