Getting across the lake once we arrived was an adventure that required infinite patience. Twenty-six women plus one of the assistants, Helmet, who speaks five languages plus another assistant. We bring all the luggage onto this boat. The waves are so strong that the water is coming through the wooden slats on the dock. I quickly got on the boat staring straight ahead at the lake in front of me. The staring is to keep me from throwing up.
A forty-five minute boat ride to the village of San Marcos. It never rains in February. It’s part of what attracted me last year and this February. The rainy season starts in May. About thirty minutes into the boat ride, we are hit by a massive down pour. Luggage was getting drenched with not only the rain but the spray of the massive waves splashing onto the boat. We get to Joyce Maynard’s home and are greeted by a completely soaked Joyce, surrounded by about fifteen young boys as Joyce says “It never rains in Guatemala in February.” I’m on the second stop for Hotel Paco Real. A young boy who asked if he could take my luggage is carrying mine on his back because the grounds are soaked and muddy. It’s pouring all the way to the hotel as we make our way in the dark. I couldn’t find my mini mag light at home which is odd because I know I keep it in my glove compartment. I could use it now.
I get into my room and head to the bathroom. The toilet handle breaks off into my hand when I flush as I simultaneously am locked into the bathroom because the door lock is on the outside, not the inside. I’m banging hard on the door, hoping one of the staff will hear me.
I have the privilege of sharing my room with Hope Edelman, whose expertise in writing is women who grow up without mothers. The titles of her books are: Motherless Daughters, Letters From Motherless Daughter’s, Motherless Mothers, Mother of my Mother and her latest publication, The Possibility of Everything. She lectures on the long term affects of early mother loss. She has a BA in journalism, an MA in English and an MA in creative non fiction writing. She sees me trying to locate help and asks how my room is. Her room has a dark vibe that even the incense she brought from Belize and her Amethyst won’t remove so I have the honor of the two of us bunking in my “honeymoon suite” room, which has a bed on the top floor as well as the bottom. Why it’s called the honeymoon suite is beyond both of us. We had a late snack in the hotel restaurant. I had a spicy hot lentil soup and Hope had a plate of veggies. Hope is lots of fun, super smart and gracious. She thanked me many times for letting her bunk with me. It was nice having a roommate for the first night at the lake.
I am impressed with Joyce Maynard and all the faculty. (Ann Hood, Francesco Sedita, Hope Edelman) Joyce has been writing for thirty-eight years and most importantly, is a kind woman. She recently adopted two sisters from Ethiopia. Today was the official first day of the writing workshop. We played a game at the end of the night like a writer’s version of American Idol where everyone anonymously gave one full page of their first page of a story. Only three people’s entire one page was read. Mine made it through a good portion but I got slammed for writing “I literally beat myself up for decades”. It sounded literal to the judges who don’t know I’m a stunt woman. Playing down my career didn’t work for me in this case.
The piece I got nice feedback from four writing experts was the non fiction story I started on my mother. I’ll keep going on that story. I’m hoping I can work with Hope Edelman. I want to get it down on paper for me. I am having so much difficulty with the story I came to work on because it started as a authentic piece and then turned into a travel story so the encouraging feedback tonight was nice. Believe me, 97 % of us are getting shredded so I feel hopeful.