We just got back from ten days on Maui. Paradise. And it’s being paved over. Sound familiar, Oregonians? Be careful about who you vote for in November. That “we’ve got to respect property rights” verbiage may sound fine, but what it really means is: paradise needs paving.
Which it doesn’t. Not now, not ever. We’ve been to Maui almost every year since 1991. The traffic keeps getting crazier. The ocean views keep getting filled with condos. The construction cranes sprout faster than palm trees.
Don’t get me wrong. Maui still is a wonderful place to visit. So is Oregon. However, if you live in either of these paradisiacal places and care about sustaining a livable environment, you’ve got to be concerned. This Maui resident says that he’s thinking of moving.
I’m positive I’m not alone as I watch the island of Maui slowly die at the hands of greed and exploitation.
I wake up almost every morning to Realtors rushing around outside dragging perspective [sic] buyers with them up and down the streets of my neighborhood with small computers chirping and cell phones squawking.
I believe that Maui was meant to be visited. After only five years here, I feel it is time to move. The lack of respect for this amazing place along with the painfully obvious destruction disguised as growth has gotten the better of me.
This visit we experienced a symbolic reminder of how over-development is harming Maui. Well, not so symbolic, really. A jackhammer in room 103 when you’re staying in 204 is pretty darn real. A condo below us was being renovated.
I gently (and not so gently) suggested to the resort manager that guests come to Maui for rest and relaxation, not to listen to loud construction noise for several hours a day. My sacred post-swim/beach afternoon nap was thrown for a noisy loop. As the Wonder Pets say, “this is serious!” (add a lisp for the proper Ming-Ming effect).
Our complaints had no effect. Instead of ocean waves and birds we got to listen to electric saws and drills. That’s modern Maui in a nutshell. All too often making a buck comes first. Harmoniously relating to the environment and fellow human beings takes a back seat.
Yes, it’s more pleasant creeping along in a traffic jam on Maui than it is on an Oregon freeway. You can watch the waves rolling in rather than grass seed growing. And the air passing through the window that your elbow is hanging out of usually is warmer (except for today—Oregon is “enjoying” a record breaking heat wave).
There has to be a limit to growth, though. On Maui. And in Oregon. Special places like these need to be preserved. We’ve already got plenty of LAs in this country. If I want to smell exhaust fumes and gaze upon wall to wall concrete I can always hop on a plane and visit my daughter in Hollywood.
Back in the 80s I spent some time on a Fiji island. There wasn’t much to do at the small resort where we were staying. That was the idea. Not doing much. One afternoon a Tahitian girl showed us how to make a native something or other. I don’t remember what it was. I do remember the girl.
She was gorgeous. A classic Tahitian beauty. Wise too. My fellow vacationers were mostly from Australia and the United States. Someone said, “Have you ever been to America?” “No,” she replied. Then she was asked, “Would you like to go?”
She tossed back her long dark hair and smiled. Her words stuck in my mind.
“Why would I want to? In America you live in big cities, work hard, and then die. Why should I leave here?”
There was an awkward silence. I could sense that we all were thinking, “Good question.” In an instant the proud U.S. citizen belief that ours is the land everyone wants to come to had been buried under the sparkling Fiji sand. I thought to myself, “Why do I want to go home? That’s the real question.”
Polynesians like this girl were the first inhabitants of Hawaii. I wonder what they’d think if they could see it today. Probably just what the Native Americans who settled in Oregon would think if they saw this state now. Pardon the stereotype, but only one word seems to fit their reaction.