A Summer To Remember

This was the year that I was going to carve out some time for myself. This was the year that I was going to take care of me! This Summer I was taking time off, even if it meant doing it alone… and as it turned out, that was the most perfect thing I could have ever manifested…

The year began with the greatest intentions to bring a group to Maui along with my friend and co-author, Father Anthony Randazzo. Some of you, like me, know him as simply “Anthony.” Anthony and I were so excited and so certain that a full house would be stocked by the friends he reluctantly left behind at Notre Dame in North Caldwell. This was not the case. Sad and surprised, he set about his plan to take the time and the opportunity to be on this magical island with or without our group. Thankfully, he did not leave me behind. I was afforded the opportunity to be there and I was not going to miss this for love or money, as they say. We were joined by 1 other adventurer from the Notre Dame Parish days. We felt that the number 3 was a powerful number and that it would hold significance for us on our glorious Hawaiian adventure.

My vision was to be there more than the short 6 days that the retreat was scheduled for and so I went ahead and sought out the perfect place to spend my private time with the intention that I would hole up and write, something that I felt so sadly disconnected from. It took me a while, but I found it! In fact, when I opened the website for the Maui Eco Retreat, I felt that I understood the sense of calling I had about making Maui a part of my Summer 2016 plans. The Maui Eco Retreat was everything that I could want in a vacation lodge. Totally off the grid, powered only by solar and wind (of which there are both plenty), this place was on sacred ground and some of the most well-known yogis and spiritual teachers had lodged here before me. “My ‘peeps’ go here!” I declared with excitement when I opened the website for the first time.

Arriving in Maui was smooth. The travel agent had set me up with a car, which ended up being larger than what she booked – a good thing with the luggage and additional traveling companion that we would pick up on the island. So things were going great for me! I found the grocery store: Mana which was about THE most epic grocery store I can ever remember since my college days of what used to be called “health food stores” that I frequented on Long Island with my old college buddy, Anne Marie. This place would be the store I would manifest and own if I were going to envision the perfect grocery store for vegan, health-conscious, sustainable-minded, foodies like myself. So with difficult-to-muster self-control, I shopped with my governor on so as not to buy every exciting, new, and fresh food I came upon. In fact, I bought some standards, which later surprised me and taught me a great lesson about land. That lesson will be discussed later.

After shopping I had the second of many joyful moments on Maui when I reconnected with my dear, sweet friend from Starseed. Melissa Rizzolo lives on the island. Some of you remember Melissa from the ‘good ole days.’ When I found this out I couldn’t be more grateful that I was on Facebook after a long love-hate relationship with the social media forum. Melissa met me in the parking lot at Mana and we hugged and smiled from ear-to-ear and I followed her in my car to the other side of the island (sort of) which she expertly navigated. Along the road to Hana it goes from being coastal with spectacular and sunny views of the sea to being jungle with only momentary glimpses of the place where water lives below drive-by eye level. Soon after that, the road starts to be a series of narrow twists, curves and switch-backs peppered with surprise waterfalls and single lane roads that seem not-quite-wide enough for a car, let alone those pick-up trucks driven quickly and aggressively by natives who traverse it daily. It’s right around when this part begins that one finds the easy-to-miss turn to the mile long road that connects to the half-mile long dirt road to the Maui Eco Retreat or “Kahua” as it is called in the native Hawaiian.

“Kahua” means resting place of mature souls. This was the sacred ground upon which the building where I slept for 3 glorious nights was built. Raphael and Kutira have built an amazing respite here. Absolutely no ‘buzz.’ I mean really … no buzz!!! No electricity! Only solar and wind powered wifi, hot water, lights, stove, toaster, dishwasher (which they respectfully suggest that guests opt not to use). Without prior knowledge that this place was ecologically powered, one could easily forget that there were no wires, no cables, no power company poles and, oh yes… no municipal… uh hum… water service. The only impact of this last matter – to me – was no flushing toilet paper. But really, my 8 years in Cozumel (where Chris and I had a house) and my 7 years of sailing on Aurora (who does not have upgraded holding tanks and plumbing) made this a rather insignificant matter.

So this mature soul spent 4 glorious days listening to the wind (and the rain) in the bamboo forest outside of my sliding glass doors, waking at 3AM for my meditation practice, sitting at my desk writing for hours, breaking only to take spontaneous drives further down the Hana Highway discovering waterfalls and trees that looked like characters from beyond the looking glass, or to find a sunny spot on a white, sandy beach to park myself for a break to listen to the ocean and bathe in the wind.

On occasion I would stop to eat or to go out in search of food or to visit my new, favorite grocery store. It was pure heaven.

When my time there was completed, I packed and headed to the sunny side of the island for the remaining time with my friends and the unexpected adventures led by our now-native friend, Melissa. Melissa was our tour guide and she showed us her favorite spots on the island to the degree that the weather permitted. August is the rainy season and one side of the island does get a lot of rain which is why it is so lush a jungle. The other side, though, where the Wailea Inn is located, is much more arid and sunny and hot. We got an early start each day (not 3 AM) and walked the beach, did some yoga asana, took a swim. Then we embarked on the adventure for the day. We toured the Lavender Farm, met native Hawaiian friends who live in the mystical Hana, walked a labyrinth in the rain, hiked up to the Iao Needle in the rain, attended a very sweet mass in the charismatic Catholic tradition… swam in our pool, hot tubbed in our hot tub, dined in great restaurants, ate freshest fruits and vegetables, took pictures, drank great coffee, drove around the whole island for a spectacular and memorable glimpse of the original Maui, and more. It was simple and luxurious. It was pure and decadent. I even found vegan gelato! And in the end, I returned to New Jersey so much better for having gone there and much more clear about who I am and what I want.

One thing that I want, and I know this very clearly, is to return to Maui as soon as I can. So I am now taking names for my intended 2018 Maui MadMat Meditation and Yoga retreat. If you want to enjoy the amazing sights, sounds, tastes, textures, feelings, and spirits of the incredible island of Maui with me, CONTACT ME with your name, phone number and email address. I will add you to my list. When I have gathered a suitable number of names to support my seeking out the perfect venue, I will begin putting this retreat together. I promise we will have fun! I promise you will return rejuvenated and revitalized. I promise the prank of Maui will ignite your inner fire and spark your inspired vision for what you want and who you are in this life.

About the Author:

Madelana Ferrara is a teacher of Yoga and a student and practitioner of its related disciplines of Meditation and Ayurveda.