busses leave from the market daily to Santa Maria, and
tickets are 3 Quetzales per person for the 15 to 25
minute ride. If you want to climb the volcano, Santa
Maria is where you start.
Laundry day. No Maytags here.
The bus dropped us off at
the town’s ‘Laundromat’ -- a series of concrete tubs
with running water. There must have been 15 or so women
doing their day’s laundry, in a similar manner of
little laundry day humor, and shy for the camera
of the women here were amazingly open and friendly. I
asked one how often she comes to do her laundry and she
told me twice a week. She has a PILE of clothing and
bedding for the whole family and she washes it here.
Afterwards, she carries all of it home to put on the
clothes line to dry.
Actually, in ancient times, laundry was hammered on
the rocks located in streams and the shores of small lakes. This is
'modern equipment' here with dependable running water and
specially formed tubs lined all in a row.
with much of
women's work in these Mayan mountain towns,
it provides a time and place for mothers, sisters,
neighbors and friends to work together, exchange
information about people and daily events.
they be any cuter?
children are so innocent and beautiful! They were just as
fascinated with me as I was with them.
often seen, young boys and men wear western style
clothing while young girls and women wear traditional
dress. It is very common for young children to care for
their siblings for long segments of the day while their
mother tends to housework; cooking, shopping, cleaning,
plaza with Volcan de Agua in the background
Maria is known for the Katchiquel Maya Huipiles -
blouses made from their woven textiles. In this small
marketplace there were vegetable and fruit stands as
well as displays of used Maya clothing. Previously owned
Huipiles sold for 200-300 Quetzales, $25-$38 USD each.
They were remarkably heavy in weight with the amount of threads
used to make them.
Mayan used clothing store
you look closely, you can see the Huipiles the Maya
women wear, as well as the embroidered or woven aprons
with lace and their woven skirts. Young girls wear woven
skirts too. The all purpose woven cloths on their
shoulders tied in front
are used to carry children or groceries on their backs.
woman in the forefront of this photo who is examining
the embroidery of a blouse invited us to her home to see
the textiles she had for sale.
most Maya, Spanish is their second language, and of
course, we don't speak Katchiquel. So we communicated as
best we could in Spanish.
The Adventurer's Guide to
Don’t go to
Guatemala without this book! Take advantage of what we know. Click
simple Maya home
families and several generations live in these small
dirt floor homes. Mothers, daughters, sisters,
sisters-in-law, infants and children live alongside
chickens in cages, looms, an outdoor grill and and an
open air living room. The men are out in the city
Famous woven textiles of the Maya
woman from the market shows us her loom and a weaving
project she is currently working on. Intricate patterns
and bright colors make up the distinctive style of Maya
piece this size can take a month or two to finish.
often saw similar set ups with
Thai women weaving in
their homes while their children looked on. This woman
was explaining her weaving while carrying her nursing
infant on her back.
ever present mound of masa, corn tortillas grilling
is sacred to the Maya and is considered food of the
gods. Tortillas are eaten at every meal and the
constant, very familiar slap-slap-slapping of masa
between the palms of women and girls is an ancient
Carrying corn stalks on his back
and young men have their daily tasks also. Here a young
boy carries a load of dried corn stalks through the
streets of Santa Maria. Firewood is transported in the
girl with bowl of corn kernels
an early age, Maya children are taught the skills of
their gender. This young girl in traditional wrapped
skirt, woven apron and lace blouse carries cooked corn
kernels to their next stage of being ground into masa.
From there the masa will be used for tortillas,
beverages, sauces or other Maya dishes.
Preparation of sacred corn, in one form or another,
takes up much of a Maya woman's day. It could be
planting, watering, harvesting, husking, removing the
kernels, cooking, mashing, or kneading into masa. Once
the masa is made, then it is used in several manners of
their cooking; prepared in drinks, sauces or the ever
present grilled tortillas.
Enjoying a frozen, tasty treat
world of the Maya today is a blend of ancient custom and
somewhat modern convenience. Streets can be made of
either cobblestone or contemporary pavers. Women dress
in traditional costume but can be seen using cell
phones. Walls (such as the one shown behind this man)
and fences are made in the conventional manner, and
doors are wooden or hammered metal. Inside a home there
is a good chance of a running water source - most
definitely a gift of the present day.
Friendly, open and curious
Maya woman wears a variety of woven and embroidered
textiles. Their aprons were some of the most decorated I
have ever seen with countless pockets and lace. Their
huipiles were heavily embroidered reflecting personal
beliefs (certain animals and flowers hold spiritual
significance) or tastes.
Centuries ago when the Spanish Conquistadores arrived,
they assigned each village a series of colors to wear so
that their village was identifiable anywhere they
walked. Santa Maria's colors are mostly reds, oranges
with shots of purple. To this day, each village tends to
stick to the designated colors of their village, but
some brave or unconventional women choose to widen their
were most surprised at the openness and friendliness of
the Maya women in this village. They were willing to
engage in conversation, were not afraid of our camera,
and were as curious about us as we were about them.
Children are carried on their mother's backs as you see
in this photo.
of two generations
of these women wear their customary Maya dress. The
younger woman's apron is more flamboyant than the older
woman in the background of this photo, with a brighter
color, lace and more pockets.
older woman, for her to be carrying her own firewood,
must be single. She is either widowed or her husband is
women's work seems
never ending, the heavy lifting is often done by the
males in the family: husbands, sons, brothers. Of course
it is entirely possible that her husband is in a large
city working and she is left to gather her own firewood
for her cooking stove.
can bet that everyone in the village knows her story.
resist a bargain!
the city of Antigua, these same avocados go for 40 to 50
cents each. The woman here was selling her avos for 12
cents each - the best price I had found in either Mexico
living in Guate we ate avocados at almost every meal. For
breakfast we'd have sliced avocado and fresh fruit and
cheese. At lunch, restaurants routinely put guacamole on
their luncheon plates, and at dinner we often would have
hot soup with avocado slices in the broth.
Avocados are trans-fat and cholesterol free, filled with
vitamins, nutrients and phytochemicals. Of course here
in Guatemala, they taste great as well, and couldn't be
tuned because from here we go to an organic macadamia
nut farm in our most amazing story of an Incredible
more information, stories and photos of Guatemala,