Planet Haolewood

A toolbox, a change of underwear, and a surfboard.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Welcome to Haolewood

Some people who move to Hawaii simply take up residence on the beach. While I enjoy camping I decided not to go that route. I ended up living in a town unlike any place I would ever have pictured as my home.

I had a temporary place to stay when I first arrived and my first task was to find a more permanent place to lay my head. I checked the classifieds, bulletin boards, and spread the word among the few people I knew that I was looking. There is not a lot to choose from on the North (less inhabited) side of Kauai so I focused on the basics: rent, convenience, etc… What I ended up with is a house I share with one other guy in Princeville. It had a washer and dryer. The rent was reasonable for the area. So I took it. It would still be a few weeks before I moved in.

In the mean time Sally and Brain arrived. They had arranged for a vacation rental in Princeville of all places. As we drove through town I suddenly saw the place from the point of view of a visitor and it occurred to me for the first time just how strange of a place it was for me to be living. According to Wikipedia Princeville is a “carefully landscaped planned resort community.” It’s a gated development built around two golf courses. A little bit of Orange County in Hawaii.

The landscaping strikes you immediately. Parking is not allowed on the street. Every new home owner must have a landscaping plan approved by the Princeville authorities and every yard is professionally maintained. The rules go on and on and are enforced by a private patrol. An army of weed wackers and lawn mowers keep the fast growing plant life in check. The effect is a uniform, manicured look that brings to mind “Somewhere that’s Green,” Audrey’s dreamy ballad from Little Shop of Horrors.

I don’t like it. I wouldn’t like it anywhere but it’s worse here because it is so out of place. At the main entrance to Princeville stands an enormous and absurdly garish fountain. It’s impossible for me to convey how incongruously this feature sits relative to its surroundings. The North side of Kauai is a wet, wild place, beautiful BECAUSE nature seems still untamed. But in Princeville it’s packaged for your comfort and enjoyment.

Having said all that, it’s really not a bad place to live and everyone who I have met here is really nice. The sunset from the lawn outside Sally and Brain's condo makes up for any number of tacky fountains. I guess it really just all comes down to taste. I never realized I had strong opinions about landscaping but this place has brought them out.


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