The first thing I notice is how thick the air is. Because of the openness of Hilo airport, travellers are exposed to the humid Hawaiian air as they make their way to baggage claim. I ask a taxi driver to take me to Kirpal Meditation centre in Pahoa. “Sit up front,” the driver directs me. “And GPS the address on your phone, will yah?”
After driving on the main highway for many miles, we pull off onto a quiet road. Here, lush greenery line either side of the road. Trees and branches dip towards the road as though leaning inwards to touch the passing vehicles. Other than the strip illuminated by my driver Marshall’s taxi van, we are engulfed in darkness. The only distinguishing feature of Kirpal Meditation Centre is a yellow sign that hangs off a tree branch just before the driveway. Marshall drops me at the office, a large wooden hut with an outdoor kitchen and and a long wooden table. The manager Peter, who I have been in contact with via email, is there to greet me as we pull up.
We drink a glass of lemonade and Peter gives me a tour of the grounds. “Everything here is solar powered,” he says as he leads me down a car path. “And the water is all rain water. Do you want to see your room?” Though Peter speaks in a thick Hungarian accent a British twang lingers around the edges of his words, softening them. He explains he had been living in England before moving here, two months ago. We walk up a damp and muddy trail to the farthest wooden hut. There is a large red room, another open kitchen and four more smaller wooden huts beyond that, which are all connected. This is the yoga studio and my bedroom is directly next door. As we stand on my balcony, Peter explains that my room is the only one with an ocean view. Even though it is too dark of course to see anything now, I peer out at the forest anyway, in the direction of the sea.
When we say goodbye and Peter leaves, I listen to the sounds of the night. Raindrops fall to the tin roof. Unseen insects buzz in the distance. Wind wafts through the trees. I even think I hear the scurrying of wild pigs that Peter was telling me wander about in the night. The balcony has a sliding glass door but the screened-in windows have only a thin sheet of fabric draped across. I’m positive that as I drift into sleep, I hear the faint squealing of wild pigs below my window.