For FALL 2010's delicious offerings of books, art, food, film, and unique travel--check out the NEW ISSUE of our online magazine FEAST--you will not go away hungry-- http://www.feastofbooks.com/

Between issues, read our blog posts as we and our special guests share thoughts, ideas, and recommendations about books, art, food, film, and travel. We love to hear from our readers, so please post a comment! Thanks-- Rosemary Carstens, editor

SNAX ONLINE is moving during the first quarter of 2011 -- stay tuned!

Snax Online is undergoing a redesign and will be moving to a new location. Check back from time to time for a link. In its new format, this blog will cover a wider range of topics but also its usual five. In the meantime, keep up with what's happening in the world of books, art, food, film, and travel at http://www.FEASTofBooks.com --

See you in 2011!!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Magic in the Land of Volcanoes

Today's guest blogger is a creative freelance writer who seeks adventure and inspiration in exotic spots around the globe, keeps in shape mentally and physically with her yoga practice, and continues to progress on her novel. It's a pleasure to welcome LAUREL KALLENBACH! -- Rosemary


by Laurel Kallenbach

In February, I attended a creative writing and yoga retreat at the glorious
Villa Sumaya resort on Guatemala’s Lake Atitlán. It was the perfect blend of three of my favorite pastimes: writing, traveling, and yoga.

As our group did our early-morning Warrior pose, the volcanoes across the lake were a deep purple. Later, propped on colorful embroidered Guatemalan pillows, I scribbled away on my novel. From time to time, I looked up from my pages to gaze across the water at the volcanoes, now showing their green foliage in the full afternoon sun.

This was my sixth international retreat led by either
Writing Journeys or Patchwork Farms. Over the last eight years, I’ve stretched and written in Mexico, Ireland, Wales—and now Guatemala. There’s something magical about the camaraderie of fellow writers and yogis who share a spirit of adventure. I also believe there’s magic in combining yoga, writing, and travel. Yoga loosens me up, gets the juices flowing, and creates a physical and spiritual practice that frames my writing practice.

Guatemala provided inspiration and transported me out of the ordinary. Our group visited the lakeside village of Santiago de Atitlán, a bustling market center for the area’s craftspeople. It was a riot of color, especially the rich textiles of skilled seamstresses who weave exotic birds, such as the quetzal, into their clothing designs. I could feel the country’s creative (and entrepreneurial!) pulse while bargaining with the market’s sellers.

A Mayan shaman came to Villa Sumaya to perform a protection ceremony for all us gringos. After offering sugar, cinnamon, chocolate, and taper candles to the gods, he entreated them to cleanse our spirits and keep us safe throughout our Guatemala journey. How could I not feel creative in the hands of chocolate-sated deities?

And last but not least, there was the sheer, transcendent magic of writing. I’m working on a novel set in Kentucky—a world and culture far away from Guatemala—yet while I was imagining a Midwestern tornado, the Mayan winds blew a violent thunderstorm over Lake Atitlán. The lightning and deluge of rain eerily echoed the scenes I was writing. I felt the same weather-induced fear my characters experienced as the tornado hit their town.

There are many types of journeys, but I’m especially fond of these writing and yoga retreats. They stretch my personal borders—taking me to unique locales and into that most adventurous of places: my own creativity.

I'd love to hear about your own best places to write or be inspired--is it a cozy nook at home, an exotic location that brings you new connections and ideas?

LAUREL KALLENBACH is a novelist, freelance magazine writer, and world traveler who lives in Boulder, Colorado. You can contact her at
Laurel@ecentral.com. Read Laurel's article about staying healthy and fit while traveling in the March 2008 issue of Experience Life magazine at http://www.experiencelifemag.com/issues/march-2008/fit-body/have-body-will-travel.html

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I find that the best places to write are places where I am surrounded by any kind of art. I love museums and jazz clubs and beautiful architecture as inspiration. Even just a cup of the most wonderful and delicious cappuccino you've ever sipped with an artfully designed foam heart can do the trick. When you see the fruit of other people expressing themselves fully and deeply, you can't help but be inspired to do the same for yourself!

I agree that traveling can be a path to inspiration as well. Being in a culture completely different from your own brings out new ideas and connections between yourself and the rest of the world.