This is a beautiful little village across Lake Atitlan, about a 30 minute boat ride, from Panajachel. It seems everytime I visit something new has been added to enhance the town. This trip they have added a new street on the beach made with paving stones. Last visit they were in the process of redoing a street in the main part of town but now it is finished and looks fantastic with all the multi-colored bricks. All the homes and businesses on the street have been given facelifts and new coast of paint. The new market building has been a great addition to the town with its many stores inside and was just completed last year.
There are a lot of wonderful artisans in San Juan La Laguna. We work with 2 artisan groups here but neither has a store in the main part of the village or in the market so it is difficult for them to make many sales. Ajbatz Bal is a group of 26 women that do weaving with the backstrap loom. They make beautifully woven elegant shawls that is one of our best sellers.
Mujeres Artesanas La Voz Que Clama En El Desierto is a group of eight women that also do backstrap weaving. The women in these groups are T’zutujil Mayans and some do not speak Spanish but only speak T’zutujil. The next 2 days I will be working with the leaders of these groups to check sample products, check time samples and costs, then place our orders for the handcrafts to be delivered later in the year. Each of these groups will receive a sizeable grant from Education And More so they are able to purchase needed materials or equipment in 2009 to help grow their business
This is a wonderful, relaxing little village similar to our small rural towns in the U.S. A mixture of old and new in the same village– adobe brick house, high speed internet cafes, wood burning kitchen stoves, cell phones, mules carrying wood home from the mountains, stores closing for about 2 hours for a late lunch and descanso (a rest time), everyone greeting each other on the streets, men on horseback and SUV’s, televisions and women in the ancient traditional dress of the Mayans.
San Juan La Laguna is a step back in time in many ways and a wonderful little village!