Kauai changing, locals are leaving

Where are they? Whatever became or happened to our local people? Lost, or what?

I am writing this simply because I am, and have been seeing a lot of changes made to this beautiful island of Kauai, and how much this island has since developed. I am old now, well, not really that old, but being born in 1939 on the Westside of the island in Waimea, I recalled many, many things and many changes.

In the mid-60s, I used to wish I’d meet a car, if lucky, two, even three cars going home to Waimea from Lihue at 10 p.m. Nowadays, too many cars. I recalled Tip Top restaurant used to be somewhere where McDonald’s is now, and the rough rocky dirt roads to the plantation camps in Lihue are where we have those new development and businesses down the main street.

Driving through Maluhia Road, or known as the Tree Tunnel going to Lihue, before Highway 50 was built, you needed to cross the now highway 50 and go around those mountains to get to Lihue. You’d drive at 35 or 40 mph and it would take forever to get to Lihue. What a change. A very big change.

I am a tour driver for a large and very reputable company, and I am forever driving through the towns of Waimea, Hanapepe, Koloa, Kapaa, and Hanalei, and see people, not of the local looks but of different kinds of many ethnicities. Don’t think I’m a racist or anything of that nature, because I’m not. I love all kinds of people and truly and honestly loved what they’ve done. People coming here from afar to establish businesses and turned and made this island alive once again are indeed good things.

I loved whatever I have been seeing, and do have these feelings of gratefulness that, when we lost the sugar and the pineapple industries, they, the new people, made and prevented the towns from ever becoming ghost towns. We shouldn’t forget PMRF, Monsanto and Sygenta companies, and our largest coffee farm in the whole United States of America, Kauai Coffee, as well as other companies I have not mentioned.

As I have said, I’ve passed through those towns, but never walked them. But on this one particular day, my couple of friends from Montana, who have been coming here for over 25 years and stayed at condos in Kapaa, asked me to have coffee with them.

We walked to a very popular place, called Java Kai, a plug for them, and my thoughts, while walking and looking around inquisitively and in awe, were that of me being transformed somewhere in Los Angeles or at some other towns, or somewhere else in the continental US. It felt really and very strange and awkward because those towns looked awfully different, but renewed. I asked myself then, where were/are locals? I know they are around, but where?

I reminisced those days where and when I grew up in Waimea and what it was like then, and there, I see the changes. What am I thinking? The changes would have eventually come, anyway.

This is really a silly reaction from me, but I felt compelled to say something about this, because I am finally believing or thinking, or even resigning to the fact that the locals will no longer exist here on this island of Kauai, and/or probably on the other islands, as well. What? Don’t be silly. This is just a stupid thought of mine. I could be very wrong, big time, but I could probably be right, too. But what would I know?

Just an assumption, I guess. And you know what they say about assumptions.

I am positive that people like me are forever grateful for those people who have come to Kauai and have done something wonderful for this island. We thank you and don’t stop.

But my question is, where are the locals?


Ray Domingo is a resident of Lihue.


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