Flowers rained down on our taxi as it pulled away from Kalikalos a couple of weeks ago. Standing above the road, several members of the staff smiled, waved and blew kisses. This beautiful send-off capped a wonderful week and epitomised for me the ethos of this special place.
I had arrived a week earlier for James Eaton‘s non-duality workshop, and to escape the cold and rain of a British summer. James’ meetings turned out to be most profound. Through dialogue and sitting together in silence, James helped me to clearly see my assumptions about what life is and who I am, and how they contradict my direct experience in this moment. Beliefs were seen for what they are and began to fall away, leaving me with a sense of awe and deep gratitude for the mystery of existence. Outside of the meetings, watching the birds circling and swooping across the lush green valley I had a couple of a-ha moments of deep understanding.
I knew nothing about Kalikalos before coming and had no previous experience of community living. I came purely for the workshop but was very pleasantly surprised by what I found outside of it. Sharing in the cooking, cleaning and gardening proved to be a great way to get to know the staff and volunteers and engendered a true sense of community spirit, something that I feel is quite lacking in the Western world. During my time living in Peru I witnessed a strong sense of community, where people truly look out for their neighbours, friends and extended family. I think this provides a vital contribution to their level of happiness and sense of well-being in spite of material poverty.
And so for me it was wonderful to see people in Europe living this way. The connection I felt with people at Kalikalos and their sister centre at Anilio left me feeling uplifted and blessed. We danced in the forest, swam in the sea and had great conversations around the fire. There was even a rendition of Dolly Parton accompanied by ukulele. What more could a man ask for?
I very much look forward to returning to KaliKalos next year, to connect again with the hard-working and generous community and to teach an Introduction to Astrology workshop. And, hopefully, to receive another flower-strewn farewell.