The sky was packed with brilliant, glittery stars last night, but only a few were still visible, struggling to shine through a dense layer of clouds, when Koko and I went walking this morning.
The only sounds were the roaring surf and the muffled thump-thump-thump of roosters flapping their wings before they crowed and crickets chirping beneath a mock orange hedge. As a pink dawn approached, the clouds shifted to the southwest, creating a mass of blackness mauka and exposing in the east a golden crescent of light cupping the dark whole of the moon just about three fingers width from Venus.
It’s looking to be another fine day, with the kind of gorgeous weather that makes the tourists happy, except perhaps those who were sitting in the blazing sun in open convertibles for 20 minutes at noon yesterday, waiting for flagmen to wave them through the road construction up near the Hanalei transfer station.
A Honolulu-based reporter for NPR is on island this week, doing a story about how Kauai is weathering the slack economy, and he called me to get some information and contacts.
“Have their been any noticeable indications of the decline in tourism?” he asked.
“Well, our traffic problems seem to have eased,” I replied.
I do still see lots of tourists around, but with the Hyatt’s occupancy down to a stunning 60 percent — now remember, this is a hotel that has enjoyed near-full occupancy since opening — it’s obvious the industry is hurting, especially on the high end.
While we’re on the subject of economics, someone left this comment on Sunday’s post:
If you don't mind me asking, how is it that an apparently accomplished professional journalist and general writer such as yourself comes to live in such humble surroundings?
No home ownership, having to (I assume) rent very down-scale digs, no typical modern appliances that most take for granted, no TV, etc.
Austerity choice or living with a bad hand of cards, as they say? IF so, why?
It’s kind of hard to know where to start on that one, except to say that it’s all by choice, I don’t feel deprived in the slightest and humble is a relative term, anyway. I suppose I could spend more of my time accumulating stuff, so that I could join the millions of Americans who are now stockpiling crap they don’t really want/need in the 2.3 billion square feet of self-storage space now available in this nation. I guess could give up going to the beach so I could spend hours staring at the TV or shopping. I might even possibly be able to rearrange my thinking so that the glint of gold, rather than stars, made me happy. But why would I want to?
And when are we going to get past that life- and planet-destroying notion that material acquisition is a good measure of success?
Going through Hurricane Iniki, and living for 11 years on a multi-million-dollar estate, cured me of my fascination with stuff. Ultimately, it just becomes a burden, or as the original owner of the estate once described it: “I’m living in a beautiful prison.”
But plenty of folks seem eager to lock themselves up, which is partly why our ag land is being turned into luxurious gentleman’s estates. While doing some research, I came across this ad, and its numerous misspellings, on Craig’s list:
$1787500 KAUAI, LAND 5 ACRES WHITE WATER OCEAN VIEW PROPERTY FOR SALE
OCEAN VIEW LAND FOR SALE IN BEAUTIFUL PRESTIGIOUS KAUAI IN 'ALIOMANU ESTATES' LOT 7-C. ALIOMANU IS AN UPSCALE DIVISION OF CUSTOM HOME ESTATES O THE NORTH EASTERN SHORE OF THE ISLAND OF KAUAI. BUILD YOUR OWN CUSTOM ON THIS RARE AND UNIQUE PROPERTY OF APPROX 5 ACRES, WHITE WATER 360 DEGRE OF OCEAN VIEW AND KALELEA MOUNTAIN RANGE VIEW. CLEARED LEVEL TOPOGRAPHY READY TO BUILD! (PLANS ARE AVAILABLE FOR AN EQUISITE ESTATE WE CAN ALSO ARRANGE TO BUILD FOR YOU IF DESIRED)
THIS AREA IS FAMOUS AND USED IN THE OPENING SCENE'S OF MANY FAMOUS MOVIES LIKE " 6 DAYS & 7 NIGHTS", "RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK" "JURRASIC PARK" ETC.
THIS IS TRULY ONE OF THE LAST REMAINING PARCELS OF LAND THIS BIG WITH OCEAN VIEW...LAND IS LIMITED IN KAUAI AND WILL JUST BE ALL THE MORE VALUABLE IN THE FUTURE.
Now, I happen to know that this land is zoned agriculture. Indeed, it’s an agricultural subdivision, with one true working farm, and numerous vacation rentals, so I sent an email to the seller asking:
How come you never mention that this is agricultural land and so the houses here are supposed to be FARM DWELLINGS?
I got this reply:
Aliomanu Estates is an upscale division of custom homes overlooking the ocean. you wouldn't want to build anything less
How, I wonder, is the county ever going to put the genie back in the bottle? With this kind of mentality so firmly established, we might as well just kiss our ag land goodbye.
Meanwhile, Mayor Carvalho has taken the bold political step of supporting the proposed bill banning plastic bags. Yes, I know that Indian cities like Dhaka, Bangladesh and Mumbai have already banned the bags, along with San Francisco, Oakland, Mexico City and entire nations, like South Africa. Others have imposed hefty taxes to discourage their use. Getting rid of these greenhouse gas-making, landfill-choking, wildlife-killing bags is a growing international trend.
But the County Council, which seemed all set to pass the bill last week, balked and deferred when the Kauai Chamber of Commerce and Retail Merchants of Hawaii sent in letters of opposition. Will they come around now that the mayor’s on board to share the political heat?
The Garden Island reported in an article today that Papaya’s has already instituted its own ban on plastic bags and noted: “Costco is another business that currently does not provide plastic bags for its customers at checkout.”
Ummm, that’s probably because so much of the stuff they sell is already encased in plastic that can be neither re-used nor recycled.
In other political news, Gov. Linda Lingle continues to recycle the tired, and false, argument that the Superferry didn’t need to do an EIS because Matson and Young Brothers didn’t have to. In a reply to the scathing Maui News ”Sour Grapes” editorial that told her to admit she blew it with the big boat, Lingle wrote:
The facts bear out there was no mistake.
Young Brothers has never filed an EIS to haul cargo between the islands; Matson never prepared an EIS; and the cruise ships have not been required to complete an EIS. In short, we applied the same standard to the Superferry as has been applied to every previous use of our state harbors for interisland travel. Our state Supreme Court decided to impose an EIS on this single ship, a clear example of legislating from the bench.
But as a Superferry story follower astutely observed:
The Governor neglects to point out: that several environmental studies WERE done for harbor facilities; that a previous (1989) proposed ferry on Oahu had to do a major EIS; that the other transport systems which she mentions were started before the environmental laws were established; and that the Supreme Court, the State's Environmental Council, and the State Auditor said her administrator's decisions were wrong.
But that wasn’t the worst of it. Lingle then goes on to say:
It is time to remove from leadership positions and political office those who are unwilling to represent us when controversy flairs.
The only political leader to speak up clearly in support of the Superferry was Rep. Joe Souki. Let's hope that in the future more politicians will tell us all what they are for rather than what they are against.
Yikes. Holding up a smarmy, back-room wheeler-dealer corporate stooge like Souki as a role model speaks volumes about Lingle — none of it good.