Guatemala 2013 trip

Guatemala 2013 trip diary: Saying goodbye

Travelers on last weekend with their guide - Manuel (center). Back row (L-R): Sue Fernbach, Colleen Blanchfield, Cristina Ramey, Rosemary McGee, Sheila Cook Front row: Lauren McCarthy, Manuel and Lynn McClenahan

Travelers on last weekend with their guide – Manuel (center). Back row (L-R): Sue Fernbach, Colleen Blanchfield, Cristina Ramey, Rosemary McGee, Sheila Cook Front row: Lauren McCarthy, Manuel and Lynn McClenahan

By Christine Ramey
Atlanta (GA)

Friday morning, October 11th, we are up for our last day in Panajachel where we have until 10am before our journey to Antigua begins. Some of us head off to a used Huipil Market, others take a walk to Lake Atitlan to enjoy the view one last time and several wander the main streets of Calle Santader for some last minute bargain shopping.

At 10am, we load up our bus with our trusted driver of Four Directions, Noel, and take off. Not too long after taking a final ascent up our favorite windy road of Panajachel, we come to a complete stop amidst a parking lot of traffic. We discover that the local community is protesting the high cost of electricity. This puts a less than desirable kink in our journey, as we make the decision to turn around and head back down into Panajachel to take an alternate route. What would have been a roughly 2.5-3hour trip, quickly turned into a 5 hour ride! But, hey, we can at least say we experienced everything Guatemala has to offer, right! Details

15
Oct

Guatemala 2013 trip diary: Thirteen Threads

Las Rosas

Las Rosas

By Christine Ramey
Atlanta (GA)

We started our morning leaving our hotel, Utz Jay, which today I discovered means “good home”, to walk over to the Mayan Cultural Center where we would spend time with our third organization, Oxlajuj B’atz’, or Thirteen Threads.

Receiving a warm welcome by the ED Ana Socorro Cumatz, we enter to find a room full of beautiful Mayan women and an altar that has been set up for us to participate in a Mayan ceremony. We were given some background on the altar set before us. Oct. 9 is a particularly special day as the Nawal-Energy is B’eleje’ B’atz’ signifying the female energy of the universe.  Details

15
Oct

Guatemala 2013 trip diary: Mercado Global

 

Mercado Global File Photo

Mercado Global File Photo

By Lauren McCarthy
Minneapolis (MN)

We visited Mercado Global on Wednesday and saw a different side to traditional Mayan weaving. Mercado Global has 31 cooperatives with about 340 women across Guatemala. It is a fair trade fashion nonprofit that sells wholesale to Anthropologie, Lucky Brand Jeans, Levi’s, Red Envelope, Henri Bendel, Calypso, and some Japanese retailers, among others. Although it is based in New York, the bulk of the staff are in and around Panajachel. Mercado Global’s immediate goal is to double its number of cooperatives/women in the next year but its larger objective is to change how the fashion industry operates, especially since the majority of workers in the industry are low-paid women. Details

15
Oct

Guatemala 2013 trip diary: Friendship Bridge

Friendship Bridge_1

By Rosemary McGee
Abington (PA)

We woke to a glorious sunny morning in Pana today and after a quick (but delicious) breakfast of fruit and banana bread headed off to visit with Friendship Bridge located around the corner on Calle Santander.

We were greeted warmly by Marta Ixtuc, Communications Coordinator and all around promoter of Friendship Bridge’s mission. She gave us a quick overview of the Microcredit Plus Loan Program, which received a DFW grant in 2007, and emphasized their dual mission of providing loans as well as education to Guatemalan women since 1998. Details


Guatemala 2013 trip diary: Starfish One by One

starfish

By Stephanie Sawyer
San Luis Obispo (CA)

After breakfast at our hotel, Utz Jay, this morning we took the one and a half block walk over to Starfish One by One. Melanie was our guide for the day and greeted our group with many hugs and warm welcomes!

After introductions to the staff and volunteers, they gave our ladies an overview of the services which include tutoring and mentorship programs for first generation high school students. Most of the girls are the first in the family to graduate due to many economic and social obstacles. This is where the work of the mentors fits in. Because parents haven’t received formal education, they often don’t understand the opportunities and benefits that can help the whole family after educating their daughters. The girls who are selected enter into a six-year leadership program. There are 220 girls currently enrolled. Since the pilot program in 2008, Starfish One by One has had 13 graduates, 7 of which are in university! For this team, it isn’t about how many, but rather how far one girl can go! Details

7
Oct

Guatemala 2013 Trip Diary: Totonicapan

Guatemala: Totonicapan

View of Volcán Atitlán, Volcán Tomilán & Volcán San Pedro at Lake Atitlán overlook.

By Christine Ramey

Another early day greets us as we wake up in Panajachel for breakfast at 7am. Once our bellies are full and happy, we are all gathered up and ready for our bus ride to Totonicapán, a 100-kilometer ride through very windy mountainous terrain, which left a few of us (me included) a little queasy. We are with our same guide from yesterday, Julio with Four Directions, who starts our morning off with a question, “is your heart happy today?” Which definitely puts one in a great mood! Before we took off officially from Panajachel, we stopped off at an overlook to see the gorgeous view of Lake Atitlán with three of their volcanos set as the backdrop; Volcán Atitlán, Volcán Tomilán & Volcán San Pedro. Some of the ladies even managed to get in some early shopping of jewelry and handmade figurines, as there were street vendors at the stop. Details


Guatemala 2013 trip diary: MayaWorks

guatemala-mayayworks

By Lauren McCarthy
Minneapolis, MN

We started our tour of five visits to featured organizations at MayaWorks, spending the better part of Thursday and Friday there. MayaWorks uses traditional Mayan weaving techniques to create products for an American market, such as luggage tags and yoga bags. Jeannie Balanda is the director of MayaWorks and accompanied us both days to introduce the women, give background, and translate. We had the wonderful opportunity to meet with several groups of women weavers and seamstresses, as well as some of their students. Details


Guatemala 2013 trip diary: The gathering

The Guatemala travelers: ront row L to R- Colleen Blanchfield( Detroit, MI) Sheila Cook (Columbia, SC) Sue Garcia (Erie, CO), Karen Rawley (Weavers Way, PA), Lynn McClenahan (Portland, OR). Middle Row (L-R): Lauren McCarthy (Minneapolis, MN), Sue Fernbach (Asheville, NC) , Cindy Badocious (OH), Meg Sears (Bowling Green, OH), Cristina Ramey (Atlanta, GA), Rosemary McGee (Abbington, PA), Caarol Huckabee (Danbury, CT), Kira Walker (Atlanta, GA- trip leader). Back row: Barbara Myers (Newton, CT), Stephanie Sawyer (CA), Erica Crawford (Santa Cruz, CA).

The Guatemala travelers: Front row L to R- Colleen Blanchfield( Detroit, MI) Sheila Cook (Columbia, SC) Sue Garcia (Erie, CO), Karen Rawley (Weavers Way, PA), Lynn McClenahan (Portland, OR).
Middle Row (L-R): Lauren McCarthy (Minneapolis, MN), Sue Fernbach (Asheville, NC) , Cindy Badocious (OH), Meg Sears (Bowling Green, OH), Cristina Ramey (Atlanta, GA), Rosemary McGee (Abbington, PA), Caarol Huckabee (Danbury, CT), Kira Walker (Atlanta, GA- trip leader). Back row: Barbara Myers (Newton, CT), Stephanie Sawyer (CA), Erica Crawford (Santa Cruz, CA).

By Lauren McCarthy
Minneapolis, MN

We are all here! A few members of our group arrived early, but as of Wednesday at noon we have all made it safe and sound to Guatemala! We have had sunny and warm weather (about 75 degrees) and felt safe, although it is a bit conspicuous being with a group of 17 gringos.

After we got our luggage (and everyone’s arrived) and went through immigration and customs, we met our driver, Noah; tour leader Alfonso, and group leader Kira Walker, who were waiting for us. Details