Guanajuato, Mexico: Day Of the Dead Writing and Photography Workshop
“The location was perfect… The idea was to take us out of our comfort zone. I’ll give you an A…You both possess a gift of welcoming others into your world. Your love of people shines and your smiles and interest in others helps a stranger in a strange land feel comfortable…Judie, you have such a gift of perception, which has roots in your love of people. Paul, you smile as you critique and certainly put me in a frame of mind to heed your expertise….Your enthusiasm and experience on the excursions brought me such joy….You are mentors to the core of your beings. You both work in such harmony with each other…it is an inspiration to me in my marriage…I feel a bond of care and love with you both.”
“Everyone got the attention and critiques they needed to get and hear. Everyone improved– most improved significantly. At all times both of you were attentive and available–in and out of the classroom. You know how much my writing and photography skills have improved. Thank you.”
“Thank you for sharing your wisdom, time, and expertise with all of us….Your instruction throughout the week was meaningful, relevant, and helped me take my skills to the next level…The excursions opened my eyes to a different world and I not only have a deeper understanding of Mexico and its rich culture, but of myself. You taught me to “dig deep” into the heart of the story, and I am truly grateful for this experience.”
“The workshop started off with a bang. Our trip to Dolores Hidalgo for the Day of the Dead opened up feelings that were locked away for years. Overall, I learned a lot about myself, and my hidden abilities to write and shoot photos.”
“Dearest Intrepid Travelers, Thank you for putting me on the path to authenticity. I’m ready to start a fan club for you.”
“It takes a lot of wisdom and balance to push and prod people toward discovering their voices, and you both did so in a wonderfully supportive way. I like that you didn’t sugar coat feedback, and made it real, with excellent examples. I gained a lot of clarity from the exercises and learned ways to keep my writing on track. In terms of photography, I got a great sense of the intention behind taking a photograph. The celebration of the Day of the Dead gave us a chance to connect with parts of our buried past; the healer you brought in allowed us to care for our wounded parts; and the marriage ceremony allowed us to integrate those parts with love.”
“The workshop location was beautiful. I found the writing portion of the workshop to be a challenge, but ultimately a good one. I enjoyed the info about blogging. I would recommend your workshops and trips to others.”
“I wrote my first travel article at 23, and have been an off again on again writer ever since. Everyone needs new inspiration, new techniques, new directions, even at age 92. I have learned from the workshop that it is not necessary to bare your soul, as in Facebook, but to bring yourself into the story subtly. It has been a great and satisfying workshop. I leave invigorated and happy, with affection for you both.”
Ghost Ranch, New Mexico: Emotional Genealogy Workshop
“What a brilliant concept–Emotional Genealogy. For years I have been in genealogical groups and have been researching my ancestors. But something was missing. This workshop has helped me so much to find out who I really am in relation to the ancestors. Thank you so much for providing the environment for helping me with this process. I have become more deeply in touch with the ancestral forces that have shaped me.”
Never have I seen such intimate feelings/emotions being revealed in any setting in such a short time. The experience: cleansing…that is the feeling I have now and after some time to digest the weekend. Thank you.”
“Ana and I have had some long talks into the night about new awarenesses and how to carry them forth into a new, fresh future. You both gifted us with great sensitivity, humor, and patience. I look forward to happier, healthier times with rainbows as we dance more through the future, having seen a vision of the past. Am I a little girl or an old woman? You helped us merge our parts into our present (a real present!).
“This is important. I feel it has potential to heal generations past and future. It is accessible for people of multiple backgrounds. An interesting group of people were attracted to the workshop–they weren’t all the same. Thank you for creating this space…”
With Gratitude, Shayla
“It takes a certain kind of group, yes, perhaps, but also a certain kind of facilitator who has a)strength of presences and b) knows when to push/pull and when to step back, among many other qualities. I can’t imagine having gone through this with different people. This was something I needed, perhaps more than either of you know. Thank you both for trusting your instincts, each other, trusting us, and the mystical path that lead us all to come together in this room. It hasn’t been easy for me to trust. I figuratively tore out my tongue two years ago. I’ve spent the last 13 months doing every self-heal, self-care practice/person that I could think of. This experience has healed more in two days than I did in the past l3 months. Thank you for the permission and the space. I’m grateful.”
“Thank you both for this new topic of emotional genealogy. I have connected several dangling threads that have been blowing in the wind for years. I look forward to living a happier life and being able to bring harmony and guidance to this around me. May our paths cross again, as I leave with a grateful heart. “
“Thank you. I wouldn’t change anything. You brought together a wonderful group and made a family of strong women who will come to the rescue of each other any time one of us needs it. My daughter and I will have a much more fulfilling relationship because of the time we have all spent together.”
“I am in awe of you two, and your insights and abilities to get people to dig inside of themselves. It’s astonishing how similar we all are–and all our problems are. I was able to take something away from each ‘lesson.’ I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop and felt that I got a lot out of it–and a lot of work ahead of me. I was stunned that so much came forward abut my dad as I have spent so much time thinking time with my mom and her family.”
“The weekend was eye-opening and very enjoyable. I couldn’t believe how open everybody was and how freely they spoke. I came away with the knowledge that I have a pretty great family and ancestors.”
“I’d like to say what a lovely, “real” couple you are. Perhaps there is still hope for me to find such a match in this world. I believe that everything happens for a reason/divine order and I was meant to be a part of the weekend. Thank you for your kindness, gentle (firm) manner, and loving facilitation of our discussions and for treating each of us with the greatest of respect. I believe all of us will leave today with more open hearts and more gentle inner strength.”
“Thank you for organizing another great conference. I liked the different personalities I met; some had to be coaxed to come out, and some exploded. I loved being here. I loved the side/break discussions. I loved being with the two of you. Everything happens for a reason and my being here is where I needed to be.”
“The workshop wasn’t quite what I expected, but it turned out much better! I was able to connect many dots that were out there and did not connect. Thank you for my Hebrew name. I will treasury it forever. It means more than you can imagine. I feel grateful everyone was so willing to share; it made it easier for me to open up.”
I thank you for all the care, compassion, insights and love that you put into this offering for us. The balance between the two of you was perfect. You were fearless, not knowing what was going to come up in the sessions and you knew just the right things to say to encourage people past their hurts and pain. It’s an enormous gift that you shared with us. “
“I love how you kept it real, meaning that you both led from a place of practice and knowledge, but also as students yourselves. This made me feel safe, SAFE, trusting, and hope that you dial in this program and offer it again. Thank you so much for offering me this experience to heal and for your love and unconditional support!”
REVIEWS FROM PARTICIPANTS
I keep talking & thinking & dreaming about Turkey. There is so much to process. You allowed us to experience so many rituals & meet so many interesting people to say nothing of bonding with our group under a batch of skimpy red & white plaid wraps in the company of two enormous Turkish bulls at a hamam! And the laughter…..the laughter…..how many times were we in tears from laughing about who-the-hell-knows-what? Where are we going next? I have years of memories from this trip.
You really did a fantastic job. Not everybody knows how to travel like you do. You taught more lessons than you can imagine….tolerance, understanding, oneness, creativity, history. I could go on & on. Why would i ever travel any other way again? Do you remember why I wanted to come to the Travel Writer’s Workshop in the Yucatan? It was to learn as much about travel from you as possible. I am in awe. To watch you work your miracles with people is quite something. I see more humanity in travel than I ever did before. More personal interaction is the best way to “know” other peoples, cultural habits, beliefs, faiths, what makes them unique.and what makes them part of the human race, what makes them LIKE us, not “the others.”
For years, i had only heard of their adventures as travel writer/photo journalists. the kind of stories that inspire novellas, screenplays, memoirs. and i admit, when i signed on for the “guided group tour” in turkey,……i couldn’t imagine how this couple would orchestrate a similar experience with 14 extras. yet, in spite of my wee handicaps at the time, i thought “life is short, come on it’s travel, it’s turkey…..gotta do it”!!!
i’m looking back now at a trip that began for me on a hazy midday in istanbul, on a ferry down the bosporus with 13 strangers…… and ended with the moon rising over the jeweled city and across the same bosporus, at a rooftop banquet fit for royalty….that felt like a family reunion!!!
unless you are willing to perhaps spend a weekend in a couple of overstuffed chairs with a few bottles of good wine, i couldn’t begin to truly convey what this group tour was all about. but here on this page, i will use words/phrases like “eye-opening, educationally-jam-packed, creatively-mind-blowing, heart-expanding, visually-mesmerizing, introspectively-humbling, generously-forgiving, ass kickingly-motivating, and just your basic hootin’ and howlin’ funny…..!
to my fellow travelers , i offer my deep gratitude for carrying me for 2 weeks over 2000 miles in the “magnum belly’s” of your compassion.
to judie and paul, the maestros of travel….i say BRAVO, you are the REAL DEAL!! and literally……WHAT a TRIP!!!!
Most amazing was talking with the Turkish people and asking them anything and everything. Most useful was becoming less afraid to approach people. i know in my heart that people like to tell their stories. Patterns in my head tell me not to bother others. Most meaningful was being in community with the family in the Blue Mosque, dinner and prayer at the Alevi Cem, Imam Mustafa, the cave concert in Goreme. The trip was all about good energy and communion. The best gifts were Paul’s comedy and Judie’s loving wisdom. She invites and enables each of us to share our gifts, sometimes gifts we didn’t even realize we had.
Right price, good food and hotels, a wonderful bus ride, great jokes and info from Paul and educational and humorous stories from Judie. You spoil us for any other type of travel. Please do it again. Many thanks. I love you both.
Thank you so much, for all your hard work before and during our Turkey adventure. It was a wonderful experience that my mother and I both very much enjoyed. We have so many memories to keep with us for a lifetime.
The journey to Turkey was an opportunity to test my health, my ability to live with a group, share a room, take in the wonders of a crossroads culture. We moved through space and time slowly and quickly–each day new adventures. I appreciated both the careful planning and the spontaneous diversions. Our guide was kind, caring and knowledgeable. Thank you for your photographic and writing help.
You are both amazing. The amount of work you put into this trip is evident. A little piece of your hearts was given to each of us. I loved that we got to go to real places–peoples’ homes, concert in a cave, eating local food. I loved everyone’s writing. It made it so much more personal. A great group. A great trip.
There is no one I’d rather travel with. Even though I’m not at all history oriented, Tom is. With Paul’s creative presence and Judie’s humor, I was slam-dunked into experiences I’d never have on my own. Tom’s happy, loving it all, and I, being tactile, look and feel my way through the arts and crafts of the area, take photos of people and art, develop relationships with the group, laugh a lot, learn about different local foods and customs, and go home happy. And along the way, I even learn a little history. Your humor, enthusiasm and energy make all of this happen. And I thank you.
This trip has been wonderful for me in many ways. First of all, with the writing exercises I have been doing, I am ready to go home and pick up my work again. It’s been a great kick in the butt for me. I have many ideas for articles from the trip, especially related to the impromptu stops we made. Meeting with the various people was wonderful and something that doesn’t happen on a “regular” trip. Thank you so much for all the time and effort you put into organizing our trip. It has rejuvenated me so that I am ready to return home and start my life again as it used to be, but better. Please let me know of any future events.
If I live to be a hundred, I will never forget this experience with the ancient history, the people, the food. You did a perfect job, dragging us to all these unbelievable sites. Loved it. Where are you going next?
Brilliant balance of visits and meeting with various people–great itinerary. Take your big hearts wherever you go.
I’m so happy I’ve had the opportunity to do this kind of travel with you two. Many of the activities, like the hamam and sharing our personal stories, helped to grow a family-like chemistry between the group members. Although the writing assignments felt pressuring and contrived at times, they actually helped me to open myself up to Turkey in ways I would not have otherwise. Your styles in guiding have been enriching and inspiring and were deeply personal and fun for me. I look forward to seeing what other travel programs you will be offering in the future.
The trip brought me into many news worlds–Turkey, ancient Anatolian civilizations, and, more than anything, a new world of traveling. The lessons I’ve learned will, I hope, offer insights into how I live my life each day, and forever change the way I travel, what I seek out, how I engage people, and my ability/desire to jump into new situations. The pace was dramatic yet I found moments to explore people and places on my own. I was very content with our itinerary and movement. The people you selected and brought into the group helped make the experience unique and enlightened. So many people willing to share allowed me to open up more, internally and externally. I feel more connected to paper and pen than I have in some time, and I will continue to explore new ways of sharing my view of the world. Encountering Islam for the first time was so inspiring. Feeling the warmth, hearing the call, sharing a prayer, touching he carpet and rinsing my face/hands/feet has left me wanting more. I am not sure when or where my next meeting with this faith will be, but I look forward to walking further towards Mecca and meeting new souls along the way. I look forward to sharing these stories with you as they unfold.
Thank you for your tireless efforts in leading us through the treasures of Turkey. The trip has been so much more than I had imagined and I hope you will be leading more adventures in the future. I am a Paul and Judie groupie now so I don’t really have any complaints. The days are packed with inspiring sights and enriching experiences. I also really liked the idea of having options–when you gave the group choices about the itinerary. It was helpful to have that choice and see how the group was feeling. Thank you again for your generous spirit and sharing it with us.
You opened Turkey to us layer by layer like a giant onion, and exposed us to a gradual kaleidoscope of places and people. The people we meet are the best part of traveling with you. With sincere interest you draw them out, listen and learn. Each person leaves your interchanges with a sense of having met a new friend who appreciates and understands him or her. You have a great gift.
The spiritual side of the trip allowed us to better understand the Muslim and Jewish faiths. At the same time I walked where (Saint) Paul walked and will hold the memory forever. I will miss hearing the calls to prayer. Even when my prayer is a short “Thank you, God” the call regularly reminds us how truly blessed we are.
Every day of the trip contained at least two or three unforgettable experiences. I appreciate the ways you moved us along. Often people who are attracted to this type of trip are creative souls. They follow their spirit and time becomes unimportant. It can be difficult to “herd 15 eels”, but your firmness with humor worked well.
Returning to writing and photography was a real joy for me. Thank you for the encouragement and suggestions. I will try to make writing a daily habit.
It was a great trip. Thanks for another great experience.
What a wondrous, marvelous, fantastic, and yes, educational, experience. I can not stop speaking about it; nor can I stop thinking about it. The information you imparted about writing and the feelings to be evoked from the soul resonate within me each day. I am truly having a difficult time concentrating on life’s everyday needs when my mind is back in the Yucatan. I will cherish my memories forever, and look forward to living my life as a travel writer.
You fully immersed us from dawn to dusk–and beyond–in the travel writer’s experience. Thanks for your humor and encouragement . Your generosity in giving of yourselves, of your time and talents was incredible. The biggest thank you is for pushing me out of my comfort zone. The workshop was phenomenal!
What a freakin’ amazing experience you created. My soul was stretched and my heart opened. Thank you for your generosity and for creating the miracles of the many adventures we were privileged to be part of. I will return to Indiana a more present person, in mind, body and spirit as a result of this trip.
Reverend Mary Ann Macklin
You are two of the gutsiest and most generous people I’ve ever encounterd in any context. I was so touched by the constant effort you both made to reach out to every participant to offer support and encouragement. Most days it seemed you were trying to turn yourselves inside out to give us a good look at the factors that go into great travel writing and photography. Shame on me if I don’t do great things with the rich intstruction and experiences you provided.
The information imparted, the setting, the variety of authentic and original experiences and activities, the fabulous food–all A+ and beyond.
The week was wonderful!! I’m 5’8″ and I grew more in the last 7 days than I have in my whole life.
The experience far surpassed my expectations. Thank you for the greatest travel experience of my life.
I will go anywhere with you and Paul! Drawing readers of Spirituality and Health brought in the most amazing group. I have not attended church since moving to Gold Beach because most churches just do not get it. The group, under your leadership, got it.
Thank you again for the experience where I learned, laughed and made new friends.
Everything you shared with us was done with such care and generosity. You are right: life is a trip. Everything that applies to traveling well applies to living fully, authentically and passionately.
For me, something catalyzed during the week, and I now believe that I am truly a writer. I learned the ins and outs of travel writing and intimate details that might have bee left out of any other similar workshop. Your expertise and insights went beyond what any of us could have wished for. I plan to tell all my aspiring writer friends of this tremendous learning and personal growth experience. Kim Marie Murphy
Although I’ve never done a workshop like this before (who has????), I can tell that you live your passion, which makes it a true joy to adventure with you and learn from you. That passion rippled through me, the other participants, and the Maya people we were fortunate enough to encounter.
I wonder how I was so fortunate to have chosen to come to an amazing writing workshop. I’ve attended many, hoping they’d make me a prolific, published writer. I imagined this would be more of the same, with some sightseeing adventure thrown in. Little did I imagine being a journalist in a press corps welcomed with exceptional hospitality thanks to the leg work of our experienced leaders.
Judie and Paul were terrific role models for the successful journalist and photographer. Their special personalities and insights into the needs of each individual student writer along with their encouragement and affirmations were remarkable. To have Stephen, an Editor-in-chief, himself an outstanding writer, edit our work with such grace and help, was far beyond my expectations for “another” writing class.
Each day would have been grueling under the command of our “Boot Camp” instructor; but instead, it was fun and important to learn what it took to be a journalist. Wonderful leisure activities were included. Time for a massage and a sailing trip around the Lagoon of Seven Colors, and entertainment from our Maya hosts and the Grand Fiesta our last night.
I came to Rancho Encantado without much excitement though I clearly wanted to be there. It took several days and your encouragement to come alive. I came home to Spring, trees blooming and the fragrance of hyacinths at my front door. My depression had lifted in Mexico and I’m renewed. Thank you again for your friendship and encouragement.
I can’t thank you enough for the wonderful week. It was truly fantastic, and I learned so much. I very much enjoyed the last night – meeting the Presidente and the dancing. To be left-brained, I greatly appreciated the following: the structure (which provided a container for our time), the content, the authentic place from where each of you came, the thought and detail that went into planning our excursions, the unusualness of the places and people we visited, your sharing how to give back, your belief in us as travel journalists. It was an affirmation–we already were what we wanted to be. You made me believe that.
I was extremely pleased and impressed with the course. It was much more than I expected. Excellent value for money. Judie, I’d follow you anywhere!
Let’s do it again.and again.and again.
Wonderful, extraordinary contacts with locals. Thanks for organizing all those with your inexhaustible energy. I feel privileged to be part of so many firsts.
Fabulous and phenomenal.you did magic! Your enthusiastic energy brought everyone out of their closets!
This workshop was a wonderful education not only in how to write but also how to travel. Paul has a gift for making photography and technical information accessible. Thank you!
You are professional and it showed in your information giving, examples, assignments and the insightful feedback you gave quickly, following our readings. The skills that make you a good information gatherer allowed you to simultaneously pick up on the students practicing in the field. It is only after completing the week that the privileged experiences we had has become apparent. Thank you for understanding as I went through my first writing group. In going through the exercise steps that we did, I was able to go from initially tentative feelings to immersion.
The retreat in the Yucatan was amazing. We learned a lot and Mexico will never be the same!
This was an incredible adventure. You opened my eyes and heart to the stories of the Maya people, their ancient culture and lore. I will never travel the world again with the same set of eyes. Love you!!
The workshop, the concept and the execution were brilliant. I am so grateful hat you shared your considerable expertise on travel writing. The excursions and activities you arranged were outstanding. I am leaving with a few dozen new friends, a couple of writing mentors, a rich coffer of memories and ideas for stories. Thank you from my heart.
Primo! Primo! I loved the teachers (talented and great instructors), the teachings (thorough, organized, informative, helpful), and all the field trips and sites. This was a workshop with serious demands and expectations, with time to play (and not just fluff and fun with a little work).
The workshop was well beyond my expectations. The activities were varied, fun and very informative. Your tireless energy as writers, editors, photographers and your passion for travel writing made it all happen. Gracias, thank you, thank you.
I’d like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for this WONDERFUL trip. I immediately accepted the fact that I would get no sleep on this trip, so the busy schedule was fun, not awful. I liked seeing everything In Guatemala and I wouldn’t cut anything out. Perhaps more hours in the day would be good–please do that, would you?
One of the signs of a good retreat is it’s ability to have the retreatant carry the fruits of the retreat back into ‘daily’ life. Of course much depends on the disposition of the retreatant as it does the persons leading the retreat. More importantly is the openness of both to the Spirit…
In my life and language, you were exceptional retreat leaders. I will be ‘unpacking’ this retreat for many years to come.
Sheila Barnes, Faith Formation Coordinator, Seattle University
I have not one complaint, not one disappointment and I loved every aspect of this Guatemala trip. It has been quite an adventure, to say the least.
This has been a trip I will never forget. It certainly lived up to the billing of teaching us to be a traveler and not a tourist. We had an opportunity to witness what happens when you travel with an open heart. People are more friendly than I ever experienced before. It was great to communicate without speaking the language, although I will start working on Spanish at home. You inspire me. Your original concept of a tough “boot camp” is great. Do no let anyone talk you out of it. Stick with your gut. I hope you continue to share this experience with others in the future.
A church with Maya ruins, floor paved with large, square stones, even-textured, sealed with both grout and caulk. Small lions on the top of the church that originally roared when the wind blew through them. The town voted to close their mouths. The town voted to close their mouths? They must have heard us coming! You are an enthusiastic, dynamic leader that immediately made it safe for such a diverse group of individualists to come together and really fly. What fun to meet such great friends and long-term colleagues. I loved it. I can’t wait to see you again! I can’t believe that I laughed so much I pulled a muscle!
Your level of expertise and ability to fly by the seat of your pants is absolutely fantastic. The real experiences were grass roots and I loved meeting the local people and seeing all the sites. I wanted more time to write. For my first group experience, I loved it! I loved it!
I loved this trip. It helped that you told us the itinerary would change as people and events presented themselves. This way I wasn’t upset or discombobulated when it did change. The experiences were unique and personally rewarding. You were flexible and asked us our thoughts when you could. I never felt like cattle as you often do in groups. My outlook on travel and life really has changed. And for that I thank you. I feel I learned a lot about writing and photography.
Fabulous, special week. I would never have gone to the places we visited on Lake Atitlan or Solola on my own. I doubt I would have made it to Chichicastenango either. I loved the “untouristy” feel and the heart openings that were happening all week long. Judie and Paul’s expertise in writing and photography were really valuable. Though we were all exhausted at some times, I think the “pushing to beyond the comfort level” worked and helped all those who came (including me) stretch and grow–in the heart as well as the writing. I will definitely return to Guatemala.
Guatemala–sink or swim. Over all, great trip. I feel as though the speed and complexity were more of an advanced course vs a beginner’s course. And having said that, I feel as though I absorbed as much as I could (which is A LOT). The accommodations were great and all things Maya were a real treat. Classes and writing exercises were what I hoped for. I appreciate the reality of the experiences, the risk you took with the opening exercise. It was gutsy and helped the group to be a group. Our guides Paty and Ana are gifts and gifted. Mucas gracias. Take the show on the road again!
There is a lot more to see in this part of the world that I have now become aware of. Sometimes it seemed not to be objective journalism. In the ceremony with the Maya “counter of time,” we became participants.
I have really enjoyed this trip. It was so nice not to have to think about what I was doing and how to get there. you put together such a broad overview of the true heart of Guatemala. I enjoyed the people we met and the sites we visited. I am going home with a rich sense of this country. The group was able to bond so well, largely because of your openness and honesty.
Your energy and enthusiasm for life are infectious. Your classes can’t be improved. It was more than expected with people who became family in an astonishingly short time. I know new friends were made here. I fell in love this week–with Guatemala, you, my husband. The week was a love story. Continue! Where do you go next? Paul is a funny guy. His humor kept it light and his help with the camera and tips were invaluable.
It was a wonderful trip. You attract good travelers to travel with. You put enormous effort into this trip and it was special. Yes, things were crammed, but better to have too much than too little! You are indeed flexible. Paul is a wonderful counterbalance–smart ass that he is!
The entire trip was over eventful, frantically busy, and I loved it! I wish I had been able to spend more time writing, but I need at least 6 hours of sleep a night for survival! The test will be over the next six months–can I write a saleable article?
This truly has been a transformative experience for me–possible only because you created a safe space for us to take risks and grow. I have always believed that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. I was obviously ready and you were the right teacher–intuitive, caring and tough. The information provided was excellent and helpful. I feel better equipped to actually initiate the selling and publishing process and also better informed abut the actual writing. Hearing stories and listening to critiques was helpful. I’ll end now. There is more in my heart but no words to express it. Thank you.