Maui is like a second home to me for a couple of reasons. Over the last couple years I’ve gone to the island of Maui five times. The first time was just a couple months after Mike passed away. It was incredibly lonely but I had a handful of friends and family living there who helped me feel welcomed and loved. The next time I went back to Maui was the following June and it felt like coming home. I went to Maui with a half-serious interest in buying a condo there. I met up with a real estate agent who’s a friend of a friend, “Uncle Alan,” and he took me under his wing (to the point of introducing me to everyone as “his niece”). After viewing a number of condos, the only one I could afford was this crummy 450 square foot studio painted in nauseating shades of green. So I made an offer, Uncle Alan and my awesome Maui loan guy, Dan, walked me through the process, and before I knew it, I was a condo owner. It wasn’t until the following November that I came back and realized how truly atrocious the place actually was. The walls were puke green, the carpet hideously stained, wallpaper stuck to the kitchen wall, a cracked bathroom sink, the mirror marked up with permanent markers, and unmatching kitchen cupboards. When I saw cockroaches in the disgusting cupboards, I nearly had a heart attack. I really had my work cut out for me with a two week deadline.
I’ve never made such an impulsive big purchase or taken on a remodeling project before. I grew up in a household where my parents built every home we ever lived in, but I personally don’t know a thing about building or remodeling. So I was incredibly fortunate to have help from friends and family who live in Maui. I could never have done it without their help and I’m forever in debt to them. Besides that, I’m eternally grateful for the new and surprising friendships I formed with people I met through the process. I had to go back in January to completely finish it up with furnishing and decorating, but I finally transformed the unit to fit my vision I’d had for it all along. It was a lot of work, stress, and anxiety, but so much fun and completely worth it.
My condo has been used as a vacation rental since I completed it in January. It’s been a great investment financially, but more than that, it’s been rewarding on a personal level. My hours of painting, tiling, cleaning, my 3-4 trips to Home Depot everyday, the tireless shopping for the perfect decor, have all made it mean that much more to me. I constantly have people emailing me when they get there just to tell me how beautiful it is and how much they appreciate all the personal touches. I have artwork by Pacific Northwest artist, Narada Carter, the framed photographs on the walls are pictures I took myself on trips to Maui, there are wood artifacts I bought in Thailand, and a handmade rustic painted sign and decoupage “ALOHA” sign above the bed that I spent hours making, and so many random trinkets I collected at World Market to give it personal touches and an adventurous, international flare. The positive reviews and thanks I get from people who made lasting memories in Maui are almost more fulfilling to me than my regular job! I’ve had people from all over the world, traveling as just friends or as couples, ranging in age from their 20’s to their 60’s. Two different couples even got engaged while there, and countless others were enjoying their honeymoons or anniversaries, while others were enjoying their first vacation as a couple EVER after decades of marriage. I have a guest book in the condo where people write notes about their stay and tell about their favorite memories from their trip. I had a blast reading the guestbook for the first time while I was in Maui last week.
This was Chris, Keagan, and my second trip to Maui together. I was able to enjoy it a million times more this year than last because I wasn’t busy working 12 hour days remodeling the condo. This trip was purely a vacation, with the perks of a “business tax write-off.” After all, I do have to check on the condo occasionally and replace things that have been worn out. If you happen to be interested, I rent my condo through VRBO.
This was a fun trip because we went at the same time as a bunch of mutual friends and family. Maui felt even more like “home” with friends from home. We swam, we hiked, we gluttonously indulged in too much food, we soaked up some sun, and had a nice relaxing time together. I even got to see “Uncle Alan” who, once again, introduced me to his table of friends as his “niece.”
My favorite thing we did on this trip was the Bamboo Forest hike. I come alive with a little adventure off the beaten path. This vacation really made me realize how much I can’t relax. I’m fully capable of relaxing at home occasionally, but on a trip, I’m obsessed with making the most of my time and I’m always on the go. I have to pack in as much activity and memory-making as possible. Maybe this stems from the acute realization that we may not have time to idly sit around letting life pass us by.
Well, hello there!
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