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E Komo Mai - A Note From Jesse Graeter
E Komo Mai - Welcome
My time at Kalani has been about interactions. About myself, other individuals, and about how we come together as a whole to form a community. I came here with my partner Ellie and we were embraced as individuals and as a couple.
As a volunteer here at Kalani you receive a note card when you arrive and when you depart. They are like a greeting card with a message inside when you unfold it, with room for people to write short messages.
My arrival card welcomed me to Kalani with aloha. There was an inspiring quote from a previous volunteer giving me a flavor of the experiences that awaited me. There were also the critical details of the pool location and when dinner was being served. Then below the printed text was a handwritten note from Zori. Welcoming me to paradise and inviting me to an orientation tour of the property the following day.
Then 2 months passed.
On our last day, Ellie and I received our departure note card. This card simply said that we will be missed, sending us onward with the aloha spirit. Then all the blank space was filled in with handwritten notes from our friends.
“You guys are so perfect here!!! I will miss your beautiful energy and smiles. – Shelley” … I met Shelley the night the kitchen staff took the evening off. A group of us non-kitchen volunteers had a blast serving dinner that night!
“You are both so wonderful. You are both doing exactly the right thing. Mahalo, with love. – Taylor” … This brings back memories of talking with Taylor on the dinning lanai, the laundry room, the maintenance shed. Topics ranging from GMOs, road bike touring, to activism.
“I am lost for words. You are two beautiful people full of smiles and light. Sure hope you boomerang back to Kalani. Aloha a hui hou. – Marilyn” … Ah yes, the late night hot tub soaking sessions with Marilyn sharing an engaging conversation or sharing a comfortable silence.
“Loved our conversations. Stay real and joyful! Love – Jen” … I often grabbed a seat next to Jen during meals. The introverted sides of our personalities really thrived on being extroverted with each other!
“Have a fabulous time biking the island and continuing your series of life adventures. Great getting to know you and Maria too! – Deb” … We arrived at Kalani the same day as Deb (same airplane!). When Ellie’s mother Maria visited us for a week, Deb and Maria went adventuring along the Puna coast while Ellie and I worked our shifts.
“You are both such an inspiration! Hope to cross paths with you again one day. Travel well, mi amigos! Love – Clarity” … Who would have thought that a lady from New York City and a fella like me from a mountain villa would have so many deep connections? It’s all the product of an hour long hike through a muddy jungle to a secluded white sands beach frequented by sea turtles.
This is a sampling of the hundreds of connections that were made with the beautiful people here at Kalani. Yes, I do look forward to crossing paths once again and I will take these fond memories wherever I go!