Arrival at Kalani
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Where I stayed
After a bit of a drive through the jungle and along a coastal road, we pulled into Kalani. I went to a good sized room that I’ll be sharing with two other girls, Kate and Mitsu. Both seem really nice. Then, I went to lunch, which was great. There were stir-frys, fried rice, brown rice and soup, with a huge salad bar and lots of exotic fruit. It all looked good – I won’t go hungry here!
After lunch, I toured the gorgeous property with my “buddy,” another volunteer named Johnny, and his adorable black Lab puppy, Kali. There are lush, tropical plants and flowers growing everywhere (my favorite being the huge hibiscus bushes next to the kitchen), statues of Buddha and Quan-yin, and swings and hammocks under the old trees. The only bad thing is that the beach is a 1.5 mile walk down a hot, unshaded road.
Johnny, Kali and I sat for awhile at ocean lookout called the Point. He saw a sea turtle in the waves, which I missed, and said people frequently see wild dolphins in the water. At one point, he mentioned that some people here are hesitant to make friends with the volunteers who are only staying a month, because they don’t want to be hurt when the one-monthers leave. Great! I already feel lonely without my Flying Kiwi friends.
After my tour, I swam in the pool. It was beautiful, with perfectly cool water and not too much chlorine.
At night, I felt a bit lost as the conch shell blew to signal dinner. My roommate Kate was away on an excursion, so I didn’t have anyone to sit with, and I felt surprisingly nervous and awkward. Luckily, my other roommate, Mitsu, came back to the room to shower and change, so I waited for her and we went to dinner together. We sat with a funny Frenchman named Christoph and some older ladies who were pleasant, if a bit reserved.
Just like at lunch, the food was wonderful. I chose Indonesian fish soup, tofu curry (delicious!), an authentic peanut sauce, fried rice, papaya salad, shrimp, vegetables, and coconut pudding, plus half of Mitsu’s chocolate macadamia nut brownie. There were also fun drinks like cucumber water, chai and green tea with honey. It was all very healthy (minus the dessert), but so good that I forsee some overeating in my future.
Towards the end of the meal, a girl named Siobhan showed up at our table. She’s in her early 20s, taking a break from pursuing a degree in writing at the New School. A kindred spirit! She writes poetry and non-fiction, and she looks like Kristen Stewart. I think we might be friends.
After dinner, I tagged along with a group of women to a labyrinth on the property. The woman running the full moon ceremony was named Aya. She explained the significance and history of labyrinths, then shared a spiritual perspective on the full moon. Aya looked like a glowing moon goddess herself, with long curly blonde hair, a white t-shirt and white pants.
After Aya’s talk, we entered the labyrinth one at a time, and walked about two-thirds of the way before the next person began. The moon, which will be 100% full around 6 a.m. tomorrow morning, was very bright, illuminating the path along with the candles set up at each turn. It was a beautiful sight.
As I stepped into the labyrinth, I felt pretty nervous. What if I couldn’t see the stone turns in the dark and messed up with everyone watching? How embarrassing to get “lost” on what was essentially a one-way street with the whole line looking on.
As I walked, I drew a parallel between my feelings and the uncertainty of life in general. As I started to walk, I considered the symbolism of moving forward, even when you’re not totally sure if it’s the right direction. At one point, I thought I’d stepped over a turn by accident, but I kept going and later found out I was on the right track after all. It made me think about the importance of keeping the faith during the dark, stumbly, fearful and intensely uncertain parts of the journey. The hotel room in Honolulu, where I woke up this morning, already feels like ages ago.