It'd been eight years since I'd visited the Big Island of Hawaii, and was jonesin' for a fix. Having recently become a statistic of the Great Recession, I had the time; the challenge was coming up with the dinero. It helped enormously that I have friends and family there eager to put me up.

It was a different trip this time around. I combined tourist activities with the very real possibility of relocating my life. When you put Hawaii - or any island nation - in that context, your mind begins to play funny games on you. The islands isolation comes into sharp focus as well as the lack of seasons, both positive traits when looking to get away, but something enormous to ponder when considering making a life there. I love volcanoes, but the thought of breathing its sulphuric gases (they call it "vog") day after day puts a definite tarnish on that whole paradise thang.

In a lot of ways I felt like I was seeing Hawaii for the first time. I noticed how rough life is for a lot of the natives. One fella I met is fighting a land war with his rancher neighbor and the state. His land has fresh water on it - a rarity - and the rancher wants access to it. The state thinks the old homestead would make a great park. Though the land has been in the man's family for generations, he's old, Hawaiian and broke. Don't need a crystal ball to tell who's got the upper hand there.

Even seeing Hawaii in this new light, the islands still hold appeal for me. So what if it's basically a third world nation? Some parts of the third world are delightful. But would I want to live there? Possibly. Hopefully it won't be another eight years 'til I return.