Upcountry Maui

“We must be willing to give up the life we planned, so as to have the life waiting for us.”–Joseph Campbell. This has always been one of my favorite quotes, but I never thought I would actually have to put it to the test. I was happy in my little cottage in Kea’au on the Island of Hawai’i. I lived on the island for more than 38 years and thought this would be the last home I would have. I spent time working on the yard planting trees, flowers, vegetables. I decorated. I was happy.

I then met Keith and became happier. He lived on Maui but was willing to give up the life he planned so as to be with me. He came to live on the Big Island and left his beloved Maui behind without complaint. We worked hard. He built a lanai to supplement the 400 sq.ft. cottage, he added a carport. I opened up an online store and moved all my sewing things into a storage shed. We cleared land, planted more trees and flowers. It was perfect for us. We lived in bliss for three years. Another “then” changed my life. Keith got a job offer on Maui that was just too good to pass up. It was in his field, was on his island, paid well and it was my turn to give up the life I planned. But, the life waiting for me has been an adventure.

I rented out the cottage, said goodbye to hula sisters and brothers, church members, wonderful supportive friends, packed up our belongings and flew to Maui. Keith had rented a three bedroom house in upcountry Makawao which is cowboy country. The island is different. It’s an older island so has dirt…real dirt. The Big Island has the most active volcano in the world and is still expanding. We have lava rock! No dirt!


I’m amazed at the wondrous plant life of Maui…trees that go up a hundred feet, flowers blooming in such an array of color, it’s almost like a vibrant painting. The ocean is a beautiful light aqua, the sand is white and there are beaches, miles of beaches. There is a constantly blowing wind which is at times irritating as it messes up a hairdo in an instant, but the wind-surfers and kite-surfers love it.DSCN0501

My neighbors are different here. There is a sheep in the back yard, goats across the street, a horse and Angus bull up the street. Sometimes a deer comes to visit and the chickens seems to love the oranges that fall from the tree.


I’m having a fun time decorating. It was relatively easy making curtains, etc. for a one room studio, but making curtains for a living room, dining room, kitchen and three bedrooms is a lot more challenging.  We finally found a nice carpet for the living room so it doesn’t echo as much. Keith put together an entertainment center so the TV, DVD player, CD’s, etc. now have a permanent home.  There will always be things I will miss about the Big Island–the warm soft rains, the brand new beaches with the crunchy sand of a lava explosion, the fact that I can walk to where I can stand within feet of a lava flow. But, there are things about Maui that I love–the so very starry nights, the soft sand, the profusion of Jacaranda trees with such deep purple flowers, and learning what it’s like to have a large family. Keith’s family lives  in what I call a compound. There are five or so houses clustered together with daughters, sons, Grandma, Papa, nieces, nephews, grandchildren. At any give time there may be 14 or 15 people for dinner. They share. If one goes fishing, everyone gets a fish. If one cuts down a large stock of bananas, everyone gets a hand. Papa spends each weekday shuttling kids to and from various schools, wrestling, paddling, soccer, baseball. Moms make 300 lollipops for their daughters “economic fair” are school.

There are things I will have to get use to–the constant wind, the bad roads, the pitiful recycling centers. But, I’m willing to find out what life is waiting for me. So far, so good. I’m happy.



11 thoughts on “Upcountry Maui

  1. It’s amazing how different one island is from the other. What a difference a volcano can make.I’m sure you Keith are going to happy on Maui. You may also find your change in location could have an effect on your making.
    Have a gorgeous week.

  2. Each island is its own little country. Maui is so different from Hawai’i. And, it probably will have an effect on my sewing. The colors of Hawaii were red, the flower is lehua on a hardy tree that is one of the first plants to grow after a lava flow…fiery as in Pele, the goddess of the volcano. On Maui, the color is pink, the flower roselani…delicate and fragrant. Here grows the beautiful pink plumeria and the purple jacaranda everywhere. You just never know how that sits on the mind.

  3. Debi

    Kiihele your positive outlook is amazing and inspiring. It is so true that each island has it’s own unique personality and charm. I wish you all the happiness in the world for your new life on Maui and I’m looking forward to enjoying more of your blog.

  4. Mahalo for all the details in such a nice style. Makes me want to visit.
    You didn’t mention electricity and water. What do you have for utilities?
    I’m detailing my kitchen and trying to de-clutter, so I have sympathy with you. It’s an astounding amount of work, but I’m finally seeing a few areas of my house looking “done”. I won’t be done by the time I start teaching summer school, but at least I’m making progress. It’s so easy to procrastinate and watch Perry Mason on MeTV.
    Love you and miss you.

    1. Perry Mason, huh? That’s going a ways back! Things are pretty much settled. Still need one more piece of furniture–a love seat for the living room, but we got a super sleeper sofa for the guest room for $50! It is very nice and clean. I don’t care much for the print, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers. I’m dancing again. I’ve joined the halau of Napua Greig and Kahulu Maluo (it’s at Kam School–beautiful). It is challenging to say the least, a completely different style (flat-footed like Roy). I’m having to learn the closed knees, knee forward, lift kind of ‘uwehe. Auwe! I’m learning Kunihi for the 3rd time a totally different cadence. But, I love it. It really is a halau. We have to do research, we all have the same skirt, we do about 30-40 min. of basics until my legs feel like noodles! I would love to dance more than once weekly, but for now it’s good. It sounds like you’ve been busy! It’ amazing how much we can find to do in our “retirement years”. Take photos. I’ve been sewing a lot so that keeps me out of trouble. Keith and I went to a hula play at the Pa Hula at the MACC. Tomorrow we have a family 200+ luau and then next weekend we go to Keith’s 50th reunion at Kamehameha Kapalama in Honolulu. That should be fun. Then later this month we have the Kiho’alu Festival at the MACC. So, there is a plethora of activities!

      Good to hear from you. I talked to both Robbie and Cindy today so it’s sort of old home week via cell & internet. Yeah for technology!

      Miss you too.



      1. Send me your snail mail address. I think I can get a subscription for a friend with my renewal of “Mental Floss”.

        13-1339 Leilani Ave
        Pahoa 86778

      2. My snail mail is 1215 S. Kihei Rd #O-041 Kihei Hi 96753 which is nowhere near where we live. Keith has had the postal service for years, so I just added to it.

        Good luck.


  5. Pingback: Lying in wait… | Gini Lawson

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