Our last week in Guatemala was all about exploring and celebrating. We took time to celebrate the success of our trip, the connections and friendships we made, the beautiful products that we sourced and the fun challenges we had along the way. Our 4 month journey has come to an end, and we are so excited to head home and share Cielo with the world; we hope that you are all just as excited as we are!
We visited many different locations on this trip and one of our goals was to spend enough time to settle in and understand the culture and traditions of each place. We loved doing all the fun things that Cielo entails and we also loved exploring each location and seeing all there was to see.
On Monday we walked to the lake shore, hopped on a boat and headed to the nearest town, Santa Cruz. From Santa Cruz we hiked around the headland by following trails that locals had made over the years. We walked on old wobbly boardwalks, into dense bush, along trails close to cliff faces and then stumbled upon a beautiful hidden hotel. This was hotel La Casa del Mundo which felt like a secret oasis.
We walked down the hotel steps to the jetty and dove in to the bright blue water. The lake’s fresh water felt instantly refreshing and revitalising. As we laid floating on our backs we could see Volcan San Pedro and Volcan Toliman in the distance. It was a moment where we both reflected on our last few months and were again overcome by a sense of appreciation for this trip.
From La Casa del Mundo, we walked to the quiet town of Jaibalito. This village is the least developed on the lake, is inaccessible by road and there are no cars. When we walked down to the pier, there was not a person in sight. We hopped onto a boat and took the extremely bumpy ride back to Panajachel.
The next day we also woke early and set off by foot. We hiked up and down winding hills to a town west of Panajachel, named Santa Catarina Palopo. Our friend Manuela had told us that Santa Catarina was her home town and was very quaint. The track to the town overlooked the lake and the scenery was breathtaking. It was really nice to see many walkers and runners on the track too, we said Buenos Dias, waved and smiled so many times, it was uplifting. Once we arrived we walked down to the docks and women were sitting there weaving right by the lake. It was a beautiful sight. The town itself had not one other tourist, but all the locals were friendly and inviting.
The next day it was back to business! On Wednesday we picked up one more order of leather bags from our friends Juan and Silvia. That night Pam (Mo’s mum and mother of Mision Mexico) travelled down from Tapachula to visit us. We were very excited to show her the lake and introduce her to our new friends.
On Thursday we took a bus to Chichicastenango where we visited the famous Chichi Markets. This is the oldest and largest open-air market in Central America. There were so many colours all around, especially in the hand woven textiles and the flowers that surrounded the church. As you walked around the market, you could smell a hint of incense as it was being offered to the Maya gods at the nearby church.
Moacir had been learning the local indigenous language of Kaqchikel and conversed with a few local women. We also met a lady named Juana from Santa Catarina Palopo and she invited me to sit down whilst she transformed my hair into her traditional style. The market was a classic and chaotic scene, but a very special place to witness.
The next day we took Pam on the Santa Cruz to Jaibalito walk, which included a visit to La Casa del Mundo for breakfast. Once we arrived in Jaibalito we waited for a boat to take us to San Juan La Laguna. As we rested our feet, a boat pulled up with bricks and bags of cement. We witnessed a little girl, who was probably no older than 10 years old, lift 4 heavy bricks onto her back and then carry them up the hill into town. Her little sister then also picked up a large brick and walked into town. I was standing there thinking of how different my life was as a child. My days were spent at school or playing and theirs is spent helping their parents build a home.
From Jaibalito we caught a boat to San Juan La Laguna. There was a week long celebration happening in town to celebrate the day of San Juan and Ingrid from the single mothers co-operative had invited us to join her. When we stepped into the co-operative Ingrid instantly greeted us and then dressed me in San Juan’s traditional indigenous clothing. Her mother gifted me with a corte (skirt) and belt to match the huipil that I purchased on my first visit. I felt so lucky to be invited to experience this side of their culture and they were so happy to have us there. Ingrid’s brother Elder then picked us up in a tuk tuk and took us to their home.
Ingrid’s mother Victoria had prepared us a delicious traditional Guatemalan meal and whilst we ate Ingrid shared stories of Maya beliefs. From there we visited the fair that was happening in town. The fair had traditional dances, busy rides, markets and many people were out proudly celebrating their town. It was beautiful seeing the community come together. I also received many positive comments on my traditional dress and all the locals were so happy to see us embracing their town and their culture.
At the end of the day we walked back to the co-operative to say goodbye to Victoria and Ingrid. As we said goodbye Victoria mentioned how grateful she was that we had decided to work and establish a relationship with the single mothers co-operative. The feeling is absolutely mutual and we couldn’t have found a more talented group of women to partner with. We boarded the last boat of the day and disappeared into the oncoming storm on what felt like a scene from The Perfect Storm.
On Saturday we woke early and made our way back to Tapachula. As soon as we passed through the border we could feel the temperature rising. We arrived in Mision Mexico to a bunch of smiles and hugs from the kids, I looked at Mo and we both smiled, we were in our second home.
What have we been up to in isolation? I have been growing our little girl. We are very excited to bring her into the world in just a couple of months! I have absolutely loved wearing Cielo throughout my pregnancy so felt inspired to share a few of my favourite designs, versatile enough for before, during and after pregnancy.
This week was Fashion Revolution Week. It is a time where people all over the world come together to ask their favourite brands #whomademyclothes? Brands and retailers around the world are asked to step up and be transparent about their supply chains.
Today is International Women’s Day and this year’s theme is #EachforEqual where “we can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender equal world”.