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As we were traveling from beach to mountain to snorkel spot on the big island, we noticed an odd sight: cars abandoned and completely stripped on the side of the road, mere shells of once functional vehicles.

After about the third one, we began to question it.  Is this simply where cars go to die on the island?  In a space so constrained, you can only repair and resell a car so many times before no one around you wants it anymore.  Then what?  Do they have scrapyards on the island?  Surely they won’t ship it back to the mainland.  Where do cars go when they die?

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

While on a kayak tour to the Captain Cook Monument for a bit of snorkeling, I posed the question to our (very knowledgeable) guide, Mike.  He answered thus:

There is sadly a very bad drug problem on the island.  Local kids, bored, will steal cars and take them for a joyride.  When they’re done, they strip the vehicle for anything valuable, selling the parts for more drugs.  The remaining frames remain on the side of the roads until they’re marked for towing, and they’re hauled away.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

I had no idea an issue like that was present in Hawaii.  It certainly wasn’t apparent when we honeymooned there several years ago.  But it made me think what life must truly be like for a local.  Folks are supposed to be happy in paradise, right?  No need for such outlandish behavior?  But for those who live there, it isn’t a vacation; it’s just ordinary life.  And problems like those surface everywhere, even my own hometown.  So why not here?

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

It can be a little difficult to see this location in such a light.  We prefer to view the islands as a perfect, sunny dream.  But just because it’s an escape from our own lives, we can’t escape bumping into others’.  It’s a harsh reality that makes it feel less magical, but it also reminds me that everyplace is a home to someone, and everyone, everywhere faces the same sorts of challenges.  We’re not so different after all.

Has a vacation surprised you with something like this before?  Please share your stories in the comments.


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