If there is one thing that first struck me about Guatemala it was the colorful fabrics and textiles we saw everywhere. Mayan women wear traditional clothes and since the indigenous population in Guatemala is around 40%, its easy to understand why the streets and markets are full of color. Last time Danny was here he bought a rug from a weaver associated with the school. For the last 6 years I’ve heard about this man, his home, and the traditional weaving patterns he makes. Six years ago Danny made a trip to the man’s home to learn about the process and watch him and his family make rugs, blankets and other traditional woven items. Thursday we walked out of school and voila, there he was. Excited, Danny re-introduced himself and Luis swore he remembered Danny. We chatted about the woven items, his family and generally caught up. Turns out the school had a trip planned for Saturday, so luckily we got to meet his family and see how they weave.
Twice a week Luis commutes to Quetzaltenango from Momostenango. Saturday we headed out to Momostenango via Chicken Bus (my first one). About an hour later and a sore butt, we got off the bus at a small group of homes precariously perched on the side of a mountain. We climbed down the dirt path and found ourselves in a small wooden hut with wooden looms, spindles and woolen thread. Luis explained his weaving process to us from start to finish in a slow even spanish that even I could understand. Turns out his family uses only natural dyes for their textiles, and he could tell us every plant used, how long it needed to soak and when the flower was in bloom.
The entire family is involved in the weaving process. They shear the sheep, clean the wool, spin the thread, dye the threat, and even the smallest ones do the weaving. With genuine smiles on their faces, the kids shared with us what they were doing and allowed us to inspect their work.
Trusting us perhaps too much, Luis allowed each of us the chance to stitch a row on his latest textile. Lets just say, I might have a new career in weaving, although Luis probably thinks differently.
After he finished the demonstration, and we bought all that we wanted, Luis invited us into his home for tortillas. Hard at work over a wood fire in a small mud hut, his wife baked tortillas like a champ. Warm and tasty, we covered our tortillas in avocados, picante sauce and beans. Besides being delicious, it was incredible being able to share a meal with his family. We ate our fill, and even after Danny refused another tortilla, Luis’s wife insisted he eat another. Some things are the same no matter the language, no matter the place.
Textiles in hand, we headed into Momostenango with Luis and his son for a brief tour before heading back to Quetzaltenango. Maybe we bought too much, maybe we paid to much, but the demonstration and the tortillas are something I will probably never forget.