Long absence, New Island, Inn at the End of the World

Kauai is the oldest of the inhabited Hawaiian islands-- she is rutted and raked down the middle-- deeply pitted and eroded with soft jungled mountains and dizzying cliffs.
And here we find ourselves, strangers in a strange land, yet again! It is a little bit vertiginous to be on an island and know absolutely nobody.
We got off the plane in Lihue, picked up our rental car, and drove to Kalaheo to an odd little rabbit-warren of a hotel/shelter/historic plantation mansion/apartment building. We stayed in a tiny room with just a bed, a shower, a sink, a mini fridge and a hot plate for two weeks and got to know our fellow inmates. I mean guests.
In the mornings two big boys-- 9 and 11-- came galloping like bison down the stairs over our heads, with their edgy alert dog Penny in tow. They loved showing us around the grounds-- "This is where James kills the roosters! This is where I caught a lizard and accidentally pulled off his tail! This is sleeper grass!" You can poke your finger into the grass and it snaps up around you, folds all of its leaves in half. We all sat together on the steps and thumbed through a big glossy "ripley's believe it or not" book, eewing and oohing. Their parents were reticent and incommunicado-- I only caught glimpses of them-- polishing a motorcycle or chatting lowly on the cellphone.
R and J were also upstairs-- R came out on the porch to smoke cigarettes apolagetically. She said, "the mosquitos don't bite me-- I smoke. One bite of me and they'd DIE!" She piled her curly brown hear on top of her head and wore only white baby-doll dresses, every day a different one. She baby talked to her big black cats, kissed them and scolded them. Her partner, J, was a much older man-- thin chested and starting to slouch-- soft spoken and with a thoughtful face and british accent. When R talked to him, she affected his accent, and made fanciful little gestures with her wrists.
The proprietor was a libertarian, grumbling about annoyances like "building codes" and "safety regulations." I looked a long time at the jumble of extention chords in our room after that. And his wife was an invisible Japanese woman-- I caught sight of her once while admiring her lounging cat in the window--she snatched the cat and snapped down the shade.
The night before we left, baby was napping and I was reading on the bed. I heard a little step outside, and then a very quiet, "sprits, sprits, sprits" and again. "Sprits, sprits, sprits." I got up and poked my head out-- there was nobody there-- just our new bottle of "all natural" mosquito repellant, made of grapefruit oil and noni juice. And a note taped to the door, "Checkout is 11:00." She tried our mosquito repellant!
The most mysterious guest was our immediate neighbor. He was there for our whole long 2 week stay. Every night, his phone would ring and he would get up and have loud jaunty conversations with friends in Jersey city. Long, personal, angry, explicit conversations-- hours and hours long, talking on the phone until we get up, and then when we leave for the day's errands. But the phone conversations were a relief: when he wasn't on the phone, he was watching loud political TV and shouting at the talking heads. He never left his room. Come all the way to Kauai from Jersey City and watch TV all day?
After our Kalaheo tenure was up, we packed up our things, waved goodbye to the cats and the chicks and the lizards and the kids and R and J and moved into our own place.


  1. EWWWW.....that is like a Halloween experience before Halloween. Makes you want to take a long shower! Glad you are in your own place now!

  2. I also am glad you are in your own place. I LOVE YOUR WRITING.....extreemly good book material. still stay laughing.


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