Outside many front doors in Hawaii, small ceramic plaques read: Honor the Hawaii tradition. Please leave your shoes outside
. Or, Mahalo for removing your shoes
. Or, my favorite, Please remove your shoes but no switching to better when you leave!
My husband and I don’t have any such plaque outside our front door, but we do follow the tradition and inevitably, my shoes end up outside the front door when I’m going out the back. Or, they stack up outside the back door when I’m going out the front door. So, I mostly just go barefoot, inside and out. Every now and then, though, I head out the door, hop in the car and make for the grocery store, post office or bank and, halfway there, discover I’ve forgotten my shoes. It’s a little akin to the dream of showing up at school in pajamas or, ahem, naked, and even though many shops have signs that say no shirt, no shoes, no service, I can usually get by without shoes. (Nudity, on the other hand, I probably couldn’t. At least, not at the stores. Remote beaches along the Kauai coastline, maybe.)
From what I’ve heard, the practice of removing footwear helps keep the floors clean. But I’m not so sure. When it comes to housecleaning, one of the dirty—sorry—little secrets in Hawaii is that it’s tough to keep Paradise clean. For two reasons.
One, the tradewinds. On hot days, like today, we love our trusty tropical breezes wafting over the island from the northeast. They keep us cool, at least in the shade; there’s no hope in the heat of the direct sun. But trade winds also kick up our infamous red dirt and blow said dirt through our open windows and into our house.
The second reason why housekeeping in Hawaii is a challenge? Salt. Not the kind Hawaiians pan at Hanapepe
on Kauai’s west side—where the red dirt really makes its presence known. Not because table salt absorbs moisture and clogs our salt shakers. And not because the salt air rusts paperclips, staples, window screens and the inner workings of computers and televisions at a speed that can practically be witnessed with the naked eye. The reason why salt makes my life as a housecleaner challenging is because the salt in the air sticks to my furniture, baseboards, window shades, ceiling fans and the knick-knacks on my counter tops, allowing the above-mentioned red dirt to stick like glue.
So, that’s my excuse for a messy house. Now, off to the beach to cool off.
P.S. You can find one of these ceramic plaques at one of my favorite shops on Kauai, Hanapepe