Retreat to Guatemala for a week

of Creative Writing & Yoga January 28 to February 4, 2017
led by Patricia Lee Lewis, Jacqueline Sheehan and Jane Mortifee.

About our Retreats

Our retreats include people with a wide range of yoga and writing experience, from beginners to professionals. We are all enriched by the diversity. While we will offer a daily schedule of suggested activities, writing and yoga sessions are optional: your time is your own.

The yoga is practiced in the early morning, in a safe, supportive environment with a deep respect for individual strengths as well as for areas of challenge or difficulty.

The writing is done in structured groups for about 3 hours each morning or afternoon and several evenings. You will have opportunity to write in an encouraging, confidential and inspiring setting, in response to exercises we suggest. You will be invited to share what you have just written, and to respond to the writing of others with what is fresh, what you like, what you remember. Patricia and Jacqueline will meet with individual writers to discuss their manuscripts or issues relating to their writing life and offer workshops on the craft of writing.

While Patricia, Jacqueline and Jane will always be where the schedule calls them, for you all activities are optional, and the entire week should be considered free time. Pick and choose from organized activities to make your own schedule. Take as much time each day as you’d like to set off on your own or with others. A long veranda offers handmade lounge chairs and tasseled hammocks for resting and reading. Visitors can swim and kayak in Lake Atitlan. Explore a nearby traditional Maya village or hike the magnificent lake basin. Villa Sumaya offers a library, outdoor hot tub and sauna, as well as therapeutic body work and water massage treatments upon request.

The retreat is designed and facilitated by Patricia Lee Lewis and Jacqueline Sheehan.

Combining Yoga and Writing

The practice of yoga, the joining of body and mind, can open pathways into the feelings, memories, stories and images embedded in the tissues. Writing workshops during the retreat are designed to help you shift your awareness and write from those deeper levels of consciousness.

Through Hatha Yoga, we will get in touch with our kinesthetic sense of self. We will use special meditation techniques to slow the mind and create a sense of the sacred. No writing or yoga experience is required – only a sense of adventure.

Beginning and experienced writers will find a supportive, encouraging context in which to write from their deepest selves. We will write in response to exercises offered by Patricia Lee Lewis, MFA and Jacqueline Sheehan. In a small group, writers will be invited to read their work aloud, and the group will offer simple affirmations of what is done well and what stays in the memory.

Additional Information on Staying in Guatemala before or after the retreat, Volunteer Opportunities, Language Schools and other resources

Learn More

About Lake Atitlan

Sunrise over Lago de Atitlan
View from Santa Cruz, sunrise over Lago de Atitlan

Lake Atitlan is a 45 square mile lake in the highlands of Guatemala, surrounded by volcanoes. It is famous for its natural beauty and ancient Mayan villages.

Lake Atitlan has been described by Aldous Huxley as the most beautiful lake in the world. Villa Sumaya is a picturesque hotel, restaurant, and retreat center located on the shores of Lake Atitlan. Staff members speak English and Spanish. We invite you to relax and discover Lake Atitlan’s living and legendary Mayan landscape.

The Villa Sumaya Retreat Center offers a beautiful lake-front facility that is perfect for writing and yoga practices. Our yoga studio provides a full panoramic view of the lake and its three magnificent volcanoes.


VS Room GuatemalaEach double bedroom is carefully appointed and fully equipped with an en suite bathroom/shower with hot and cold running water, electricity, and a spacious veranda where the lake is a stage. The veranda showcases the best of Lake Atitlan and Guatemala’s timeless nature and history. In your room you’ll be surrounded by flowing fabrics (the hallmark of Guatemalan artistry), hand-crafted ceramic tiles, and wooden furnishings.

Private rooms may be available for an additional fee.


Cafe Sumaya, the villa’s restaurant, caters to vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. However, adding fresh fish or chicken to your meal requires a supplement of $7 per meal. The cuisine, created from Guatemala’s cornucopia of fruit, vegetables, and fresh fish, meat, and poultry, is available three times a day. Baked goods are produced daily. Tea and coffee are available all day. Liquor is on your tab.

Optional Services: Villa Sumaya offers a full line of body work with highly qualified and experienced practitioners by appointment.

Click below to watch a video of Villa Sumaya

VS Video





About the Staff

Patricia Guat Bed


Patricia Lee Lewis, a native Texan, lives and works at Patchwork Farm Retreat in Western Massachusetts, where she shares the world with trees and stones, chickadees, writers and bears. A prize-winning poet, she is currently writing a novel set in West Texas in the 1930’s. For over 20 years, she has led weekend writing retreats and weekly workshops at Patchwork Farm and throughout the United States, and yoga and writing retreats at sacred sites around the world – in Guatemala, Mexico, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Spain, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Zimbabwe and New Zealand. 

Patricia holds an MFA degree in Creative Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and completed her undergraduate degree at Smith College, Phi Beta Kappa, in 1970. She is a member of the Texas Writers League, Straw Dog Writers Guild, the Berkshire Writers Room, and the American Poetry Society.


More about our staff here.

Sheehan-2014 author photo 210


Jacqueline Sheehan, Ph.D., is a New York Times Bestselling author of fiction. She is also a psychologist. A New Englander through and through, she spent twenty years living in Oregon, California, and New Mexico.   Her first novel, Truth, was first published in 2003. Lost & Foundher second, appeared on the New York Times Bestseller List and was followed by a sequel Picture This in 2012. Her third novel, Now & Then, was published in 2009 by Harper Collins.  The Center of the World, 2016, Kensington Books, is set partly along the shores of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. Her 6th novel, Tiger in the House will be published in 2017.

 She has published travel articles, short stories, and numerous essays and radio pieces. She also teaches at Grub Street in Boston, Maine Media, and Writers in Progress.

Contact Jacqueline at

Read how retreating to Villa Sumaya has inspired her. 


Mortifee-2016 webversioni


Jane has the RYT500 certification and has been practicing and studying yoga and various forms of meditation for some forty years. Her approach to yoga is gentle and accommodating to all levels of practitioners. She has been delighted to lead the yoga for Patricia’s Creative Writing retreats in Guatemala, Puerto Rico, and New Zealand. Jane is also certified in the AWA method of leading creative writing retreats. She has been active in the music industry, theatre, film and television for over forty years and was inducted into the B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame in 2002. She has recorded 3 CDs and is in the midst of trying to get her first novel published. Find out more at




E-mail your registration inquiries
Request Registration Form
or call (413) 527-5819


The Guatemala retreat was, in a word, bliss.  Sublime views, morning yoga, and a diverse group of inspired souls were the perfect find for my creativity.  I can’t recommend this retreat highly enough. Go now!” Jan

I am always amazed at how the combination of leadership, setting prompts and participants just draws out the writing. A safe and creative process. The retreat both draws you into your own writing space and draws you out to try new approaches and strengthens your ability to share your writing in a safe and supportive group.” Kathleen

Inventive, playful, intelligent, strengthening, centering, enlightening…This is not only about writing and yoga practice – it is a life-building experience.” Susan

I had a refreshing and creative week. I met extraordinary people and I can feel that the bonds we created will last in years to come. It inspired me to take a 9-month memoir class with the Univ. of Wash, which in turn inspired me to go back to school and complete the degree I started so many years ago. So a great big thank you!” Emily

“Patricia and Jacqueline create a safe, sacred space to gently explore writing and yoga in a gorgeous setting with an open heart.” Marie
“Guatemala was my first retreat with Patricia and Jacqueline, and will be the first of many. Much more than a writing retreat, this was a most enlightening experience.” Grainne
“Patricia and Jacqueline created such a warm, supportive community for exploring writing and ourselves in an unbelievably gorgeous setting.” Katie

Additional Notes

Joining us in Guatemala can mean much more than coming to our (wonderful) writing & yoga retreat!

Patricia and our other writers have benefited greatly from taking extra time in Antigua and Santa Cruz ~ to travel, learn, study Spanish, live with a host family, and to volunteer especially with children in need of loving attention.

Patricia helps with educational expenses (such a small amount goes such a long way) for a very bright, hard-working boy in Santa Cruz, whose father does not support him; and she volunteers her time (playing, feeding, laughing) with orphaned, disabled children at a hospital in Antigua. These experiences deepen and enrich her life.

See below for a few connections, in case you’d like to become involved too.

If you’d like more information from her about how to do any of these things, please send an email to

Places to Stay Before or After

These are the hotels in Antigua that our hosts at Villa Sumaya recommend. Check rates and policies about payment when you email your inquiry. Some take credit cards, others don’t. Check to find reviews from travelers who have stayed in the past. Just enter the city or hotel into the search function. Also, ask about airport transfers to the hotel when you make your reservation. Many hotels offer an inexpensive option. Please let us know if we can help you further.

Posada Los Bucaros
Tel: (011 502) 7832-2346
Dilla Cabrera, Reservations
Address: 7a Avenida Norte No 94 La Antigua, Guatemala

The Hotel is colonial style, all rooms with private bathroom, TV. cable, hot water, and there is a full equipped kitchen that you can use. They accept Quetzales, US Dollars and travelers checks. We will leave for Villa Sumaya from in front of this hotel.

Posada La Merced
Tel: (011 502) 7832-3197
Fax: (011 502) 7832-3301
Address: 7a. Avenida Norte #43 “A”, La Antigua, Guatemala
They also offer reasonable transfer prices from the airport, from $35 for 1 to 3 people.

Casa Florencia
Contact: Patricia
Tel. (011 502) 7832-0261
Fax. (011 502) 7832-7291
7a Avenida Norte #100 La Antigua,Guatemala
Payment is expected in cash only upon check-in. We accept neither credit/debit cards nor personal/traveler checks. Cash in USDollars or Quetzales is accepted.

Casa Florencia is a “Boutique Hotel” located seven blocks from the Main Square (5-10 minutes walk), two blocks from La Merced Church. Complimentary morning coffee, high-speed Internet available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. through the desktop computer at the lobby.

Meson Panza Verde
Tel: (011 502) 7832-1745
Tel/Fax: (011 502) 7832-2925
Address: 5a Ave Sur # 19 La Antigua, Guatemala

Casa Christina
Tel/Fax: (011 502) 7832 0623
Callejon Camposeco #3-A
Between 6th and 7th Avenida Norte
We have heard the rooms are cute. Good price value.

Casa en Famila Guesthouse

If you would like to experience a stay in a small guest house owned and run by a Guatemalan family, we can highly recommend: Casa en Familia, 7a. Avenida Norte y Calle Camposeco #3-E, two doors from Fernando’s Cafe (a favorite hang out for breakfast and internet access) and one block from La Merced Iglesia. It is owned by Karla Gonzalez de Budoa, telephones: 502 7832-2465, 502 7832-6503 (no email).

OTHER NOTES on Staying in Town

Fernando’s Café
corner 7th Avenida Norte & Calle Camposeca

The Rainbow Café
6th Avenida Sur & 4th Calle Poniente

Deliciosa Deli
3rd calle poniente (west third street), #2, phone 7832-0713
They have reliable yogurts, cheeses, granolas, and all manner of lovely edibles.

Tour Guides and Shuttle Services

Tours in Antigua – Elizabeth Bell is an excellent tour operator in Antigua and Tikal, and author of Antigua, Guatemala, the City and its Heritage.
Phone: (011 502) 5308-3623

Rainbow Travel in Antigua: (011 502) 7832-4202 ask for Luis Ramiez

Adventure Travel Center provides reliable shuttle service in and around Antigua-Guatemala City-Lake Atitlan and beyond.
5th Avenida Norte #25B El Arco, La Antigua,
Phone: (011 502) 7832-0162 / 7832-1540

On Lake Atitlan, Kayak by the hour, day or overnight trek
Los Elementos Adventure Center & Day Spa
Lee & Elaine Beal
Santa Cruz la Laguna
Email: or visit:
Phone: (011 502) 5359.8328 / 4095.3751 / 5107.1401

Sustainable Agriculture

For those interested in organic agriculture, small farms and nutrition for children, we recommend a visit to “Valhalla,” a wonderful organic macadamia orchard just south of Antigua, owned by Emilia Aguirre and her American husband, Lorenzo. They are part of a larger network of farmers dedicated to restoring trees to the denuded mountainsides of Guatemala, and to increasing nutrition of undernourished children through the production of the amazing macadamia nut.

phone 502-7831-5799 / 5671-9530

Much research and work to bring back the highly nutritious “Maya Nut” is also underway in Guatemala. Some of us would like to encourage the planting of both macadamia trees and maya nut trees in and around Lake Atitlan, especially in Santa Cruz, the pueblo we have come to love. For more information, see The Equilibrium Fund

Opportunities to Volunteer

Young student
Young student

If you’d like to make your visit to Guatemala more meaningful, there are a number of ways to volunteer your time.

Santo Hermano Pedro Hospital – One of the most rewarding experiences Patricia has had in a long time was to volunteer in Antigua to help out with orphaned children or adults with special needs at the “Santa Hermano Pedro” Hospital. If you are interested, please contact:

Obras Sociales del “Santo Hermano Pedro” Hospital
Directora: Evelyn Xiomara Toledo: Apadrinamiento y Voluntariado
6a. Calle Oriente #20
Antigua Guatemala
Telephone: 502-7832-0883/7832 0983 Ext. 107
email: or

It’s necessary to present a passport and two passport-size photos to become an “official” volunteer, and it’s easy (and cheap) to get the photos in Antigua.

Volunteers can sign on for a few hours, a couple of days or for weeks, depending on their time, and can choose to work with people of a variety of ages and needs. As Patricia was studying Spanish in the mornings, she volunteered for 2-3 hours in the afternoons, feeding, holding and playing with children with severe disabilities. Everyone can be helpful.

Amigos de Santa Cruz – Each year we see more and more results of the wonderful and inspiring work being done in the village by Amigos de Santa Cruz, under the leadership of Pat Torpie and Nancy Bingham, retired teachers from the U.S. we have personally witnessed the difference Amigos makes in the lives of bright, hard-working children who deserve good educations, but whose families, without the help Amigos offers, could not afford for them to go to school. We have met young women who are now graduating from professional courses, who ten years ago would have been forced to drop out of school at age 12. We’ve seen the change in children’s health since Amigos made simple water filters available for every household; and where children were often burned on open cook stoves, the stoves Amigos has brought in are now safe to touch–and use 70% less wood!

If you’d like to donate, you can do so by sending a tax deductible check to:

Amigos de Santa Cruz Foundation
PO Box 148
Lopez Island, WA 98261

or by PayPal on their website:
Read the Amigos de Santa Cruz newsletter

Language Schools

What could be better than staying on in this magical country and brushing up on your Spanish?

Projecto Linguistico Francisco Marroquin in Antigua:

And for personalized study with Hector Hugo Arriola Jiminez, Patricia’s favorite teacher in Antigua, please contact:

Also, Patricia is glad to answer questions about her experience.

And, to continue your Spanish when you get home, consider “Speak Shop” with Milvia Esmeralda Vasquez at–a videoconference online program with Antigua tutors after you travel——about $10/hour.

Additional Resources and Reading

Web Sites that may be of interest:



    Santiago Atitlan


    Native dress




Books you might like:

Please let us know of others you’ve discovered.

Guide books:

  • Lonely Planet: Guatemala, Belize & Yucatan.
  • The Rough Guide to Guatemala.
  • Moon Handbooks: Guatemala.

Other Books:

  • Bird of Life, Bird of Death. A Naturalist’s Journey through a Land of Political Turmoil. By Jonathan Evan Maslow.
  • Breath on the Mirror. Mythic Voices & Visions of the Living Maya. By Dennis Tedlock.
  • Long Life, Honey in the Heart. A Story of Initiation and Eloquence from the Shores of a Mayan Lake. By Martin Prechtel.
  • Scandals in the House of Birds. Shamans and Priests on Lake Atitlan. By Nathaniel Tarn with Martin Prechtel.
  • Mayan Folktales. Folklore from Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. Translated and Edited by James D. Sexton.
  • Blood of Guatemala: A History of Race and Nation. By Greg Grandin.

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