Hawaii is such a beautiful place, but it’s more than just the crystal clear water, white sandy beaches, and tropical jungles. The spirit of the place is beautiful and according to many natives here, that spirit is called aloha. It’s one of the reasons people want to visit Hawaii, to feel that aloha.
So here is a list of some of my favorite things about Hawaii, that make it such a beautiful place to live.
For many aloha is merely a greeting or a goodbye. But it also means affection, peace, compassion, and mercy (wikipedia). I’ve seen it first hand especially at my church where everyone is so friendly and kind. It’s very evident in the way when you meet someone you don’t shake their hand, you give them a little hug and a kiss on the cheek. (Be warned, women and women do it, men and women do it, men and men DO NOT.)
Another part that is evident at my church, is when people go up to the pulpit to speak they don’t say “Good morning” or “Good afternoon” they say “Aloha” and everyone in the congregation replies with a resounding “Aloha”.
2. Auntie, Uncle and Cousin
Everyone is one big family. If you don’t know someone’s name, you can just call them Auntie (for a woman) or Uncle (for a man). Someone your age is your cousin. You don’t even have to be remotely related. It’s just such a sweet notion. My religion already believes that we are all related, we call each other Brother and Sister, I love that this whole island feels like a family.
3. A brand new vernacular.
“Shoots!” No I didn’t lose my keys, I was just saying thanks for the favor you did, or agreeing with what you said.
Slippers are not something you wear around the house, and they are pronounced ‘slipp-ahz’. They’re what most of us around the world refer to as flip flops.
“Coming up on pau hana” That wasn’t a sneeze. I just wanted to let you know that I’m almost done with work. Pau- finished, hana- work.
**Funny Story** There’s this photographer I work with at my internship named Paul. He was telling me that when he first moved to Hawaii, he went out drinking with his new friends and they kept asking “Are you pau?” As in are you pau with your drink or finished with your drink. Not understanding what they meant, he replied, “No I’m Paul.”
“You’re coming to the party yeah? I just need to know how many cupcakes to bake, that’s why?” You don’t ask questions here, you give a statement and tack a ‘yeah’ onto the end. (I will admit, I might have started doing this). You don’t say because, you end an explanation with ‘that’s why’.
Mahalo: Thank you
Ohana: means family and family means nobody gets left behind.
4. Hello Kitty
It’s no secret that many Japanese people love Hello Kitty, nor is it a secret that I do too! Thankfully for me there are a lot of Japanese people who live and visit Hawaii, therefore it just stands to reason that all sorts of Hello Kitty merchandise is available in just about any store you visit. I knew previously that there is Hello Kitty everything, my mind just couldn’t imagine literally what ‘everything’ entails. Now I know.
5. International cuisine
They say that America is the world’s melting pot. Well from the way I see it, Hawaii is America’s melting pot. There is such a vast variety of nationalities that live and/or visit here that you can always find any type of food you want to eat, and I mean any! Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Italian, Mexican, Thai and a whole bunch of other types that I’ve never even tried but I’m working on it.
On top of that Hawaii has its own native foods. And on top of that are shrimp trucks and shave ice (which it turns out I hate…the shave ice not the shrimp). The possibilities for eating out here are seriously endless.
6. Traditional ceremonies
Something I love about Hawaii is how seriously they take every ceremony. This is a part of the culture that I probably wouldn’t have seen if it weren’t for my internship. Because of that I have been to two building openings and each had the building being blessed and traditional song and dance. It’s beautiful to watch something that is so foreign to me. I love the work that goes into keeping the Hawaiian culture alive down to its very roots.
7. Tourist land
One of the benefits of living somewhere that thrives on tourism is that you have all the time in the world to do all the cool tourist stuff. So while someone may have saved their whole life to come to Hawaii and can only spend a week trying to cram in all the stuff they want to do, I have every afternoon and weekend I want to enjoy the tourist side of things. Unfortunately I don’t have a never-ending budget, but I know that I’ll never be bored.
8. Year-round Summer
I have to be honest, this isn’t my favorite part because I really love seasons and our house in unbearably hot sometimes. But I’m trying to enjoy it while I have it and remember the days that I was sitting in my apartment in Utah in the dead of winter and wishing for some sunshine. I do love that it’s October and I go to the beach after work to lay out sometimes. It’s nice that I won’t have to worry about my tan fading over the winter. Winter clothes are sometimes dark and drab but here, where it’s summer all the time, I can wear bright sunshiny clothes all I want!
9. Wildlife (or lack thereof)
No snakes. No bears. No mountain lions. The only thing here to fear is scorpions and in my case add to that list mosquitoes. But in the big picture, little bugs are not nearly as scary as the aforementioned predators. Plus there are cute little geckos EVERYWHERE! There’s one that likes to live in my room. And while I don’t personally want to cuddle with it, I don’t mind it nearly as much as I would a snake living in my room. Just sayin. And how cool is it to live in a place where there are dart frogs and chameleons in the wild?! I’ll tell you, SO COOL!
10. Aloha ‘Oe
There is a beautiful song that people sing here when someone is leaving. I’ve sung it twice already, as members of my church have left to move somewhere else. The people who are leaving stand up in front of everyone, and everyone else stands to sing them this beautiful song:
Hui: Aloha `oe, aloha `oe
E ke onaona noho i ka lipo
One fond embrace,
A ho`i a`e au
Until we meet again
On the last verse the people leaving walk to the back of the chapel and wait there as the song is finished and everyone comes to hug them and wish them well.
So those are a few of the things I like about living in Hawaii. Stay tuned for a list of the things I dislike about living in Hawaii.