For years I imagined the real Maui was what I had experienced at a hotel on the “touristy” side of the island. Everybody is always happy, greeting everyone they pass with a warm smile and aloha. The rooms are clean and the only sign of critters are the sweet little geckos scurrying around. It’s paradise!
But paradise, we found out years later, is all smoke and mirrors. The resorts and hotels are devoid of critters because they are “taken care of” before you check in. We found this out when we rented a cottage on the other side of the island. One evening I was outside playing with the cats when I noticed the grass moving. I looked closer and noticed dozens of beetles scuttling about. We would get up in the mornings, walk out on the lanai or through the treed areas and quickly be wrapped up in cob webs. There are tons of spiders in paradise.
The paradisiacal image I had in my head vanished. This was the real Maui. It’s beautiful, but different.
It’s like when you first discover your parents aren’t perfect: you don’t love them any less. And the same was true for us and Maui.
Three years after this realization, we’re back on Maui, care-taking two properties and pet sitting a dog, 3 cats and 74 chickens for one month in Hana. One week in, and we have been woken up by a cockroach scratching the bamboo mat next to our bed — the thing was so big it cast a shadow. We also have had to dispose of a dead rat killed by the cat, and deal with fruit flies; so many fruit flies.
But for all the creepy crawlies and rodents, there are an infinite amount of wonderful things to experience and discover. There’s nothing like eating fruit fresh off of the trees, smelling the gardenia and plumeria perfumed breeze, swimming in the ocean, and rainbows at every turn.
There is a different, less-perfect side of Maui. But it’s still paradise.