It's been two weeks and I still haven't stopped noticing the colors. The women wearing cortes and huipiles. The endless stacks of scarves, skirts, bags, hammocks, and wall hangings. The ease with which women maintain a conversation while picking up warp strands to add complicated birds and flowers to their weavings.
Several days ago I was sitting in el parque central working on my homework. "Señorita, quieres una bufanda? Un regalo por tu mama" "no gracias" "por que no?" That's a new reply. I look up, straight at this woman covered in beautiful weavings. "Por que mia vida está en mia mochila" My life is in my backpack. She laughs. Emboldened, I say that I want to learn to weave. She seems surprised and I pull out the belt I've been making. "Es bonita." My Spanish skills are at their limit as she asks me how it's made. "Una de derecha...otra izquierda...arriba...abajo...cruces en medio...", I motion fumbling for words. But for a weaver it's enough. "Es muy bonita. Adios amiga."
A few days later I ventured out of Antigua for the first time. My goal was to visit San Antonio, only about 15 minutes away, to see their style of weaving. I get on the bus, clearly a confused non-local. Luckily, they paint the destination on the front of the bus. I sit next to a woman and she smiles, and I ask if she's from San Antonio. She nods and confirms, and proceeds to ask me, politely, what the hell I'm doing on this bus. I smile brightly and say I want to see the weavings. Oh, you want to buy weavings? No, no, no, I want to see the weavings. And learn to weave. And she offers to teach me. Why not? I get off the bus with her in town and follow her home. She greets her startled family - I'm bringing home a friend! And vanishes into one of the rooms off the slight courtyard (dirt patch with a tree) to find a loom. Her little daughter greets me while the elder one is cooking on the outdoor wood stove. After a few standard questions, including "are you here to buy my mom's weavings?" she decides that I'm not too scary. At that point, "do you want to see my iguana?" I'm confused. I think I've misheard her. But I say yes, and she pulls a string next to her, and an iguana with a leash tied around its middle falls out of the tree. I start laughing, and dutifully pet the iguana, much to their amazement. I get an hour of weaving instruction after that. Just enough to test out the loom and understand how much work goes into picking out designs. Every row with multiple colors takes forever. I can't imagine the time for a piece completely covered in pictures.
But I have my local moments too - when I start complaining that it's cold in the shade despite having spent 5 months in Northern Europe.