After a morning of cataloging and lending instruction sessions (and a wonderful lunch at Dona Margarita’s) we all headed to Salcaja. School Director Jorge Chojolan accompanied us as we headed out on a public “chicken bus”. The primary purpose of our trip was to meet the family of a former student of Asturias. Don Emilio and Dona Flor welcomed us into their home and showed us their weaving techniques. I am sorry to say that I don’t remember the names of the machines that they demonstrated weaving on, but they were very old. Don Emilio couldn’t remember the exact date of the machine he works on daily but said it has been in his family for generations. Like many families in Guatemala, weaving has played an integral role in this family. In fact, Don Emilio showed us his signature design. It is the pattern that sells best and he said he has to continue to make it so that no one steals his trademark look. He also showed us some samples of his other designs, at one point wrapping the sample around his head and saying, “Like Rambo, no?” Both he and Dona Flora were not only friendly, but absolutely hilarious.
After learning about weaving techniques, Dona Flor took us on short (yet steep!) hike up to the cross which overlooks the town. This is the site of many religious ceremonies, and is the location for the image above. When we asked her to be in the photograph, she posed herself on the ground in front of the group. She’s such a character.
Our time in Salcaja also included a trip through the town market and a visit to a church, la Iglesia San Jacinto. The church, founded in 1524, is the oldest in Central America. We ended our day in Salcaja with a visit to the home of a maker of the town liquor, Caldo de Frutas (“Fruit Juice”). The owner brought out samples of the fruit and the red liquor for us to try. He says he ferments the fruit for 6 months, the long fermentation time is because the fruit is so hard that it takes that amount of time to get the juices to flow. He was quick to tell us that the red color was natural and that no chemicals are added.
It was a wonderful trip, especially having the ability to meet the family of Asturias. Their son, who graduated a few years ago, now works in Guatemala City for the National Electric company. Don Emilio was very proud as he was telling us of his accomplishments.