Don't mess with the Aina
Kailua is on the windward side of Oahu, which is the wetter, greener side. Its beaches, which are some of the most beautiful in the world, sit almost adjacent to lush, foggy mountains, with a charming small town nestled in between. It is quiet and laid-back, and even though it attracts thousands of visitors from around the world (including one really famous one who may have some extra time on his hands in the new year), it has its own vibe, separate from busier, more touristy Honolulu. To get here, you cross the Pali, enter a couple of tunnels to pass through the mountains, and pop out the other side in a virtual paradise (well, it's like double paradise, since it's already Hawaii).
With G moving six weeks ahead of us, he had the honour of discovering a lot of things before we arrived, including visitors of a different kind. Hawaii is spectacularly beautiful and natural, and with that comes wildlife, which is the fancy word for bugs. Oh, and geckos. And peacocks and pigeons ... so, you know, basically nuisance-type wildlife.*
Growing up in Australia, and especially in semi-rural Australia, you become accustomed to the reality of nature and manage it with simple routines like shaking out your gum boots before stepping into them, looking in the mailbox before sticking your hand in there (I learnt that one the hard way), and keeping the snake-killer close by for emergencies.** I really don't like spiders and G always thinks it's funny, but I remind him that I don't like spiders because in Australia they are everywhere and they might kill you. Totally warranted.
G is less into the kind of nature that creeps into your house, specifically cockroaches and lizards (nobody is actually "into" cockroaches, mind), so in my absence he did some research in an effort to keep nature outside. We arrived to an otherwise-empty house full of traps and other alternative bug-repelling strategies. Picture an air bed, a suitcase, paper plates and the entire range of roach and gecko repellents.
We have the plug-in flashing lights and the plastic traps that you stick around the place, bug spray, of course, and most-notably, garlic. If I hadn't known better, I'd have thought G had developed a sudden fear of vampires. Evidently placing bulbs of garlic around the house repels things. To me this does not seem like rocket science, because when a house is left in the Hawaiian sun without air conditioning during the day, the garlic sitting under sinks and on counters develops a certain aroma. That aroma, as it happens, is offensive. It's offensive to lizards and, surely, everything else with the sense of smell.
I threw a lot of it away, although I can't be sure if it smells better because I've seen those Jane Lynch nose-blind commercials. Rotten garlic might just be normal for me now. I'll never know. It seems effective, though. I have not seen a single gecko or vampire in the kitchen.
Outside,*** the geckos are everywhere. I happen to like them. They are cute, they don't bite (wait, I don't think they do), and they take care of spiders. For that alone, I'm inclined to build them an inside garden. There are pigeons and peacocks in the yard every day, but they most definitely deserve a separate distinction.
There are some bugs. I've seen a couple of giant cockroaches, a bunch of millipedes, and some ant-like things that found their way to our dining table in search of the sticky puddles of icy-pole that missed three other little mouths. One thing is certain - if you leave a trail of crumbs, something will be sure to find it - and it might not be Oscar since his super food-finding powers aren't so super these days. So far we haven't experienced the infestation of bugs you sometimes hear about with Hawaii ... but we're still new.
They say here not to mess with the Aina. In Hawaiian Aina means land, and I take karma seriously, so I offer this: I promise not to steal any rocks or pick any flowers or take any coconuts if you promise to keep nature where it belongs. Deal? Deal.
*Let the record state that pigeons are NOT considered a nuisance in our family. They are practically sacred.
**I am fully aware that this makes me sound like Bindi Irwin.
***Geckos are also sometimes in the bathroom, where there is no garlic.