Kalani Honua Blog

Monday, March 9, 2009

David Groth

kavaA recent `Ohana night, our weekly-ish get-together, was the eagerly anticipated kava ceremony hosted by our dear Auntie Lynda and her husband Ama. Lynda is a wonderfully sweet and sexy lady who teaches us lauhala weaving (google it!) and Hawaiian culture. She's very knowledgeable and extremely passionate, and always lots of fun!

Kava, or awa, is a root that is ground up and added to water, filtered out and then shared as a beverage. Traditionally, is tastes like muddy water, especially if you drink the last sip, and ya gotta drink that last sip. It's mildly intoxicating - you get a little giggly, wobbly and a bit numb around the lips, but you stay aware and alert and pleasant. As Lynda says, "it makes the men rough and the women soft".

It was good for meetings amongst the nobles, because you could relax and negotiate without declaring war on everybody all the time.

After getting the kava ready in a large wooden bowl carved out of a single piece of wood by Ama's brother in Tahiti, the task of serving it out in coconut-shell bowls hit a snag - where to find a virgin at Kalani? Or anywhere in the surrounding district? Virgins traditionally serve out the kava, I guess as their own personal offering, whenever people clap their hands together. Later, when I was playing ukulele, I encouraged people to continue clapping for the kava - I need all the applause I can get!!

After designating "serving virgins" (who changed through the evening so that different people could recapture their innocence, and so that we didn't exhaust any individual virgin), we shared laughs and kava and songs and dances. Lynda and Ama performed some traditional dances, Wailana (who teaches us Hawaiian Studies on Monday evenings) danced some hula with Lynda and played my uke a bit, and I played for a while and taught everyone to sing haole songs like "Tiny Bubbles", "Blue Hawaii" and the famous "Hukilau song", which is related to the famous "shaka" symbol (google it!!).

The kava was great for singing. It's mild on the throat, relaxing both physically and emotionally so there was no anxiety about performing, and I think it also made it easier for everyone to relax and sing along.

cliffside ukuleleOur lovely Missy got up and danced hula with Lynda to a Hawaiian song I've learned to play and sing, and even taught to our singing Charlie (see Oct 17, '08 entry). It's called "Holei" and tells about the beauty of Kalapana, the town down the road that once held the most magnificent black sand beach but is now covered in rolling waves of hardened lava. In fact, lava still actively flows to the sea in Kalapana - we can see the plume of steam rising in the distance, and sometimes it glows red with the reflection of the molten earth. Very beautiful and dramatic.

I learned the song from our hula master Kimo and received the music and words from our front desk man, Tim, who not only takes people out on excursions to see the lava but plays Hawaiian music on the ukulele almost exclusively (and quite beautifully). The song is fun and challenging, especially to keep playing it slowly enough for Missy to dance. Charlie sang with me and it felt like a very genuine Hawaiian moment, though none of us are actually Hawaiian by birth (except Kimo, but he wasn't there).

This was one of my most favorite `Ohana nights. It gaves us a chance to experience something cultural together where we shared our talents and our friendship. It was wonderful to see so many members of our Kalani family, from the youngest to the oldest, from under 20 to over 70, laughing and playing and enjoying being together, and doing something that brought us all to the same level of ability - though some of us kept the kava flowing faster than others!

Thanks to Lynda and Ama for the kind hospitality and wonderful memories. I gotta get back into the weaving classes. Lynda is so much fun.


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

by Lori Runkle

Puka JungleEach day at work in the landscaping department at an eco-resort on the Hilo side of the island of Hawaii, I witness greedy vegetation reach for the sun at the expense of what slouches and festers beneath the surface. As lava rock cracks and ohia trees and sword ferns emerge from the black ground, sensitive plants and morning glory vines root in the fertilizer of fallen leaves and rotting lehua flowers.

The cycle of volcanic activity and the reclamation of lava by plant life is an organic process that transforms the landscape from the barren, rocky playground of Pele to lush swaths of variegated green growing at amazing speeds. The lovers Ohia and Lehua continue their love story high in the branches dropping life on the ground below.

I agree with Louise Erdrich, who in her collection of short stories “The Red Convertible,” describes the law of growth like this:

“In the woods, there is no right way to go, of course, no trail to follow but the law of growth. You must leave behind the notion that things are right. Just look around you. Here is the way things are. Twisted, fallen, split at the root. What grows best does so at the expense of what’s beneath.”


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.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Stef Douthit

Happy Huladays


I was a guest with the Hawaiian Temple Bodyworks retreat this past year, and I fell in love with Kalani!!! I just wanted to comment on your "Happy Huladays" email...how wonderful! It is exciting to hear of all your new projects, and I plan to contribute whatever I can...no matter how small an offering.

Kalani TRULY did give me heaven on earth, and helped me to EXPERIENCE something I have always known: my divinity. I witnessed myself, everyone around me as well as our beautiful Mother Earth all melded by Pele's spirit into a higher vibrational dimension that was to my senses and very soul HEAVEN!!!

To all of you there working so hard to make this place a reality for all to share, my heart offers all gratitude!!!

Stef Douthit


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



Monday, November 17, 2008

Heather Breckenridge

PeleHer steam seeps through cracks beneath my feet.

I feel her heat, her presence, her obsidian self.
a loosening, a spiraling,
a channel of new growth, rebirth,
rebuilding, renewed.

My spirit cliff
-- sharply God-carved --
caves to ocean depths below.

A loosening, unfolding fire!

She is my past, my future,
my holy present:
Middle earth breaking free —-

Creation from nothing,
from everything?

Some parts of her harden, while the
rest widen my pulse.
my breath, my spirit…

She rolls over edges,
boiling to meet her destiny:
the wet Goddess.
fickle and eager for embrace.

It is made holy:

This is a white lucid awakening; an archaic fire of no-time kind;
a river of rock; a molten prayer resounding,
a coming into one’s own and out of one’s unknown.

She moves me ever forward, deeper,
a silent prayer emerges.

Waves encompass her,
joining her in glorious exuberance.

She is met and made whole, solid.

Birth of a brand new earth:
less than a second old…

Yet she has shifted my consciousness
into no time,
no beginning,
no end.

How magnified is this now,