Monday, November 28, 2011

Lana'i: Price of Paradise

While we were in Lana'i, a tiny island off Maui, Hawai'i, the most profound thing we experienced - besides the waves which hushed the whining and scrapping for the time it took to bowl over four children - was the deep-seated peace of the Islanders.

Harley, Jackson and Cy

Many of them had lived there all their lives, on a comma-shaped island 18 miles-wide with no traffic lights, an outside jail and a population of 3,102.

The only two hotels on the island have golf courses and tennis courts and staff whose sole job it is to put towels on the chaises, clean sunglasses and spray Evian on sunbathers, who pay $15 for a fruit plate and $6.50 for a latte.

Meanwhile the front page of the Maui News showed Lana'i locals lining up for 1,000 gift bags containing turkeys and rice, which everyone agreed were much needed. Paid work is limited to tourism which is hurting like everything else.

Even if you have a job, or hopefully two, to pay the bills, the three small stores on the island stock few fruit and veg. The 40min ferry ride to Cosco in Maui is $30 each way for an adult, $20 for a child and most families need to stock up at least every six weeks.

All the locals we met agreed that everyone knows your business here, you have to grow your own food and fish if you want to eat well ....and they would never, ever, leave.

First there was Martin who took us out to see the dolphins. This is something he does everyday but when we caught sight of a horizon-full of dolphins leaping - they travel in pods of 60 - his joy was as new, wide and glorious as the grins on the faces of Cy, seven and Tallulah, 10. How do you live here, we asked, the island is so expensive. Yes, he agreed, a gallon of milk is $8 and he has three children who love milk. "That's the price you pay to live in paradise."

Martin and Tallulah
Jared, our shuttle driver to the "City" of Lana'i agreed. He was born here but rebelled in High School. After having a daughter at age 17 he signed up to work on Naval aircraft carriers and travelled the world for six years.  Jaded by city-life he returned to marry his girlfriend and now has three children and two foster children. He also mentioned the price of milk but said: "That's the price you pay to live in paradise"

Manele Beach at 6pm
One of the women busing breakfast tables was from Milwaukee. At age 18 she moved here with her mother and hated it, there was nothing to do. Ten years later, she loves it and intends to live here for the rest of her life. She has three children and she and her fiance, a bartender at the same hotel, are saving to be married in the hotel gardens. She says life here allows their children to roam freely with everyone keeping an eye on them.

We arrived home and the boys flew outside to play football in the backyard and Tallulah spent a happy day with her 12 soft toys making a movie about circus-life. (She even negotiated terms with the actors who will receive 1% of 100%. Someone wrote "great" on the deal but I don't think it was the actors).

The lesson is -  and I guess I'm hammering this moral home as clunkily as Alexander Payne's latest movie, The Descendants, which has the most annoying, preachy voice-over for the first half hour  - that kids don't need posh hotels, swimming pools and room service to be happy and we don't either.  What fools we've been!

I walked down to the deli at the end of our road to buy a gallon of milk - $6.99 before taxes... the price you pay to live in Oakland? No, that doesn't have the same ring somehow.

Anyway in the midst of my "money can't buy you happiness" euphoria, I may have sssslipped off to the sssales and bought this Yarnz ssscarf. I'm obviously too in touch with my new non-material self to feel completed by a mere piece of material. But my brown winter clothes are just ecstatic.

Scarf in our living room knotty-style 
Scarf in our kitchen droopy-style

Any moments of truth for you over the weekend?


  1. Fess up, you bought that scarf to go with your chair, didn't you! Now that's coordination!

    I don't think I could live on a tiny island. I spent 2 weeks on Jersey once and got 'cabin fever' by the end, I was desperate to leave.

    I love the options living on the continent gives me. Spain one day, Italy the next etc. But I'd love to go on holiday to Lana'i.

  2. It's amazing isn't it? Island people (and I use that term lovingly) always amaze me. I could never do it, but I wish I could!!

  3. Love the scarf, but I NEED the boots!

    Shallow, I know, but I spent a weekend with my in-laws, not a week in paradise!

    I love island time about 2 weeks at a time. After that I do need to return to just a bit of hustle and bustle.

    But yes, truly money cannot buy happiness. Nor do material possession fill the void. Spending time together away from it all is such a wonderful way to provide the perspective needed to remember this truth.

  4. I lived for two years on Kauai, and for me the key is to get off the island a lot if you live on one.

    The Descendants does have an annoying voice over! It was kind of a weird movie for Clooney to be in.

  5. Me too love the scarf: NEED the boots! You'll look back on the holiday as being a great one just because there were some seriously awful bits in it like the man in the Yoga class...sorry shouldn't have reminded you!;)

  6. There truly needs to be a healthy balance yes things are nice (lets be honest, I do write a primarily fashion blog after all) but there needs to be a healthy perspective. I am glad you had such a great reminder of that on Lanai.

  7. Sounds like a fabulous lifestyle! And I'm so jealous you saw dolphins...

  8. Oh I miss Lana'i! I have to plan another trip to Hawaii soon. And you look gorgeous. The boots are scarf are fab too xoxo

  9. I love that scarf. Also, I enjoyed this post.

  10. That scarf/boots combo is gorgeous...and where we live and how we manage financially is all about priorities and experience I suppose.

  11. I love your new scarf Jodi and was hanging on your every word about Lana'i, I always wanted to go there--although when I finally made it to Hana for 10 days week of bliss, I sort of forgot about Lana'i. It looks beautiful! My moment of truth is that I finally accepted the fact that I am a furniture hoarder and will never ever be selling all these pieces I keep acquiring, telling myself that I'll fix them up and sell them...never happening.

    xo Mary Jo

  12. I don't think it's possible for you to look more chic - LOVING your outfit! :)

  13. I went to Hawaii a few years ago and didn't like it. I'm glad you had a better experience.

  14. I got engaged in Maui, so Hawaii always has a soft spot for me.
    Moment of truth - we rec'd our holiday family wish list and letter. The letter was touching and reading it made me thankful for all I have.

  15. Looks soooo beautiful! Sounds like a beautiful lifestyle minus the $6.99 milk! So glad you found me via Mary Jo! I'm excited to discover more of your blog :)


    p.s. fab scarf!

  16. Fab scarf - droopy or knotty! I grew up in small northern villages - my parents' idea of paradise. My idea of hell. I swore I would never do that to my kids and I haven't!

  17. It's very true that kids don't care about expensive hollidays. Some of our best memories are of camping trips. While I admire your new philosophy I think you were very wise to buy that scarf. It's look amazing on you!

  18. oh my gosh, it looks like so much fun! i really want to go to hawaii. it's been a long time since i went on a vacation with my parents... :)

    <3, Mimi
    $100 Shopbop Gift Card Giveaway

  19. Great need to keep warm now that you are home from the Islands!

  20. What an awesome holiday--in several senses of the word. How refrshing to have a holiday from your usual life in order to receive this sort of clarity!

    And at the same time, yes to the scarf!


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