Guatemalan Weaving Adventure

Mayan Handsmayan hands collage tour

Guatemalan Fair Trade Weaving Adventures

January 20-30, 2016

Host, guide, and translator Deborah Chandler, author:

Traditional Weavers of Guatemala: Their Stories, Their Lives
Learning to Weave and Guatemalan Woven Wealth

mayanhandsny@mayanhands.org

To register: Mayan Hands Tour Registration Form

 What You Will Do

MH2– Meet Mayan Hands weavers In their homes and communities

– Try your hand at backstrap weaving

– Shop the world-famous Chichicastenango market

– Visit Mayan sites and museums, including Museo Ixchel, named for the goddess of weaving.

– Savor delicious traditional Guatemalan foods

-Explore Guatemalan Highlands, beautiful Lake Atitlan and the colonial city of Antigua.

 Click HERE for complete itinerary.

What You Will FindMH6

Experience the natural beauty of Guatemala and immerse yourself in Mayan culture, ancient and contemporary, in the homes of weavers, in extraordinary markets and museums and in your connections with Guatemala’s greatest treasure, her people.

You will return home with your spirit renewed and hope restored.  Plus of course, a suitcase of gorgeous handwoven fabrics!

The DetailsMH 1

– Trip cost of $1895 includes all lodging (double occupancy), most meals, local transportation, translation, entrance fees and $400 donation to Mayan Hands (with tax deduction receipt). Airfare and personal expenses not included.

– Discounts available for Mayan Hands supporters. Contact us for details.

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For more information and trip itinerary click here  or email Deborah Chandler at weavingfutures2012@gmail.com

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The beginning of the end…

August,19th,2014


The beginning of the end…

This journey is almost finished…

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The river in San Rafael

I left San Rafael yesterday, it was a sad goodbye but I leave with my heart full of joy and great memories !

The women prepared us a great meal! They prepared a soup with turkey in it, and some tamalitos (made of corn).

Deborah, Julo and Damaris were there, and we all celebrated at Gilberta’s house.

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Women cooking

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Deborah, Damaris and Julio

It was a busy day, the women arrived at Gilberta’s at 6 in the morning to start cooking. They were all smiling and making jokes, as they always do!

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preparing “tamalitos”

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women cooking

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Berta and Elvira preparing tamalitos

The women gave me a gift! A beautiful black huipil!

They are so nice, I was very moved…

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Abelina teaching me how to do some weaving techniques

They also helped me set up the warp on my backstrap loom, so I could be able to weave on it at my home back in Mexico.

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Abelina setting up the warp

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Me, weaving!

At the beginning of the day we were all very happy, Deborah and Julio arrived at 11am, but as the hours passed we started to feel sad. I couldn’t believe I was leaving that day!

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Eating and having a good time at Gilberta’s

But the hours passed quickly and by 3 in the afternoon, we had to go.

We all had tears in our eyes… it was a very moving goodbye!

But I know it’s not a goodbye.. it’s just a see you later!

 

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Mishel, Karen and me

 

 

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The women and me (and the Handwoven magazine)

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The women and me… the goodbye!!

I’m in Guatemala City right now… feeling kind of strange!

I spent 2 months living with these women and I got used to everything. Things like making tortillas, seeing women carrying stuff on their heads, or walking in the mountains became normal to me.

It’s amazing how we get used to things!

And here I am.. back in the city, where normal things like taking a shower with hot water seem amazing to me!

It was a great experience! One I will never forget.

Our paths cross for a few months, weeks, days, hours…. Seconds! But I will carry these women and their families in my heart for life.

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Berta, Elvira, Fulgencia, Abelina and Gilberta (from left to right)

I learned great lessons and meeting these women with great souls, so connected to nature, will make me a different person.

And I hope you will carry  a little bit of these women in your heart too…

This week Deborah will take me to visit some other places in Guatemala, and I’ll be finally going back to my home in Mexico City on Saturday.

So I say “wiila wiib” (goodbye) to you for now….

This is the END of this adventure… but I’m surely the BEGINNING of more!

 “We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.” – Anais Nim-

Wiila wiib’

Rocío Mena

 

Sacred threads, Sacred Lives

August 16th, 2014

versión en español

Sacred threads, Sacred Lives

 “Thread is sacred! He knows, and he feels…”

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View form Gilberta’s house

That’s what the women told me, when some of the threads we dyed with cochineal were full of knots, just after we finished washing them.

We were all trying to fix them, and while doing this, they told me:

 “ Threads know…they always know when we are in a hurry or when we are not happy. That is why we need to be in a good mood while working with them.

Right now, the thread is mocking us, because we were desperate to go, and now we are full of knots.

 When we are not happy, is better no to continue weaving or working, because the thread can feel it, and it gets difficult to continue.

 When we are weaving and we are in a hurry, it takes us more time to finish! And when we are weaving without any pressure or bad emotion, everything flows and we finish very quickly.”

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cochineal

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Fulgencia working with threads

All this time, I was very impressed with their ability to untie knots. They do it in such an easy way! Flowing, like dancing with the thread!

Unlike me, sometimes I can  spend  a lot of time trying to untie a knot, without any luck.

Now I understand it! They are like having a conversation with the threads…. And they have a natural skill to work with them!

That’s the way they interact with the world and with nature! Flowing with life…

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Abelina weaving on the backstrap loom

A couple of weeks ago they told me a similar thing about corn.

They say that is better to eat the corn they have planted. Because that way it has more “ uk’ux” , more HEART!

That’s how the old wise mayan men call it.

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Elote (corn)

They say you can feel the connection with corn, because you saw the plant grow and you worked the ground.

It’s like having a connection with all living and non living things! They feel and they listen …and LIFE talks to them in amazing ways.

I eat “Elote” (corn) in Mexico, but I buy it on the stores… This week I ate “ elote” here , they brought it from one of their fields. It was coming fresh right from the field to my hands.

And it’s amazing to tell you… it feels different…!

I would like to think that maybe I felt the corn’s “uk’ux”(heart).

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Elote (corn)

Gilberta’s House

I just moved to Gilberta’s, she has finished her house! Unfortunately I will be staying here only for 6 days! (instead of 13, as I did with the other women).

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Gilberta’s brand new house

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Gilberta

There’s no electricity yet! So we are using candles. It’s a different experience, and I think is ideal to spend my last days here this way… More connected to everything and without any technology.

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Gilberta’s house by night… no electricity!

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candles..candles!

This is my last week here in San Rafael! I can’t believe it.. time passes so quickly!

I’m leaving on Monday.. and it’s sad to think about it.

We have been dyeing this week, in order to make a review, and see if they have any questions!

But I think they are more than ready to continue on their own!

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yarn dyed with cochineal and madder

So don’t miss my last post next week! We’ll be having a goodbye party on Monday!

Deborah and Julio (From Mayan Hands) are coming!

Wiila wiib ‘

Rocío

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hearts working together!

If you want to read the whole story, from the beginning! Click here

August 7th, 2014

versión en español

Hearts working together!

This last week was crazy!

We have been dyeing , winding and packing to get more kits ready.

We were expecting the Handwoven magazine article until september, but for some reason we don’t understand, the article came out earlier.

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Women winding balls at Elvira’s house

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Some of the packages ready to go!

So that’s why we only had some kits ready. But we have been working a lot to send more kits as soon as possible!  We finished 117 kits yersterday! Now we just need to wait for them to arrive to the U.S.!!!!

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Abelina carrying the yarn and boxes form one place to another.

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Kits ready to go! Women smiling, the work is finished!

 

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Women packing the kits

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Elvira and Berta packing kits

 The Friendship towel kits

This project started like 5 years ago, and since then,  a lot of volunteers have been working to make this possible.

Catharine Ellis and Donna Brown came down here last year to teach the women more about Natural Dyes, and then last march Donna Brown came back for a week with Diane de Souza and me.

The towels were designed by Sarah H. Jackson.

Irene Schmoller from Cotton Clouds is helping to sell the kits without any profits at all.

There’s also all the Mayan Hands team in the U.S (Anne Kelly and Mary Joan), in Guatemala city (Julio Cardona), and Brenda Rosenbaum, the founder of Mayan Hands.

And of course Deborah Chandler, this couldn’t have been posible without her.

All this people working together to make this Project succeed!

Featured in Sept/Oct 2014 Handwoven

Featured in Sept/Oct 2014 Handwoven

The kit includes 11 balls dyed with different Natural Dyed colors: Dark cochineal, light cochineal, osage orange, natural, madder, light indigo, dark indigo and osage orange+indigo (green).

It also includes the instructions on how to weave 4 beautiful towels.

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Kits ready to go!

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Kit seen from the back, you can appreciate all the different colors!

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Friendship towel kit

TO READ MORE ABOUT THIS KITS  click here.

TO ORDER FRIENDSHIP TOWEL KITS  click here.

But of course we couldn’t be talking about this Project and the Friendship towels without this 5 incredible women: Fulgencia, Berta, Abelina, Elvira and Gilberta.

They had faith in this Project since the beginning, and they have continued working hard, even if they didn’t have any profit on the beginnning.

This last week we discovered I should have been spending 13 days instead of 12 on each women’s house. So I returned one more day with each one of the women.

Just like a perfect review for you to meet them:

Fulgencia

IMG_4295She’s the mother of three children: Chente (18), Glenda (16) and the youngest one (13).

They all go to school but the boys need to work some days by night, making bread. Glenda has   a Mayan Hands scholarship. Her husband works in Guatemala city, and he only comes home every two weekends.

They have a beautiful house on the other side of the river. It’s called Chisaliá.

I could describe Fulgencia as a joyful woman! She is very responsable, she always arrives on time and she really pays attention to the details. His husband is very good at fixing things, so they also fix bicycles and different things.

The children are always helping their mother. They all like winding balls! Glenda has learned how to weave from her mother, it’s amazing to see how the knowledge passes from one generation to another. Between them, they only speak in “achi” (mayan dialect), but they spoke to me in Spanish.

Fulencia & Family

Fulencia & Family

Berta

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She’s is a single woman, she decided not to get married, so he lives with their parents and youngest sisters.

She takes care of her nephew, he’s one year old.

She is very funny and  smart!

It’s easier for me to communicate with her! In this house they speak achí, but also a lot of spanish. She has two younger sisters living in that house. Miriam is 16 and she’s in highschool and Irma must be like 23, she’s studying at the universtiy to become a professor. We really got along well!

They live on the mountains, far away. To go to town we needed to walk like 30-35 minutes and then take a pick up. That’s the same for Fulgencia and Abelina.  They have hens and chickens to sell, as well as pigs.

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Berta’s family and me

Abelina

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She is Berta’s sister, she lives just next door. She has 4 children. Three girls: Mishel (8 ), Karen (14) , Leyli (19) and one boy: Edwin ( 16).

Leyli has a Mayan Hands scholarship.

I got along very well with those girls, specially Mishel! Abelina’s husband also works in Guatemala city, he spends some time in here and some time in the city.

In this house they only speak in spanish!!

Abelina is always smiling and making jokes.

She is also very good at math, and she is kind of the secretary of the group. She is charge of writing everything down on a notebook. (all the dyeing procedures)

 

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Abelina’s family and me

Elvira

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Elvira lives closer to town. To go to town you only need to get a pick up ( you don’t need to walk between the mountains).

She has 2 boys: Misael (12) and the oldest one ( 14).

Her husband left to the U.S eight years algo , but she barely hears from him. She’s alone to do all the tasks, because she doesn’t have any girls, to help her cook or clean.

She wakes up very early in the morning to milk the cow, and then she makes cheese to sell. Her parents leave very close to her, like 10 minutes away.

She’s always very busy feeding the ducks, hens, pigs, and taking care of her children. We dye at her house, this is the place where we have been dyeing since the beginning!

 

Gilberta

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I haven’t lived with her yet. Maybe this weekend!

She’s finishing her house!!! She will have a new house to live! Exciting! So we are waiting for her to finish it, so that I could go spend my last days with her.

She is a very joyful and active woman!

She is the leader of the weavers, she started the Weaving Project like 12 years ago.

She has one daughter! She’s already and adult.

 

They are all very honest, kind and responsable women!! and they all want to improve their income, so their children could have a better way of life.

And of course, they all get along very well! They are very good friends.

This was a longer post, but it was worthed, for you to be able to get closer to this women.  Next week I’ll be going to Gilberta’s…

I only have a week and a half left!

 THIS JOURNEY IS ALMOST FINISHED!

Don’t miss my last stories!

Wilaa wiib’

Rocío

 

The beginning of the adventure…

June 19th, 2014

Versión en español

Arrival to Guatemala

“This is going to be much more of an adventure than you thought it would be….”

It was the first thing Deborah told me when she picked me at the airport last Sunday morning.

The reason? Actually, I didn’t have a place to stay for my next two months in San Rafael. Normally, I was supposed to be staying in an empty house next to Elvira’s. It was her uncle’s house.

But for some reason I couldn’t stay there anymore.

I was shocked!  So we were just hoping for the best, hoping we would be able to find something when we arrive.

I stayed in Guatemala City for two days, meeting people, learning how to wind balls, how to measure them, and other interesting things in the “Mayan Hands” office.  It was great!

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View from Deborah’s house

On the road!

On Tuesday morning, Deborah and I left Guatemala City. It was an entertaining 4 hours drive.

I was just so impressed by how the landscape changed compared to last time I was here. The rainy season has arrived, so now everything is just like so GREEN! Breathtaking!

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Rabinal from the distance

Miracles

I was a little bit nervous… I really had no clue of how I would be spending my time and where I would be living the next couple of months. We had some clues of people who could be able to help us find a place for me to stay. So when we arrived to Rabinal we started looking.

But imagine our surprise when we found out that the women from San Rafael already had the answer! Gilberta told us that the women, the five of them, would be taking turns to host me, which means I will be staying a week or more with each one of them, at their home.

I’m just very excited! I’m going to be able to really meet the women, and see how they live. I can’t think of a better way to spend these two months!

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San Rafael, Guatemala

 Dance and color!

There’s a festival going on right now in Rabinal, so we had the chance to see a lot of traditional dances, kids performing with traditional costumes and masks, a Mayan ceremony, a parade, and of course we drank the traditional beverage called “chilate” (made out of corn and chocolate)

Colors are everywhere! And it’s just amazing to see the mix between the Mayan traditions and the catholic ones.

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Rabinal

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Kids wearing traditional costumes

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Mayan ceremony

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Women selling “chilate” (traditional beverage)

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Parade

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parade

At the end of the ceremony, the queen of the festival said some words in Achí ( a Mayan dialect) and in Spanish. With reverence,she said:                                                                                                                                                                           “Corazón del cielo, Corazón de la tierra” (Heart of heaven, heart of earth)

What a wonderful phrase I think!

I can’t find a better phrase to start my journey with.

Coming next!

Tomorrow I will be going to Fulgencia’s house. She will be the first one to receive me. I can’t wait to get there and tell you more about my adventures…

Don’t miss the next post next week.                                                                                                                                                                  Until next time!