With friends and family constantly visiting, a couple who moved to the island a year ago have learned to show some ...
Ever since my husband and I moved to Hawaii last year, our popularity has grown.
Who would have known that we have so many friends and relatives? Our acquaintances alone likely bolster the total number of visitors Hawaii receives every month. At last count, we have had 25 different guests -- and we have lived here for less than a year.
Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we used to live in Boston. Over the decade or so that we lived in Beantown, we had only a handful of guests. We like to think that they came to see us, but the truth is that they were usually attending weddings or conferences.
Perhaps Boston's signature weather scared off potential visitors. October brings the chill, and ice doesn't start melting until March. We've witnessed snow in June. One of our friends, Eun-Ju, does love the weather in Massachusetts, but then again, she hails from Nova Scotia.
Boston summers are more sultry than August here, and the winters are legendary. We discovered what temperatures below zero F actually feel like. The most extreme was when it once took my friend Launa and I nearly four hours to get to work after an ice storm. It could well be that the Bostonian climate was not exactly a tourist draw.
Or maybe no one wanted to risk driving in Beantown. Dave, a friend of ours who moved there after business school, was perturbed by the aggressive, honking drivers who seemed to smile only on those rare occasions when the Red Sox beat the Yankees.
"Why," Dave asked in amazement, "are people so angry?"
He soon moved to the Midwest.
Temperamental weather and difficult driving might have prevented people from visiting us while we lived in Massachusetts. Now they are more than making up for it by coming to Hawaii in droves.
Again, we prefer to believe that they are coming to see us. But if that were true, why do so many of them stop only briefly at our Honolulu residence, then spend the bulk of their time on Maui?
Friends or one of the world's best islands: It must be a tough choice.
Most of our guests provide us with plenty of notice that they will be in town. Some, however, are of the more spontaneous ilk.
"Hello?" I answered, picking up the phone last month.
"Hi," replied an acquaintance from whom I hadn't heard in a few years. "Guess what? I'm in Honolulu right now. I was at a wedding in California and decided to hop a plane to Hawaii. ... Yes, it's my first time here."
If you guessed that we spent that weekend sampling poi, discussing when to visit the Nuuanu Pali lookout and shopping at Ala Moana, you are correct.
Where visitors stay is another issue. If the real estate market ever cools off, perhaps we'll be able to afford a place that can house guests properly. For now we have joined the rental crowd. At less than 1,000 square feet, our living quarters are adequate on an everyday basis but a tight squeeze when guests stay over. We once housed five people; a sixth was planning to join us but, not wanting to feel like a sardine on an air mattress, decided to bail.
When we first arrived here, my husband and I couldn't even pronounce the street names (Kalanianaole?), let alone direct anyone to the best tourist spots. We had never even been to Pearl Harbor. And what did terms like mauka, makai, cutoff and kamaaina mean?
Thankfully, our wise friend Henrietta advised us to buy a guidebook. I had never bought a guidebook for a city in which we reside. However, it has now become our new best friend.
Inevitably, our guests' inquiries fall into these categories: what to see and where to eat, shop and stay (if not with us).
At first we breathed sighs of relief when we began to be able to answer these questions adequately for Oahu. But then we realized that many of our guests are also (or primarily) Kauai or Maui bound.
Short of becoming professional travel agents or tour guides, we have been reading copious amounts of brochures, perusing maps and heeding the knowledgeable advice of longtime locals. And since nothing beats firsthand experience, we have been continually sightseeing.
Our intent is to know enough about Hawaii to be able to answer our guests' questions with alacrity. Yet there is a drawback to this approach because, surely, at our guests' behest, we will be visiting these same sights many times over in the future.
Embarrassing, too, is when the advice we give is erroneous. Like the time we told our acquaintances that Hanauma Bay offers some of the most amazing snorkeling in the world, and the day they went they didn't see even one fish.
Since we're still relatively new, our visitors understand that we're cognoscenti in progress. But we can imagine that a few years from now, if we tell someone an attraction is truly worth seeing and it turns out to be a dud, we'll be getting raised eyebrows and the "Don't you live here?" look.
Of course, most of our guests are very impressed with Hawaii and its sights. They rave about the natural scenery, the laid-back lifestyle and the temperate climate. Each time they do this, we're reminded of what a blessing it is to live here in Hawaii.
One or two are even seriously thinking about moving here. We'll be sure to tell them to have a guest room.
Monica Quock Chan is a Honolulu-based freelance writer and former marketing executive. She has lived in Europe and Asia, and traveled to nearly 50 countries.