Saturday, June 11, 2016

Moods of the Mountains

11 June 2016

When we were riding back from Panajachel, we passed by the volcanoes that we can see from Antigua.  Although we seemed to view them from the other side before losing sight as we went around a different mountain.  And then Volcan de Agua and Volcan de Fuego showed up again, on the outskirts of Antigua Guatemala, looking the way they always have from this viewpoint.

But I noticed that Fuego has two peaks, and the smaller peak was smoking away.  Huffing and puffing and shooting out a steady stream of dark grey smoke.  We don’t see this from Antigua, the baby peak is on the opposite side and blocked by the larger peak of the volcano. 

Well, this morning, after the major thunderstorms and heavy rain of last night, the tables in the courtyard were covered in a fine dust.  The owner or manager of our little hotel said that Fuego started smoking again, maybe on Thursday or Friday, and the ash is blowing over to the town.  I’m not sure if the big peak is smoking, or if the wind shifted and we’re getting the smoke and ash from the baby peak.  We’re definitely getting some kind of volcanic something.

No rumblings, no tremors, no earthquakes.  No lava or even steam.  Just a slow steady supply of ash.
Some days we can see Volcan de Fuego, who is about 25 km (15 miles) away.  Some days this volcano is completely hidden behind the clouds.

We can almost always see Volcan de Agua, who is closer.  And there are days when she (or he?) is out from behind the clouds, proud and regal, almost standing guard over the city of Antigua.  Or threatening, depending on how you feel about volcanoes.  I think Agua looks protective, even if she did flood the city centuries ago.

We’re exploring new parts of the city.  I found the artisans’ market and had a great time just looking.  Everything is gorgeous, and I’d love nothing better than to fill my rolling luggage with weavings and embroidered items, for the house as well as clothing.  Even purses and shoes and boots made from the same woven fabric as the traditional shirts, the huipils.  (That’s pronounced hwee-PEEL.)  

I’ve tried on a number of huipils, both from the heavy woven cotton where the design is woven in, as well as the lighter cotton with embroidered designs.  I’m not sure these are the most attractive tops on me.  The work is gorgeous, don’t get me wrong, Iove them.  But the shape of the whole shirt is just, well, really square and boxy.

As you can see from this framed huipil that the shirt is two or three woven strips that are then sewn together, making a square poncho type top.  Then the sides are sewn together, leaving holes for the arms.  The center square or circle is finished with embroidery, and that makes the huipil, the shirt.  

Guatemalan women wear the huipil tucked into a wrapped woven skirt, the whole thing then set off with a woven or embroidered belt.  The belt holds in the huipil, so it doesn’t look as square and boxy.

I usually don’t wear a skirt, especially one that’s a wrapped length of hand-woven fabric.  And I rarely wear a belt.  So the huipil just sort of hangs loosely and shapelessly over slacks or shorts.  While the embroidery or weaving still looks gorgeous, the whole shirt looks boxy and oversized.  Not the most attractive look on me.

So I think I need to find traditional fabrics sewn into more structured shirts.  That way they’ll work with my usual slacks, shorts, or a little straight skirt.  I’ve seen a few.

The other issue is that Maya women are tiny.  There are few women who are even five feet tall – many of the women are barely up to my chin.  That means many of the tops are way too short for anyone who is even average height in the US.

I’ll keep looking, though.  I’m sure the perfect shirt is out there, just waiting for me to find it.  Until then, I've bought a few of the incredibly beautiful beaded items.  I love this blue morpho butterfly!  I'm hoping if I wear this barrette, I'll draw in more blue morphos to fly around me!

On Tuesday, we’re heading north.  This is where we need to go to see the famous Mayan ruins.  Yes, they’re in the middle of the jungle.  We hope to see some monkeys, tropical birds.  Maybe a margay, or ocelot.  If we’re really lucky, possibly a jaguar or puma.  Though I suspect we’ll only see the monkeys – the big cats tend to be more elusive.  Which is a good thing, since the monkeys are friendlier, too.

Here's a map of where Antigua Guatemala is in relation to the volcanoes.

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