I had butterflies in my stomach, a feeling I had not felt in years. I was on my way to Hawaii, alone. Many people asked me, “Who are you going with?” I never thought it was strange to be going alone until other people brought it up. “Myself,” I would say. Some responded with shock and surprise, others seemed to think it perfectly normal or brave of me to travel alone. I had traveled on a plane a handful of times, but always with others. Fear started creeping in, what if I got lost? What if I missed my flight? What if something terrible happened? Nothing terrible happened. The physical journey of riding in an airplane to the Big Island was probably the least eventful trip I have taken.
Upon arrival I learned that my understanding of humidity was limited and I was about to be educated in Hawaiian weather patterns. I was not staying on the tourist (western) side of the Big Island where Kona is located, I was on the eastern side of the island where beaches are small and generally rocky and the jungle is thick. To be more specific I would be staying on a 44-acre permaculture farm in the mountain area near Pahoa. I had very little idea what a permaculture farm was or what type of shelter I would be staying in, but I was up for the adventure.
I first met the lovely Terra Ann, who gave me a huge hug and welcomed me with a warmth I rarely experienced. It was late, I was exhausted but I was also excited. A van full of yoga teachers pulled up to the curb at the little airport and then I met Erika Faith. Again, the hug and greeting I received was like a breath of fresh air. I knew right away I was right where I was supposed to be. In the van were two other teachers, Crystal Dawn, and Rebe. Hugs ensued and then I climbed in the van, ate two small bananas and tried to keep up with the conversation.
I reached the farm very late and found my room, warned to keep lights off when possible and the fan on while sleeping, because you know… Hawaiian bugs. They are enormous and not something you want in your room. I met a few other people on the farm including Joe, who is the farm manager and knower of all things safe and unsafe while staying on the Big Island. Honestly, that first night was a blur. I went to bed with the knowledge that I would be up to practice yoga in a few hours.
The next day I met my fellow students, Krystle and Katrina. They are awesome. For the next 21 days we were together. We were together and it was easy, fun, and honest like we were sisters meant to find our way to each other. They each taught me about different regions of the country I have never visited, what it was like to be at a radically different stage in one’s life, how to love life and those in it, and so many other lessons I never knew I needed. I am grateful for every moment I spent and continue to spend getting to know these 2 amazing women.
Yoga. Like a breath of fresh air -- fresh, heavy, humid air. We practiced for 90 minutes every day in a building with 2 complete sides made of mesh screen so the fresh island air circulated. Our yoga practice occasionally included a gecko, or a screeching chicken (we were after all on a farm), but it was reliably there for us each morning.
I took hundreds of pictures and packed way too much stuff. I learned an incredible number of things about myself in those 21 days. I was the same person when I returned, just more alive, aware, and awake. We studied concepts I had never heard of, like reiki. We broke down yoga to its core and studied various forms, like Kundalini. My time on the big island was a time of learning and growth.
I discovered there is truly a concept of island time. Farmers markets in Hawaii are vastly different than anything I have ever seen. The people of Hawaii, they are a large part of what makes the island so magnetic. You can make friends with someone trying to sell you an avocado the size of a cantaloupe and learn about people’s history by asking one simple question. They are kind and open, as well as compassionate and understanding. And I am not talking about just native Hawaiians, the people that are drawn to Hawaii from all over the world are there because they have been called to the island by the compelling pull that requires humans to find like-minded humans.
I fell in love with a place. I had a vast amount of love for the island itself, but also for the culture, the people, the strange sensation that I knew I had to return. I did not fall in love with beaches (we went to one of those), or fancy hotels. Those things are absolutely great. I fell in love with the way I felt on that island, with those people, in that experience. I said the words out loud, “I’m coming back here. I don’t know when, and I don’t know how, but it will happen.”