Friday afternoon was our first visit to Santiago Zamora with the artisan group with whom we are working. After a wonderfully folkloric trip on the jam-packed public bus, we arrived to San Antonio Aguas Calientes from where we then took a small van to our final destination.
We met with 6 of the 8 women who now constitute Ixoki A’J Quiemo L’ (in Kaqchikel, which translates to “Native Women Weavers.”) Consistent with our experience in San Lucas Tolimán, the association that was established last summer by 15 women, has now been reconfigured as a cooperative with a new name and with half of the participants.
We kicked off the session with an icebreaker activity after which Maria gave us an update on their work. They seem to be highly motivated and have already designed flyers which they distribute in Antigua (just 30 minutes away and full of tourists.) We were happy to learn that they’ve established a collaboration with one spanish school instructor who, about once a month, visits the women in Santiago Zamora with a group of students (ie. tourists!) Maria told us about their programming that they plan for tourists which includes explanations of their culture, a reenactment of a Mayan wedding, a lecture on natural medicine, and a demonstration of their craft (such as weaving on the backstrap loom.)
Our student team presented the various ideas that we have been discussing and how we could best help the cooperative attract more visitors and increase the sale of their products.
We ended our session with a review of all of their products, eager to immerse ourselves in a productive collaborative project starting on Monday. Before then, we’re using the weekend to start prototyping the ideas that we discussed.