Friday, December 19, 2014

Why Christmas is so special to us in Hawaii

The first Christmas I celebrated in Hawaii was in the 1960's when I was in grade school.  I remember vividly how wonderful it was to be warm, feel the sun on my skin, be outside without a coat, and swim in the ocean. I do not remember any gifts that year.  My Christmas gift was being in Hawaii.

When we came to Hawaii for Christmas vacation as adults, we enjoyed the decorations and all the fun events planned for the season by the hotels.  We made an effort to decorate a tree and string lights in our hotel room.  But our big Christmas gift was being in Hawaii where we spent the days in the sun and met people from all over the world enjoying the season.

We have always loved the Christmas season and the commercialization of the holiday has not lessened our joy of celebrating the birth of Christ.  Living in Hawaii, Christmas is more about fun and celebration and less about stuff.  We still enjoy the colorful decorations around town and Christmas tree displays at the hotels.   And seeing the happy, expectant faces of Christmas visitors arriving to the island brings back wonderful memories of our vacations. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Mail Service Disruption in Hawaii

Living in Hawaii is always an adventure and this week it was the sudden lost of our US mail service.

When we moved to a remote part of the Kohala Coast  three years ago, we were surprised at how little mail was being delivered to our condo complex.  Only a dozen or so letters a day and a few packages were delivered most days to over a hundred units in our complex. This was in sharp contrast to the overfilled mail truck in our previous condo complex in Kona that kept the mailman busy for hours stuffing boxes.  We decided it was related to the unoccupied state of most of the units during the year.   At Christmastime the number of packages would always increase as the condos filled with their owners and vacation renters.

Since we regularly order from Amazon Prime, we quickly became familiar with the local carrier who was a contractor in an unmarked van rather than a postal worker.  Starting about a year ago, when Amazon’s Prime service with free shipping became more popular, we noticed a surge in the number of packages he had to deliver.  The rural carrier’s job lost its luster as his work day dragged out and he spent hours moving boxes.  Many times he would dig through the back of his van stuffed with hundreds of boxes looking for ours.  Most of the boxes were from Amazon and marked Prime or from some other retail outlet.  As shopping online increased in popularity our rural mail carrier became more and more miserable.

Last week were notified that our contract carrier quit and that mail service along the Kohala coast would be limited until they found a replacement.  We have had no mail pick up and sporadic deliveries of boxes by post office trucks.  Our location is about an hour round trip to the Kamuela post office. 

For us, and apparently many other people in our complex, being able to order products online with free shipping significantly lowers the cost of living in Hawaii and adds to the quality of life.  It turns out that having viable US post office services that can deal with massive numbers of packages, particularly during the Christmas season, is an important piece of living remotely in Hawaii.