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Hello beautiful people,

Greg AndersonThis is a long blog so save it for a time when you are bored at work!

5 weeks has flown by filled with wonderful experiences flying in left and right. I was thinking about how I would structure this email as I can see it being a long one, trying to highlight the finer details of this new life I am living.

My usual day here begins at about 6am with a wonderful sunrise coming through my A frame. The sky is usually a deep blue and there is always a breeze that lends its cool breathe on my body. The retreat fronts onto the ocean and I walk along the coast or through the thick forest behind. I am usually already sweaty on my return thus hit up the outdoor showers. They are covered with lush greenery and makes u feel connected to the outside. The other day an avocado fell from the tree above the shower and nearly copped me in the head. A slight O and H issue. I would then head up to the Lanai which is an open dining room. Breakfast is a healthy mix of muesli, yogurt, fruit, eggs and I try to stay away from the pancakes and bacon. So good.

Work start at 8.30, goes through till 12pm, one hour break (usually we eat and lay in the hammock) and then work till 4pm. As I work in landscaping its mostly outside weeding, moving rocks, gravel, building paths, planting, mowing and clearing the jungle. Its great physical work using all the muscles I have been given and the results are really starting to show. I feel energized being outside in the fresh air and although its tough work its rewarding. The landscaping crew are a real mix of people, different ages, nationalities, work ethics. There was one girl from French Canada who was the hardest worked I have ever met. When I get lazy I think of her and push on. The sun can be brutal out here. I got super burnt the first week but now have the ideal golden tan and don't really need sunscreen any more.

By 4.30 I am showered and take a yoga class. Each day there are about 3 yoga classes that volunteers can take. About 4 or 5 styles of yoga are taught here, each slightly different. My favourites is Yin Yoga which is more relaxed, floor based and held for longer periods of time. It really gets into the muscles. My other favourite is vinyasa which is flowing movement and feels like a work out. Even though I usually feel a bit tired after work the yoga is something to look forward to and makes me feel great. The other morning I took a yoga class at the beach and while we were practicing dolphins came into the beach. They were doing these amazing flips and we got to swim with them after practice finished. I had a huge smile on my face when we saw them. There are also lots of turtles here.

Dinner is again up the lanai and very healthy. Mostly fish, chicken, and other vegetarian/vegan food. Lots of salads and organic foods. If you want to get your health on track Kalani is the place for it. Not really much junk food here except for this awesome local ice cream.

Nights there are always activities happening like dance class, hip hop, hula, movies, games. volley ball, live music and the more spiritual stuff which I have not really got into yet. There is also the pool which is great after a hot day at work. I have also been reading a bunch and learning Spanish for my trip to South America.

A few activities here have stood out for me. There is something called the DOLPHIN DANCE which is done in a special pool heated to the human body temperature. So I did not know what the class involved. I was in the pool with about 14 women and just me. They were mostly half naked. So the teacher says the class is about movement in the water trying to relax our bodies. The first song was solo based. From then on it was all partnered. So here I am with these women, paired up, in constant contact, breasts in my face, around my hands. I was a little shy to say the least. I lasted about 45 minutes in the class before I excused myself and left. It was all a little too much for this little gay boy.

Another activity which is amazing is called the GONG SESSION. So its a meditation practice which using gongs of various types to send vibrations through the body. I did this session at 6.30 in the morning. All wrapped up in blankets, the man starts to slight hit the gongs only noticeably. Gradually the sound increasing and the vibrations really kick in. You can feel them go through your body and its really a unique experience. The gong master takes you on a journey through the use of sound.

Lots of people here have unique skills like massage, reiki, shiatsu, psychic etc so its been a real learning experience to me being more open to alternative techniques. There is a real energy that the island holds and its a special place to heal people. I have been utilizing the massage service which is only $20 for an hour. Its so nice to finish work on a Thursday and start the weekend with a massage.

So with 3 day weekends it really does not get any better. I have been on 2 road trips since I have been here. The first trip was with the owner of the retreat and his friends. I did not realize his friends meant his friend and this guys mother, sister and sisters 2 twin girls. So there was 7 of us packed tightly into his van touring the island. By the end of the trip they were like my family and I had an invitation to visit them in Baltimore. He took us to a waterfall where we were about to swim up to the crashing water.

Next we went to a beach called WAIPIO Valley. It's the first sight I had of those amazing cliffs Hawaii is famous for. We hiked down the hill to the beach and went for a well deserved swim. The area is said to be where the first true King of Hawaii was born. There is an overnight hike that can be done to the next valley but would have been too much for the 80 year old grandma. She was such a trooper doing most things the rest of us did.

Hawaii seems to bring out the child in most people. That night we went up to the top of the volcano to see a performance by local actors. It was a really small intimate theatre which added to the emotional of the play. It was about the struggle the modern Hawaiians have to maintain their ancient culture while living in the current day. The Hawaiians are such a beautiful people blessed with amazing smiles and warm, inviting personalities. They have a real sense of community where everyone knows everyone and there is respect for elder. Kids and young adults call there elders either uncle or aunty. I caught the local bus to the city and young people get up for older people without hesitation and have conversations. The bus ride seemed to be like a local catch up session for most people. Even hitch hiking is safe here. Today I got a ride back from town in the back of a pickup.

Anyways so we stayed the night at the volcano state park managers house. The next day he took us on a hike into the crater and gave us a run down of the history. The volcano is rather baron except for some plants that have started to return. One thing to note here is the actual lack of wildlife in Hawaii. They really only have birds introduced wild pigs, chickens and cute little mongoose. There are no snakes or spiders which is heaven for me working in the jungle.

The second road trip we took leave of Kalani for the VEGAS style west side of the island. This was the first time in 5 years since my last trip to the US I drove. It took a while to get used to but now i know which way to look. We took the south road and stopped at the most southern point in the USA and jumped off this 40 foot cliff into the sparkling clear water. My friend stood there watching but I knew if I did the same I would not jump. Leaping off, i flapped my arms and plunged into the warm water. Thats the beauty about Hawaii is the warm water. None of this icy Melbourne water.

The city we were headed for is called KONA the major tourist spot on the BIG ISLAND. It was just a bunch of overpriced shops and hotels nothing really worth mentioning. I was there for scuba diving. I met the boat at the harbour at 7,30 and we were out in the water not much later. I chose the tour group because of its limit to 6 divers and more personalised attention. I had not dove in about 4 years and so i was nervous getting into the gear and then into the water. I got suited up, tanks on and then went backwards off the boat in. The breathing technique came back once I put the regulator in and headed under to see the sights of the ocean.

The first dive was to about 30 feet in depth looking at the gradual slope of the volcano into the ocean. We saw the usual colourful fish, coral, Morey eels but the special of the day was a huge manta ray. It flies so gracefully through the water. The area is famous for night dives when the manta rays come out to feed. The second diver was much better as we dove to look at these steep ocean cliff faces. Tones of ocean life live inside the wall and so we dove to about 60 feet which is the deepest I have gone. The freedom and weightlessness of scuba diving is spectacular. We spent the afternoon at a secluded little beach soaking up the sun.

The next morning my mates were hung over and because I did not go out I took the car for a cruise into the mountains. Only problem was the rental cars breaks started to smoke on the way down. I would push the brakes in and it felt like the car was not slowing down. I got it down to the bottom and the car was seriously smoking. Some bikies pulled up to the window and recommended that I use the hand break so that the breaks would not get stuck on the wheel. I made it back to the hotel, rested the car and then we managed to get it back to Kalani in one piece.

Yesterday I went on an adventure with my mate to the GREEN MOUNTAIN AND GREEN LAKE. Its a massive property owned by some guy and you need to call to be invited in. He did not pick up and so we decided to take our chances and walked around the fence through grass up to my shoulders. As neither of us had been there before we got a little lost. We took the track around the side of the mountain and decided to have a rest under these massive Monkey Pod tress. They are these huge trees with massive spans of branches and lush foliage. After lunch and a nap we went back the way we came and took another path which led us to the lake. I wish I had photos to show you all how magical it was. The lake in some sort of crater and surrounded by lush jungle. The afternoon light shone through the trees illuminating the water. I cannot get over how many wonderful natural wonders Hawaii keeps throwing at me.

Today I went with another mate into the local farmers market. Hawaii has a large Asian population and so we feasted on fresh green papaya salad, pad thai and fresh juice. I am loving the familiar Asian food as American food is just plain BAD. Fatty and tasteless. After lunch we went for a swim a beach close to town.

I feel really fortunate to have taken time of out my life and to be experiencing this opportunity to live in Hawaii. Living in this community is giving me renewed hunger for life and realization I have so much growth and learning ahead of me. The people living in this community give me courage to be vulnerable to my fears, conquer and leave them in my wake. There is so much love and support here it was really confronting initially. Back home we rarely show much emotion, lack human touch and are closed to ourselves. Here its the total opposite. People want to share to your story and have time to listen. Hearing what other people have gone through makes my life seem like a fairy tale. I have received so many hugs and smiles from strangers its just the norm here.

Living here is something I have wanted to do for 5 years but always had the voice saying that it was probably not for me. How wrong I have been. Kalani feels like home and there is a true family here. It needs to be experienced...... People said one month here you just scratch the surface and begin to open. How true they were. Even with just under 2 more months here I am already sad to be leaving.

Next week I take my holidays and have planned a solo camping trip to Kaua'i which is where films like Jurassic Park were filmed. Really amazing mountains and valleys. I am planning on doing some hikes, a kayaking adventure and probably another dive.

Aloha from Hawaii.

Love you all