Vancouver Island sunsets are more spectacular and colourful than those on the island of Maui.
To this my wife Lise and I can attest as we returned from a week in Hawaii, our first visit to the 50th State. After spending several of our nights watching the sun go down on the sundrenched beach in Kihei, we were dazzled by the fiery sunset we sailed into on the last part of our trip, a "cruise" on BC Ferries from Tsawwassen to Duke Point.
I don't want to say too much about what was a fantastic trip, lest everyone decide to go there at once. I will, however, thank the friend who 'sold' me on the idea over lunch one day, musing about swimming with huge sea turtles and watching dolphins spin up and out of the surf.
I was a bit surprised that he'd gone to Hawaii in the summer, since our weather here is wonderful as well. He explained that the water there was warmer than it would be in the winter, and that because it was the "off season," relatively speaking anyway, it wasn't as busy.
We had a great time, and we're already planning to return for another visit. Many aspects of the trip were fascinating, including a chat with a waiter in a restaurant that provided a glimpse into what life is like in a fullfledged tourist-based economy. Our server was in his late twenties and had a child that he was co-parenting with his girlfriend. We gently asked how much a waiter would make at an establishment like that, and if it was enough to raise a family.
He was paid minimum wage, which in Hawaii is just above $7 an hour, and relied heavily on tips to make ends meet. With the $45,000-plus he said he made per year, it was enough to pay the rent in his bachelor apartment and look after junior, but not much more. He didn't own a car, and relied on his bike to get around most times.
Hawaii's cost of living is quite high, as one would imagine, considering it's in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and almost everything consumed must be shipped or flown in. The way he explained things, it was pretty clear it would be difficult for someone in that position to "get ahead" financially.
A lot of the waiters and waitresses working at the restaurants we went to were middle aged, which likely demonstrated they took those jobs out of necessity. Here, many of the servers are high school or college aged, and those jobs aren't generally considered to generate enough income to raise a family on one paycheque.
It's an honest living, but I couldn't help but wonder that if those jobs represent the future of younger people. Is that the beginning of the end of the "American dream?" What about prospects for a brighter financial future? I also thought of our tourism industry here, which is important, of course, as opposed to resource jobs that pay in the neighbourhood of $100,000 per year. Hmmm. I think the latter provides better prospects.
Contact managing editor Mark A. MacDonald at 250-729-4224 or email: MaMacDonald @nanaimodailynews.com
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