Rosa and the Rice Road Show.

ImageFeed the Children’s  Guatemala City HQ reached out and tagged Rosa and Patantic’s A-team Chefs to roll out a training and sampling session for the Guatemalan equivalent of the USDA.  This was a “big deal” that FTC´s Country Coordinator, Altagracia Hernandez, cooked up with MAGA (Ministry of Agriculture.)  If this class goes well, then, MAGA´s Solola groups will participate with the Oklahoma based NGO in their next distribution campaign:  VitaMeal.  Such alliances are key to an NGO’s functioning.
Back up in pueblo, Rosa readied the show.  And, even though it would have been easier for her to do it herself, Rosa took the opportunity to promote Juanita.   Thorough as ever, she made doubly sure the ladies would “nail” the presentation by holding a few practice sessions.   The outfit for the day would be totally “Toto”  meaning that we would wear the red, black and white brindled traje from Totonicapan and navy blue or black skirts.  Belting was freestyle.  And, I wore my thin red “training” belt while the others snorted at because they were wrapped in much wider and more decorative items.  Despite the difference in the width of the belts, I like to think that I blended into to the crew, as we waded into the market and set about examining onions, divining degrees of freshness, palpating chicken feet.  Unlike pesky New Yorkers, the Mayans haggle sweetly with their silky manners in a very fun, pleasant way.  These ladies would never-ever ever display the reptilian demeanor of, say, a Filine´s sale rack shopper – like myself.
We took a truck to Solola and eventually the nine women from MAGA’s far-flung community programs in Los Encuentros and San Antonio Palpolo  were collected.  All fourteen of us to got wedged into MAGA pick’em up truck and headed towards Dona Rosa Maria’s studio in a town that happens to have been home to Rosa’s aunt.  Interestingly, the town has a section called “Totonicapan.”  But, Rosa said, in so many words, that the place was not as “aligned” or as densely packed with people from the old District as was Patanatic.  She assured me that we would be the only ones dressed in our colors in the steep village.
The road got so extreme and we proved too heavy for the truck even in 4×4 mode, that we could not make it up that road.   So, we set out on foot across a cow path that made the prior road look like salt flats, in comparison.  We had divided the produce into everybody’s bags before making the ascent.  Rosa Maria, who was hosting the event for MAGA, met us at an unbelievably) narrowing branch – with room for only one of my feet at a time.   She coaxed us around barbed wire on the left, and cautioned about the precipice yawning on the right.  Her compound had an outdoor sink, an ample shady front porch and a 10´x8´room with a wood-stove at one end. It also had turkeys, puppies and bunnies wandering around.

Introductions were made, prayers said and the meeting commenced.  Everyone pitched in with the washing and chopping the vegetables — Don Samuel and I amused ourselves by discussing the virtues of rabbits vs. chickens.  Rabbits mature in about half the time that chickens do but do not lay eggs, he would tell me.  This factoid was offered after I told the agricultural engineer that I thought that rabbits laid eggs… and…he had believed me.
The group worked and visited and at the end seemed to enjoy the chicken soup and vegetarian rice dishes.  On the way home, in the spirit of John Lennon, Rosa said (again in so many words) “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we’ve passed the audition.”
Of course, she did.

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Brave Team Treats Quiche Maya

Prior posts  on Barbara Ford Center for Peace  - Santa Cruz del Quiche
Mayans Relax with Yoga at Traditional Chinese Medicine Jornada
Mayan Women are Empowered to Defend Themselves by a Black Belt 
Acupuncturists Launch Sustainable Treat and Train Mission in Guatemala 
NYC Traditional Chinese Medicine Professionals Volunteer to Treat and Train in GT
Mayans Rediscover Acupuncture at Centro de Paz Barbara Ford 
Acupuncturists Treat 1,000 Patients in Santa Cruz del Quiche, Zacualpa and San Filipe 
Meetings with Remarkable Mayans

Following Joan Boccino L.Ac.’s lead into the Barbara Ford Center for Peace,  a second wave of practitioners came to the District of Quiche to serve.  The medical outreach took place within days of soldiers shooting to kill peaceful protesters in nearby Totonicapan.  For the next five days, the team of sixteen would serve populations within this contentious district in Guatemala.   Besides their epic bravery, these practitioners have a reputation as a “a well-oiled machine.”  This is because some of them met while on missions and many of them regularly work together in New York City.  There is some speculation about how “the machine” struck its mighty chord.

Was the success was due to their composition -only a few senior students?

Or because of their methodology – a set of protocols and recommended times?

Or simply that this was the third go-around and everybody knows the drill?

Whatever it was, it worked for over eight hundred patients.

The delivery team of body workers, bonesetters and acupuncturists was exactly what was expected.  But, Dan tucked in a couple of yoginis, a martial arts instructor, a logistician and professional photographer to smooth the way and, also, document the process.

By the first afternoon they had synchronized under a therapeutic umbrella of Tuvan tunes and amid the pervasive eau d’ecru of burning moxa.  The shamanic sounds and sinews of smoke seemed to matte the acoustically challenged room and the practitioners glided soundlessly among their patients. They would treat and train in the cloudy, sunny pavilion at home base assisted by the precious handful of seasoned Quiche/Spanish translators and regular Health Promoters. This crowd rounded up the numbers; so the room was occupied by close to thirty people before the patients were welcomed. The rest of the BFPC registration and facilities staff kept count at the door and did most of the heavy lifting – outside.

As it is Sister Ginny’s way to share the wealth she sent this whole community packing on two bus and truck trips.  But she managed the long one a little differently this time.  Instead of doing a seven hours round-trip in one day and convoying back by dark, the team would journey by daylight.  After a half day treating and hours on the zig-zag road, they would be issued bunks at the convent in San Juan Cotzal, in the heart of Xixl triangle.  Here, the team would spend the night after a local feast and after being profoundly welcomed by a show of culture put on by local youth.

Opening with the welcoming dance, the players honored their visitors with a short happy drama about their courting traditions.  This production was very well received and applause broke out, again and again.  Following the show, the Center’s Juan Ramirez Ventura danced with the play’s enchanting ingénue and that won him a round.  But the pine needles levitated after Dan proudly accepted the hospitality on behalf of everybody – in flawless Spanish.   The impact of his surprisingly eloquent thanks was magnified when Marisela Jimenez matter of factly translated it like she did for the rest of the show.

The morning after this innocent reception, the line was scruffy and hard bitten. Here is where the teams treat more irritable bowel syndrome and they see more signs of residual PTSD and war wounds than further south. Peter Pankin, L.Ac. linked the pain to dampness and needled stomach points 36 and 37.  He would talk about tongues that looked like “raw meat between the liver and heart” and wonder how to cultivate chi. This was the place where the healing touch would matter the most.

The people closer to the cradle of the Civil War are much poorer; more anxious and still grieving their ghastly thirty-six year conflict.  Here, Maria-Antonietta Zarate would skillfully anchor a speaker in an interview about his experience in the holocaust. The church guardian would tell Ms. Zarate the story as Robert Stern’s camera rolled even though talking on camera gives him valid reason to be terrified.  He believes that he, too, could be captured and not returned like his uncle and aunt had been thirty years earlier.  After all, the convicted perpetrator of those crimes seems to be perpetually excused and is no stranger to the current president. This man declined the option of taking questions with his back to the lens.

No.

He would brave it.

He sat in a pew under the span of palm sized crosses that flank a crucifix along the side aisle.  He began by pointing to his uncle’s cross and stated that he was nine years old when the conflict started.

“The Finceros (land owners) would be buying farm machinery from the United States and they would not need so many camposino’s.  The workers organized under General Lucas and began to get weapons from the Russians.”

His relatives were early collaborators and that branch of the family disappeared – his father left shortly after them.  Still, the authorities haunted his mother asking her about his father. After the house was burnt – with the harvest in it, they fled the rural area to  Cotzal.  He told the camera that the war had gone on for three years when Rios Montt declared an “amnesty.”  Everyone was urged to come forward and give their names to receive the pardon.  Everyone who came forward ended up in a grave and after that, the war went on for another thirty three years.  This story and the recent shootings made all the hiding faces and furtive looks more poignant.

Special Thanks to:
L.Acs: Norva Bennett,  Luke Hamilton, Monica Jones (from Seattle, Wa.), Peter Pankin, Christiane Mauro, Julie Ing Stern (from Boston, Ma), Dan Wunderlich,Maria-Antonietta Zarate, L.Ac. (from PA)

Body workers: Peter Caron, LMT, Maribel Gil (Yoga), Jeff Leinbach, LMT, Daniel Ortiz (PCOM), Terese Wunderlich, LMT, Anthony Zillmer, LMT

Logistics and Documentation: Kelly Call (from NC) and Robert Stern

Continue Joan Boccino’s work in Guatemala.

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Guipil Collages – Symphony or Savagery? Collages güipil – Symphony o salvajismo?

Jennifer Bigman has cultivated her collection of Central American Guipils for decades.  The Guatemalan based fine artist and textile affectionada doesn’t confine the gorgeous woven blouses to hangers in her gallery.  She distributes the personal masterpieces of Mayan artists all over at Jenna’s Bed and Breakfast.  These elegant cultural pieces droop grandly like Dali’s gilded clocks – spilling color off the plush chintz sofa and providing tasteful sheathings on the backs of dining chairs.   The simple two panel shirts are easily repurposed as rugs, pillows and table coverings.  Their scale and durability are perfect for that.

The lovingly embellished fabrics carry rich herstories and a woman might wear the Guipil she has decorated for her entire life.  As a teen, she has probably already begun to apply ornamentation and will usually follow an historic or current style favored by her pueblo but, once in a while, the work can be more original or distinctive.  Heaven is in the details – for example, there is an array of necklines to choose from Chichicastenenga’s is circular with isosceles sun rays all around, in Totonicapan they are scalloped and often banded with a thin strip of black velvet.   Openings can be V’ed, scooped or boated — finished off with a simple whip stitch or custom fitted with a snap.  The finished garments are surprisingly heavy especially when the local flora or fauna motifs are so detailed that the foot-loomed substrate is rendered invisible.

Ms. Bigman still deploys these mini tapastries as-is –  whole and uncut.  But, lately, she has begun a project repurposing the artifacts – as collages.

“This is sacrilege,” critics might cry.

“Yes, of course, “she would reply.

“And, Guipils are routinely hacked up and re-presented as purses and backpacks all up and down Calle Santander .  That is hardly causing much fuss.”

Still, mixing Huehuetenango’s geometrics with Santiago’s birds and bordering that with baktuns or figures is a daring concept that might get some purists fuming.   Ms. Bigman goes on to explain that she can either leave the treasures in a storage bin – unseen – or she can work them into thrilling +/- 2’x5’ banners.   And, in so doing, they become greater than the sum of their parts.  She has created several eye popping samplers by juxtaposing icons, lines and melding colors.  Far from desecrating the needlepoint’s uniqueness, the concerted variety adds interest and still celebrates and collaborates within the culture.

She can expound on the provenance of each element but does not reveal what is behind her process of selection and assembly.  In one hanging, she placed hand sized roosters at each corner and in the middle arranged halves of circular ringed collars with some whole sunbeams from Chi-Chi as portholes on wildly colored stich-scapes.  In another, banana yellow ovals fairly float over dark bargello seas while 2” square Mayan warriors and tiny Tikals march along the edges.  In cherry picking the best elements of each individual’s work and respectfully recombining them, Jennifer Bigman has restrung the heirloom.

Chichicastenango - Good Guipil Hunting

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Jennifer Bigman ha cultivado su colección de  Guipils sudamericana durante décadas. El guatemalteco artista de fina y affectionada textil no limita las blusas tejidas hermosas para perchas en su galería. Distribuye las obras maestras personales de los artistas mayas todo en el Bed and Breakfast de Jenna. Estas caída elegante piezas culturales grandiosamente como los relojes de Dalí – derrame de color de la felpa sofá de cretona y la disponibilidad para revestimientos de buen gusto en los respaldos de las sillas de comedor. Las dos camisas simples paneles son fácilmente reutilizados como alfombras, almohadas y manteles. Su escala y la durabilidad son perfectos para eso.

Las telas adornadas con cariño llevar herstories ricos y una mujer puede usar el güipil se ha decorado para toda su vida. Como adolescente, ella probablemente ya ha comenzado a aplicar la ornamentación y por lo general siguen un estilo histórico o actual de su pueblo, pero, de vez en cuando, el trabajo puede ser más original o distintivo. El cielo está en los detalles – por ejemplo, hay una gran variedad de escotes para elegir Chichicastenenga es circular con rayos de sol isósceles por todas partes, en Totonicapán son arcos y bandas a menudo con una delgada franja de terciopelo negro. Las aberturas pueden V’ed, recogió o boated – rematado con una puntada látigo simple o personalizada equipado con un chasquido. Las prendas terminadas son sorprendentemente fuerte sobre todo cuando la flora o fauna motivos son tan detalladas que el sustrato pies se alzaba se vuelve invisible.

Sra. Bigman todavía despliega estos tapastries mini-es – entero y sin cortar. Pero, últimamente, se ha iniciado un proyecto de reutilización de los artefactos – como collages.

“Esto es un sacrilegio”, los críticos a llorar.

“Sí, por supuesto”, respondía ella.

“Y, Guipils son rutinariamente hackeado y volver a presentarse como bolsos y mochilas de todo arriba y abajo Santander Calle. Esto es apenas causar mucho alboroto. ”

Sin embargo, la mezcla de geometría Huehuetenango con aves de Santiago y lindando con que baktunes o figuras es un concepto audaz que podría conseguir algunos puristas echando humo. Sra. Bigman continúa explicando que ella puede dejar los tesoros de un depósito de almacenamiento – invisible – o ella puede trabajar en emocionantes + / – 2’x5 ‘banners. Y, al hacerlo, se convierten en más que la suma de sus partes. Ella ha creado ojo haciendo estallar varios samplers por iconos yuxtaponiendo, líneas y colores fusión. Lejos de profanar la singularidad de la aguja, la variedad concertada añade interés y todavía celebra colabora dentro de la cultura.

Ella puede exponer sobre la procedencia de cada elemento, pero no revela lo que hay detrás de su proceso de selección y el montaje. En un colgante, colocó gallos de mano de tamaño en cada esquina y en las mitades dispuestas medios de collares de anillos circulares con algunos rayos de sol enteras de Chi-Chi como ojos de buey en color salvajemente stich-paisajes. En otro, plátano óvalos amarillos bastante flotar sobre oscuros mares Bargello mientras que dos “guerreros mayas y Tikals cuadrados pequeños marcha a lo largo de los bordes. En cherry picking los mejores elementos de trabajo de cada individuo y respetuosamente les recombinación, Jennifer Bigman ha restrung la herencia.

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Rosa’s Excellent Celebration

Rosa Garcia-Garcia was busy preparing for her September visitors from Feed the Children.  She told us weeks in advance that there would be an exhibit of her projects as part of their formal welcome.  This meant we should be ready to suit-up in our Totonicapan traje and ready to dance the Mayan Welcoming Dance when the special guests got to Patanatic.  Also, Rosa wanted me to help put part of the show together – for a while, there, she seemed to be requesting some kind of a Powerpoint presentation.   (Now, Rosa is one canny Mayan woman but “Powerpoint” is not part of her daily lexicon.)   She would remain mysterious about  just what kind of display she was thinking about.  But, whatever it was it was meant to chronicle the array of supporters she has garnered for her pueblo over the last two decades.  She wanted to celebrate her key collaborators like the government agrarian agency, MAGA, and the NGO’s like Feed the Children, Mayan Traditions and Oxlajuj B’atz that bring work and aid.   This was going to be a big production – from the pine needles on the floor to the festoons on the eaves. Like the fabled Mrs. Dalloway she anticipated everything but unlike Clarissa, Rosa can not just amble down to Fleet Street for her party goods.  She would need to scour beyond Santander and go all the way to Totonicapan to find the perfect favors.  Beyond recruiting dancers, Rosa would have to arrange for teams to lay out samples of their work and, then, she had to name everybody who would prepare food.  There was so much to do.

At last, days before the event, she summoned me up the mountain to sort through a stack of out of focus, faded Kodachromes.  She, Odilia and Wendy were there marking-up the new Totonicapan fabrics for embroidery.  They needed to emblazon words of thanks on each piece in the small stack of stripped and pattered cloths along with everything else that had to be done over the next few days.  These were ladies in a hurry but, somehow, Odila was dispatched with some reluctance; she would guide me in making the graphic.  It would be a collage with ten images.   So, we laid in a photos of Marianne Wise and Rosa holding up an early Rag Rug from 2005 and women working at sewing machines dating from 1996. The mushrooms, medicinal/spice plants, cucumbers and the chickens are vintage 2012 and all would be very large when printed our on a one meter square poster.

The guests would see the women’s dance complete with younger women strewing rose petals and, then, the children performed their snappy quadrille.  By way of thanks, Rosa explained her projects and the honorees would receive their gifts.  Odila wore her grandmother’s tocoyale and MC’ed; she called for a different person to recognize each recipient.   When  it came time to give Karina Reyna, DVM her memento, Rosa perched a chicken on her arm as tangible proof that the project had succeeded.  The bird promptly pooped – a sure sign of good luck.  In this esteemed company, I  was very surprised to also be honored for escuela de globos.

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Rosa García-García estaba ocupado preparándose para sus visitantes septiembre de Feed the Children. Ella nos dijo semanas antes de que habría una exposición de sus proyectos como parte de la bienvenida formal. Esto significa que debemos estar preparados para adaptarse en marcha en nuestro traje Totonicapán y listo para bailar el Baile de Bienvenida maya cuando los invitados especiales llegaron a Patanatic. Además, Rosa quería que yo para ayudar a poner parte del espectáculo juntos – por un tiempo, allí, ella parecía estar pidiendo una especie de presentación en Powerpoint. (Ahora, Rosa es una mujer astuta maya pero “Powerpoint” no forma parte de su léxico diario.) Ella permanecería misterioso sobre qué tipo de pantalla que estaba pensando. Pero, fuera lo que fuera que estaba destinado a la crónica de la matriz de seguidores que ha cosechado por su pueblo en las últimas dos décadas. Quería celebrar sus colaboradores clave, como la agencia gubernamental agraria, MAGA, y los piensos como de la ONG de los Niños, Tradiciones mayas y Oxlajuj B’atz que aportan trabajo y ayuda. Esto iba a ser una gran producción – de las agujas de pino en el suelo para las guirnaldas en los aleros. Al igual que la legendaria señora Dalloway se prevé todo, pero a diferencia de Clarissa, Rosa no sólo puede preámbulo a Fleet Street para los bienes de su partido. Ella tendría que recorrer más allá de Santander y recorrer todo el camino a Totonicapán para encontrar los favores perfectos. Más allá de los bailarines de reclutamiento, Rosa tendría que organizar equipos para diseñar muestras de su trabajo y, a continuación, tuvo que nombrar a todos los que se preparan los alimentos. Había muchas cosas que hacer.

Por fin, unos días antes del evento, ella me llamó a la montaña para ordenar a través de una pila de fuera de foco, Kodachromes descoloridas. Ella, Odilia y Wendy estaban allí trazado hasta los tejidos Totonicapán nuevos para el bordado. Tenían que adornan palabras de agradecimiento en cada pieza de la pequeña pila de trapos pelados y repiqueteaba junto con todo lo demás que había que hacer en los próximos días. Eran señoras que tienen prisa, pero, de alguna manera, Odila se expidan con cierta reticencia, ella me guiará en la toma del gráfico. Sería un collage con diez imágenes. Por lo tanto, hemos sentado en una fotos de Marianne Wise y Rosa sosteniendo una manta Rag principios de 2005, y las mujeres que trabajan en las máquinas de coser que datan de 1996. Las setas, las plantas medicinales / especias, pepinos y los pollos son de época de 2012 y todo sería muy grande cuando se imprime nuestro en un cartel de un metro cuadrado.

Los invitados a ver la danza de las mujeres completar con mujeres más jóvenes esparciendo pétalos de rosa y, a continuación, los niños realizaron su ágil cuadrilla. A modo de agradecimiento, Rosa explicó sus proyectos y los premiados recibirán sus regalos. Odila tocoyale llevaba su abuela y MC’ed, ella llamó a una persona diferente a reconocer cada destinatario. Cuando llegó el momento de dar Karina Reyna, DVM su recuerdo, Rosa encaramado a un pollo en su brazo como prueba tangible de que el proyecto había tenido éxito. El pájaro pooped rápidamente – un signo seguro de la buena suerte. En esta compañía estimada, yo estaba muy sorprendido también será honrado por la Escuela de globos.

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Rosa: Road Trip to Totnicipan with 16 Kids

Damiana

A trip to Totonicipan promised opportunities for me to wear my new “Toto” traje (suit) and for all of us to share a view the ancestral homelands.

At 7:30, the van pulled up and there was everybody — all excited – what a dear moment. 

Rosa and I shared the front with Alejandro.  And, as soon as I could fork them over I handed a movie camera and a Kindle with a PDF file on the destination back to reaching hands. (The kids know all my passwords and enjoy reading on the Kindle.)  Rosa had organized a trip for as many of us as we could stuff in the minivan and we would go for a merry five hours, round trip, to the place that means “Hot Waters.”  Nestled in among the sixteen kids were Rosa’s husband, Marco;  mother, Damiana  and Wendy, an exuberant parent. 

 

The ride went smoothly as the kids chatted quietly up the Pan American Highway.  We passed Nauhala and headed towards north and east of Xela stopping only twice for the boys to pee and little Diane to vomit. At last, “Toto” came into view sprawling across a wide valley – the Kindle told us the area was famous for wood and Barro pottery.  The road narrowed and descended and after snaking through town Alejandro found an underground garage.  We emerged from there stunned and blinking at the modern buildings and followed Damiana into her old church (1820’s.)  Everyone already in the sanctuary of St. Michael the Arcangel looked just like Damiana — tiny, wizened with bright eyes and furrowed faces. (We are contemporaries, she and I – as close in age as sisters.)

We walked past a marimba band to the other side of the plaza and down one block to the Museo – Casa de la Cultura Totonicapense.  Off the atrium there were offices and the curator unlocked a room packed with masks and costumes for every occasion.    Under the balcony, rocks, pot shards, a stuffed squirrel, a snake in a half evaporated bottle of formaldehyde shared a half shaded bookshelf.   A stout mimeograph c.1950 stood firm on the floor and delicate examples ofBarro ceremicsBarro pottery and different regionional traje lined cases and filled vitrines. Rosa collected a printout  of what ceremonial dress for Totonicapan consists of and we headed across town to the market for lunch.

The kids made it so easy to navigate the crowd they stayed close enough to us and still I wished I had had a multiplex of arms like a Buddah to hold their hands. Somehow we gawked, dawdled and backtracked up to an eating area where Rosa’s lady had a stand serving the local specialty.  It was meat, carrots onions and corn cobs prepared in heavy broth with these thick and giant kale like yummy leaves.. Tobic(?).  This was superb. 

With that and after picking up some official Barro whistles in the market, we headed for the public baths.  This was a scene right out of Fellini’s “Roma” everyone casually shrouded in droopy cloth.  Steam rose out of giant turtles (yes.) Grannies and babies moved in and out of cement tortoise barely moving the murky waters and haze…Alas, the kids had run down all the equipment batteries by then.   

And, we would make one final stop.  This was a reunion that included a most elegant demonstration of the dying and weaving technique that makes the Toto cloth so distinctive.  The old weavers received Rosa and Damiana and beckoned the herd of us to straggle up the hill and into their neat adobe compound.  This house had a small open courtyard with a loom room to the left; a typical reception cum bedroom was straight ahead.   Apparently the wife worked out on the porch stretching her threads out and banding before dying two times. She supplies her husband with threads and he puts them exactly on the loom – lining every color up before pressing the fibers together forever into cloth.

Mayans are hospitable and they dispatched their clearly dependent adult son out for sweets and drinks.  When he returned we watched some Hollywood (ultra blow-dried) Jesus dubbed in Quiche talk about walking on the Red Sea. And almost as miraculous we learned that there was a short cut back to the highway.  

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Rosa: Blending In in Traje

My long-broken elbow makes me a sort of unconscious ambassador.

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For several decades since the bike accident, I have appeared to be giving the Windsor wave as I walk. This open handed posture is used to compensate for not being able to straighten out at the elbow and to achieve some balance not to win friends and influence people. In New York where eye contact is rare, I would only once in a while get a wave back. Here, in tiny Panajachel, my mild affliction has long triggered an abundance of smiles and greetings from Mayan neighbors. It is only recently, that I understand enough and can speak that I have begun to get the depth and wit of these people.

For example, the other day I was, as usual, quaffing shrimp in dreamy Vietnamese coconut milk at ToBE and had been invited to sit at one of the owners’ tables. We were listening in to a Mayan woman, who was offering advice over dinner. I was winking back at the shrimp that were poking out of luscious broth when I heard the advisor mention “Dollarization.”

“What do you mean by ‘Dollarization?'” I asked in my astonished and feeble Spanish. The advisor said that Guatemala informally used the dollar for decades and then she picked up the thread of her conversation. After she left, I enthused about this arcane reference with my host.

“The first time I met the advisor she mentioned “Maya Cosmovision” during a budget meeting,” said the owner.

Further uptown, my Maya Quiche friend Rosa (of Patanatic) is sharing 20 of her children with me. We are now planning a big trip by minivan north to Totonicipan –where many of the families migrated from during the war. So in preparation, Rosa thought I should have a black/red/white guipel of my own to show that I too was a “daughter of Totonicapan.” Once she tailored that to me, she got really creative and invited me to appear when the Gringas arrived in late February. On the day in question, all the local ladies from the co-operative showed up in our Quipel. Most wore a solid red belt and all had some version of a black and white Ikat skirt (corte.) Rosa’s mother loaned me one for the day.. The fabric is double folded waist to ankle and about as long as a sheet; that is why it hangs so beautifully –as if starched. They wrapped it loosely around me so that the open crease could adjusted and lined up with a pleat (on either side of the hips.) Then they tightened the belt around to give me a tidy waist. They even found my (giant) size in the little slippers that they wear and did my hair in braids with a ribbon tying them together. I believe that the Gringas were properly surprised by the “ringer” in the welcoming dance.

I was so happy with how I looked that I wore the traje back in to town to show off. On the way in, I see “Indian Sarah” coming up the road. (Remember, “Indian Sarah” has been wearing full traje for thirty years and speaks English with a Bronx accent.) So, I motion “Look at me,” sweeping my crooked arm down from my shoulders to my toes. And, when she finally comes astride me, she looks me up and down very slowly and says in her gravelly voice. “Enjoy.”

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