Joy Hare watering orchids

This past winter, Joy Hare, who lives in Bath, Maine left the harsh New England winter behind for six weeks and traveled to the warmth of Costa Rica — a warmth reflected not only in its climate but also in its people.

Hot pink orchid

She volunteered at a women’s cooperative called AMASIA, where they grow and sell beautiful orchids, cacti, and ornamental plants. The cooperative was created in 1994 “to give women new opportunities and protection in a patriarchal society.” In addition to growing plants, AMASIA also plans to prepare food for individuals and events and offer cooking lessons.

Joy Hare with the "Orchid Ladies."
Joy and the “orchid ladies”

While Joy was there, she helped the four women who now run the “orchid farm” paint their kitchen and outdoor dining room.

"Orchid lady painting an orchid

She also taught them how to paint orchids, and together they created a mural for the kitchen.

Orchid farm mural

In return, they taught her how to cook delicious Costa Rican dishes like tamales and Prestiños (deep-fried pastry).

Joy told me that volunteering in Costa Rica had been on her bucket list for a long time and finally doing it was part of her “keep moving mantra!”

The orchid farm was started by women 25 years ago but they were about to close because they didn’t have the funds for the licenses they needed to grow and sell their orchids as well as cook and sell their Costa Rican foods. I helped them in the greenhouse with the orchids and we painted the kitchen and outdoor dining area walls. I taught the women to paint and they wanted to paint the orchids on the walls of the kitchen. Before I left, we painted a mural together. We did all this in a month’s time so that we could hold a fundraiser. The women made over $500 which covered their expenses for the permits. It was so exciting and heartwarming.

Joy Hare

Joy usually spends part of the winter in southern Spain, going to the same community of Andalucía for 14 years. She is currently working on a book of poetry and art inspired by her time there.

The name of my book is Andalucia Mi Amor. The poetry will be on one page, Spanish on one side English translation on the other. The next in between pages will be my artwork. Some ex-pats living in my community asked if I would start an art group for them five years ago and they have been attending every week ever since while I’m there so that is also very heartwarming!

Book Cover Andalucía Mi Amor by Joy Hare
Book cover

The Color of Happiness

By Joy Hare

When I arrive in Andalucia 
each year  in winter,
I am met everywhere 
by marvelous colors,
like old friends.

The bougainvillea,
colored in magenta,
mixed with pink and orange.
The cyclamen
in front of the flower shops,
paint a picture
in purples, greens and reds.

During and after the civil war 
the country was painted 
in greys of pain, loss and sadness.
Now it seems that Andalucia
with all her brilliant colors,
as well as the dark sea,
polka dotted with the blue of diamonds,
wants to heal these past wounds,
both outside and within.

Each dawn the sun 
reflects shimmering gold
on the white hillside houses.
That same sun says,
“Welcome, and may you spend each day 
with the color of happiness.

Painting by Joy Hare
Andalucia rooftops

A conversation about aging

For the past several months, I’ve been traveling throughout Maine interviewing people about their perspectives on aging. At 75, Joy has a lot of interesting things to say. We met at her home in Bath shortly after she had returned from Costa Rica and as we talked, I soon learned that whether she is traveling or at home she is not one who sits still for long.

Joy Hare at her front door/Conversations About Aging

Listen to my conversation about aging with Joy Hare, 75

Read a transcript of our conversation

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Who’s next?

Conversations About Aging airs every other Monday. My next conversation is with Shirley Weaver, who is in her 80s and lives in Kennebunk, Maine.

If you have any suggestions for people I should consider interviewing or you’re aware of a helpful aging resource in your community, let me know. In addition to the podcast, I intend to blog about what various communities, organizations, and individuals are doing to provide age-friendly services, support, and connection here in Maine. The best way to get in touch is to send me an email. Thank you!

Please share the podcast with friends, family, on social media, everywhere. You’re also welcome to become a member of our Facebook group Conversations About Aging.