Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Mayan Women in Isla Mujeres, Mexico

I just returned from a Women's Retreat at Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Isla Mujeres is an island just off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. Isla Mujeres is Spanish for the island of women.

Other than dodging the snow, hail, and rainstorms in Washington, what I really enjoyed was meeting the Mayan women. We visited with a group of Mayan women who have created a small beading collective. The women support themselves and their children from the beading collective sales. They sell their crafts in a tiny shop up island and in the town square during fiestas and holidays. The purchase of one small bracelet, handcrafted with traditional Mayan designs, provides the equivalent of three day’s wages for these women and their families. Most of the women are indigenous culture, and speak Mayan and Spanish. Their children and grandchildren help them with written Spanish. With the proceeds, life’s necessities are purchased, school tuition for their children paid, and the fee for them to study at a new English language school is possible.

Another Mayan woman, Hortensia, sewed whatever style clothing you desired from the beautiful fabric at her shop. She looked at you, took a few measurements with the fabric in hand, and the next day she had an outfit that fit perfectly.

And Cecilia, this colorful woman, carried her merchandise and sold to those on the beach.

What a treat it was to meet these lovely Mayan women and to support them with our purchasing of their art.

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