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Archive for the ‘Panajachel’ Category

A little about Panajachel, also often called Pana. Pana is 2.5 hours from Antigua. The town is a popular stop for tourists who come here to admire Lake Atitlan which is surrounded by Maya villages and several volcanoes. A lancha (speed boat) serves as transportation to the other villages. We have been to Pana before and this time came primarily to meet Maya Traditions, a non-profit organization that works with Maya weavers and crocheters and whom I found was looking for some help with product design. They are actually located in Jocanya which is on the other side of the river in Pana. Jocanya actually does mean on the other side of the river. This is a Maya and ladino community with unique narrow alleys ways for roads. It is much quieter than Pana and far from touristy.

Alley in Joconya

Alley in Joconya, on the other side of the river in Panajachel

Maya Traditions looks like a very good organization, they are a fair trade producer and wholesaler with a showroom in Jocanya and one in the states. We talked to three volunteers (two were probably employees), checked out the showroom, the volunteer’s accommodations, the herbal garden and other communal facilities.

Maria Clara, a Maya weaver with Maya Traditions

Maria Clara, a Maya weaver with Maya Traditions, she is back strap weaving which done by women, men do foot loom weaving. In Honduras women do foot loom weaving.

We actually spent only one night in Pana and had a brief meeting with Jennifer (a Canadian) who is involved in the business side of the crafts. The next day we headed over to Santiago Atitlan as we didn’t get much of a chance to see it last time because I had gotten severely sea sick. Unfortunately, this time I was totally fine but Lenny wasn’t feeling too hot from the moment he got up….food poisoning. Ah, so common here! We made it to Santiago, which is a good size Maya town and is well know for housing Maximon.

Since Lenny wasn’t feeling so well I decided we should stay in a peaceful place with nice views. So we stayed at Hotel Bambu which was pricy ($60 US) but situated in a beautiful setting.

View from Hotel Bambu, Santiago Atitlan

View from Hotel Bambu, Santiago Atitlan

The day was spent with Lenny in bed, getting up mostly to throw up copious amounts of food and accompanied with diarrhea. There wasn’t much for me to do but take little walks on the grounds, read and feel bored. Hotel Bambu had beautiful spacious rooms which is unusual here, but was very impersonal. The clientele was not inclined to say ‘hello’, so not our kind of place. The stuff was somewhat impersonal too. In the afternoon, some marimba music could be heard from across the lake. It turned out it was being played by an evangelist church which is a common thing for them to do. Anyway, the same music was playing over and over again until late at night. I had my ear plugs in but it still filtered through. At some point it felt like torture! They are so mean!

Lancha from the dock of Hotel Bambu

Lancha from the dock of Hotel Bambu, we waited an hour for the public lancha but because it wasn't full it wouldn't take off, so we finally took this private one that other guests had booked. Made us an hour late for our appointment with Maya Traditions.

Anyway, the next day, Lenny felt quite weak but substantially better having emptied out his stomach completely. Maya Traditions had invited us to join a tour group that was visiting them so we got to see their grounds and facilities. They are currently looking for assistance with product design with textiles. If anybody is interested read the position on idealist.org. (if the link doesn’t work, search for product designer + guatemala)

Lenny and Jennifer in Maya Tradition's showroom in Panajachel

Lenny and Jennifer in Maya Tradition's showroom in Panajachel

I took some fabric samples and will see what I can come up with at home and hope to return next year for a few months to work further with their weavers and crocheters.

Some bags produced by the weavers of Maya Traditions

Some bags produced by the weavers of Maya Traditions

Dolls, crochet hats, and ikat work by women of Maya Traditions

Dolls, crochet hats, and ikat work by women of Maya Traditions

The Maya women with Maya Traditions work on a herbal garden full of herbs useful for medicinal purposes. This project aims to keep their knowledge of herbs alive and creates income for the women. One of the herbs they grow is Pericon, mexican marigold. We bought some as its use is for stomach pain, cramps and diarrhea. It is a mild herb that you can take daily. (I think I need to take some right now – feeling a wave of cramps). Although I have only gotten diarrhea once during this whole trip, I have had many cramps that just come and go. Lenny seems to have caught a serious stomach virus, possibly a strain of the E. Coli (?) virus as he is still not 100 percent.

Pericon (Mexican Marigold) for diahrrea, cramps, and stomach pain

Pericon (Mexican Marigold) for diarrhea, cramps, and stomach pain, organically grown in Maya Traditions garden

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Careful what you say! There we were glad to have gotten away from Antigua and to be in more laid back Panajachel. We were enjoying a walk down the main road and heading down to the lake (Lake Atitlan). Walking down Santander is a bit weird. The road is flanked and jam packed with artisan stalls, it’s a bit much really. On top of that, there are kids, Maya women, and men walking around with products they want YOU to buy. Lots and lots of products and quite cheap price wise!

An alley off Calle Santander, full of textiles, carvings, paintings

An alley off Calle Santander, full of textiles, carvings, paintings

I've included this shot because I liked the group of Maya women seated in the background.

I've included this shot because I liked the group of Maya women seated in the background.

You know how it is, you get to a new place and you just want to walk around, to absorb it, to admire it. So here comes this little Maya woman (at almost 5’3″ I’m kinda tall here!) with a gold capped tooth and she’s got a mound of fabric slung over her shoulder and one textile piece open for me to admire. “Very good price for you” she says, “look…what colour you like”. So I said “no, gracias, mas tarde, mas tarde” (later, later) which I think I kinda meant.

And sure enough, later that evening we’re walking around again and we see the same woman. She very clearly remembered me saying “mas tarde” and with a huge smile she reminded me that I said so. Unfortunately she didn’t have anything I liked, so I only bought a muñeca (a little doll that you put under the pillow and that will take care of your worries). I had to because I had practically promised her!

Anyway, next morning we’re walking around. Again! I mean what else do you do? And she spotted me once again and she goes “Me Juanita, yesterday you say “mas tarde, mas tarde, yes, me Juanita…” Wow, hang on there little woman, I didn’t know “mas tarde” carried on for ever and ever. So now I reminded her that yes I said that but that was yesterday and I bought a muneca. Remember? She had the same stuff as yesterday, so I really wasn’t interested but then she asked if I could buy her a coke, so yes I said, no problem. This seller from Pana was persistent but sweet!

Here I just bought a Pepsi for Juanita, weird shot but you can see how much stuff she's carrying

Here I just bought a Pepsi for Juanita, weird shot but you can see how much stuff she's carrying

Now as a sidebar, a local said that you should be careful when you buy them something because they won’t forget it and will keep on expecting you to buy them a pepsi for ever. That was a bit negative for me because I did appreciate Juanita’s efforts.

Here's the muneca I bought from Juanita, they're usually 6 Quetzales but I paid 10 Q. That's OK, not a big difference. Munecas are worry dolls, you put them under your pillow when you go to bed and they take your worries away. The are Maya women that carry babies and baskets or other parcels on their head. When you buy, they usually have magnets so tourists can put them on the fridge - a modern use as most people don't know what they stand for.

Here's the muñeca I bought from Juanita, they're usually 6 Quetzales but I paid 10 Q. That's OK, not a big difference. Muñecas are worry dolls, you put them under your pillow when you go to bed and they take your worries away. They are Maya women that carry babies and baskets or other parcels on their head. When you buy them, they usually have magnets so tourists can put them on the fridge - a modern use.

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