Following our arrival at our townhouse in Kona and a brief exploration of the gated community where we would reside for the next five months, our little ohana (‘family’) needed rest. The months of preparing for our move, combined with the long flight and 4-hour time difference had finally set in. There would be no unpacking this night. Around 9 p.m., we ascended upstairs to our rooms. Scott and I sacrificed the nicer of the two rooms (including the king-sized bed) with the hopes of minimizing the fighting and tattling that “She touched me first!” Once the kids were soundly tucked in, we settled into our queen-sized bed. This would be a new adventure for us as well, since we vowed when we purchased our king-sized bed 12 years prior that we would never go back.
Since we were in near sleeping proximity to one another anyway and this was our first time in our new home, cuddling seemed like a good option…for about 30 seconds. We promptly realized it was HOT. Now, it’s important to understand that the majority of homes in Hawaii do not have air conditioning and, even if they do, energy is so costly that few people utilize it. The absence of air, combined with an upstairs room and memory foam mattress retaining our body heat like an insulated pizza carrier did not provide for the sort of quality sleep we were hoping for. I pushed my hubby aside and settled in for a night of tossing and turning. The good news was that fighting over the blankets in our queen-sized lava bed would not be an issue. This was taking the term “things are really heating up in the bedroom” to a new level.
The next morning, we hightailed it to Costco to stock up on food and fans. Some of the first words out of our leasing agent’s mouth was “We all shop at Costco here.” I promptly understood why. The prices at this Hawaii Costco seemed no more expensive than the Costco in Boise, Idaho. In fact, we noted multiple items that we had purchased in Idaho that were the exact price as those from which we came. Needless to say, since we had arrived in Hawaii with nothing but the clothes on our backs and a few suitcases, we dropped the bomb!
Two carts and four fans later, we exited Costco and hurried home before our frozen items took a turn for the worse. It was quickly noted that Siri was going to be of no help to us. She had obviously never been to the islands because she knew nothing about them. Either that, or she wanted to take us on the “scenic route” everywhere we went. I’m guessing Siri’s self-esteem has since plummeted because Scott and I could no longer control our exclamations of profanity at her. So much for technology helping us out in this department.
We gradually settled in to the time difference (four hours earlier) and slept progressively better as we began to figure out a cooling schedule with our prized fans based on the hottest and coolest times of the day. Additionally, we decided we must get the “tourist” out of our system before we settled in as residents. Each day, as we explored our new town, we proclaimed our gratitude that we did not have to pack in every activity like most people who were forced to leave when their vacation to ‘paradise’ ended in one or two weeks. It was still challenging for us to grasp the concept that we had all the time in the world to explore. We were excited and wanted to pack everything in. We frequented restaurants, farmers markets, shops, beaches, health-food stores and located every chain store in close proximity.
One of the most refreshing aspects of our first week on the Big Island was the immense kindness of the people. Mike at the sandal shop seemed genuinely happy we had arrived. We had a long, pleasant conversation and he informed us that the shop owners were from Fruitland, Idaho. We also learned they had owned our favorite fruit stand that we frequented in Fruitland. Angie at the farmers market had grown up on the island. She proudly proclaimed she was 78 years-old, but her smile and her youthful attitude made her seem much younger. We informed her we had transplanted from Idaho and she told us she attended and graduated from the College of Idaho in her youth after receiving a scholarship there. She also took our information after explaining she considered herself the island matchmaker for newcomers and held a quarterly potluck for newcomers and locals to meet. Karen from the jewelry booth moved from California to join her children and grandchildren who had also followed their dream of moving to Hawaii. She told us of the amazing garage sales that could be found on the weekends. We exchanged numbers, so we could go together. Nate, at the little souvenir shop on Alii drive gave us lychee and mangos and invited us to a barbeque at his home.
I could go on for hours about the kindness and love we have received since landing on the Big Island (of course, this is a blog, so I probably will in future posts). I could also ramble on about the disgusting cockroaches that are the size of small rodents or the humidity that occasionally seems to melt us on contact. Yet, it’s amazing how quickly one adapts to a new environment. Although, I’m not sure I’ll ever be comfortable with the cockroaches, the humidity clears my skin and the ocean air clears my soul. We are climatizing and learning to live without the luxury of air conditioning. The kids have yet to fight over sharing a bed or a room. In fact, I have never seen them smile more. Nearly every day, Grace says, “I’m so happy, Mom!” I simply respond, “So am I, honey. So am I.”