Travel Postcard: Mayan Ruins & Weaving Cooperative

21 de Junio 2017 – 22 de Junio 2017

Hola amigos,

We’ve reached the final few days of our journey across the beautiful country of Guatemala. Feelings of bittersweet emotion are sweeping through our minds as we pack up our belongings and make way to the last city on our itinerary -Antigua. Our group is excited to visit Antigua for a few reasons. First is to leave behind the chilly 50 degree highland temperatures of Tecpán and shift into a moderately warm climate where the temperatures average in the 70’s. Second reason is that we have our fingers crossed that we’ll have access to hot water (relatively hot of course) because the cold morning showers are something we haven’t gotten accustomed to. And third is to spend the rest of our journey exploring the original colonial capital of Guatemala and visit the famous mercados (street markets).

Before arriving in Antigua, we visited a weaving cooperative in Ciudad Vieja which is located in San Antonio Aguas Clients. Visiting the cooperative was an informative and inspiring experience for me. What’s unique about this group of vendors is that the cooperative is composed of all women. These hardworking women are known for their high quality textiles and fair prices. Due to the monopolization of the general street markets, this group of 8 women came together and created their own market within the confines of their home. Upon walking into their home we were immediately welcomed with warm smiles and showered with fresh rose petals. Now that’s how you make an entrance! The women of the cooperative were so eager to have us visit and I felt like a part of them by the end of that experience.

The procession and welcoming continued as the women of the cooperative introduced themselves and prepared to perform a traditional Mayan dance. Thus far, I’ve been really amazed at the amount of love and respect that Guatemalans have for their country and their culture. Growing up, I was raised in a very traditional Indian household. I learned how to speak our national language (Hindi) and state language (Gujarati) simultaneously with English from a very young age. Coming from a culturally rooted background and traveling throughout Guatemala has given me a new-found appreciation for the values I was brought up with, and for that I am grateful.

 

IMG_6086

“Intricate textiles hang like mosaic tiles across ropes” – San Antonio Aguas Calientes 

IMG_6089

A Guatemalan woman showing students how to weave. Women like her spend 8 hours on their knees sitting on carpets made of corn husks in order to create such high quality textiles. 

 

IMG_6092

Dressed in the traditional Guatemalan attire by Faustina. The attire consists of 3 pieces- a long skirt, a belt and a blouse. According to Mayan beliefs, the skirt represents the underworld, the belt represents the natural world and the blouse represents the upper world. When worn together, a sense of harmony is created. 

At the weaving cooperative the ladies were kind enough to teach us how to weave. Although I didn’t take a spin at it myself, I observed my classmates who picked up on the skill quite fast. Definitely impressive! It’s insane to think that the blouses and skirts that you see us wearing in the picture take anywhere from 4-6 months to weave and complete. In a day and age of fast fashion, as consumers we lose appreciation for the craft of creating apparel. We take clothing for granted and devalue the producers of that clothing. The world of fashion changes overnight, and as materialistic consumers, our mentality changes with it as well. We begin blowing money on useless items that are one-hit wonders. We’ll wear an article of clothing once or twice and then to the sack pile it goes with “yesterdays fashion.” Meeting the women of the weaving cooperative, observing the tedious work that they do on each textile and the amount of pain they endure sitting in fixed positions overtime has made me re-evaluate how I’ll invest in my clothing in the future.

 

Off to the Mayan ruins we go!!

Just before the rain caught up to us again, we made way towards the ancient Mayan ruins at Iximche (meaning “maize tree”). At the Mayan archeological site we walked through the museum and discovered numerous pyramid temples, ancient Mayan ball-courts, and some of our group members even watched a Mayan fire ceremony towards the end. The stop was short and sweet, just the right amount of time to explore and take pictures before the heavy evening rainfall.

IMG_6068

IMG_6069

A true Californian – wearing sandals in the pouring rain while visiting an ancient Mayan archeological site. 

The bus ride continues with warm rain showering us in a dewy mist. The clouds are hovering lower and enveloping us into a grey shadowed nucleus. We are headed to our final destination this afternoon – Antigua. The last day is reserved for us to act like the true tourists that we are and roam around the populous city. I’ll be sharing my explorative discoveries with you all shortly.

Till then, take care.

Mucho Amor,

Ashna

XOXO