About two hours ago I left the dye team women of San Rafael - Gilberta, Abelina, Berta, Fulgencia, and Elvira - at the bus station to head home. They will get home late tonight, a nice, if exhausting, balance to having left home by bus three days ago at 4 am. I cannot express how happy I am with this trip, how utterly satisfied and excited I am, and lots more phrases like that.
The first few hours in San Juan were spent in the store Corazón del Lago with Chica, the young woman who came to the Mayan Hands dyeing workshop in San Rafael. It was dazzling. The women now have enough understanding to be able to listen to Chica, who speaks Tz'utujil (the women in San Rafael speak Achi) and understand what she is saying, and they were in rapt attention the whole time, conversing in both directions about dye techniques, plants, products, customers. orders, tourists, location, perseverance and patience, developing their own colors and processes and products, what different yarns do, what different clients want, and even how women need to take the reins of their own lives and become independent enough to make it good for their children, not depend on macho men and all that means. Etc. They ate it up, heard every word, are ready to move ahead.
Chica, for her part said she would be willing to sell things that they wove that were naturally dyed and told them to send or bring samples as soon as they are ready. She herself looked spectacularly good, and I think part of the reason is that she has now competed a year of university, studying human rights, thus sliding into women becoming more independent.
From there we visited shops. One bright spot in the day for me was that when the women left a shop where textiles were supposed to be naturally dyed, but where Donna and Catherine had said they were giving out false information, the San Rafael women said the same thing, that this and that could not be true. That they knew the difference really really pleased me. In ever shop they really studied everything carefully, picking them apart, taking amongst themselves and with the shop people. I was also impressed that every place we went, which included some medicinal plant places, everyone was willing to talk with the m at length and in detail. No one stone-walled them or tried to keep secrets or dismiss them in any way. It was all just great.
To be continued!
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