I met these two on the streets of Panajachel selling handmade greeting cards a few years ago. I loved this one unique design they had with embroidered flowers that I had not seen before from other street vendors. I asked them lots of questions about their family and if they went to school and what they like to do for fun. They explained that they are siblings and are 2 of 8 children in their family. They go to public school in Santa Catarina and during breaks and weekends they sell souvenirs to tourists on the streets of Panajachel. They don’t have a lot of free time to just have fun.
I asked them to please ask their mom if I could meet her and that I was happy to make the trip to Santa Catarina so she could tend to the younger children at home. The next day they came right back and told me any day I was welcome at their house!
I can still remember the day I met them in Santa Catarina and walked into their home. Teresa greeted me with a huge smile and told me about her family history and showed me her traditional weaving techniques. I met 7 of the 8 kids and we spent the entire afternoon laughing and enjoying each others presence.
Since then, we began selling Teresa’s goods on web and bringing travelers to visit the family. While their home is only a few rooms for so many people, it feels special and warm. Teresa LOVES having visitors and kindly opens her home to our contacts. We of course, pay her a fair wage for the hours she spends with us. I think of it the same I would pay a public speaker and generously compensate Teresa for the time she takes out of her schedule to sit and talk to visitors.
To me, she is an incredible example of a hard-working mother who cares greatly for her children. She is always balancing family responsibilities and making new woven designs. While, they do not have a lot of free time to just have fun, Teresa’s children have the most positive disposition and make sure to have high spirits wherever they go. That is what I want to show visitors coming to Lake Atitlan. Many families here don’t have much, live in cramped spaces, and work really hard from a young age. But ALWAYS ALWAYS have a smile on their face. That is something a lot of us are missing these days. To just appreciate what we have. And smile through life.
Here is a photo timeline of our experiences together of the past few years.
(the last few images are from the Hiptipico office party in Panajachel.)