Holidays in Hawaii

I’m not a pork eater, so the tradition of savoring Kalua pig roasted in an imu on Thanksgiving did not appeal to me.  We brought our own tradition with us and cooked a meal with some family and friends for the day. One of the things we are used to on Thanksgiving is eating around 2pm, but in Hawaii it’s mostly done around dinnertime.

Christmas in Hawaii is much different than it is on the Mainland. I didn’t notice as many in-your-face “buy, buy, buy” ads, and no one was really in a hurry to buy anything. Black Friday happened, but nothing like everyone on the Mainland is used to. I didn’t experience the selfishness among the people in Hawaii as I was used to in the rest of the United States. It was a nice change of pace.

Where I come from, people begin decorating for Christmas on Thanksgiving weekend or right after that. We expected the entire island would be lit up with holiday lights. But that was not so. Except for large businesses in Waikiki and some churches and homes, there were very few places lit up. We realized quickly that it’s not because Hawaiians don’t celebrate Christmas; it’s that the price of electricity is so ridiculous in Hawaii that putting up a lot of lights or anything extra that requires power isn’t exactly cost efficient.

To give a price comparison, our home in Florida with running the air conditioning (and washer/dryer/etc.) all summer long, our electric bill averaged $175 at the highest month. In Hawaii, however, running the air conditioning a few nights in August for 23 days cost us $200. We learned quickly not to run the a/c – period. Still, every bill we received was $200 for the month. When we discussed decorating for Christmas, we decided to sell our pre-lit tree and outdoor lights and opt for something much wiser – a rosemary bush – because I could use it to cook with year-round.

Decorations at a church
How Santa gets to the island.

 

This yard had the most decorations in the area.

 

On a main highway

 

What Christmas Tree Shortage? http://news.hawaiibreakingnews.com/tweets/273456662977867777

 

All-American

 

The most affordable Christmas tree in Hawaii

 

 

First impressions during the first week in Hawaii

I’ve been a little behind on blogging these last few weeks, because I’ve been ill most of the time. 😦

These were my first impressions of Oahu while I still exhausted from jetlag. I was completely overwhelmed, because we had no permanent place to live and no jobs past a certain date. (For those new to this blog, we were temporarily staying with friends and still employed until my husband’s official retirement date.)

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1. Naturally, the airport was the first thing I saw when we landed. The view of the sunset past the runway from the plane’s window was gorgeous. I was surprised, however, that Honolulu International Airport was so outdated. Everything seemed to be from the 70s or 80s and very dull.

2. Since we arrived in Honolulu right at sunset, it was dark by the time we got off the plane. I didn’t get to see the island until the following day. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that we learned we had been staying on the dry part of the island. Everything was brown. It was a shock, considering when most people think of Hawaii, they think of lush green grass and tropical flowers everywhere. I thought it resembled more of the desert in the Southwest than the beauty I was hoping to see. This was my first view of daylight on Oahu.

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3. I did manage to witness blooming white plumeria flowers, which was a first for me. Their scent was fantastic, but I think possibly a little too much for my allergies. What a shame! Also I noticed many blooming hibiscus flowers, one of the many plants I was unsuccessfully able to grow in my home state (see below).

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4. Traffic is a huge issue in Hawaii, especially in the Ewa Beach or Kapolei area. It takes forever to get anywhere, but on the positive note, people drive “aloha style”. Unlike the drivers in Florida, everyone lets everyone in and there is no road rage. There weren’t horns honking or people screaming at each other. It was a strange, quiet hum and politeness that held a different vibe than what us mainlanders are used to.

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5. We’d been house hunting for several months prior to our arrival. This is not an exaggeration – but out of about 50 phone calls inquiring about renting, we had about five calls returned. It was quite frustrating to wait around and not hear a thing, especially when we really liked a place.

For the next two days, we drove around Ewa Beach and Kapolei looking for places to rent. Everything looked the same to me and felt crowded. Anything that wasn’t a complete dump was $2000 a month minimum and relatively small. Most places had limited parking for renters and guests, and very few places were pet friendly. This posed a huge problem for us, because there was no way in hell we were going to get rid of our furry family members.

By this time, I knew my immune system was taking a tumble. I was tired of driving in circles and looking at places I wouldn’t want to live. The spicy green curry I had for lunch wasn’t settling nicely, so our renting hunt was over for the next few days. It turned out I had a stomach flu that was comparable to food poisoning, but the sensitive stomach effects lasted for a few weeks. I later determined that so far, I wasn’t “stomaching” this place. Yet.