It was a hot October morning. Normally when I awoke the heat was manageable, only right around noon is when you start to feel like crawling out of your skin and hiding in a hole. But in the morning? Golden. 

However, this day in particular for some reason was absolutely formidable. From the moment I stepped foot outside it was as though I immediately walked into a sauna. Just thinking about it gets me all hot and bothered. You already know what kind of day it’s going to be just by the temperature outside. 

The majority of our work for that week consisted of a special project the host called the “North Perimeter”, which basically entailed dedicating 4 hours to tug at tree weeds until you fall over, getting stabbed in the process with cane grass’s fiberglass-like prickles. Let’s just say it was not the most pleasant of work to be doing, and the heat was just the icing on the cake.

I was determined to pull as much as I could in the shortest amount of time. I tried to make it a game so it would magically become fun despite the conditions. It was a race against time between me, myself, and I. I popped in my headphones then went to town until my noodle arms and lanky legs couldn’t muster the strength any longer. 

At some point, I went to get water and immediately felt as though I was going to blackout. Working so rapidly is such heat probably wasn’t the brightest of ideas I’ve had in my lifetime, but whatever could make the time pass I was all for. 

What I anticipated to be a good idea ended up biting me in the ass because I ended up with heat exhaustion and dehydration by the end of the day. Sounds fun, right? Let’s just say the rest of my afternoon consisted of chugging water and sleeping.

When the next day rolled around, I decided to take it easy. Pace myself so I wouldn’t end up the same or worse off than before. 

As we finished tugging at more weeds, we began to gather the debris we had extracted and put them in the big waste buckets to then throw in the back of the truck to take to the dump.
The host had been out and about, helping us where she could monitoring our every move and keeping her eyes peeled on us like a hawk. This seemed fairly unusual, even for her being as micro-managing as she was, considering all we were doing was clearing the land. 

As more and more buckets were rotating being thrown into the truck then back to the designated area where weeds had been pulled, I decided to post up by the truck, unload the buckets as they came to make the process smoother, then take those buckets down to the bottom part of the land so they could be used for another project. 

When everyone completed this task, we all gathered in a group circle to conclude the workday and be dismissed. 

For the sake of privacy, I will not disclose any factual names and will call the host Jane. 

Jane began to discuss tomorrow's activities and what it might look like as far as work goes when suddenly she came to a long pause. 

You know the kind of silence that's quiet for too long and it starts to become uncomfortably awkward? Think crickets and fake coughs to break the silence…

Yeah, it was one of those. 

“Kaylee, you brought all the buckets down to end of the property… can anyone tell me what is wrong with this scenario?”

After some more awkward silence along with my face now turning into the color of a tomato for genuinely not understanding where she was going with this — one of the other volunteers chimed in and said, “Jane, I think we are all thoroughly confused. What was wrong with bringing the buckets down?” 

No response. 

My palms were turning clammy and I started twiddling my thumbs, clenching my jaw while my stomach churned. 

Everyone was dismissed but I was told faster than I could walk away to take a seat. 

Moseying my way over to the rock wall, I remained stunned. As I sat and looked up, I asked her what was wrong, only to be welcomed with dead silence and an empty gaze. Dandy. 

She had a stern, harsh, look in her eyes and I swear at that moment her pupils were black.

I sunk even deeper into myself wishing I could disappear from such an odd and unfortunate event. 

She began to say the work we had started that day was not 100% complete (obviously… because name one person who can weed 5+ acres of land, pulling tree weeds by hand in a days time. No one. Literally no one) and our work tomorrow would consist of continuing to chip away at the North Perimeter.

Due to my decision to put away the buckets and, OH NO, dare I say stack them, supposedly created extra work for her and the team. 

That was it… that’s why I was being yelled at. For taking the buckets down the hill?
You’ve got to be fu**ing kidding me. 

Her argument from the get-go was incredibly unreasonable, considering these problems have simple solutions. Such as, maybe walking to get the buckets and bring them back up. It’s not complicated, nor is it strenuous in any way. I mean, they weigh less than a pound for goodness sakes I think we’ll be okay. 

Want to know the best part of it all? She concluded the conversation by informing me I would need to gather my things, find a new farm, and leave within 3 days time. 

All because of some buckets

Mind you, when wwoofing you are practically homeless. It sometimes takes weeks to get in contact with farms, at least on the island, not including the time spent simply attempting to solidify your stay. 

I was freaking out, panicking, crying, the whole works.

How was I supposed to find a place that would take me in, but also ensure my safety? Make sure the work I would be doing is something I am proud of, resonate with, and am passionate about. Ensure my living arrangements were reliable, and the food that was provided was substantial, the work hours were an even, and I'd be nearby some sort of transportation?



One Way Ticket To paradise

That night after dinner, I opened my computer and bought a one way to the Big Island. Once I've planted an idea in my head, especially one I am passionate about, good luck trying to stop me. I did everything I could after that to make this conversation my reality. 

The following months consisted mainly of planning, planning... and you guessed it, more planning. I worked two jobs that summer to save up, and contacted copious amounts of farms to plan my wwoofing excursion. Everything I thought, said and did was Hawaii focused. It was as though a new life form was inspired within me, and I could see things more clearly.

The day I quit those two jobs and hopped on a plane to a tiny chunk of land in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, was probably the happiest day of my life. Who would have guessed that leaving everything you once knew, your past, fiends, all that tied you down, put completely behind you would be so liberating.


There was so much anticipation and excitement leading up to this point. I had no idea what to expect at the farm I was going to, no idea what life would look like while I was there, and definitely unsure of how I would get around or meet new people. I flew to Maui before I had to fly to the Big Island, mainly so me and my sister could have some bonding time before I fell of the grid for a few months, so to speak.

We pranced around beaches in Lahaina and Kihei, made coffee in the mornings in our adorable studio we rented for the week. I even convinced her to hop on a bus one afternoon (because heaven forbid she step foot on public transportation) so we could inexpensively roam the entire island and have an adventure. It was the perfect way to ease myself into the island lifestyle before metaphorically speaking, fully submerging myself under water. When the end of the week snook upon us, and we parted ways, I flew 30 minutes on a commuter plane which you can't really tell in the image, but was absolutely terrifying considering it was the size of a mid-size car. When I arrived on island it was around 8pm, pitch black, and I was completely alone. Everyone on the plane either had someone waiting for them, or a car to tend to. In a matter of minutes, there was absolutely no one around at this airport gate, completely removed from the main terminals. Also, mind you I was getting picked up by a stranger whom I have never met before in my life, trusting I wouldn't get kidnapped and murdered. My host from the farm I am staying at finally arrives and takes me back to the property. I get aquatinted with the space provided, unload my things, and crash for the evening.

The next morning, we meet at 6:30 am for a group breakfast. The hosts make us gluten free pancakes, prepared fresh fruit from the farm; my fellow volunteers and I exchanged stories over black coffee and this tropical medley, while we reviewed our work schedule for the week and chowed down.

A typical work day at the animal sanctuary tended to shift often, for sometimes we would be assigned projects; like painting a goats new feeding station, or pulling weeds and chopping invasive plants. It was mindless work for the most part when it came to beautifying of the land, but it sure got you a nice tan being in the sun all day. The first few weeks, I really enjoyed the time I had spent on that farm. It was fun getting to know the people around me, where they were from, what their lives were like before wwoofing, and familiarizing myself with the area.

Me and a few other girls were allocated a "loft space" that was really just a garage converted into a living area. Our bathroom was outside, shared between 6 people,  which you can imagine got a bit tricky at times. We also had a resident cane spider worth mentioning... don't click that link if you're arachnophobic. Mid afternoon showers? Sure, why not! Oh, and did I mention our hot water didn't work? They say cold water is better for your hair and skin anyways.

Our kitchen was communal, and also where many of us spent the majority of our time after a long days work. The property was at the top of a hill, away from most, and the street leading up to it had a huge vertical incline. None of us had cars, and the hosts understandably didn't lend out their vehicles, so if we wanted to go into town or anywhere really, we either had to walk for hours, take the not so reliable bus, or hitch hike which can get dangerous at times. So the "gathering place" was a haven for us when we didn't feel like trekking into town, after undergoing manual labor for 7 hours straight. We would make art together, journal write, read, talk, nap (lots and lots of naps), or try weird exotic fruit we picked up at the farmers market over the weekend. 

I got really close with these amazing humans, sharing experiences and moments I wouldn't trade for the world. I learned from them, admired and looked up to each and every one of them for all they had accomplished, their stories and pasts. Pasts that shaped them into who they were in that present moment. It was inspiring to constantly be surrounded by those who were like-minded, but also significantly different in the most positive way. I felt right where I needed to be. Having settled with myself, my thoughts, making my heart my home and feeling content with where life was, along with who I was encompassing myself with. Everything was seemingly perfect.


A Journey: Self Discovery & Introspection

My journey began in a tucked away taqueria; where fresh, local food is of abundance, and a haven for community is provided so those from the area could gather and enjoy all that feeds the soul.

A discussion I previously had with a friend prior to getting dinner at this taqueria, was what sparked my yearning to embark on this journey. Our talk consisted mainly of day-dreaming upon the moment we could escape reality. Roam land in which a concrete empire wasn't built upon, and our spirits could wander without constraint.

This thought, turned into an action within the matter of 24 hours.

I had been so discontent with where my life had been the past year, I didn't feel like what I was doing was enough or the path I wanted to continue upon. I was uninspired and deprived... of life, of creativity, of all the things that made me whole and who I am. I used this unsettling feeling inside me to fuel my fire within. Later that evening, at the taqueria, I got dinner with my mom. We sat down, shared conversations over chips and guac.

Our waiter came out with our main course, and as I began to eat, I also began to cry.

Now, you might be thinking "was the food really that good?" and while it indeed was, that was also not why I was crying.

I had been carrying so many emotions, like weights upon my shoulders, that the thought of being in a state of unhappiness any longer made me burst.  I suppressed my intuition, for I was constantly bombarded with outside opinions telling me what I should or shouldn't be doing. I came to a breaking point that evening, with the thought of the my previous conversation dancing around in my mind encouraging what I was about to say...

"I'm moving to Hawaii."

I kind of word vomitted this sentence, and it sure as hell was not stated as simply as that. With a mixture of tears and explanation, I began to collect my thoughts to try and elucidate the matter.

I explained that I needed to be in an environment that was healing, a space I could completely unfold into my natural state and not worry about the judgment of those around me. Do some soul searching and feel 100% comfortable in my own skin. I needed to be doing something larger than myself, working towards a bigger picture. I wanted to be involved, get a hands on experience with sustainable farming and meet new faces from different places.

So Hawaii it was.

The place I knew best to do all these things and more, a place that wasn't too far from home but far enough that I could elude from and find myself again.