Storytelling on and off the mat
Storytelling on and off the mat
The smoke is thick this morning and I check and the air quality is ‘unhealthy’ again when I first get up. The forest fires continue their rage.
I look out at the smoky air, thick clouds and my empty street. My next door neighbors have moved out and my other neighbor let me know that he’s leaving for an extended period. My dog’s still away with his sitter in NY. I am alone and feel it. I get a lot done though in a quiet mindful way. Lots of busy work and it’s accomplished.
I consult an expert like the card said and he appeases some of my worries. I go to yoga and we chant, another card music. I leave feeling better, much better actually tonight. I run into a younger yoga teacher going in as I am leaving. She must have read something on my blog because she says, “How are you” and stares with her soulful eyes. I tell her maybe this lesson tells me that it’s time to practice yoga when I don’t see any yoga around. The whim of the Universe—Lila! I say this too loudly and others look on as I stumble out the door of the studio my shoes half on away from her quiet staring presence.
Lila may be the simplest thing there is -- spontaneous, childish, disarming. But as we grow and experience the complexities of life, it may also be the most difficult and hard-won achievement imaginable, and its coming to fruition is a kind of homecoming to our true selves.* Freakybeautiful.com
I get home and after eating I sit in my den on the floor. I stare at the room and I like this space especially today. I have re-arranged the furniture a few days before my trip. It looks fresh and ready for new. I then stare at my bookcase. I randomly draw a book and open to a page written by Eknath Easwaran, The Bhagavad Gita This is what it says,....p. 58
To be right a person must do one of two things
Either he must learn to have God in his work
And hold fast to him there or he must give up his work altogether. Since, however, man cannot live without activities that are both human and various, we must learn to keep God in everything we do, and whatever the job or the place, keep on with him, letting nothing stand in our way.
Maybe this is the lesson? "Have Faith and to Receive" If so, Thank you
Returning to the States
Hilary and I are up early and leave just as Aimee comes down to say goodbye and the coffee finishes its final percolation. Aimee is sweet. She has hand drawn me a (heart shaped) kind note thanking me for my presence, love and intuition at her retreat and apologizes that we hadn’t had more time together but grateful that we shared tea and cake last night. I read the note later so cannot tell her yet that it had been a perfect and blessed week and I am grateful for her too.
We leave shortly after the goodbye hug via boat and car for the 5 hour trek to the airport that turns out to be a short 3 ½ hour ride to Guate. We are early. Too early to check in so we sit for coffee and Hilary shares and shares and I am like WOW what a story. What a frightening tale she tells. I am riveted by her past travel story from a few years back, one that thankfully ends happily for her and her friend but is terrifying. Her life so different than mine but fear a universal emotions and I am so caught up in her story it is like I was and am there!
At one point during the story a man comes over to show me that we have the same coffee container and I am so spooked by her scary travel story that I am very standoffish with him. This dude is just being friendly and doesn’t have the same cultural boundaries as you—relax I tell myself. I feel badly after he steps away and then he returns a few minutes later to use the plug behind me to charge his phone. He leaves his phone there and non-chalantly walks away to another table. I envy his cavalier trusting attitude. These days I am not feeling that way.
We make our way through security and have time for lunch before I see my strong younger friend, off for her flight, I spend the rest of the day in reflection as I make my way back to Knoxville for the night. If I were given the choice to do this again, spending time away from my family for Thanksgiving Holiday, would I do it? I am not sure. Given I have done it it is hard to say now. I just know that I have shaken things up and when you do so you bring more life to life. You appreciate your family more sometimes from afar. What I do know is next Thanksgiving I will be with them and will cherish them more than I would have if I hadn't been away for this one.
Nothing that we do is without consequence.
I think this as I reflect on being here away from my family for the holiday and how my husband shared with me my granddaughter’s picture of the family. I was there but my hand not touching with theirs in her portrayal. He also shared with her the letter I wrote her and “she loved it.” So happy to hear..
Snake Update: They did catch the snake yesterday! He was released into the fields where he/she belongs.
I was invited to join the chicas this morning for yoga that included partner work. They are a giggly bonded group and their generosity in allowing me to join in has been heartwarming and immense. The playlist for class and the British teacher fun and gifted in her approach—it was perfect and we moved and grooved and then settled in at the end to a “mushy” savasana head to belly style. Our morning circle promptly ended when a spider joined us just as the breakfast bell was ringing.
Hilary tells me at breakfast that she said a prayer of gratitude for me at dinner last night and she said that when she did this she got teary eyed. Thank you little sister. Before we started to eat we gathered around Brittany who is leaving. Brittany wonders aloud for the group what it will be like to go home back to ‘the real world’ without this feminine support at her back. Everyone reassures her that in spirit we are together.
Off handedly she mentioned as we sit down to eat that ironically a not for profit asked her to model for them. (It must be nice to be so beautiful that you are invited to model! Gorgeous!) Ash tells us about diamonds made from charcoal and I remember the charcoal that came through my third eye during my massage with Robert. I tell the group about this and Brit sitting next to me says, what do you mean came through? I tell her ‘Brit you have entered hippy land!’ She replies a little defensively, “I am well aware of that.” Maybe we are like pieces of charcoal here and when we push together in communion then diamonds are magically made…
I am antsy to go home even though I have a lump in my throat when I think of the fight waiting for me. Do I fight or do I just go on and let this go? I am tired of fighting but this is unjust …Well not to worry today.
I went into Pana (Panajachel) one of the biggest cities on the lake by public boat and took a Tuk Tuk to the Circus Café for an amazing lemonade and pizza lunch and then went shopping (bought some kakki pants and a hand woven rug that together were under $30.) Other than that I wasn’t wowed by the town. I found it busy and hectic. (So far my favorite’s been San Juan.) I headed back late afternoon. The boat driver thought I said Santa Cruz instead of the resorts’ name so I made the trek by foot, which was only about 20 minutes away along a path loosely carved out by foot traffic beside the lake. The driver did apologized and I could have got back on and I bet he would have back tracked and driven me, but I don’t think the people (commuter’s) would have appreciated this. The ride was just 5Q today. They usually charge the Gringos 10Q but I handed him 5 and he didn’t complain just said ‘sorry’ as I de-boarded.
We had cake after dinner that the staff made with such care. "Lots of cream" Wendy tells us was put into it. The cake was for Hilary's birthday to mark her special day coming up and the culmination of a lovely week of bonding and sisterhood. After the group headed off for their closing circle each with a glass of vino, Wendy, Zak a young bohemian guy ended up congregating in the corridor between the kitchen and dining room--'the reception area'. For once I felt unhurried to get away and just sat with my tea as I watched Zach hold and pet Lila. I asked Wendy if she wanted to draw one of my mermaid cards. She said yes and picked up the cards and shuffled them. I was kind of surprised that she did this as she had told me she doesn't like 'new agey things'. She then asked me to cut the deck three times and chose three card for ME. For me? I wanted her to pick for her. For both of us I tell her and she says, No, for you. I stare at her but she wasn't going to relent so I switch to the receiver in this game of providing assistance to another. The cards picked somewhat apropos. One was to receive and another to consult an expert and music. Wendy decides to draw a forth to Have Faith. She gives me her supportive direction based on her life and the cards chosen as she has had a similar situation as me, we are both Libras, born one year apart in this sign of courts and justice. We say goodbye after a bit. She tells me that I will be back to her place and I wonder? I don't get the sense that I will. She wants me to work with her in a spiritual sense and her Tibetan tradition. I feel overwhelmed by this. I have my protective beings and don't feel that I need more. Maybe I just need to trust the ones that I have more deeply.
The tree above is one I passed on the walk from Santa Cruz to the resort
More excitement! I saw a snake that I think was poisonous as it looks like the Barba Amarilla (Fer de Lance), The most dangerous in Guatemala. The good news is it eats mice and rodents the bad news, is I saw this baby snake inside when I went to put a book away. Aimee asked me the color and I said green—oh she said probably not poisonous but I knew it wasn’t a plain old garter snake. I had thought that I was going to see a snake this vacation I just thought it would be outside hiking not inside around the Mayan books.
The small snake seem to jump out at me in a lurching fashion aimed more toward the floor than thankfully at me. Snakes are an auspicious Mayan symbol. I let out a quick scream and ran out into the main hallway into Hilary who was finally able to greet me after our silent breakfast with a “Happy Thanksgiving, Kris!” She must have missed the scream. I gave her a quick hug as I said to the staff members that were looking on curiously after hearing the scream 'that there is a snake in there.' They assured me later that they got it but I don’t believe it for a moment. That little guy had headed out or behind somewhere. I inquired of one of the men who was waiting for the boat for Pana—“yes, we caught it!” He assured me. What color was it, I quizzed. “Black and white”—well then that wasn’t the snake I saw. “Adios Amiga!” He hurried away as the boat arrived.
Hor-hay (George) at the front desk, already annoyed with me because of needing to change a massage appointment that was booked with the wrong person, shrugged at the thought of a poisonous snake slithering around. “So, they eat rodents. We are in their place—they live here. This is their space” We are the visitors.( I am guessing that the snake I saw is the one described below.)
(This snake is the "barba amarilla" (yellow beard). Often found near thick bodied lowland rain forest near waterways and is very common in agricultural and urban areas where it often enters houses in search of rodents.Along with its closely related species the Fer-de-Lance snake is very dangerous to man and is responsible for many deaths, partly because it tends to live near humans. It has an irritable disposition and strikes with very little provocation and so fast that the eye can hardly follow it. )
HMM was this the snake that I saw and what is he trying to tell me??
Overall though it was a quiet introspective day on this Thanksgiving 2016. Where have I come from, What have I done, How can I do things better. That is really all we can ask ourselves, right?
It’s Thanksgiving! I miss being with you but know that you are having fun with Poppy and Uncle Liam. Who is running in the turkey trot this year with your dad and his friends? Is your mom running again? Uncle Liam? Even if Gaia was there with you today she couldn’t run. Her legs are VERY sore especially her calves and knees. She walked up a big mountain a few days ago which is actually a dormant (asleep) volcano called San Pedro. It is really far up (almost 10,000 feet) and at the top the air is cool (I think I even saw my breath at one point!) and once you get to the top the view is spectacular of the lake. It is the farthest I have even been up in the air when not in a plane.
The people who live at the lake are called Mayans. They are born here as have their moms, grandmothers and onward for many generations, thousands actually. They know how to live on the land and make their own food and clothes. They are practical and do not waste anything. Everything that they do they do is with a lot of thought and care even though they are able to move and do things efficiently. For example they make their own traditional clothing that they also design with intricate stitch work that might tell a story in the detail.
Yesterday we went to a coop in San Juan to visit and learn about how their clothing is made —The coop is comprised of twenty family owners. They share an organic cotton farm (organic meaning no chemicals or pesticides). Once they pick the cotton, they take it home and have to clean it by pull out all the seeds—cottonseeds. Once they get the seeds out they save them to be replanted. (this is what I mean about being careful “conscientious. Nothing is wasted.) Once the seeds are out they beat the cotton to make the fibers stick together and to make the cotton more soft. Then the pull out the strings and spin them on a piece of stick, that is then wrapped in a cotton ball. There are three colors/shades to start. White, Kaqui and Ixcaco (which means the color of the Mayan women’s skin). From there they boil the cotton to make different colors of yarn—they might use, mint leaves, coffee beans, cinnamon, rosemary, or walnut indigo to dye the yarn (Hilary who is visiting here from Canada bought a beautiful purple poncho which was dyed from walnut—who would have thought walnut would dye your fabric purple indigo!) They use a banana leaf in the water which helps the dye work faster on the cotton. Then it is ready to be spun around a piece of wood to weave. They have a strap around their back that holds the wood in place so that they can use two hands. In places they tie the yarn so that another color can be interwoven in. It is all pretty amazing! It takes about two weeks of work to make one scarf. I bought one for GG for Christmas!
When we were in San Juan we also went to a healing center. We learned about each herb in their garden, ones that treat tummy ache, cholesterol, acne, sadness and anxiety. All kinds of herbs for all kinds of things! At the center they have midwives—women who help other women have babies—they don’t have a hospital for this. They also do bone setting there. If you break your bone they fix it with a rock that they rub along your arm. Very different than the way we do things in the United States but it works for them!
The lake is beautiful here. It has its own mood. Sometimes it is calm and other times very choppy. This time of year there is a kind of fish that dies because of the change in the water temperature during this two week period of Thanksgiving--literally so. The fish float to the surface of the water and the people who live her scoop them up for their meal. We were taking a boat across the lake yesterday and our driver turned around when he saw one of these fish floating and scooped it up and smiled at us and said DINNER! They don’t eat a lot of meat here because there isn’t a lot of meat around. Even the cat has to fend for his own dinner. They don’t have cat food here so he has to catch every one of his meals just like the people. The chickens are killed, plucked and boiled by hand.
Some people swim in the lake and find that it has a special magical element to it. The towns around the lake are so spiritual practicing Catholism and traditional Mayan religions that the lake picks up on these energies. So when you go in the lake you feel cleansed like a baptism. But like anything in life there is always a good and a bad—the bad is that they don’t have good systems to get ride of waste so some sewage gets into the lake and bacteria counts can be high. Gaia has been swimming in the lake and so far it has made her feel better not worse!
I am looking forward to telling you more about my trip and why I chose to come here in December when I see you at Christmas time. For now though, enjoy your Thanksgiving and say a special hello to your other grandmother. Tell her to be nice to poppy in the kitchen. Hopefully no kitchen wars on who gets to do what!
The sun is hot as I sit on the dock watching a Mayan woman who works here in traditional garb briskly pulling the dog Lila happily by. I think about my husband and kids who will be in Boston for the holidays and the turkey trot that we traditionally run. I miss them and am sad not to be there with them. I hope they understand my choice to be here this holiday.
Carly has asked me if I want to go on a hike to see the San Pedro volcano. I vacillate about this. I like to hike vicariously so and to read books about people who have climbed different thru trails like the AT and the PCT but I don’t hike. Maybe once or twice in my life but nothing significant. Last night at dinner I asked Aimee and Johnny who works here is it a tippy climb? Do you feel like you could fall off the cliff? This worries me most about hiking. They both tell me it is hard but not in that way. I tell them I don’t care about hard I just don’t want to feel like I could fall.
Well let me tell you today I did care about hard! It was tough going 3020 meters (9900 feet) up that volcano. It took us three hours up and two hours down. It was somewhat comforting that Carley who is 25 years old and runs ½ marathons (with a decent time to boot) considered it very challenging today. The hardest hike she’s ever done (she tells a woman on the boat from Denver who is considering it) and she's done a bunch of them.
The view at the top was magnificent though. It was worth it when we were up there eating our whole made energy bar and looking out over the lake. I had a taste of what hikers feel when they get to the summit. The hike was hurried for most of it though as we started too late in the day (and I left with not enough water). We had to get back in time for the last boat out to Santa Cruz. Five hours later we were glad to be at the base where we picked up a tuktuk to travel down the hill of the town to take a public boat back to our place here. The boat that we took was during 'rush hour' with many stops and people. It gave us time to just chill on the choppy ride back. I like to sit at the front of the boat where its open and the breeze best. It is separate from the seated area. Children tend to sit there too. The young men (really boys) who navigate the boat from pier to pier do so with amazing dexterity and often don't even rope the boat in fully when it stops. They get off and escort the people on and off and take their money (often charging the gringos more-which I don't mind but some people do) and then they board back on as they scamper sometimes on the roof to get to the back where the engine is. It is an experience in itself. We could take a private boat from the hotel but it would cost much more and we'd miss this experience all together.
When we got back the Guatemalan woman who works at the resort said she had done the hike twice in her life and each time she had a guide. Apparently the guides are for safety reasons that include protecting you from criminal behavior which we hadn’t been aware of. In the park (we only saw about a dozen people doing the hike today. Most of them were European, young and fit. They were descending as we were going up. Otherwise, it was pretty deserted. We kept asking anyone we did see 'are we almost there yet' how much further do we need to go and they all gave us different account of how much more time we had to the top. It would have been humorous if it wasn't so damn discouraging hearing an hour and then thirty minutes later hearing an hour again!) At one point at a lookout spot we saw two Guatemala police officers. It was early in the trek and I still had ample energy to ask one of them if I could get a picture of the two of us. They both seemed surprised but did comply. One posed and the other shot the picture. Ironically it came out as a silhouette shadow of the both of us which I found pretty interesting and cool. They don’t have the best reputation here, the policia. Rumors of corruption rampant.
We did see one Mayan family bringing up a huge wood bundle and backpack supplies as they are staying over night at one spot near the top to do a traditional ceremony. (We heard why they were there from the park official when we got to the base.) The indigenous people here are amazing with unbelievable strength. This wood bundle so big most of us couldn't even pick it up let alone carry it up a mountain for hours. Karley told me when she was volunteering last week there was a six year old carrying a said bundle. She asked if she could help them but it was too heavy for her to even lift.
We celebrate with Kombucha when we got back to the resort. Both in awe of the families that live here around the lake.. Their love for one another, closeness to nature and what is important is a lesson for us. They have so little but they aren't observed as wanting. Carley comments that she thinks the Mayan people are so nice and happy because of their connection to family and religion. She says to me that she used to not think about religion and spirituality but in the last year she does and thinks it is really an important thing to have. She asks my opinion and I agree. It gives a protectant to life that isn't there otherwise. Hope.
My camera died before we got to the summit. This link below has some great picture and is an accurate account of what we experienced today!
The pic of the police officer and me and the other of Carly before as we wait for the boat
I slept though the night, praise be. The Tara temple is above my room. A large scenic floor to ceiling windowed, circular space with an altar, thatched roof and any type of prop you could ever need. I practiced there yesterday and will later today. But at this early 530a morning hour, I go in there just to grab a throw blanket from one of the shelves to bring down to my room. I remember to shake it off first as scorpions and other critters like to nest in there. After doing some writing, I make my way around the winding steps to the dining room to get coffee as the cat greets me once again. He meets me near the solar hot tub as we go to and fro and as we head back towards my room he takes the lead as he seems to know where I am headed. He pauses once along the way and looks intently. He needs to take these opportunities, as he is the sole provider for his meals. My door has blown open when we get there not secured firmly. He enters it first as I tell him “no.” He listens and waits as I scoop him up and put him outside of my door. He finds me again later in the day eating my lunch on the dock and decides to sit under my lounge chair. I find this endearing. The cat is like the people here. They flow with the ways of us even though their harmony is their own.
The golden retriever pup comes on the dock too with its owner trailing behind. What’s your dog’s name? I ask
Ah! The play of the Universe. The balance of Karma.
I did not know that. (She gives me a crisp closed-mouth smile.)
The day picks up with vigor before lunch as I go Kayaking with Hilary and hear her story. The story that has brought her to this place at the lake. We all have our story’s and their circle provides the container to dip deep, write and share. I have become an extension of the group and find that we each support one another. I mention to her that I have blogged about her friend who died and ask if that is ok with her. Please do, she tells me. I share with her that I think that her friend Tanya has her own family up there in heaven. Her arms get goosebumps and her eyes misty as she tells me another piece of the story. After Tanya died, within months of her death her husband fell in love with another woman. Hilary describes this woman to me as heaven sent So good to Tanya’s baby and perfect for the husband who is grief stricken after his wife’s death. Soon after the husband and this new woman meet, they get pregnant but the pregnancy ends in a miscarriage. The husband pulls away at first this too much to handle for him. Bree, the new wife and step mom to Sienna is left with her own grief and feels wanting for support. So she decides to go to a ‘tea reader’ one day for direction and the reader tells her that there is someone in heaven holding your baby because you are taking care of hers on earth.
The ways of the Universe are amazing to me and when I hear stories like this I am reminded that in the imperfection of life there lies the jewels of perfection buried underneath.
The kayaking ends with a swim, lunch and a trip to San Marcos where I see Pedro who I bought a few things from last May. I am not sure if he remembers me but we playfully barter once again over a crystal stone that I end up buying for the shrine of Mother Mary that sits next to the hot tub. Carly, who now lives in NYC and I have gone across the lake together by public boat and before heading back we stop in a café for a kombucha. She tells me that her family doesn’t understand her need to travel and not settle down right away with the perfect boyfriend that she had back in Australia. I listen as I would for a friend and as a mom (she’s about my son’s age) and tell her that I understand this need for freedom and adventure.
On the way over we met a musician from the Seattle area who is here to get away and practice her craft, singing and playing the didgeridoo. She’s looking for a quiet space where she can live for a few months and we tell her about the various places we have stayed here that we recommend. At one point on the boat, we are distracted during her story by the wafting smell of weed behind us. The boat’s driver (who incidentally has a marijuana leaf on his hat) tells the older man sitting behind me to put out his blunt as he gives him a chilling stare. The man smiles but doesn’t take him seriously. When the boatman looks away he lights up again which is unbelievable to me and I think, now what? A second man working on the boat kills the engine and there is silence as we float in the middle of the lake. This driver then comes over to the older man in a very aggressive way and tells him to put it out. The guy does by dropping it into the water. They know he has more though and riffle through his stuff and throw the rest of the blunts into lake before we proceed on with our journey across. I look back at the man a few minutes later and he is still smiling but a little less so this time. All his stash is now floating in the lake.
You put your paper/plastic trash in the bottles which are then used as "ecobricks" to build schools
I wake up early and decide to walk to town before breakfast. It is about an hour to Santa Cruz from the resort and I stumble along hitting some dead ends before running into a gringo with a backpack. I ask him the way and he tells me "you are there." Just need to walk up about 200 paved steps. He tells me he lives here and points the way toward his casenda but originally from Norway. Once I get past the steps, I see a church and go to it and make three wishes. One wish is sent to the United States to heal the turmoil there.
After a bit of milling around and talking to a chicken, dogs and Buenos Dias, como esta to the people that I see, I head back for breakfast. Aimee and I joked yesterday that given the healthy food we both hope to lose weight and then I clarified by eating healthy as there are other less desirable ways to take off pounds in Guatemala. Today’s breakfast is a silent one so I busy myself taking pictures of the delicious food of beans, fruit, tortillas, yogurt and granola and then giving thanks to it before eating it slower than I usually do. The mindfulness of silence helps with this.
Di is a counselor from Australia and tells us yesterday that she often asks her clients a question and has them answer it with their non dominant hand. Question to self--you are not a victim…what is the lesson here?
It is the windy season. Seasons aren’t defined by names rather, windy, rainy, sunny. Nina and I go for a swim in the lake which is choppy and brisk after Zac a volunteer who is doing karma yoga takes us into the hills to see the permaculture and ecosystem they have created. He points out the indigenous plants that can easily be mistaken as weeds but instead are incredibly nutritious and prized by the Mayans. Zach tells us how powerful and strong the people are which is easy to observed as you see them carrying large equipment and supplies on their head.
We see the banana and coffee plants and all the vegetables, avocados and the bee hive, we pass by the chicken coop along the way as we wind around. He plucks two tree tomatoes for us to observe before we approach the herbs used to make teas, ginger, lemon balm, mint, licorice and such. They aren’t 100% sustaining here yet but hope to be someday.
The night ends for me as I gather for dinner and then tea with the writing group and Carley (pronounced Caley) from Australia ("we don't say the r's well there") who is here after volunteering with an agency that provides food, books and clothes to Mayan preschooler and financial support to the elders. For $30/day she will sponsor a preschooler who she had the opportunity to meet She tells me "when I donate I like to see where the money is going" (I think yes!). The non for profit she visited and will support is called https://www.mayanfamilies.org.
She is glad for a few days respite before she heads back to Brooklyn where she is now living working in Manhattan for a Australian start up. She has an ivory face and big smile and we chat for a bit as the rest head off to their sound ceremony. She is new to yoga and a runner and I conversely a novice to running. We listen to the other and give encouragement to go with our new sport and practice before I head off to bed.
Day 1 It is so beautiful here I just want to drink it into my soul and taste it and then taste it some more. I feel so incredibly different than I did yesterday as I try not to think about what is awaiting me in Asheville when I return as I gaze at the sunset, the volcano and magical Lake Atitlan.
Where to start? The delicious vegetarian food? The hospitable Mayan people that work in the cosina and clean our rooms? The toilets that aren’t composting but ecofriendly, ones that need for us to dispose ALL of our paper in the wastebasket. The black cat that I am allergic to that follows me everywhere this morning. The dragonfly that posed for pictures as I snapped away.
Diego Rameriz who accosted me on the dock and got me to buy a Mayan relic that seemed overpriced but one that he promised was an antique found at the bottom of the lake. Diego who made a point to say a special goodbye to me as I did yoga on the dock hours later him needing to repeat his thank you over and over again until I properly heard. Thank you Kristina!
The young people who are a part of Aimee’s new writing group that I have had the pleasure to chat with. Ash the glowy girl from India (whose reading an Ekhart Tolle book) who didn’t want to believe in the light because if you do then you need to believe in the scary stories of the dark that were told to her growing up by her Indian friends. A former skeptic who today is less so after being healed working with a Shaman in Los Angeles when the gold light above her went into her body and she felt the most amazing presence enter her. She now no longer struggles with anxiety.
Hilary who wants to write short stories about her life long best friend who died 10 years ago during childbirth when her placenta ruptured. The friend that she dreamed just a few weeks before her death with a sheet over her on the birthing table looking over (Hilary’s) shoulder saying to her ‘well at least I was able to have the most amazing daughter, Sienna’ and how she now is a special aunt and surrogate guardian to this child.
The feisty young writer who waited tables when she was first starting out, “I didn’t like people for awhile after that.” She tells us at lunch. She shares the story of the weirdest food allergy. “Ice.” “Can you believe it?” “I told her, ‘how can you be allergic to ice? It’s water and you are made of water?’ “Um, really?”
The vegan chef from Holland who is at a cross roads in her life wondering what to do next, who asked for me to pull a few cards to guide her in direction as we watched the early sunrise. She is tempted to go to Australia after this as it will help her take her vegan cooking to the next level. The lovely massage that I had after breakfast that started and ended with a singing bowl. How I remember now how Mexican massages include the woman's chest and breast unlike in the States. Or should I start more dramatically so with the scorpion who showed up with us at the resort’s orientation, the one that I was able to get a picture of before Aimee put a cup over him and ushered him from the room.
Ash tells me that she got into Antiqua from LA to Mexico City from a delayed flight. That she had the best massage in Mexico City but didn't get in until 3am and had to get up early for a hike that she signed up for in Antiqua. How the downhill slope was so scary to her that she was holding up the group until the guide grabbed her hand and started to pull her into a run down the hill. It was terrifying and exhilarating she tells me as her cheeks are flushed remembering.
Audrey is from Florida now but has lived in DC working for homeland security. Her husband is in some type of special forces in Afghanistan. We ask if he is safe there and she shrugs and says yes, then thinks about it and add, well the house that he was living in was bombed the day after he left it. We all gasp and are silent.
The steps are winding here and I have to navigate them carefully but nothing like the Yoga Forest. I remember Maeve’s words from orientation, every step in Guatemala is a conscious step.
Maybe I will end Day 1 as it did, sitting by the fire eating dinner with Aimee catching up on our lives since my writing circle with her six months ago. We share our personal stories sitting off from the group and I am glad to be on the periphery with a few other lone guests. The comfort of the familiar but no expectation to participate. I tell her of the day before arriving and what happened and she looks at me and says as if an epiphany, “you have been scapegoated.” Yup, I tell her as I feel comforted by her words. We finish the night with a chocolate mousse with chocolate chunks before heading off for the night.