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Buying artisan crafts in Magdelena de la Paz

Written on: Wednesday May 14th, 2008

A journal entry from: North America in our Camper Van!

We spent the evening of the inauguration in the community of Magdalena de la Paz, parked outside the autonomous government?s office.

The following day Peter arranged for us to meet with the Women?s Cooperative down the street. The three women from the Cooperative set out a table full of shawls, cloths, skirts, bags and other hand-knitted items. The handicraft was beautiful. I found a bag that I really liked, and thinking over the hours that it must have taken to make it, I reluctantly asked how much it cost (thinking that there was no way I could afford it). I had to ask her to repeat the price three times because I didn?t believe my ears. The purse was only 10$. ?Quanto tiempo para hacer lo??, I asked her, and she replied, ?Mas o menos, dos meses?. Two months of work would earn this woman $10. I felt guilty paying so little and so decided to take 5 purses and then gave her a little extra (now you all know what you are getting for Christmas). My mom picked up a few things as well. Schools for Chiapas have just set up an online store selling Zapatista products and handicrafts; Susan proceeded to buy everything left in their shop, about $400 worth of stuff. Interestingly, none of these women had math skills and so a woman went to fetch an Education Promoter to help them calculate the bill. I lent them my calculator but Susan explained to us that it was important for us to actually sit back and let them calculate the total. More than thirty minutes later, after much discussing, fussing with the calculator, adding, then re-adding, the women presented Susan with the total. They beamed delight when Susan showed them her tally, which was the same number. The women were so ecstatic that they couldn?t stop giggling. This was the biggest sale that they had ever made and recently the cooperative had been having a hard time selling.

We headed back to San Cristobal that Wednesday afternoon. We would have the day Thursday ?off? again to explore San Cristobal and would meet Susan and Peter on Friday morning for our last Zapatista excursion.

I started feeling a little crummy that evening after Rob, Annette and I returned from diner and retired early to bed.