COLUMN: Even paradise has its shortcomings

Reporter's Viewpoint

I looked out the aircraft window as the City of Vancouver quickly approached and shuddered.

Not that I’m afraid of flying or having anything against Vancouver, but it was the last place I wanted to be.

You see, the pilot had just come on the intercom, welcoming us to Vancouver International Airport.

The skies were cloudy, the temperature was -3 C and the forecast was for snow. Seven hours earlier, we were in 27 C weather under the bright blue sky of Maui, Hawaii.

“I’m going on back to that little grass shack in Hawaii,” I muttered to myself as the door opened and the winter air filled the plane’s cabin. Of course it didn’t help we were still dressed in shorts, short-sleeved shirts and flip-flop sandals.

Two weeks on Maui was a great holiday – just the right combination of relaxation and fun rolled into one. There was time spent by the pool, time walking the beaches, splashing in the surf and watching humpback whales breach in the bay off our condo.

We snorkeled with turtles, explored various spots on the island and enjoyed a Haleakala sunrise and bike tour 45-kilometres down the road from the dormant volcano.

We browsed through a few shops and enjoyed more than one shaved-ice treat.

The words amazing and awesome were not far from our lips whether it was enjoying the sunsets, taking in the beaches with massive waves or interacting  with nature.

And, of course, there was the fact that we had to pinch ourselves to remind us it was February and we were deciding which pair of shorts went best with which T-shirt.

It’s always interesting to travel to another country and witness all that is different from home.

Aside from U.S. money all being the same colour, the one thing I couldn’t get used to was seeing motorcyclists and scooter operators riding around without a helmet protecting their heads.

As near as I can figure out, anyone over the age of 18 does not need to wear a helmet. The surprising part was the number of tourists riding around without a cover for their cranium.

There may be something to riding wild and free, but Maui is a busy island in terms of traffic and common sense or the possibility of brain injury should override the call of the wild.

Another aspect I had trouble accepting was a lack of recycling. Bottles, cans and plastic containers worth a refundable deposit were collected separately, but I saw everything from cardboard, metal, glass, wood, yard waste and kitchen scraps tossed into the dumpster at our condo complex.

A friend of mine commented about recycling during her stay in Maui, saying she felt guilty about the items she was tossing into the garbage.

I don’t know if our experience with recycling, or a lack thereof, is common practise on Maui. Perhaps items are separated elsewhere and dealt with properly.

I can only think that if people are worried their island paradise is slowly eroding back into the sea, they would take care not to fill up the little space they have left.

***

After a number of columns of pushing nothing but kudos upon my Boston Bruins and heaping abuse on the Vancouver Canucks, I entered the dragon’s lair known as Rogers’ Arena after Maui for a game between the two squads.

Fully attired in a Bruins jersey and headgear, I mingled with the enemy but had little to fear.

It might have had something to do with the fact there were hundreds of Bruins fans on the streets, in the pubs and at the game.

Or, it could have been that my wife countered my every move to promote Boston supremacy with her Roberto  Luongo jersey and Johnny Canuck toque.

But winning tops everything, and I have the bragging rights of a 3-1 Bruins victory.

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