Saturday, October 27, 2007

Musings: Hanalei Life

While my house is being tented for termites, I’m staying at a friend’s place in Hanalei, land of the beautiful mountains and plentiful vacation rentals.

About half the structures up here are rented out to tourists, and the town has become much more commercialized to meet their needs, or more accurately, their desires. And, of course, with people comes traffic, which is unceasing during the day. Last night, however, it was quiet and the moon shone brightly as we walked across the grass at Waioli Park.

It's definitely different to be in a little town, with street lights, houses close together and stores within walking distance. I finally found a place this morning where I could get on line, as I had to admit it: I was jonesing and needed an internet fix.

Hanalei has fewer roosters than my neighborhood, although Koko and I startled a hen and her five chicks feeding on a fallen mango as we cut through the baseyard on our way to the beach shortly after sunrise. We walked the length of the bay and out onto the pier, where a guy was fishing. The water was glassy, with a few waves at Pine Trees, and a perfect rainbow bridged land and sea.

On the way up here yesterday, I stopped at Anahola store. While waiting in line, I felt compelled to reassure a young local woman audibly distraught over the Advertiser’s rather misleading banner headline — Superferry bill passes — that it wasn’t quite over yet.

“Oh, good, we’re on the same side,” the woman said, giving me a high five.

Turns out she's a student at Kauai Community College, where she had collected about 600 signatures — 10 percent of the 6,000 gathered on a petition calling for an EIS for the Superferry. “And I bet the people who signed it were the kind of people who care what’s going on and vote, too” she said.

Gov. Lingle, however, showed her disdain for our island’s sentiments by refusing to accept the petition until it was presented to her again at her ill-fated meeting on Kauai. She probably knew she risked provoking a riot if she blew it off then.

Despite my explanation that the bill still had to pass the full Senate and be reconciled with legislation moving through the House — which passed, without the environmental conditions proposed by Kauai's Rep. Mina Morita, who so often is a voice in the wildnerness — and then be endorsed by both Lingle and Superferry, the woman’s boyfriend was convinced it was already a done deal.

“They’ve already paid off all the politicians,” he said flatly.

The woman went on to tell me that she wasn’t against the ferry itself. “Sure, I like drive my car for go visit Oahu,” she said. “But the whole way it went down, you know, it’s just wrong.”

“It’s going to affect us in ways we don’t even know yet,” her boyfriend asserted. “I just hope we don’t come like Oahu, where we have to start locking our doors.”

We all nodded in agreement and went our separate ways, but I thought of them as I recalled a comment from a Supeferry investor reported in the Advertiser yesterday. When asked how he planned to deal with resistance on Kauai, he arrogantly dismissed the opposition as a “vocal minority.”

It’s impossible to know how widespread the Kauai opposition is, but if Superferry officials think it’s just a “vocal minority” that can be easily dismissed, they’ve greatly underestimated the smoldering resentment on this island.

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