A HOT Hawaiian, a pasty American tourist and two Australian girls walk into a spa… No, this is not the start of a joke, but an incident which occurred on my recent trip to Hawaii. And by spa I actually mean hot tub, and that’s not the only part of this story that needs clarifying. Regular readers of this blog will know that I have spent the best part of this year looking for love in all the wrong places, including most recently little red men on Hawaii’s Big Island, so it should come as no surprise that the events about which I am to write unfolded as they did.
It’s a sultry Sunday in Maui and I’ve spent the morning learning to stand-up paddleboard in what is a considerable swell. Much to the amusement of onlookers I get to my knees, crouch, see the next wave, and jump back to my belly. Kelly Slater I am not, and just as I’m about to quit my stand-up paddleboard career before it’s even started, I feel a rush of determination and leap to my feet, knees bent, eyes on the horizon, and I paddle. I actually paddle. All of this unexpected activity has taken its toll by mid-afternoon however, and I meet a mate by the pool where our endearing Australian twangs have caught the ear of a hot, hairy Hawaiian I had seen earlier, reading a book. Let me repeat this: there was a man, reading a book.
The hot Hawaiian, as it turns out, is to be our guide for the next day and introduces himself as Kainoa Horcajo, a cultural specialist and potentially the best-looking man in the entire 50th state, if not the United States itself (apart from Obama). Because Australians are such friendly girls, we invite Kainoa to jump into the spa, where we also bump into a pasty American tourist, who immediately shakes our hand. In. The. Spa. In terms of bizarre spa behaviour, this takes the cake, but we humour the pasty tourist while staring longingly at Kainoa. Even his name sounds like a melody and I imagine what it would be like to strum his ukulele.
We’re staying at Travaasa Hana, a remote resort on the other side of Maui in the tiny township of Hana, which reminds me of old Hawaii depicted in a 1970s post card. And I am smitten. With Hana, with the ranch-style house overlooking the ocean in which I am staying, and with Kainoa who turns up to dinner that night, curiously with the pasty American tourist. “Are you joining us for dinner?” I ask the tourist, not surprised that the Hawaiian hospitality would extend to this lone wolf. “Yes,” he replies looking at me oddly.
In terms of business dinners, this is one of the best all year, with sous chef Konrad Arroyo serving up such delights as Lomi Salmon, Maui Cattle Co. Striploin Tataki, Ginger Steamed Mahi Mahi, and Lilikoi Crème Brulee. After we’ve consumed several cold beverages, and I’ve spent considerable hours gazing lovingly at Kainoa’s beard, one of my friends turns to the American tourist, who happens to be seated at the head of the table. “And so what do you do?” she asks. “I’m the President of this resort,” he replies to our immediate embarrassment, before paying the bill, and we all burst out laughing. Luckily, Adam Hawthorne, President of Travaasa Experiential Resorts, is as good humoured as the Hawaiians and this is not yet another country in which I have to leave under the cloak of darkness.
We all walk back to our ranch houses, and Kainoa tells me his is on the other side of mine, thus ensuring I don’t fetch a minute of sleep that night, as I imagine him strumming his ukulele. But the show must go on, and the next day Kainoa takes us to Kahanu Garden where we meet elder Pi’iLani Lua, a proud Hawaiian woman who hails from a long hula line.
“In the old days being women we would not take the best looking man. We were smarter than that. We needed someone who could work with rock and rope. If a man had no hair on his knees, we knew he was good at that.
“The men did all the cooking. “
I cast a furtive glance at Kainoa’s hairy knees but am pretty sure if he had to, he could be handy with a rock and some rope.
We continue on our journey around the island.
“You can see waterfalls everywhere we go. The sense of community out here is awesome. It makes you feel good about humanity,” Kainoa says.
“A lot of people here still survive on subsistence living so they fish or hunt for their survival. The Hawaiians don’t believe so much in bartering but free trade. We view it more as you give what you have, there is reciprocity to it. As in, I have the ability to you this, please take it freely.
“This land is a great teacher in how to survive. It’s a traditional insurance policy. Hawaii has this way of letting you know whether you should be here or not.”
It’s Monday when we end our journey in Maui. Kainoa speaks about the importance of the moon in Hawaiian culture and the fact that it’s been four days since a full moon. In the local vernacular that makes it La’au Pau – a “time of creation, planting and sex,” Kainoa says.
“Hawaiians talk about sex a lot.”
I can’t be certain, but I’m pretty sure I’ve found my people.
The Global Goddess travelled as a guest of Hawaii Tourism. To book your own escape go to http://www.gohawaii.com/au; stay on Maui at Travaasa Hana http://www.travaasa.com/hana/#ATwQIpsaoFQTgwtS.97 or Andaz Maui http://maui.andaz.hyatt.com/en/hotel/home.html
I’VE packed my passport, swimsuit and sarong but somehow I’ve lost my kavorka by the time I arrive in Bali. But if ever there was a destination in which to rediscover my animal magnetism, or kavorka as it is explained to me, Indonesia’s Islands of the Gods is the place to come. For this is a land of rice paddies and romance. Of medicine men and mysterious healers. Of traditions, secrets and sensory overload where poverty and generosity co-exist. Of surprises and sunrises. And I’m on an escape which captures it all. I’m experiencing Bali with Eat Pray Live.
Eat Pray Live operator Nicole Long specialises in helping women rediscover their kavorka, that sensual part which exists in every woman, on her bespoke holiday experience in her villa which offers a home away from home. This is not a spiritual retreat, rather, an authentic Balinese escape where like-minded people are introduced to Bali’s best dining, shopping, spas, and local healing experiences.
This particular journey begins at Kadangu where I meet the family of Nicole’s assistant Putu who has asked us to join them in a sacred Hindu temple ceremony at Tabanan. Dressed in traditional Balinese sarongs and sashes borrowed from Putu’s mother we walk down a sliver of stairs. First we join several other Balinese in a ceremony which involves a series of prayers combining smoke from incense and flowers in a small basket we each possess. An elderly priest blesses us in holy water and we select a pinch of rice which we stick to our foreheads, hearts and sprinkle over our heads. We head over to a second section where we cleanse ourselves in water before the third and final prayers at another part of the temple. Days later we learn that Putu’s seven-year-old daughter Gita has asked her mother how we western girls sleep. Gita is concerned that we sleep with our eyes open.
Two days later we undergo a cleansing at a waterfall near Ubud, trekking down some 300 stairs in our tight sarongs, sashes and white shirts. A similar process to the temple ceremony is repeated before we walk, fully clothed into a gushing cold spring. Here we must focus on letting go of our bad experiences of the past, and embracing the new as the water pounds our bodies. I focus on forgiveness and moving forward. I ask the Gods to help me find true love. Just as I turn my back towards the water and lift my face to the sky, the sun comes out. I smile.
On the way home we visit Cekorda, a respected medicine man, a high priest from the highest caste. Cekorda is 85. “How old are you?” he asks as I sit with my back against his knees, his wiry fingers probing my skull.
“43,” I respond.
“Not so young,” he mutters to himself.
He then asks me my problems.
“I have a broken heart,” I reply.
I lay down on a mat and he presses between my toes with a stick. My third toe on my left foot hurts and I yelp.
“Your broken heart is healed. It is your mind. You have self doubt.”
Cekorda then stands above me and traces his magical stick over my body to clear my aura, before announcing that I no longer have a problem.
He turns to an Western bystander who speaks Indonesian.
“Women are very complex,” the bystander translates for Cekorda.
On my final day, I undertake a session with Intuitive Healer Paula Shaw, a Gold Coast woman who went to Ubud, fell in love, and hasn’t left Bali since. The fan overhead clucks like a gecko as Paula interprets my birth chart in her heavenly husky voice. Paula specialises in sharmanic astrology. She knows nothing about my career as a travel writer or The Global Goddess.
“You are looking for more spiritual journeys and asking yourself ‘how can I be more sacred?’. You are going to share more of your personal experiences. You can be quite funny and you really don’t take yourself seriously,” she says.
“You can put a spin on things that is really palatable to the Australian market in general. Your biggest learning in this world is from where you share your wounds. There are no rules for you and that’s really liberating.”
I have a mozzie bite itch to ask Paula about what she sees for my love life just as she asks me to shuffle, split and select a series of tarot cards.
“You can be attracted to the bad boy, but you need a man that is really sacred, very intelligent and a little aloof. You need a very sensual man, that’s very important,” she says.
“To find a man to be with you will be difficult as you are going against the patriarchy with your career. You are taking one for the team by being this woman but being The Goddess will pull them in.
“You will have a busy 12 months with travel, a new business partnership and healing around love. The universe is setting you up so when a man comes along you won’t give yourself over completely. But love is coming.”
While I wait for my sacred, sensual, intelligent and aloof man, I’m going to take Cekorda’s advice. And I may even sleep with my eyes open.
Want to capture your kavorka? The Global Goddess is delighted to announce she will be working with Eat Pray Live and holding regular writing retreats up in Bali. Eat Pray Live – What’s Your Story with The Global Goddess will teach guests everything from how to write a book or blog, engaging in an entertaining manner on facebook and twitter, and even becoming a travel writer. Join The Global Goddess for her morning practical Heavenly Hour session, partake in Eat Pray Live activities, and come back for a Happy Hour session to discuss and pen your experiences. The Global Goddess and Eat Pray Live are on hand to guide you and introduce you to the best of Bali and most of all, to help you rediscover yourself.
Eat Pray Live – What’s Your Story retreat with The Global Goddess will be held from April 20 to 27. This 7 day/6 night retreat in private villa accommodation costs $1715 for a shared room or $1900 for a private room and includes:
• Return Airport transfers
• Breakfast daily
• Welcome drink on arrival
• Eat Pray Live Personal Concierge
• Eat Pray Live “welcome gift pack” (bag, sarong, products and other goodies)
• 1 x 1 hour “in villa” massage
• Manicure and Pedicure, Hair conditioning “cream bath” treatment with head, neck and shoulder massage (per person)
• Transport fees for scheduled trips
• Cleansing ceremony in the holy waters of a Balinese temple, to heal your past and energize your future
• Visit a medicine man / healer, (a small personal donation at the time of visit is required)
• 5 luncheons & 1 in-villa dinner
• Free Wifi
• 24 hour security
• Complete housekeeping services
• 10 minutes walk from the beach
• Situated in a typical Balinese street away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist areas
For more info go to: http://www.eatpraylive.com.au. For bookings please contact Christine Retschlag: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel: 0437 655 525
IN this land of lore and legend, of caves, coconuts and conch shells, kava, chiefs and tradition carved deep, they have become the unlikely faces of Fiji’s feminist movement. They probably don’t even call themselves feminists, western labels as unnecessary in paradise as a three-piece suit. But these are the women who are carving a new path. These are the strong, smart women of the South Pacific.
This story begins with Una Murray, the Outrigger on the Lagoon Fiji’s Public Relations Manager of 32 years, who died late last month. If you love a good legend, you’ll adore the tale of Una, who was 70 but told everyone she was 60. Why? Well, Una liked a party as much as she loved rugby and could be found in the resort’s Vakavanua Lounge seven nights a week, often till 1am. We’re sitting in the very same bar, which has introduced the Una Boogie Boogie cocktail in her honour, discussing her life and death.
Executive Assistant Manager Lindsey Palmer says Una knew “everyone” on the island from the Attorney General to Fiji’s International Rugby team who would drop in and find her in a spot in the bar.
“She used to hang out here. We used to have to kick her out. She’d just sit here with a glass of red wine and relax. She was spoilt rotten and she would spoil us,” he says.
So revered was Una, that during her illness the resort supplied their own nurse to her Sigatoka Hospital room, sent down their maintenance team to fix up her room, and brought her breakfast, lunch and dinner, and much-needed morphine. When she died on May 22, the Outrigger negotiated her beachside burial with two separate chiefs, offering copious kava, a suckling pig and gifts to ensure Una’s passage on her next journey.
Want more feisty females? Well, the Outrigger on the Lagoon Fiji Communications Manager Talei Tora also happens to be the first Fijian woman to be trained by the Australian military in Duntroon. She was forced to quit the army due to a leg injury but as she says “I’ve done my bit for my country, now I can have fun.”
Fun includes promoting some of the resort’s other fabulous females, such as Sous Chef Priya Darshani, who you’ll find in the upmarket Ivi Restaurant. In 2012 Priya was named Fiji Chef of the Year and won third place in the Global Chef’s Challenge in Perth. Priya was also named the resort’s Manager of the Year; and she and her team won best team among all of the Outrigger properties world wide. Which is all pretty remarkable given she started as a trainee chef straight out of school at the resort in 2005 and had never seen a hotel before.
“2012 was a good year,” Priya says simply.
These days when she’s not in the kitchen, you’ll find her hosting a cooking class with the resort’s Executive Chef Shailesh Naidu, who also happens to be the country’s most awarded Fijian-born chef. Shailesh, who is an Indian-Fijian man, says while coconuts are one of the crucial elements of Fijian cooking, chilli also plays an important role.
“Never joke about chillis with the locals, particularly the Indo-Fijians. Even if we are having a breakfast omelette, we have spoonfuls of chilli,” Shailesh says.
“We tell people to put some love into the plate.”
Love. Lore. Legend. All part of this land. Just like the fabulous females who form the fabric of Fiji.
The Global Goddess was a guest of Outrigger on the Lagoon Fiji
Outrigger on the Lagoon_Fiji http://www.outriggerfiji.com; Bebe Spa Sanctuary http://www.bebespafiji.com; Off Road Cave Safari http://www.offroadfiji.com; Coral Coast Tourism http://www.coralcoastfiji.org; and Kula Ecopark Fiji http://www.fijiwild.com
I CAN’T pinpoint exactly when, but at some stage in the conversation, Chris Solomona gets straight to the point. Of his penis to be precise. More so, the fact it’s the only part of his body from his middle back to his knees that is not covered in tribal tattoos, thus ensuring I spend the rest of our meeting trying to peek under his lava lava for confirmation. But this is not a story of sex. It’s one of seduction. A tale of tattoos, tradition and testosterone. Of tsunamis, tragedy and ultimately triumph. This is my tale of the South Pacific, welcome to my Samoan seduction.
The tattoos, deeply etched into Chris’ cocoa-coloured skin, scream of centuries of culture, tradition and the ultimate test of manhood…soul-searing pain. They speak volumes of this South Pacific paradise in which I find myself talking intimately with a man, whom I’ve never met, about the most delicious of subjects. Finding love, the Samoan way.
“We are still intact and alive in our old ways. We have a Council of Chiefs and laws you must abide by. The most common law is it is taboo to think about marrying a girl from your own village. If you marry outside your race you will get a slap on the back. They will say ‘that a boy’,” Chris says.
“There is quite a process that a man has to go through in order to get a date. Back in 1999, I was drinking kava and I saw a beautiful woman come into the market and I asked people for her name and some woman told me it was Nora. So I went home and cooked all this food such as taro and a roasted pig. On the way to her village I stopped and bought two bottles of beer. There was no way I was going to do this sober.
“I walked in to her house and I put the pig on the floor and then forget what I am going to say. I can see two girls but I can’t see Nora in this room and I am wondering if I am in the right family. It turns out she was in the kitchen cooking and when she came out and sat next to me and I felt like I was eating broken glass.”
“Two to three weeks later I spent the weekend with her family but there was no privacy. We went out for one year and there was no touching. I’m a modern male and this is paradise but we’re not that perfect,” he laughs at the sexual frustration.
Fourteen years later and the couple now have five children, all traces of sexual frustration seemingly erased. Chris, who manages the Samoan Tourism Association Cultural Village in the capital, may be a modern male, but traditions such as tattooing run deep within his veins. When the missionaries arrived here in 1830, they tried to stop tattoos but the Samoans refused to relinquish this crucial piece of their culture designed to test bravery and courage. But don’t be fooled. Chris describes the procedure, which takes several months, as “a world of hurt, pain and suffering you cannot explain”.
“It is pure pain and torture and something that no man in their right mind would go through. Coming out of it is like a second chance at living.”
A second chance at living is what this charming country knows all too well having survived its share of cyclones and a devastating tsunami in 2009 which claimed 189 lives in the South Pacific region, many of them Samoan children. Samoa is a land of love and loss. Of triumph over tragedy. You can’t have paradise without pain. The Samoans, who ooze charm, character and beauty, know this maxim all too well, for this is a country with soul.
According to Chris, if you want to find a Samoan man, first you need to find a Samoan woman.
“You find a Samoan woman and stay with her in the village and you mingle. Then, all the men in the village will be watching. In Samoa, you just sit back and wait and all the pieces will fall into place. Actually, waiting in the wrong word. You will be hiding,” he laughs.
I spend the rest of the day lurking behind coconut trees, practising my “hiding”. At the bar, at the beach, at the pool, behind coconut trees.
And I’m in luck. The very next night I stumble across my Samoan sista-in-crime in the form of Natasha Tamasese at Sinalei Reef Resort and Spa on the South Coast. What I don’t know at the time is that Natasha has married into Samoan royalty – the Tamasese name synonymous with one of the paramount chiefs of the country and highly revered. Yes, in terms of a wing woman, I’ve hit the jackpot. And best of all, I’m told there’s one unmarried brother in the family who lives in Queensland. Yes, you heard it, right under my nose. I’d reveal more details, but then I’d have to kill you all.
Aside from the opportunity to dine with the Tamasese’s, Sinalei is also home to Spa Tui I Lagi, named after the resort owner’s wife who died in the 2009 Tsunami. Even in languid Samoa, time marches on and tries to heal the deepest wounds. Joe, the resort owner, has found love again and just announced his engagement to Tammy. Yes, love, loss, tragedy and triumph. I contemplate these concepts during a massage at the resort’s oceanfront spa the next morning on the most perfect of days. My spa therapist mentions the sound of the waves breaking casually against the reef outside. “You can hear its voice,” she says simply. Even the ocean here is a seductress.
And so, too, is the language in this country. When Samoans speak in their native tongue, they tend to slowly wrap their mouths around each word, pronouncing every consonant and evocatively elongating vowels. On the flight home I fantasise about two things: learning to speak this lovely language to my new husband who is yet to learn of my existence, and a return trip to the South Pacific. Yes, you too, should wrap yourself around Samoa. I can guarantee, it will seduce you back.
The Global Goddess travelled to Samoa as a guest of the Samoan Tourism Authority. If you, too, wish to be seduced by Samoa go to http://www.samoa.travel for more information. Virgin Australia flys direct to Samoa from Brisbane once a week and several times from Sydney.
Spacifica Travel is offering a number of last-minute Easter specials to Samoa from $1449 per adult and $779 per child flying Virgin Australia from Sydney. The price includes return airport transfers, 7 nights for the price of 6 in the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel in Apia, and continental breakfast daily. http://www.spacificatravel.com