Leave it to the homeless to dampen my enthusiasm for paradise.
Equally memorable were the "landed-homeless" whose blue-tarp-covered heaps of possessions pock the grass-strips between sidewalk and street, even in the most touristed areas of Waikiki. Their tents pitched under banyans in parks and their groaning shopping carts draped with plastic bags stationed along sidewalks remind us that hospitable liberal government would rather enable freeloading on public property than business to high per-square-foot rent-paying establishments.
I've seen matted-haired scavengers picking through trash bins along the beach, and even right in front of Kalakaua Avenue designer shops, searching for cans to redeem for pennies. Last night my husband and I walked by a woman settled on a store stoop who appeared in her 50's, entreating passersby for their restaurant doggie bags. On a drive around the island, we saw a public elementary school lawn food distribution, long tables of comestibles seemingly offered to anyone approaching.
We've been privileged to come to Honolulu, where my husband works during our stays, many times over the years. I've never seen so many and such conspicuous homeless encampments, just plopped down in the most desirable footage on the planet.
The graffiti seems to have increased, too. Now, I'm not complaining, as my daughter in New York is stranded by a blizzard, and our friends back in the Great North-wet shiver under continuing wintry storms. But you'd think that Hawaii would want to rely on more than just the weather to entice visitors. Their "shaka" attitude of casualness goes a little too far when tourists are forced to step around some pretty disgusting inhabitants, and doesn't serve those individuals or their neighbors at all.