Lake Atitlan , Guatemala
There are rumors of magic in these waters..
But while I was at the lake, I happened to find magic almost everywhere else...Lake Atitlan is a one of the biggest freshwater lakes in Central America. And -it is lined, on all sides,
What the *&#@!!
On the plane from Mexico City, a very old woman sitting next to me, nudged me and motioned for me to look out the window and whispered...
And sure enough, there in the distance was a clearly defined smoking haze, well, erupting, from a volcano..
Magic, I sighed, wistfully..
Who was this old woman beside me, with the sparkling eyes ? I looked around the plane at the comfortable postures and easy smiles of my fellow passengers.
Who are these beautiful people?
In a country steeped in ancient civilizations, mysterious traditions, and just the perfect amount of folklore..
There is magic everywhere,
And I found a whole lot of it tucked away in the hands of very unassuming looking women. I felt myself drawn to the beautiful, subtle magic they possess. This calmness, this knowing..
Women were owning it everywhere I looked. No offense to the men or whatever, But this jam is all about the ladies..
And the ladies, let me tell you, they are killing in in Guatemala...
So, enamored as I was, I set out for Maya Traditions. There I was to meet Elisiana Diaz & her staff of smart young female interns, coming to Panajachel from all over the world. Maya Traditions is one of the first fair trade initiatives in the area, founded by the late Jane Stiller Mintz, and has some amazing weavers and dyers working with them. I had set myself up to meet the crew and attend a brocade demonstration, and had decided to walk there, my first morning in Panajachel. It seemed like it would be a nice walk, towards the outskirts of town, away from the tourist bustle..
Seemed like a good idea. Of course I got lost about a dozen times. And definitely, 100% embarrassed myself trying to ask directions in my terrible Spanish. I also mistook the time of the meeting, so I showed up an hour early.
Then, I burnt my face walking around in the blazing tropical sun, trying to kill time for said hour. When I finally was able to sit down with Pascuela for a brocade weaving lesson/interview, I was mildly stunned and -looking at my notes now, possibly a bit delirious.
Very typical Hope + Twine.
This lady, sadly, was not killing it.
But Pascuela was. Beautifully soft spoken, incredibly patient and detailed. Though barely five feet tall, she seemed incredibly strong, in her quiet, graceful way. She was infinitely patient, as she set about teaching me to brocade. And as I studied her movements, amazed, I kept thinking, "How could you have the patience to do this?! " And how on Earth did she learn this impossible craft? ( she used to watch her mother weave and imitate her movements) Now, after 15 years of practice, she is a master at brocade. And with this talent, handed down through generations, she can earn an additional income and help to provide for her family.
She has traveled for hours on the local bus ('the chicken bus") just to get here for this lesson. This is her livelihood. And her family and community are much better off because of fair trade organizations such as Maya Traditions.
And, as the concentration on her face belies, she is a focused, powerhouse of strength. Is that what makes her so adept at the precise, frustrating, and yet incredibly rewarding art of weaving?
And again, my lack of patience rears its ugly head as I fumble my little brocade project. 'why wouldnt you just give up' I inwardly screamed as I tried to imitate her. The counting of the threads, her quick repetitious movements. The tiniest signs of progress emerged in the picture opening up before her...
Of course, I had my answer right there.
Progress. She is making headway, slowly but surely. And she is working on a much larger picture than the one in her embroidery here,
Pascuela will now be able to provide a better life for her children.
If you wish, you can purchase one of our handcrafted throw pillows and be a part of making socio-economic advancements in the lives of women and children in Guatemala possible.
Many thanks to Pascuela and all of the amazing women at Maya Traditions in Panajachel, Guatemala, for sharing your stories, your hopes and your light with me,
Peace and Love
Hope + Twine