IMAGINE THE FUTURE
Kauai lucked out in 2017. A great American, a philanthropist who chose to be anonymous, bought scads of land on the island to protect it from further development.
I was ten. My mother came to Kauai to teach kids in a public school, and we both fell in love with the place.
Although confronted with many problems—over population, traffic jams, foul air, polluted water, lots of homeless—its spirit, its people, its open spaces, its great beauty, left us with hope for a better future.
It didn’t take me long to adjust. My brown Latino skin felt right at home, and my mother told me about the wonderful diversity–race, religion–this small spot in the Pacific was blissed with. The purchase of so much land by some mysterious person cornered all the chatter. It seemed to be all anybody talked about.
What did it mean? What would happen?
The first thing that happened, a new real estate firm opened in the Grove and everyone held his breath. Turned out nothing was for sale, but all the land called Keka Agricultural Park was laid open for lease. Small and medium parcels were offered. Large sections for orchards: orange groves, citrus, avocado, papaya, mango, coffee—an interesting circle of sites to grow breadfruit cropped up. Adopt and care for a tree and a new recipe to go along with it and there will be a special stand to market this original Kauai treat. So diverse: Maui onions, tomatoes, organic soybeans, carrots, corn, you name it.
Plenty of land for free range chickens and green meadows for registered Jersey.
There were fresh ponds where tilapia flourished, kids could even swim there.
There was plenty of land for anthuriums and hibiscus and carnations and pikaki and plumeria. What my mom and I loved most was the more fragrant trees and flowers were planted near the towns, so people could enjoy a heady breath of scented air as they walked or worked.
All the roads inside this real come-to-life fairy tale Agricultural Park were well- packed dirt and, sometimes, red or black tire mulch. You walked in there, or rode, or motored about on golf carts.
Only those farmers who had to truck their produce in or out were allowed pickups.
Multi national flower and plant stands lined the road. Mexican, Hawaiian, Japanese and Filipino farmers built them and decorated them. It was a kind of United Nations Ag Park, the first of its kind.
Just being in this special place was delightful.
My mom loved to grow chili peppers, she remembered the wide variety of chili beans my grandparents grew on their little farm in Baja.
She managed to get a year lease, they were reasonable priced and a promise was made from the leasors that if you could make it go, a better deal could be worked out next time. Absolutely no dollar crops allowed.
The family who leased the small piece of land next to ours was from the Philippines and their stand was a nipa hut. They had a disc that played Bahay Kubu and I learned to sing along.
We taught them to sing De Colores. Before long our entire road was filled with music. Nobody tried to out blast the other. Mom decided to grow some flowers and maybe have a Kauai rooster–they’re the official island bird–and a couple of hens so we could share fresh laid eggs.
Kauai soon became the Hawaiian food basket. We fed the state. Sustainability, island wide, was the goal.
We suddenly became famous and another billionaire showed up. She wanted in on the act. She bought up all the automobile and car rental properties and shut them down. This lady bought her way into the Mayor’s office, got her cronies elected, and they passed a law about automobile ownership. Car owners were taxed off the wall and the money the rich automobile addicts contributed bought a transportation system, so clean, so sweet, so Kauaian tourists would come just to ride around in it.
This batch of lawmakers also passed a law that no more hotels could be built. Ever. That filled every existing hotel/motel to the fullest and every visitor who planned to stay more than a day had to have a reservation. That worked because visitors could only visit when a room was available. You had to stand in line, the whole world over, to book a room on Kauai.
Sometimes it got a little crowded in the Park, so visitors were asked to buy a ticket. Locals, of course, got in free. Lots of lucky guys, who stayed in private homes, had guest privileges, if their host wanted to treat them.
The super stupendous surprise was a solar city built tall with a every small foot print, at the foot of the cliffs–not much concrete here, at least on the ground–and visitors were often struck with an extraordinary shock: they didn’t even see this high rise city until they walked through the front door.
Lots of locals often didn’t even know it was there.
Health Spas, renowned world wide, also sprang up. If you wanted to get healthy spend a week or two in a spa on Kauai. Amazing how many tourists were sick and needed healing. Very expensive for out- of- staters, locals got a kamaaina rate. We rarely sold them, that was bad, but you know how some people are.
A local spiritual group created an Hawaiian Lourdes. A special bill had to be passed to find a way to limit attendance. On opening day all the public transportation and golf carts, even some pickups, had to be commandered. One historian said it was like a Dunkirk without the danger, guns, and huns.
It grew up to be a farmer’s joke, “Where was your pickup when the hoards flocked to Lourdes?”
Answer, “Every pickup on Kauai was at Lourdes.”
We’re the healthiest happiest people in the world. And we intend to stay that way.