I started corresponding with writer Joyce Maynard over a year ago. I wanted to bring a group to Guatemala for a Kundalini Yoga retreat and she has a home here where she lives part of the year. Joyce was so accessible, answering all my questions. I tried to meet her at Lake Atitlan in 2009 but the lake was choppy, it was late in the day so I didn’t cross.
What struck me about Joyce was her humanity, her compassion for the condition of the lake and the children of Guatemala. I knew I would someday take her writing workshop on the lake.
I have finished a week workshop with Joyce and three faculty. I had the gift of Joyce’s thirty-eight years of writing and her passionate teaching. Hope Edelman published author of five books speciality is the effect of early mother loss. Hope added to the mix with her lovely smile. Author Ann Hood, whose essay on losing her daughter has forever touched me. Francesco Sedita was a student at Joyce’s workshop last year. He is the author of Little Miss Popularity and creative director at Penguin Book; children’s division. They’re all fun too!
Hope, Francesco, Ann
I sat in a circle of 26 women that came in from all over the U.S. At the top level of Joyce’s house, she has an area that is covered with palm fronds where she taught us about writing memoir and fiction. There are friendships made here that will last a lifetime.
As I left my hotel this morning one of the locals working at the hotel says “cuedese” “Take care of yourself “. I walked the dirt path to Joyce’s house one last day. I am greeted by each person that passes with “Buenos Dias”. There are three little children splashing and bathing by the lake with their father watching.
I can hear the birds singing. Dogs barking in the background. Women pass in their clothing that is specific to this region. Breakfast is scrambled eggs with mushrooms and cheese, black beans, local white cheese, yogurt, granola, homemade brown tortillas, a platter of strawberries, pineapple, mango, orange, watermelon, a local berry. This morning I smell bread baking, hot mango mini muffins and there are three different homemade jellies. I drink orange juice I saw being squeezed this morning in Joyce’s kitchen. I look at what Aldous Huxley called the most beautiful lake in the world.
I was enjoying each moment even when I was locked into my bathroom and my toilet handle broke and wouldn’t flush. Then there are always the complainers. You know, the Negative Nellies. Joyce kept saying “You don’t realize you are having fun” and as I get on the boat to head across the lake back to Antigua, I realize she was right.