On Saturday we hiked up to Cerro de La Cruz, which is a mirador (overlook) of Antigua with a rather large cross on it as well. Afterwards we ate at a cafe called Doña Luisa Xicotencatl, which make yummy breads (banano is most excellent) and desserts. As an aside, banano is correct Spanish here, not banana.
We went to a birthday party for one of our program leader’s son who turned 1, and there was the most terrifying pinata I have ever seen. However, the cupcakes and sangria were delicious.
Today a few of us visited a nearby village/town called San Antonio Aguas Calientes, which has a co-op of 5 families who make beautiful hand woven goods. Our visit included a demonstration of the weaving, which was too complicated for me to even really grasp and be able to describe here. All I know is that it involved a leather belt connected to a loom, some wooden paddles and very large wooden needles and a whole lot of patience to wrap thread around some poles 480 times. They start kids weaving at age 7 so by the time they are ready to marry (at say 14) they can make some pretty pieces as gifts for their in-laws. Some pieces are two-sided and take up to 6 months to make!
Ryan, my housemate, and I were “married” in a demonstration of the traditional garb and practices. Each indigenous village or community wears their own traje, or traditional clothes. The women make their tops, called huipils, by hand and they are very beautiful. The skirts are called cortes, which are long pieces of fabric tied around their waists with woven belts. The men’s traditional outfits are really no longer worn because when they went into the cities to find work, they were discriminated against for their clothes and also ended up usually having to wear uniforms for work anyway. For our “wedding” my “mother-in-law,” played by another group member, sprinkled us with white chrysanthemum flower petals, and they brought out some intense pine incense which my clothes may now forever smell of. They told us that after the ceremony, the community would dance for 12 hours. We danced for about 4 minutes. I felt that was satisfactory. Next we got to help make tortillas, and then had a small meal of pepian de pollo, which is a traditional Guatemalan dish that’s a little sweet and just a little spicy. We also got to try some of their coffee which they grind by hand on a stone with a big stone rolling pin that weighs a ton. The coffee is ground with some other stuff, which they called oro, or gold. I’m not sure exactly what that really entailed, but the coffee was very strong and pretty tasty.
I bought a purse (pictured with the woman who made it) and some handmade pottery mugs. I actually asked if I could buy the one they gave me the coffee sample in and they were totally fine with that, cha ching!