Sunday, February 17, 2013

Guatemala Day Four - Chimaltenango + Panajachel

I feel likes bit of a broken record, but we are truly having an amazing time. Whatever I thought it was going to be like (and I was anticipating it was going to be pretty wonderful), it is soooooo much better. Seriously
Much of our day was spent travelling from Antigua to Panajachel, with a few stops along the way. This was my view for a lot of time....
First up was a visit to one of the Thirteen Threads groups, in Chimaltenango. It was our first opportunity to really interact with the Mayan ladies. The group started with five people, and they have grown to be thirteen (coincidence). They have a space where they meet, with a large outdoor area, several meeting rooms, a room with floor looms, kitchen area and bathrooms (with forced flush, using a bucket - like when the power goes out at home). This past November, the group started sharing the expense of electricity (using funds generated from the sales of their products) to "turn the lights on". The had previously invested in "security" for their meeting place, because it had been subject to several break-ins. Their focus is on weaving (floor loom and blackstrap loom) and products made from their weaving.
After having a bit of time to explore, watch them work, and try our hands at weaving (I snagged a really great video of Elaine trying out the floor loom), if we liked....we gathered together and the group gave a bit of a presentation. They told us a bit about their area, their group, their clothing and its construction, and their own personal histories. It was a very emotional sharing, and I think it goes without saying or presumption that everyone in attendance was affected by their experience today. I was able to take several videos during our visit, so I will have to try to figure out how to share then once I am back home again.
We all did a little bit of shopping, shared in some refreshments and then it was time to hit the road. It was so wonderful to meet Dora (below), who made two of the pieces I purchased. As with the experiences I have had at home, nothing beats making a personal connection with the creator of what you are buying....
So onto the journey....let's just say that it brought back memories of weekend trips to the Shack when I was a child in Tasmania...minus the barfing (at least in our van...LOL!). A very long and winding road....up a mountain....around...and then back down again. Repeat. Repeat. And repeat some more. For about 1.5-2 hours all told, I think....and maybe longer. Sometimes we were able see where we would eventually travel a couple of minutes ahead of time. Eventually we arrived in Panajachel.
I took lots of photos from inside the van, but they just seem to hint at what it was really like driving through the mountains...the varying terrain...the arrangements of the crops (on even the steepest of inclines -- I was really captivated by the agriculture), the clusters of communities, the simple shelters made from all types of very basic materials. I hope that I never complain again about the amazing life I have in Canada.
(Yes, that is exhaust. No, that is not unusual here.)
Shortly after lunch, we visited a Mayan Ruins, Iximche. Although it was (apparently) not quite as impressive as Tikal, it was still very interesting and I was glad that we stopped. So amazing to think that such a large area was home to just four families, hundreds and hundreds of years ago. There was a very special ceremonial altar / sacred place where photos were not appropriate that had a very serene, calm feeling. The Mayan people still visit there today for rituals.
We eventually arrived in Panajachel, a picturesque setting on the shores of Lake Attitlan. I was able to capture a few quick snaps on the drive into town, but then my camera was more than ready for a charge....
We met up with Mary Anne and had a fun night out on the town. More on that later....but for now I am off to bed. Need to be well rested in preparation for our exciting day tomorrow, when we get to meet the hookers! :-)