Chapter 19 – Johnny Absolm
To Kahului from OHIO
Please tell me a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in Maryland and spent four years in the military. I’ve lived in Virginia, Tennessee, Toledo, and I moved to Maui in January of 1995. I’ve been working in the radio industry for 20 years, mainly on the sales end. I’m currently engaged to be married in March.
What brought you to Maui?
I moved here for a radio job. I was working in Toledo and it was 10 degrees out one day, and I got to the office and my boss asked if I’d like to work in radio in Maui. The answer was yes. I brought the few things I had with me and never looked back
Can you tell me about your neighborhood?
I’ve lived in Kahului since June. It’s a quiet residential neighborhood. The houses are 2,500 to 3,000 square feet. It’s a nice neighborhood, a gated community with decent looking houses.
How big is your yard and what does it look like?
The backyard has a pool and a hot tub. We have a nice grill out back, and we have friends over frequently to enjoy the outdoor fun.
Do you worry about crime in Maui?
No. I do not. The crime here is usually crime against tourists. There are break-ins of cars. There is a cottage industry of crime against rental cars that is downplayed by county government. It happens constantly. There’s no violent crime. You never hear about kids getting snatched. There are very few murders. If there is a murder it’s a crime of passion.
Was it hard to meet people when you moved to Maui?
Initially it is. The locals shut themselves off to people from the mainland, especially people who are new. If you give it time, people are so nice and open and generous here. Through playing softball and through jobs I started to develop a circle of friends.
Did the commute influence your neighborhood choice?
No it did not. The other place we had been looking at would have been a half hour commute, and that would have been OK too. The traffic isn’t bad here. You don’t spend 45 minutes getting someplace because you are in heavy traffic.
What surprised you most about moving to and living in Maui?
I had never been to Hawaii before and I thought it was all jungle. It’s not. There are trade winds that blow from the northeast, there are jungles, but on the leeward side it is desert conditions.
Do you have to be rich to live in Maui?
No, not at all. The cost of living is higher here– you pay more for milk or gas. But when you live here you don’t notice it.
What would you say is the one “can’t miss” event or place that a family living in Maui and Hawaii should be sure to experience?
You’ve got to go to Hana. It’s in the rainforest and it’s a very, very beautiful place. I recommend people go and camp out or get a room. They call it the most beautiful place on earth. There’s no development going on. It’s a quaint little Hawaiian town in the rainforest. It’s very tranquil. The hotels and B&Bs have no TV and it’s a very quiet, tranquil place to be.
What places should you avoid if you don’t want to see a lot of tourists?
You should avoid the south side and the west side. That’s where all the resorts and the tourists are. The leeward side that gets the least amount of rain and has the most sun has really nice beaches. That’s where you’ll see a bunch of tourists, and they can be irritating.
Did you live in Hawaii before you moved to Maui and, if so, how would you compare where you lived before with your current neighborhood?
I lived on the south side before and I was very close to the water. I was renting part of a house. It was nice. I had a paddle board and I would walk it out to the water and go. It was nice being close to the water. Kihei town is more transient, louder, and more crowded. When you live in Kihei the tradewinds carry the dust and dirt from the sugarcane fields. You can wipe your table down in the morning and by evening you have a layer of dust on it. Where I am now is quieter and there are no tourists. It’s also cooler by a couple of degrees. I like it much more here.
Do you have a favorite restaurant in Maui or in other parts of Hawaii?
Yeah I have a few. My favorite is Beach Bums Bar and Grill. It’s a BBQ place where they give you large portions.
Is there anything that you don’t like about living in Maui or living in Hawaii?
I don’t like being so far away from family. But my niece lives with me now, and I’m getting married soon so my family is growing.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
It’s the best decision I ever made. I’ve never really thought seriously about leaving. Having 12 months of summer is just a real pleasure. During the weather when my mainland friends are dealing with cold, I haven’t gone through a winter since 1994.
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