Dreams do come true

WHEN YOU LEAST EXPECT IT

Vietnamese woman-johatcherretreats

Don’t ever give up on your dreams.  Sometimes they come true when you’re not even thinking about them.

Years ago, I was visiting a winery in Napa Valley. In the showroom there was a photographic exhibit of women in India. As I stood in front of each picture, I felt touched and mesmerized by the faces I saw in the photographs.

I wanted to know more about the women and about the photographer who took the photos.  I felt moved and inspired. The colors caught my eye first. The rich intense colors seemed to match the beauty of the women.

I decided then and there that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to make photographs of women around the world.

Immediately the inner critical voices said to me. Jo, you know that’s impossible.  How in the world would you do that?  How could you have the money or the expertise to photograph women in another country?

That was 5 years ago.

As many of you know, I was recently in Vietnam. When I returned home and looked through my photos, I had the most incredible aha moment.

There they were…the Flower Hmong women at the weekly market.  Their ruddy faces, worn by the sun…staring back at me from my computer.  There in front of me were women dressed in colorful hand sewn outfits.

Flower Hmong woman-johatcherretreatsThese women touched me. I was unable to communicate with them except for when I took their picture, I showed them the digital photo I had just taken and received beautiful smiles back.     [Read more…]

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Traveling with the Women of Vietnam

Traveling can teach you many things. My recent visit to Vietnam provided me with new insight about the lives of women in the Sapa Valley region, their ability to live close to the land in very difficult situations and what we can learn from these strong women. Vietnam Rice field waterfalls-johatcherretreats.comAs with so many places when we travel as tourists, we get a mere glimpse into other people’s lives. I don’t pretend to know much at all after a few days journey into a small region of Viet Nam.

Yet the experience made me pause and think about how we live our lives. These women live so differently than me and yet I felt a sense of connection with them and their lifestyle.

I’m always interested in the women. Women of Vietnam [Read more…]

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When the Unexpected happens…What I learned

A conversation to have with yourself when the worst is over

Here’s part 2 of the story I wrote last week about our scary volcano trip.  If you missed the first part, you can read it here.  And stay tuned for the end to know the real learnings in this adventure.  

I left off when we looked in the back of the truck and it was completely empty.

Where was my backpack?  My purse?  Did they unpack it with the other guests at the last hotel?  For a fleeting moment, I thought, you know, we’ll get our stuff back.  It will just be inconvenient.  I’ll have to just suck it up and sleep in my clothes tonight. 

The driver said he would bring us our bags the next day.  Before we left for the airport. 

Right.  I believed him.  What else to do at this point?

There was no one at the hotel which was dark and locked up tightly.  The owner had apparently given up on us as we were the only guests that night and he’d gone home.   

Hidden Pleasures Resort near the volcano

Our hotel which was locked up tight

Once again, adventure. Boiling pots.

We just wanted to get back to the airport for the flight back the next day.  Please.  I just wanted to see my granddaughters again. 

The three men searched in darkness, to see if they could find someone to let us in our room.  Oddly, they found a set of keys on a ledge somewhere & opened up one of the rooms for us.  So bizarre but welcome.

That night lying in bed, staring at the ceiling of the tiny thatched roof, under the mosquito net that draped around us,  my husband and I wondered, well, who knows we’re here?  Will someone come to take us to the airport? 

We had no food, no water, just ourselves.  We fell into an exhausted but fitful sleep while we waited until daylight. 

[Read more…]

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What to do When You’re Faced with the Unexpected

In every journey or adventure, there will be the unexpected, the low points, the funky stuff that happens.  This is true for travel or for life.  And there are always lessons to be learned.

It was shocking.  And scary.  And life changing.

It all started a little bit wonky, the beginning of our trip to see the live volcano on Tanna in the South Pacific island of Vanuatu. 

That tropical morning we got off the plane from the main island of Vanuatu.  I pulled out my reservation sheet & for the life of me, I could not find the name of the hotel we were booked in.  There were people everywhere, pushing, shoving, loading up people and baskets in trucks.   

Jo Hatcher Retreats

Boarding the Air Vanuatu flight to Tanna

A Ni Vanuatu man ran up to my husband and I and looked at our papers. I’m not even sure he could read English but he said something like…”you got the voucher, come with me.”   [Read more…]

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What a Volcano Taught me about Courage

Standing on the edge of hell

Mount Yasur Volcano - Vanuatu

Approaching the mighty Mount Yasur

I’m all about adventure.  And I’m also a chicken.  AKA scardy cat.   This is part 1 of a series of adventures I had recently while traveling in the South Pacific. 

I heard the rumbling, then an explosion.  The thunder was coming from somewhere deep, and it was primal.  The ground shook beneath me & I felt the same way I’d felt when I’d been caught in Japan’s huge earthquake in 2011…terrified.

I wanted to run back down the way I came.  I asked myself, what was I thinking?

 

Volcano lava climbing

Climbing up the lava to the volcano

My husband and I arrived on the remote island of Tanna in Vanuatu, an island nation in the South Pacific, to climb up to one of most active volcanos in the world.

Here was a rare opportunity to stand on what seemed like the edge of hell.  But it was the unpredictability of what was happening that freaked me out the most.

I stood on the rim and peered down into the throat of the volcano…the earth coughed up blazing lava every few minutes.  [Read more…]

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