I wrote recently an article about my volunteer experience for 2 months with Trama Textiles, a Guatemalan cooperative of 400 weavers. When my friend Priscilla told me she wanted to spend her three weeks of holidays learning about weaving and natural dyes, I immediately thought about Trama Textiles! The cooperative works with an association of weavers in Lake Atitlan, specialized in natural dyes and they also harvest their own cotton!

So, I told her about the ethical travel tour I created for Trama so people can share daily life of the weavers. During this mision, I actually met a family of weavers in San Juan, Lake Atitlan, that could perfectly fit with Priscilla’s expectations: Maria Christina, her husband and her two children were living in this lovely house surrounding by the green mountains of the Lake. Her house was just next to her sister’s house. It was such a beautiful family to meet!

Priscilla was delighted by this idea but obviously she was quiet nervous as it was her first experience with locals and also she couldn’t speak Spanish so she was afraid to not be able communicate with the family!

So I interviewed her after her homestay with the family to know her feeback about this experience…

(To read my article about my volunteer position for Trama Textiles and know more about my missions, click on the link below:)

http://cottonandtravel.com/en/being-a-volunteer-for-trama-textiles-a-weaving-cooperative-in-guatemala/

 

 

  • [Cotton & Travel]:
    Hello Priscilla! I didn’t speak with you since you went back from Guatemala! So, you spent two weeks at Maria Christina’s home to learn more about natural dyes and weaving. So,what were your first impressions and how did happen when you arrived there for the first time?
  • [Priscilla]:
    Really good! The family welcomed me warmly! They were really curious about my life in France, about was I was doing, where I was coming from, what about my family…. So, our first exchanges were really spontaneous despite my bad Spanish level! During this two weeks, they were really patient with me about that!
  • [Cotton & Travel]:
    Oh that’s right ! You went one week before in Antigua to take Spanish classes! Congratulations! By the way, what did you think about Antigua and Lake Atitlan?
  • [Priscilla]:
    I really loved Antigua! It’s an old typical city, really colorful with amazing views on the three volcanoes surrounding it! But I totally fell in love with the Lake! It’s an incredible place with lots of  traditional and authentic villages. There are not a lot of tourists yet, so it’s cool! Locals are really nice and welcoming! Three volcanoes surround the Lake and the view from the village San Marcos is amazing! You can go hiking and going to local markets: you can’t miss the one from Solola and Chichicastenango! There, women still wear traditional colorful clothing so it’s really beautiful. And also, crossing the lake by lanchas (small boat) to go from a village to another one is really charming.
antigua-cottonandtravel
lac-atitlan-cottonandtravel
lac-atitlan-cottonandtravel
  • [Cotton & Travel]:
    Oh yes! It is surely one of my favorite place from Guatemala! It’s a really peaceful place mixed by the strenght of the volcanoes surrounding the Lake! So, can you tell me more about your daily life with the weavers?
  • [Priscilla]:
    So, first, Maria Christina showed me how to warp to prepare my future weaving. There are different kind of weaving, more or less complicated. I also “clean” the cotton, by hand, you have to take off the small seeds inside the cotton. Then I learnt how to spin. The next days, I could freely choose what to do. So, when I was not weaving, I was with Socorro in the shop, learning about natural dyes. Socorro is the president of the association “Mujeres en Colores Botanico” where Maria Christina and her sister work and they collaborate with Trama Textiles http://tramatextiles.org/
natural-dyes-dyeing-guatemala-cottonandtravel
weaving-natural-dyes-lake-atitlan-cottonandtravel
tissage-teinture-naturelles-lac-atitlan-cottonandtravel
teinture-naturelle-tissge-lac-atitlan-cottonandtravel
natural-dyes-lake-atitlan-guatemala-cottonandtravel
  • [Cotton & Travel]:
    Yes, it is a very complex process that they have to do everyday…
    So, what did your learn from this experience, professionnaly speaking and at the human level?
  • [Priscilla]:
    Well, of course, I learnt all I needed to know about natural dyes and weaving but what I keep from this experience is overall what I experienced with the locals… I met so many great people… with great generosity and a lot of consideration for me. And, it was such a pleasure to share the kindness and the enthousiasm of the children! Thanks to that, now, I think I see what is really essential in life and that you have to slow down sometimes to enjoy more what’s around you.
tissage-teinture-naturelle-lac-atitlan-cottonandtravel
  • [Cotton & Travel]:
    You’re so right! I also learnt that Janina, the coordinator of Trama, and Delphine, a French volunteer, came to visit us there?
  • [Priscilla]:
    Yes! We went to assist to an explanation about all the stages of the cotton: from the harvest to the spinning, the dyeing and finally the weaving! The girls found some beautiful products in the shop of the association. Then, we went at Maria Christina’s and she expained us about the harvest and the drying of the coffee (her husband works into the coffee production, so they have a small production in their own garden). Once we arrived, they offered us a pineapple juice and we ate all together. So, it was a great moment and we played with the children and the cats! Janina also brought me the unisexe sweater and the skirt we created, you and I, during your volunterhip there. So, I could see the prototypes and give instructions for the final modifications.

    (If you want to know more about the designs we created for Trama, have a look on my article below:) http://cottonandtravel.com/en/being-a-volunteer-for-trama-textiles-a-weaving-cooperative-in-guatemala/

living-with-locals-lac-atitlan-san-juan-cottonandtravel
natural-dyes-weaving-lake-atitlan-cottonandtravel
  • [Cotton & Travel]:
    Great! And would you have an anecdote to share with us about your homestay?
  • [Priscilla]:
    Well… one day, I was preparing the natural dyes with Socorro and suddenly she took some seeds of pomegranate that we normally use for the dyes… and put it into her eyes, under the eyelids! So, I was quiet astonished and asked her why she was doing that ! But, she just told me it was good for the eyes… Even if it was quiet paintful…
  • [Cotton & Travel]:
    Really?! I didn’t know that! I’ve never seen them doing that! Yes sometimes differences of culture can be funny. I had also some comical moments like that…
    So, after two weeks with the weaves, did you succeed to adapt easily?
  • [Priscilla]:
    Yes ! Actually, I could adapt quiet quickly! The family life gave rhythm to their daily life: prepare the meals, going with the children to the school and taking them back, do the laundry… while weaving beautiful colorful textiles with an incredible skill! Here, women learn the backstrap-loom weaving since their early age. It’s really important for them to perpetue this tradtion and skills. I was surprised to see all of these associations of weavers in San Juan! There is really a community spirit and villagers are really proud of their ancestral art and traditions.
weaver-san-juan-lake-atitlan-cottonandtravel
  • [Cotton & Travel]:
    So after two weeks with the weavers, I guess you became attached to them! So what did happen when you had to leave them?
  • [Priscilla]:
    For my last night, I went with Maria Christina, her husband Rigoberto and their children to assist to a Marimba concert! It was in the center of the village and it was such a nice moment! So… leaving them was even harder! I wanted to stay longer… I really became attached to them and for two weeks I received a lot of love from this family! So, the net morning, I left them with a heartache! I really want to go back there… So I’m thinking when and I am working on my Spanish !!
  • [Cotton & Travel]: What would you recommend to the bacpackers who would like to live such an experience?
  • [Priscilla]:
    Rush headlong and don’t hesitate!
living-with-locals-lake-atitlan-cottonandtravel
  • [Cotton & Travel]: Thank you so much Priscilla for sharing this unique experience! And I hope, you, dear readers, this story will inspire you to travel off the beaten track too! If you want to know more about the Ethical Travel Tour that Trama Textiles offer don’t hesitate to write me or you can also click on the link below: http://tramatextiles.org/meet-our-weavers/

Share your thoughts about this interview by commenting the article below! I can’t wait to know what you think about this experience!

One thought on “Priscilla’s Interview: Her amazing homestay in Lake Atitlan with the weavers from Trama Textiles.”

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *