After a week of weeding, planting and connecting to the land, as well as teaching yoga and connecting to my teacher spirit, I take the rickety old bike that lives in the container for a solo adventure to Kahena beach. Todd is working on the structure all day. They are crafting a bamboo dome overtop of two parallel-placed containers, to build a two storey building. Upon completion, it will be used as a dance floor, music venue and yoga space. It will also house workshops of all sorts from resident artists who stay here. It is hard work, building under the hot Hawaiian fire that burns brightly from above. Todd usually works with his long sleeve shirt that says Todd Allen Construction INC., his Dad’s company back home in Idaho. Or he goes topless, especially in the heat of the day. On topless days, I notice his shoulders. Sometimes pink and fragile. Sometimes red and aggravated.
“I won’t be gone long,” I say to Todd, gently placing my fingers on the rusty, forgotten handlebars. “Just a quick dip in the ocean and I’ll be back before dark.” I kiss Todd goodbye, walk out the driveway, and jump on the seat. As I turn right, towards the red road and the ocean, the rickety gears spark to life. Soon I am chugging past the fruit stand, the papaya trees and the white horse that spends his day looking to the action of the road. The fruit stand is one of my favourite elements of the area; it is run self sufficiently with a money slit on its wooden shelf. I usually stop and drop a few dollars for papayas. Today is no different, and I grab three ripe papayas before I am on my way. When I turn left onto the red road, the air seems to change. It feels thicker, more moist, and warm. It feels as though it is hugging me in an embrace. I see the ocean peeking out from the road, a view of lava rock beaches and peninsulas.
At the next big opening in the road, when the ocean is my only view, I stop my bike along a tiny beach. A family of four with young children are having a picnic and I smile and wave at them as I park. I walk out to the edge of the shore, on the lava rock that the locals cal “ah-ahs,” because of the sound you make when walking across its rough surface. I lay down my towel and sit down on the rock, then look out to the vast blue carpet spreading out in all directions. Mist appears above the sea and when I squint my eyes from the sun to look closer I see a splash. There are squeals of joy from the family behind me.
The sea surface lifts and excitement bubbles up in me when I realize it is a herd of whales, swimming along the shore. I have never seen them so close to shore before. More mist appears from their blowholes and as they come closer into view, I notice there is only two; a larger whale trailing behind and the smaller one leading the way. I worry I won’t be able to see them if they duck beneath the surface, but then it breaches, exposing its small but still monstrous belly to the sun streaks and tiny beach. I can’t help but join the family behind me in a parade of excitement. Giggling and smiling a goofy grin I watch the baby breach over and over. It appears as though dancing across the sea, while its mommy trails behind. Far enough away to allow for the baby to grow and experiment, though never far enough away that the baby is unprotected. Mothers are always acting in this way; protective by nature but allowing individuality to reign when needed. I think about my own mother, thousands of miles away across this very ocean, allowing me to satisfy my own desires and dreams while still being there in my heart, and in my mind. Energetically we are always connected, I know. I have heard her say, “I miss her when she goes away but I have to let her fly and grow,” to friends of mine when asked about my constant travels. She has supported me when I wanted to study in Halifax, in New Zealand. She has held my hand through heartbreak and sorrow. She has been there as my hiking buddy, my adventure buddy, my camping buddy and my best friend. She is never far away since she is a huge part of who I am and what I have come to be. As I watch for a while, the baby flitting through the air, I close my eyes and giggle louder. As if on cue, the mommy swings her tail, an expression I know of as beckoning the male whales to come closer. It is mating season in Hawaii, the season of maternal and romantic love. The two dance for our small but captivating audience until they are almost out of view of the tiny beach. I muster a small “thank you,” before packing up my towel and heading back to the bike. I exchange a line of excitement with the family and bask in the miracle of it all as I head towards Kahena beach.
I hide the bike in the tall tropical grass before hiking down to the beach. The walk down is rigorous and requires careful and cautious footing. If you don’t pay attention you can get a cut or worse. I’ve received many scrapes in this way. It is a glorious sunny day and I am still high from the recent experience. I lay out my towel and take a look around at the beach goers before deciding it is safe enough to strip down to nothing and go for a swim. The water is cool but refreshing. I lie on my back and look to the clear sky. I feel closer to the whales this way. I thank them again for coming close and allowing me to see them fully. After, I lie in the sun and read until clouds begin to accumulate over my head.
In Puna, they refer to days like this as “having a good flow.” These are days full of social interactions, effortless miracles and ideal timing. I am in a definite good flow, I even run into my yoga instructor Megan, who I haven’t seen since my last trip here. But soon it gets dark and I am caught without a light biking back towards the farm. I know my way but the sky is a dark indigo and the dim light from above is blocked by the vast canopy of trees. Bushes rattle and I hear a couple oinks from stray pigs and a hissing battle from two mongoose who seem to be caught in a sort of disagreement. The jungle, a magical paradisiacal wonderland is transformed when night falls into a different world. One ridden with menacing fears and unknown scavengers. Sounds from the bushes seem to follow me wherever I go and I can’t escape the voices in my head. These voices are telling me I’m not safe, that I shouldn’t be out this late in the jungle. I use my adrenaline to fuel me faster on the oversized bike. Its gear shift unevenly under my weight and I worry I may lose balance on top of losing sight. I start to prepare myself mentally for an inevitable night in the jungle. If I don’t make it back I’ll have to sleep here, I figure. Among the creatures, under the crescent moon. Using moss as my pillow and tarot leafs as my blanket. I almost succumb to this idea when the front gate of HAF comes into view. Panicked and out of breath, I am summoned to the kitchen by a delicious smell. There is a mild turmeric scent and I know it is Todd cooking us dinner. I laugh and wipe wet, hot tears away from my cheeks, surprised that I hadn’t noticed them before.
I had experienced some of the very best moments, watching those whales, and also a few of my worst, getting stuck in the jungle. Sometimes we can’t have the best things happen to us without having the worst things occurring as well. There is harmony in duality; because without one, would we even notice the other?