Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Reading, writing, weaving, eating

Monday morning we take the short walk up the hill to TRAMA Textiles, a co-operative of mayan weavers who work to see that their members are treated fairly in the marketplace. They operate a retail shop and a school where Pam is going to try her hand at the backstrap loom.

They sign her up and within minutes she is hard at work designing and weaving a scarf. The threads are thin and it takes lots of time and concentration to weave them into cloth.

While the mayan ladies are adept from years of practice it still requires hours and hours to produce the many things they wear and sell.

There is a spanish language school in the same facility and I sign up for enough classes to keep Pam company while she works on her project.

After school we walk to La Democracia market so Pam can get an eyefull of Guatemalan commerce. So many stalls selling so many items it truly boggles the mind. Competition is cutthroat. Within five minutes its possible to shop five different vendors offering essentially the same products. You can purchase almost anything you need from toiletries to clothing to food and behind the stalls are storefronts with major appliances, electronics, furniture, bicycles, etc. and then between the storefronts are passageways into the interior courtyards where there are more stalls with more stuff. It takes up nine blocks and you really could shop till you dropped.

We've had some great food at the little restaurants that dot the streets near el centro. On the 100 yard walk up the hill to school from our hotel there are at least eight. Down the hill in the blocks around the parque are dozens more. We tried a guatemalan style pizza with very thin crisp crust topped with tomato sauce, tuna, anchovies, onions, cheese, olive oil, and herbs. Very tasty. The restaurant directly across the street from our hotel does baguette sandwiches, crepes, asados, and other goodies. We've tried baguettes grilled with beef, cheese and onions that somehow aren't much like a cheesesteak but are equally delicious, another was stuffed with grilled eggplant, carrots, cabbage, cheese, and a savory sauce, also highly recommended. We tried a small local chain called Albamar at the recommendation of my teacher. Pam ordered a chicken and rice soup/stew which arrived still boiling in a VERY large ceramic bowl with side dishes of garnishes including queso, cilantro, and onions, and a shaker of cayenne if you needed more heat. The mayan restaurant at the top of our street, Utz H'ua, served up two Quetzaltecan specialties for lunch yesterday, Pollo Jocom, and Pollo Pepian, both chicken dishes with different sauces accompanied by soup, rice and a salad, the big noonday meal with cervezas for about $10/two. I think I'll probably find those ten pounds I left here two years ago!

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