Guest writer Doris Neubauer escaped to Hawaii for three months, to find herself in the lush, tropical paradise that is home to Kalani Oceanside Retreat Center.
“I am going to Hawaii.”
These words spoken out in the cold Austrian winter are a guarantee for some excitement. They certainly raise the attention of everyone left behind.
I should know what I am talking about, because I did it.
Three months of sunshine, beach and sea versus snowstorms, frozen cars and layers of clothes. Three months on Hawaii. And not just anywhere, but in Kalani Oceanside Retreat Center (www.kalani.com), a yoga community on Big Island, the biggest of all the Hawaiian islands.
I heard comments like, “Everyone is running around naked” and “If you are not gay, you are not part of the group”, but looking back now, I am glad I didn’t see these comments until right before leaving Austria. Maybe I would not have gone to Hawaii otherwise.
In the 1970s, Kalani Oceanside Retreat Center was founded by a homosexual couple and is now one of the oldest intentional communities in the world.
Up to 100 people from all walks of life call it home, some for a couple of months, others for years and a few for the rest of their lives.
Some escape their harsh winters every year, some just spend their vacation in the “jungle village” and few come only once.
For all of them, there is a first time. As it was for me: For three months, I committed myself to cutting vegetables in the community kitchen and helping create the – mostly vegetarian, but certainly organic – meals.
Everyone has to work in the community, whether in housekeeping, in the garden, in the administration of the seminar business or – like me – in the kitchen.
Guests whose yoga workshops, dance groups or retreats take place in the Hawaiian paradise, need to be taken care of.
This is the job of the community members, who pay for their stay and can therefore live on the property, enjoy three meals a day, participate in every yoga hour, every training in Huna, the Hawaiian shamanism, and every Hula dance lesson.
It was this offer which caught my attention several years ago and the main reason why I ended up there 2011.
Living and working together with a bunch of people, mostly from the US and Canada, is a challenge though. We call each other ohana, which means ‘family’ in Hawaiian language, and like in a real family, there are hardly any similarities between the members.
Some never attend the yoga courses and just spend day after day at the pool, the clothing-optional-zone. Some spend their days only practising the asanas.
As a European, I felt lonely, saw cultural differences and language barriers everywhere. In time, though, I realised they were experiences I just had to have at Kalani.
After a couple of months struggling, I suddenly decided: Everything was good! No, everything was great: How could I feel uncomfortable in a paradise like Hawaii with daily sun in between refreshing rain showers?
“Find yourself here”, Kalani states on their website. I finally did!
Coming from a small Austrian village, Doris feels most at home on the road. Her list of things to be seen and experienced is endless. And when her feet get too itchy again, she packs her backpack and moves on to the next adventure.
Doris is not only interested in travels, but also in sustainability, environment, new energies and fascinating people, who are doing something. Because adventure not only takes place outside, but also inside. Doris is a travel journalist for an Austrian online magazine and is a freelance writer as well.
Additionally, she blogs about her adventures at littlemissitchyfeet.com