Today we took a break from our work building the cook stoves. Our Transformational Journeys leader arranged for us to go by lancha (small boat) to 3 villages in the caldera of Lake Atitlan. Each village was very unique & showed us the different dress of both the men & the women in each community. The 1st was Santiago Atitlan where women wore embroidered yoked shirts and traditional skirts and women also wrapped belt-like fabric around their heads which was an art-form in itself. They often then drape another woven cloth over the top of their head. The men wore white embroidered and woven pants to their knees. We were also fortunate to arrive right as their was great celebration and parade to celebrate the day of their St.Santiago (James), we saw many youthful bands, great costumes and much celebration. We then took Tuk Tuks on what seemed like a wild video game ride to the church. This is where many people sought safety during the 36 year war which just ended in 1996. We saw worshipping locals bring offerings to the St. and the local altar guild of women preparing beautiful flowers for the altar. After quick shopping for local art and fabrics we then continued on the lancha to Panajachel. In Panajachel we felt like we had arrived in Gringoland as there were many signs in English where many shops and restaurants catered to tourists and expats. Here there was much shopping for local finds and the women had headdresses representing their own communities. Last we arrived at San Antonio Palopo where the women wore the same dark blue skirt & blue woven shirts with blue headdresses. We visited a church up the hillside village through narrow walkways and many steps. The view was terrific. There we were welcomed by a local woman who guided down to a pottery shop where we saw them making and hand painting the lovely pottery they are know for. After seeing pottery being thrown and painted we then went to a 40 woman co-op where they were weaving amazing fabrics of cotton and silk. Late afternoon we arrived back to our home of San Lucas Toliman where the women's local weaving pattern of red and white and a specific change of width of each row was combined with little pictures of multiple color dogs. I enjoy the colorful displays as they will wear one pattern on their top and something completely different on their skirts.
We got back on time to have a dessert cooking lesson to make rellonito of plantains with sweet black beans inside. Later we will hear from Felipe about how he dry-dries and roasts coffee, and also about direct trade coffee.
After our day of rest we are excited to getting back to making our cook stoves again tomorrow in San Jose, Guatemala where we will continue to learn about the beautiful locals.