This month marks the beginning of our fourth year on Kaua’i. It’s almost a cliché to say it, but it both seems like it was only yesterday that we were scrambling back in Portland to sell our house and make our move, while at the same time feeling like we’ve been here for far longer than three years.
Has it been perfect? No, because nothing ever is. Still the good and the sublime far outweigh the bad we’ve experienced since our move.
Here’s how things look after three years on Kauai:
- Humidity: As I wrote just a short time ago, I’m not sure I will ever adjust. When it’s bad, I’m miserable.
- Bugs: Hawai’i is Bug Central. We do pretty well inside our house keeping the critters out, but they are still always with us: mosquitos, centipedes, giant cockroaches, ants, spiders and other small flying things.
- Dust: Keeping up with the dust here is a daily struggle.
- Chickens/roosters: They’ve grown on me in some ways (some of the roosters are positively gorgeous) and they eat lots of bugs, but they have torn up everything we’ve planted in the yard, and can be incredibly loud and annoying at times. I guess I just wish there were fewer of them.
- Frogs: There are poisonous toads (bufo) here and they give me the willies. Thankfully they only come out at night when I’m safely inside, and they too eat bugs. Still, they’re a giant ick factor for me.
- It’s expensive: We prepared ourselves for the higher cost of living here, and are managing fine, but food, housing, airline flights, etc. are still more here than elsewhere – prices can still be a shock at times.
- Farmers’ markets: The abundance of fresh, locally grown, affordable produce has meant we are eating more fruits and vegetables than in the past, and paying less for them.
- Hawaiian-style: We absolutely love the Hawaiian spin on things, especially the way food is prepared using or substituting local ingredients.
- It’s casual: Every day is casual Friday here. Really, no one cares what you wear, or what your nails look like, or what kind of purse you’re carrying. No one cares about your car either.
- Our girls’ experiences: None of our girls wanted to move here, and although Meiling returned back to the mainland shortly after we arrived, WenYu now says moving here was the best thing to happen for her, and YaYu concurs. They have thrived here on the island. All three consider Kaua’i home now.
- No snakes: It took me almost a year to accept that there are no snakes, poisonous or otherwise, on this tropical island; in the whole state actually. Yeah for no snakes!
- The expense: While this is one of the not-so-good things about living here, it’s also helped us hone our frugal skills much more than we might have otherwise.
- Manageability: Although there aren’t loads of stores or shopping opportunities like in other places, and we’ll never get a Trader Joe’s, we have everything we need here, and it’s easy to get to them. The island is just the right size (for us).
- The slow pace: The slower way of life here suits us perfectly. Everything gets done, but there’s little to no sense of underlying urgency. Feeling stressed is a rare thing these days.
- The green: There’s a reason Kaua’i is called ‘The Garden Island’ – it’s beautiful, lush and green all year round.
- The weather: This was the main reason for our move here, and we have not been disappointed. Yes, it rains and can get very humid, but most of the time it is warm, sunny and the trade winds keep it comfortable.
- The ocean: I love that I can see the ocean every day, and experience its wonders, from crashing waves to spectacular vistas with colors transitioning from clear turquoise to deep, dark blue. And, there are seals, dolphins, big turtles and leaping whales to observe. There is nothing more invigorating than an hour or so under the umbrella at the beach, even if I don’t make it into the water.
- The moon and the stars: There aren’t words to describe how beautiful the night sky is here. Because there’s no ambient light to dull the view, stars literally blanket the sky. The full moon here shines like a spotlight.
- Sunrise, sunset: One word: breathtaking. Almost every day.
- Diversity: Hawai’i is well-known for its population diversity – it’s a daily fact of life here – but we also experience other types of diversity as well. Even a small island like Kaua’i has multiple micro-climates, so a trip to the north shore or the west side of the island means different foliage and temperatures than we have here on the east side. The local culture is also different depending on which part of the island you’re on.
- The aloha spirit: There is a genuine friendliness here that I’ve never experienced elsewhere in the U.S. Aloha means sharing, living in the present, caring for others and the land, and enjoying life and feeling joy, and we experience these things every day in our interactions with others (even though most locals still think we’re tourists).
Here’s to three wonderful years – lucky we live Hawai’i!