Sunday, February 24, 2013

Guatemala Day 9 - Panajachel

Today was our last full day of hooking (we go back tomorrow for a half day). In the afternoon, we had a lovely celebration ceremony, complete with singing and dancing, sharing mutual admiration and gratitude, and exchanging some small gifts. I took pictures of each of the participants with their buddies - and their rugs - and Jody ran and got them printed and framed for us to share. One thing that we all noticed is that the Guatemalan women had very few photos or even access to cameras, etc., so this was a great idea (kudos Jody!) that will provide them with a lasting memento. The only tricky part was trying to get them to SMILE! They are so stoic.

So without further ado...and in no particular order (other than the order the photos were taken), here are the 2013 Tour participants and their buddies....

Marcella and Elaine
Yolanda and Kristen
Zoila and me
Carmen and Sandra
Maria and Sue
Ramona and Linda
Cindy and Lori
Marta and Donna
Paula and Jody
Glendy and Sally Ann
Rosmery and Mary Ellen
Yessica and Cathie

Now if you are paying attention, you might notice that I am wearing Traje (pronounced traw-hey). Zoila so sweetly brought me a complete set to wear "for one day only". It consists of a huipil (wee-peel = blouse), corta (court-ah = skirt), faja (fa-ha = belt). It was lots of fun to play dress-up!
We had an amazing dinner at a lovely bed and breakfast, with beautiful gardens and wonderfully smelling evening jasmine perfuming the air once it got dark. A very magical place that I would love to visit in the daytime - and better yet stay there.

Again, the days are starting to feel very long and we are eager to get to bed at night. 9pm feels like 11!

Guatemala Day 8 - Quejel + Chichicastenago

Today was an awesome day! We boarded two vans at 8am and hit the road to go and visit the home of Yolanda, in Quejel (key-hell). I snapped a ton of photos along the route....still fascinated by the scenery, especially the agricultural areas and the Solola men in traditional dress.

The other ladies in Yolanda's group were gathered at her place, and after a short walk in, past houses, animals and fields and climbing along dirt path ways...we arrived to a carpet of pine needles and a scene set for celebration.
Various ladies gave short presentations, talking about the activities of their group and the impact that sales of their products have made on their lives. It was very moving, even with the need for translation from Spanish to English, and sometimes the Chichi language to Spanish to English and vice versa, using multiple translators. They sang and danced and involved us in a group dance. It was lots of fun and it's pretty safe to say that everyone was touched by our time there.
3 sisters and their mother...and Nester - Zoila's cutie pie.
In this final photo you can see one of the faucets that Yolanda purchased with her rug money. she invested in 6 faucets for people in her community. What a generous soul.
After we said goodbye to all of our friends, we boarded the vans again, en route to the big market day at. Chichicastenango. Now that was a read experience, and total visual overload. I took lots (and lots and lots!) of photos. So many that I will try to take the best of them and make a separate post. Needless to say, we all shopped until we dropped - and several ran out of money! (Including me....but I did lend 100Q ~ $12.50US to Elaine... ;-) ).

Friday, February 22, 2013

Guatemala Day 7 - Santiago Atitlan + Panajachel

We woke up this morning after a windfall sleep in a very comfy bed. The Posada is wonderful. And I think I already told you that the food there is yummy, yummy, yummy. After a great breakfast, we had a bit of free time before we trekked into town. I had noticed the women doing the wash in the lake the day before, when we were riding in the Tuk-Tuk, so I was glad to be able to get some snaps.
We met up with Delores and she gave us a great walking tour. We visited both the church and several other traditional Mayan ceremonial shrines scattered around town, travelling up little alleys, walkways, and even into people's houses. Very interesting.
It was great to catch little glimpses of normal daily life during our stroll....
We were fortunate to be able to go and visit Jose and his family and get a first-hand look at family life here in Guatemala. Jose has been working with Mary Anne and Jody for the last many years, and as a result, now has a daughter heading to university. Pretty impressive, given that the majority have less than a grade four education. Their house is quite simple, but again, this is a (comparably) good situation. Three rooms: kitchen, workroom (where Jose does his embrodery work and the sewing machines are in here) and one bedroom, with one bed that everyone sleeps in (husband, wife, Mother-in-law and 4 kids). Such a contrast from the lives that most of us live.
Next up was some shopping! This area is known for their bird embroidery, and most of us indulged. I picked up some of the men's short pants and I am planning to turn them into pillows when I get home. The volume or hand embroidery is mind-boggling....and makes me want to learn how to do it myself! ;-)
It was back to the Posada for lunch, and then it was time to board the boat to head back to Pana.
We had the evening off, so after we settled into our new hotel, Elaine and I walked around in town and then had a quiet dinner. We are starting to feel a wee bit exhausted at the end of each day....