On Thursday we visited the San Antonio Womens’ Group in San Antonio, Belize, a few miles from the Hidden Valley Inn, a 7,200-acre resort in the middle of the Belizean pine forest. The chickens crept forward searching for a tiny piece of fried tortilla as the women gave us a schooling on how to grind corn for tortillas on a tradition molcajete.
When they began the pottery demonstration it was all I could do to stop myself from running forward, pushing the potter out of the way and taking that clay in my hands myself.
I thought of the summer that I borrowed a pottery wheel from the high school art department and tried to teach my father how to throw. He told me it was the most stressful thing he had ever tried to do, but all I feel at the wheel is this extraordinary sense of calm. And there I was, sliding my hands along the walls of slightly wobbly soup bowl — my first pot in over 10 years — in the middle of the jungle heat, surrounded by big, burly Belizean guides. If I would have known today was going this direction, I would have worn something besides my sundress and flipflops.
Covered head to toe in sticky, orange clay and filled to bursting with tamales (an immediate sedative), a tranquility overtook the afternoon and as we bumped along in our “car massage,” as the guide Fredy Pineda called the backwoods ride to the hotel, the countryside suddenly seemed just a little bit more radiant.