A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to get to know Kū'ike Kamakea-Ohelo, a native Hawaiian father, farmer and entrepreneur who was born and raised in Waimānolo, on Oahu's windward coast, where he lives today.
Kū'ike was incredibly warm and kind, and eager to share his story with me. He was also very clear about his feelings toward tourists.
“How can tourism benefit Waimanalo?" he said. "I will tell you how: Stop coming.”
Of course, Kū'ike isn't the only Hawaiian to hold this view, but (from what I saw, at least), he's not in the majority, either.
In Hawai'i, I also spent a lot of time with John De Fries, a native Hawaiian who leads the state's tourism authority and who hopes to guide the local tourism industry in a different direction -- one that's in line with the values instilled in him by his parents and grandparents. But of course there are a lot of vested interests in sticking to the current model, which employs more than 200,000 people and brings in $2 billion in state tax revenue. There aren't any easy answers here.
I'm home from Hawai'i now and doing my best to capture all of these personalities and debates in my next chapter of the book. My editor is waiting for the chapter draft. We'll see what I can do.
Kū'ike on Waimānalo Beach.
A few days after we arrived in Hawai'i, my NYT editor emailed me to ask if I could write a story for them that looked at how / whether the recent heat waves in Europe might be affecting travel on the Continent. It was a pretty broad remit and I didn't have a lot of time to spare, but I have this problem that whenever my NYT editor asks me to do something, I can't say no!
Anyway, I managed (that's an unlocked link), and it was actually pretty fun to write: I got to talk to a climate researcher, a member of the Madrid city council, an insurance specialist, several travel advisers (don't call them travel agents), as well as the one and only Rick Steves, who was just back from Spain. The story has attracted a lot of comments, which is (usually) really fun to see.
Back home now, I'm getting ready to record a string of podcast interviews. I'm also planning my next trip for the book: I'm off to India in less than two weeks.
A pic I took on a scorching day last August, when I was on assignment in Barcelona.
I usually lean toward nonfiction recommendations in this bit of the newsletter, but I'm going to mention two novels this month -- both with journeys at their heart, and both classics that I somehow failed to study in high school or college.
The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro. How had I missed this one? This Booker Prize-winning novel tells the story of our protagonist's "motoring trip" to Cornwall, in southwest England, and the things he learns about duty and love and regret along the way. It's both a deeply introspective novel and a classic travel tale: the farther our narrator gets from home, the more people he meets, the greater insight he gains into the life he thought he knew. I'm not a fast reader, but I made it through the entire thing during our flight back from the U.S. yesterday, and finished it (sobbing) on the tarmac in Geneva. One to read again for sure.
A Room with a View, by E.M. Forster. Forster's classic tells the story of Lucy Honeychurch, a young woman who comes to Florence as a tourist (with a chaperone in tow, of course). In addition to being a coming-of-age tale, love story, and piece of social criticism, the novel also offers a glimpse of what it was like to be a Continental tourist in the first decade of the 20th century. Of course, it's only when Lucy loses her guidebook (Baedeker’s Handbook to Northern Italy) that her adventure really begins.
That's all for now. Thanks so much for reading.
P.S. This month, a love poem (and my subject line inspiration).
Samoëns, Haute Savoie France
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