I figured in December that a post about High Productivity and Strenuous Piecing and Hours of Quilting might better be replaced with something of lower impact. So, let’s go to Guatemala, look at fabric and maybe do some shopping.
This view of Antigua shows the bowl-shaped valley surrounded by volcanoes, where we spent two days, as well as two days in Guatemala City. Who was “we”? My sister Cynthia and her husband Gary are on an eighteen-month humanitarian mission in Guatemala City for our church; they spend long hours in a dental clinic, where Gary donates his services. My sister is his assistant, so we took advantage of their time there and went to see them for a short weekend. (Now I wish it had been much longer.)
We took a red-eye from LAX to Guatemala City, and that first day we went to a market in Guatemala City, where I tried to not pick up everything and buy it. Surface pattern everywhere: it’s what a quilter loves.
They sell everything here, including bouncy balls for play.
My first purchase was this huipil, a hand-loomed top that is worn by Guatemalan women. There are many different styles; this one happened to be embroidered; some have woven designs instead, like those shown below:
Here is the queen of her village (R), with her mother (center) and her older sister, at an indigenous ceremony where they choose the Queen from 100 different villages. My sister has a blogpost about these young queens that is fascinating reading (where many more fabrics and textiles can be seen). Cynthia (my sister) also sent me a lengthy YouTube video for me to watch before I went to Guatemala, which taught me a lot about their native and artisan textiles. We explored that first market, where I showed incredible restraint, but I must admit to already having sent a letter to her, asking her to pick up a couple of more things.
We walked a couple of blocks away to Lin Canola (door on the right) where they had two big rooms full of fabric wrapped on circular bolts. (I obtained permission for these photos.)
Bliss. (My sister knows me well.)
From all those bolts, I first chose these.
Then I added some accents, as I want to make this:
I have vivid fantasies.
The next day we boarded a chicken bus and went to Antigua.
Just kidding–we went in a nice car, but oh, how I love to see these fabulous, re-purposed school busses. Here’s a video. They have a person who rides along, calling people to get on, and helping with all the luggage atop the busses. In the video you can hear the callers, as well as see some un-decorated American school busses.
We went first to Carolina’s Textile Museum, where in the entry courtyard, a young woman was weaving on hand loom, anchored above her head, and strapped around her hips. She was quick with her hands and interesting to watch. I have many videos on Instagram using the #fiestaguatemala2019 hashtag, as well as in my stories.
Textiles Carolinas flier
This huipil is rare–completely woven back and front, and done by a woman for her future mother-in-law. The young bride gifts it to her mother-in-law on the wedding day, and it is used in many ways: a shawl, sewn up the sides for a huipil top, or folded up and placed on her head to shield her from the sun. Then, the mother-in-law is buried with it. (I’d have a hard time parting with it, if I were a new bride!)
The my sister noticed this patchwork quilt up on the wall. Carolina (below) brought out two more quilts:
The too-worn fabrics are cut up into patches, or parches in Spanish. Yes, I came home with some.
My sister and I, with Gary in the background. (I purchased the scarf.)
We left Carolina’s, which was on the outskirts of Antigua, and headed into town to pose with all the street vendors near the iconic arch.
Our hotel was El Convento, mentioned in this article in the NYTimes. I took about a billion pictures of this small, perfect, hotel, which I’m not posting here. Above is the swimming pool.
In the area just outside my room, they had tourist-safe water to drink (not shown) and little flowered meringues to enjoy. I did enjoy them, and often.
We spent some time in the main plaza, where I purchased some souvenirs from this young girl and her brother. Interesting to see our thrift store clothing show up here.
Wares for sale one day in our hotel. I kept trying figure how to pack it ALL up into my suitcase, but only purchased a doll for a friend who collects.
One early morning we went down to the bus depot (where we took the chicken bus video) and enjoyed all the colors there.
Thearch and volcano, early on the morning we left to head back to Guatemala City.
We brought home the two stacked wreaths the angel, a few table runners, placemats and the fabrics, but if I’d had another suitcase, I would have brought home so much more. It’s truly a textile-lovers’ paradise.
Before we left, I had to call to make sure our credit/ATM card would work overseas and ended up talking to a young woman who was born there, but has only returned once. When we came home, this note was in our mail, a thoughtful sentiment.
I do appreciate my sister and her husband hosting us for a long weekend in the middle of their busy, giving lives. I was especially thankful to spend time with my sister. I have three sisters, but all of them live far away from me, so it was lovely to talk to her, stroll around Antigua with her, and deepen our relationship.
The last thing I want to say is that it’s Christmas time, so be kind to yourselves in the rush. I know you are all busy with your final preparations for family, friends, and a day or two to yourselves, but take time to listen to a carol, take a breath, and enjoy this season of light.