Trouble in Paradise

 

What makes a tropical paradise? Lots of sunshine. Cooling breezes blowing in from the multihued crystal clear waters. Sandy beaches. And of course, plenty of scantily clad bronzed bodies!

Some folks might add things like great shopping and fine ding. Or theme parks and museums. Or any number of other activities and attractions. But it’s the physical characteristics of location that make a place tropical, and then the lifestyle that makes it paradise. And everyone has their own idea of paradise.

There are many tropical places with beaches. And many with mountains. But from my experience, limited as it may be, Hawaii really is a tropical paradise. It has beaches. And mountains. And forests, valleys, rivers and palm trees galore. The waters are insanely blue, and clear. And there is an incredible variety of things to do and see. All as noted above.

But one ting I noticed, something that doesn’t show up in the travel brochures, was that not everyone living there believes that it is paradise. Sure, there are the high rise hotels and condos on Waikiki Beach where residents can take advantage of the paradise. But along side that there are enclaves of little rundown houses. As you move through Oahu you will see further evidence of poverty and decay.

And then there are the homeless. I didn’t see huge numbers of them, but they were everywhere. Sleeping on sidewalks. Pushing shopping carts filled with plastic bags housing all of their worldly possessions. And camped out on the beaches and in the parks.

Of course there are hustlers and street performers who make their money off of the tourist’s sensitivities and guilt. Two nights in a row I saw a group of young men singing and dancing on the sidewalk, preaching their ministry of abstinence and purity, and collecting money to support themselves. And one night a woman approached me and asked for twenty dollars because she had lost her purse. That’s bold!

Then there are the street people. Just minding their own business, living on the street. I saw them digging through ashtrays looking for any half smoked cigarettes that they could finish off. And sleeping on the beaches, under the palm trees with their shopping cart safely nearby. And one dude who was very animatedly conversing with some imaginary person while standing guard over his shopping cart.

I don’t know why all of these people live the way they do. Hustlers do it because its easier than working nine to five. Some people are down on their luck. Big time. Others have issues that keep them out of mainstream society. I can’t fix it by myself and I’m not saying anyone else should try to, or should even care if they don’t already. Just making an observation.

And part of that is to say that in Hawaii it seems that the homeless are still part of the Ohana, that’s family, and are left alone and treated with human dignity. At least I didn’t see the cops or anyone else hassling them.

They say aloha is a way of life, and if it includes tropical islands, and treating each other as family and with dignity, then I’m all for it! That’s part of my story. What’s yours? www.personalhistorywriter.com

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