Columnist hates Hawaii

Leia Karimul Bashar

Winter vacation is almost here, and some of you luckier, wealthier students may be pondering a trip to an exotic locale to get away from it all during the holidays. My advice to you? Do not go to Hawaii. My sole visit to the Hawaiian Island of Maui in 2006 led me to conclude that Hawaii is an overrated tourist trap.

First of all, the Hawaiians’ contempt for tourists was so obvious it was annoying. I couldn’t escape the irony that the tourist industry workers were among the most contemptuous people toward tourists. It sure would have been nice if more than a couple of them had smiled as they took all my money. I just couldn’t escape the feeling that I was an unwelcome guest, and the “Free Hawaii” bumper stickers on many of the cars certainly didn’t help.

I almost died in Hawaii. Maybe that’s another reason I ended up hating it so much; I associate the place with my only near-death experience. The day we arrived, I ate a piece of shrimp. I was never bothered by shrimp in Kansas. In fact, it was (and remains) one of my favorite foods in this world. But something about that fresh, straight-from-the-ocean shrimp caused my throat to close up from anaphylactic shock. I spent the next 15 minutes clawing at my throat in nearly vain attempts to breathe. I have been allergic to delicious shrimp since that day, and for that I blame Hawaii.

The roads in Maui were awful. The side streets were ridiculously narrow, and there was only one highway, which wrapped around the island. This meant we were always within 50 yards of a beach. It sounded good in theory, until we actually went down to a beach and the traffic noise competed with the sounds of the waves.

Finally, there were crosses located along the highway every couple of yards to commemorate a spot where somebody had died. At first I was shocked by all the crosses – how six fatal car accidents can occur in front of an Old Navy outlet is anyone’s guess – until I saw the way people were driving. Apparently, the beautiful weather in Hawaii deludes motor vehicle operators into some sort of false sense of immortality. I personally witnessed one man casually kicking at a guard rail with his foot as he sped down the highway on his motorcycle at 50 m.p.h., and without the protection of a helmet, no less.

I was completely underwhelmed by the whole Hawaii experience. I advise you to go to Florida or California if you want to see an overcrowded beach located right beside a major highway. You will probably save a lot of money. At any rate, you won’t have to suffer through an eight hour plane ride just to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with 8 trillion other tourists on a tiny island in the middle of nowhere. I truly believe the next person who steps off a plane in Maui will act as a catalyst, adding just enough weight to the island so it will be forced back into the sea from whence it came.