Friday, March 09, 2007

It´s Friday Night in San Cristobal

... and it is rather interesting!! First, I found another weaving cooperative here in San Cristobal that has garments for about 20% less than what I´ve been spending at the places we´ve been taken to. hmm.

And then, there´s a demonstration in the Cathedral Square! Gotta look up FDLN, maybe it´s Zapatistas. They´re an orderly, if quite loud, bunch. A lot of police presence too... but everyone is in a good mood. From what Chip says, this is standard operating procedure. Everyone knows the dance steps, no one steps on any toes.

(have I mangled enough metaphors yet?)

I did see a bit of a spat, but it seemed to be of the get-in-your-face name calling. And the object of the anger just turned and walked away. Rather fast, but just walked away.

Chip says there are 150,000 people in San Cristobal, and another 150,000 in Chamula. It´s amazing to see this many people living so densely in an agricultural area. Apparently, there is a long history - pre-Conquistador even - of Chiapans being migrant workers. Work a long ways away for months, come back for a season or two. The weaving and other crafts are letting the women be a lot more self-sufficient.

My spanish is picking up quickly, but it´s the tourist spanish. In the food market (which Bjo says is quite the 16th century setup), there was a woman knitting. I complimented her on it - Que Bueno! and showed her my socks. I´m not quite sure what she asked me, but I think she either wanted to buy them, have me teach her how, or something. She was rather shocked that I told her I´d sell them for $15 - 150 pesos.

We also found the LYS (Local Yarn Store, for all you non-knitters). Geesh, talk about acrylic!! It´s not the frou frou eyelash yarn, but it does have the metallic threads added in. Either that, or it´s bright neon colors. yikes...

Turns out, the Chiapan weavers do spin for themselves, and have rather pampered sheep. But most of the tourist weaving is out of either acrylic or cotton threads they order out of Guatemala. They can order any color out of the Pantone catalog. I almost bought one of the big bricks of yarn (pictures will have to wait until I get home, the connection speed just isn´t working for flickr). But, you know, I really don´t need more yarn.

OK, stop laughing.

If I thought I could get away with it, I´d have smuggled a maguey plant, the kind used for fibers, for making baskets and bags. If I could have gotten some seeds, I would have in a heartbeat. I got a lot of good film on Pedro, who makes net bags in a sprang technique. Que chedo! (how cool!)

The maguey that Pedro has is ideal for fiber-- all you have to do is scrape the leaves and you get the fiber. Most varieties are of the soak, rot, and stink for a couple of weeks kind. I talked to Chip about how much I believe in Seed Savers, etc, and I think I got the "yeah, ok, we´ll do that" agreement that never quite happens.

That´s all for tonight... say good night, Gracie.


At 7:25 AM , Blogger Marcy said...

I hope you're getting lots and lots and lots of phots, Ruthie! I'm enjoying my vicarious trip, but it sure will be easier once there are photos. :D

At 10:31 AM , Blogger Jennifer said...

Ruth, were you able to find out what variety of maguey it was? I've been wanting to make some baskets, but retting is a no-no here...we live *very* close to our neighbors!! If I could get one to grow here, I'd be glad to share seeds :)

Our 1 and only LYS in TJ is just like what you describe! Makes me glad I learned to spin before we moved here!

Hope you're having a great weekend!!

Good night, Gracie!


At 1:42 PM , Blogger Ruth said...

Marcy, I am taking so many pictures you will probably fall asleep before getting to the end. (big grin)

And Jennifer, I don't know what the variety is, but I got plenty of pictures!! Maybe you can match the picture to something local... Bjo says she's sure we've got it in LA too.


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