The Cost of Progress

Earlier this week, I returned from a week’s vacation on the island of Kauai in Hawaii.  Hawaii is one of my top travel destinations.  I know you’d probably think that a person with the moniker of TahitiChris would have Tahiti as his top travel destination.  Well, if Tahiti were part of the United States and not French Polynesia, Tahiti definitely would be at the top of my list.  With the cost of travel to French Polynesia, including the fact that the Euro is worth more than the U.S. dollar I have in my wallet, I can travel to Polynesia and spend a lot less money in Hawaii.

Before this trip, I had visited Kauai once before.  Lisa and I took a cruise around Hawaii in 2003, and one of the stops during the cruise was the island of Kauai.  I distinctly remember how rural the island looked.  It reminded me a little of what the island of Moorea looked like when I first traveled there.  During that first visit, I didn’t get to see the whole island, but what I saw was beautiful and uncrowded.

Time marches on.  It’s now 2012 when I arrived at the airport in Lihue.  I took a shuttle bus to the car rental area, picked up my car and started my exploration of Kauai.  Did you know that Kauai has its own Costco?  You can shop at Walmart, Macy’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Burger King, Panda Express, Safeway, and on and on.  There are 2 large grocery stores within a block of each other in the town of Kapa’a; Foodland and Safeway.  And with all of this urban sprawl comes the automobiles.  Lots of automobiles.  There were many times during my week stay when the traffic on Kuhio Highway, in front of the condo where I stayed, look very much like something from Southern California.  What I saw when I was driving around suggests that Kauai has a problem with too many automobiles.  And, yes, I was part of the problem because I rented a car to get around in during my stay.

I imagine it is much more convenient for people, who have lived on Kauai for many years, to buy supplies now than it was 10 years ago.  When I visited Kauai 10 years ago, I imagined that it would be a beautiful place to live.  My impression of Kauai now is that it is still a beautiful place.  But there is no way I would consider living there because I could not live with the congestion that progress has brought to the island.

The saying that nothing stays the same forever is so true.  It is sad that the paradise I saw in Kauai 10 years ago no longer exists.  The same goes for the islands I’ve visited in French Polynesia during the past 20 years.  Progress makes sure that things don’t stay the same forever.  At least I still have the memories, which is a great part of traveling.

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