Kalani Honua Blog - Volunteer Reflections

Monday, May 11, 2009

Veronica Rains

Veronica Rains So I’m leaving Hawaii. Leaving the tropical weather, the smiling faces, jungle attire, nude sunbathing, my beautiful, handsome, strong, loving boyfriend. I’m leaving it all behind so that I can work (hopefully) at least 50 or 60 hours a week and live with my mother. I’m moving back to my hometown of 14,000 people, complete with two grocery stores and two dingy bars. Believe me, I’m wondering the same thing: What the hell am I thinking?

This decision comes as no shock to those close to me. I did this same thing last year. I packed my bags, left this beautiful paradise and went back home to work, clear my mind, get away, and search for something new and better. I bid my friends farewell, quit my job and bought a one-way plane ticket back to the mainland. Looking back, it was quite dramatic. I had no plans of returning, I was on my way. And, then I came back to Hawaii two months later.

But this time will be different. I’m leaving for good. Getting’ outta here, goin’ for the gold. Gonna make that money. My plan is to work my sweet little (or big, depending on who you ask) booty off until I can’t take it anymore. I’m going to save all the moola I can in the next two months while dreaming of the future. TRAVEL. That is my main objective. I’m going to travel the WHOLE WORLD! I’m going to see every tiny town, every gigantic mountain, every peep show and dive bar. I’m going to see the BIG people, the tiny tiny little people, the jungle, the snow, the glaciers! I’m going to be the first person in the world to see EVERYTHING.

Well, maybe not quite everything. And maybe not even the whole world, but I know I’m going to see something. And real soon too. Remember that “beautiful, handsome, strong, loving boyfriend” I mentioned earlier? The one I’m leaving behind? Well, I’m going to see him again after my two months of, I’ll be frank, possible tiring hell. He’s coming with. He’s packin’ his bags too and our first travels will be around the US in my tiny Ford Focus and all our camping gear. Needless to say, I’m really excited.

So, I’ll be leaving my home at Kalani Oceanside Retreat center on the Big Island of Hawaii. The place which has lifted my spirits and brought me closer to myself, nature, and my fellow human peers. I love Kalani more than any other place I’ve lived, from the bottom of my toes and extending out my crown chakra. Though, it is time for me to take my departure. Into the scary world of the unknown I will go, where bathing suits are required and papayas probably won’t be served on breakfast platters. Though I will be leaving, I don’t feel like I am leaving anything or anyone behind. Instead, I feel like Kalani will be coming with me on my magical mystery tour. I’m sure it will help guide me to the light when all I can see is darkness, and bring a big smile to my face when I reflect back on my experiences here. Farewell Kalani! See probably in two months!


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ana Paola Luna Lopez

treeI want to thank you all for being part of my experience here. I know there is nothing casual so if we were here at the same time it was for a reason. I can’t know exactly what reason but I know it is a good one. As Pele, I went with the flow.

You know I’m a city girl and it’s been a great experience to jump from the concrete and asphalt jungle to the real one here on the Big Island. I’ve been here in the middle of the jungle and working in nature made me feel so blessed.

Now I can tell people really are like flowers, all with different shapes and colors and fragrances. The people I had the privilege of knowing better I can further distinguish their special characteristics like those of a flower, the texture, the fragrance and the season of their blossoms. Thank you all for being a part of this beautiful landscape.

You can tell I spend a lot of time weeding… my wrists are not very happy about it, but my soul is! I found so many different kinds of weeds. Some of them stink and are hard to pull. Others are sort of dry and even if they look so hard, they are easily broken. Yet a different kind attach to trees and kill them, and when you are trying to rescue the trees the weeds pinch and hurt your fingers, even with gloves…

Some times we humans are attached that hard to our emotions, beliefs or judgments that even if we mean well we hurt others…

But you know, there is a particular kind of weed, with the shape of a heart, that gently soars around the trees, snuggling with them. They look pretty, at least to my personal taste, like gently exposed roots, green, lovely ribbons that that create a beautiful connection with the earth. I think this is love, we are surrounded by love.

So don’t let bad weeds grow around our dreams, let’s raise them with a heart shape, and do something helpful for the earth and everything that lives on it.

Thank you, Richard, for sharing your dream and project with us. Kalani is like a big banyan tree with many different roots and branches, all creating something beautiful and alive…


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Susan Terravecchia

Aloha Kalani,

lanaiI was a volunteer at Kalani Honua in 1996 for three months. I don't think I ever thanked you for providing such a wonderful and intense experience, so "thank you!" now!

It was life changing, and I can't imagine now, being 40, married with two little kids, looking back and not having the Kalani experience as something that helped shape
who I am.

Hopefully when the kids are older, I will be back one day.

Susan Terravecchia
From Boston, now Sydney Australia


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Maureen Boland

Maureen Boland

November 6th, 2008

We drove in to Kalani in the dark—air was muggy, and there was a volunteer party happening. I truly haven’t heard that kind of sheer joy from adults in a long time (ever?) and instantly felt welcomed.

Everyone here is incredibly friendly and gracious and Kalani is located on a magnificent tropical spot in the southeastern part of the Big Island.

For two mornings I’ve had the pleasure of greeting the day at the “point” right outside of the property where the wild ocean crashes against a volcanic rock wall. My first morning I stood there marveling at the energy and checking out the huge plume of steam created by the active volcano lava hitting the water less than a mile away. Within seconds I was hit by a rogue wave which doused me from head to toe (as though I had just stood under a waterfall)…. Nature was trying to tell me something no doubt. Quite an intro to the island.

The grounds are lovely…rich, lush jungle apparently quite different from the rest of the island. Mystical, magical and dark are words words I have heard people use frequently to describe this area…it is quite intriguing

November 11th

Life continues to be juicy here. Having been here for almost a week now I feel I can personally (and without hesitation) recommend Kalani to anyone who feels they need to recharge or hit the reset button. There is a certain element which I am not sure I can explain, but it is captured in moments at Burning Man where people extend their arms to you without reservation and without the expectation of anything in return. It is amazing what happens when a community of people choose to interact with an underlying assumption of goodwill. The impact of each generous and thoughtful act is magnified, and completely contagious. It is also quite shocking to a newcomer; I shyly admit to questioning the authenticity of the people around me initially. Having had some time and space to get to know people a little deeper than I can in typical day to day life I am less skeptical. If anything, I think people are more sincere and more able to drop their masks than in ordinary life.

That said, I am still acclimating to the culture and working to open my sometimes fiercely guarded heart a little more…

Like any place it also has its moments, particularly in regard to getting the mind to chill out and match the body. It’s a constant challenge for me in my typical day to day life and that fact has not changed just because I am on the Big Island.

December 3rd

I finally paid a visit to Pele. We journeyed to a spot where the lava from the local volcano pours into the ocean. We walked across the bumpy, dark, glassy hardened lava field in sheer darkness heading towards the red glowing embers and plume of smoke and lava ahead. Pele was magnificent. I understood instantly why Pele is referred to in the feminine—the site embodied creation. It’s the newest, hottest, sexiest earth. As we approached the entry point the rocks beneath our feet were radiating heat from the molten lava below. I walked all the way to the edge of the rock to the most glorious fireworks I have ever seen—Pele shooting fire into the air, a pond of florescent orange lava swirling below peaking out every time the steam cleared away. As the sun rose the colors of the fireworks seemed to mellow out and the harsh light softened a bit…I was ever aware of the danger and watched her show with a great deal of reverence.

December 24th

I spent my last few days at Kalani surrounded and bathed in the love of my `Ohana. I have never experienced so much raw, unbridled love from the people around me. I had a rough few days as I had picked up some intestinal parasite and was sloughing through some emotional yuck… but everywhere I went warm, long hugs were available—arms thrown around my neck the moments I most needed them. Tissues placed in my hand at the right moment without me ever knowing who placed it.

Once again, I was and am grateful for Kalani, for the Aloha spirit, for the people surrounding me.

Jan 26th, 2009

Nature is such a profound force in my life right now. How can I leave her? She surrounds me at night. I taste her sweet, clean air, hear her energy roaring as the waves crash down on sharp black lava rocks. She is protecting me with her warm rains and healing rays of sun. She is forcing me to slow down and look inside myself.

I want to learn patience. Unconditional love. I am learning it’s ok to not always like, but not to love takes away little pieces of your heart from yourself.

I believe I know now where the clichés about love that I previously disregarded might have been born.

All you need is love. Indeed?

I am grateful for all the people she has given me. I lead a wonderful and blessed life. It has taken slowing down to see this.

I steal away from it all to bathe in her soft wind. Stare off into the lush green. Marvel at my own bliss. Mourn days lost. Remind myself she is here, always. Even when the city swirls around me. You are here. And perhaps I can never go back to what was, but I can always come back to Kalani.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Heather Breckenridge

Heather BreckinridgeThe short time I've been here has flown by, yet it seems much longer when I reflect on all the changes I've made and all that I've done here. The people, classes, and power of this island and this place has broken and shed old pieces of myself I didn't need.

I've opened up new/old facets of myself: more creative expression, laughter, closeness to Creator, a deeper love for humanity and nature, and a new inspired life for my body, mind and spirit.

I love waking up each day to a new set of adventures, yoga, singing, art, meditation, dancing, working in housekeeping, pool, delicious meals, lots and lots of great talks, and long luxurious hugs... and the list goes on.

I believe Kalani has a really nice balance of work and play. Without my service work, I'm not sure I would feel as grounded here - it has given me a Zen-like practice of Serving, and sense of belonging and community and a way to give back love to this place that has nurtured me so much. I try to give back love, joy, and peace through making beds, folding laundry, and having fun in all things remotely disgusting .



Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Vicka Margulis

Vicka Margulis

I lay down in my a-frame, at noon, thinking
I have to leave kalani in a week
And the hassle and cars and people and the impressions of the mainland came flooding into my mind
And I felt myself tensing up and worrying about the future, about dealing with my family about the job market
And then it began to rain and the red curtain of my a-frame began moving gently with the wind,
I realized, but I am still here
I am in the jungle.
I have lived here for three months with my friends.
I live in a community.
I walked in one person, and walk out somewhat another.
Yet more myself.
The island did it to me.
The people around me did it to me.
I did it to myself.
I walked into lava caves
And stayed up late talking with friends
I sat in mystical beaches
I fell in love
I fell in love with myself
And absolutely everything and everyone around me.
I think I might be ready for the mainland.
But you never know.
I might have to come back really soon.


Friday, November 28, 2008

Paul Mather


it feels like ages since i was there!!!

i just watched the new volunteer video because i miss the place so much, and it was phenomenal. i really, truly, and sincerely appreciate all of you very much for the reality you create at kalani. i know that every Monday you all get together and inspire one another...and i am not one for the lime light. However i just want to say;

when i came to kalani i was un-aware of what i was getting into. i didn’t know what i wanted out of life. i needed a change of scenery...a change of environment. For the first time in my life, i needed to open up to my community and really listen. i had always been pretty self-sufficient...pretty self indulging, and in general...really only looked out for number one. i had never been surrounded by such a large, passionate amount of beautiful individuals who truly displayed the humanity this world deserves!!!

Coming back to the (use the hand quotes :) "real world" has reminded me of the ignorance and impersonal world we can all find are selves in at times. Luckily, for all of us who can truly cherish the beauty and existence of a paradise within kalani, we can see the bigger picture, and be ecstatic about the tangible utopia it embodies.

Since leaving...not a day goes by i wish i could smell the rain, body surf on Sundays, feed kobo when i am not supposed to, be naked around thirty people and not think twice about it, eat fish and rice every day (and i never thought i would say that and mean it :) fall asleep to the orchestra of insects, travel on intense excursions (pick on Jeremy if he's there) swim, climb, hike, laugh and play the way i did there!!! In a place in this world where time does not matter with respect to health, well-being, pleasure, sincerity and personal growth; i can tell all of you...

Mather Brothers

...Cherish the moment you're in...Cherish the place you're in... Cherish the beautiful people that surround and support you from all sides at all times...talk to the people you haven't met already, do something nice for the people you already know. Go to a class you never saw yourself participating in.

your limits of what kalani offers, lies within your bounds to find it...and i can tell you from my own trip there...kalani doesn't change you!

But kalani shows you the best the humanity has to offer, and allows you the opportunity to dabble in the realms you are comfortable with to change yourself.

Please!!!! Just love it!!! Because those who are not there, wish they were there!


Wednesday, November 19, 2008


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



Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Jim Larsen

Jim Larsen

Recently I found myself with the unexpected glory of being named Kalani Volunteer of the Month. I wrote this in my journal as part of my Volunteer of the Month chronicle.

On Saturday, October 11, 2008 I was sitting on the lanai eating breakfast and I was drinking coffee and then I was eating an English muffin because I like English muffins and then I was drinking orange juice and I was sitting at one of the small tables where there are only four chairs and then these people sat down to join me and there was three of them so now the table was full. I didn't know them. I think they must have been guests or something. One of the people joining me was this girl and she had tattoos all over her arm like Kristin used to have but this wasn't Kristin because had left already by then, although I used to eat breakfast with Kristin at one of those small tables that only seat four people. Sometimes I miss Kristin, but then another girl shows up with tattoos on her arm and then I don't miss Kristin so much anymore.

Know who else I miss? Meghan who worked in the kitchen. She was nice to me and she was pretty and one time she cooked me a buffalo burger for lunch and it was good and then we had some ice cream for desert. So then these three people were talking to me, and I never did know their names because I didn't tell them mine first and I didn't know anything about them all much at all, except then one of them said if he ever had a son, no wait, that was the girl talking, she said if she had a son, she would name him Lucifer and I believed her. If anybody would name their son Lucifer it would be her. I think her name was Jill. Yeah. It was. One of the others called her that. I remember that. I didn't remember at first, but now I do. So I told Jill my story that if I ever had a son, I don't have any kids and I am glad, but if I did and the kid was mine, I would name him Darth. Darth Frodo Larsen. I don't know what he would grow up to be, anything he wanted, I guess.

I don't remember what else we talked about but I remember something about Mauna Kea coming up and the fact that rental car companies don't want you to take their cars up there. The dude with the hair piled on top of his head said that and then nobody else said anything on that subject and I didn't either and then I don't remember what else got talked about except I was thinking, I wonder what made these people decided to dine with me? I thought it was cool that they did, but you know, I just can't help wondering about these stuff like that, and like why is one of the Front of House Kitchen deep cleaning projects to clean the chairs under the tent because you get them wet and put them back in the dirt which is attracted magnetic-like to the water on the chairs that's still on them because they're not dry yet and so then you get mud and so those chairs are always going to be dirty no matter you do.

But then i figured it out why these three people chose to eat breakfast with me. It was so they could go back home to their family and friends and church groups and book clubs and all those people and tell the folks back home that they went to Hawaii and had a really really great dining experience having a tasty breakfast with the Kalani Volunteer of the month, and I am glad it could be me, because they were really cool people and I enjoyed their company.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Eddie (a recently departed volunteer from Japan)

Eddie I cannot English
I unintelligible English language
But Kalani's people are very kindly

Kalani is heaven
Kalani is paradise
Kalani people is supreme

I love Kalani

Thank you very much
Mahalo nui loa
Arigato Go Zai Masuta

I'll be back