Por fin, the rains have cleared, and I spent a lot of time this morning doing an outdoors photo session with some of my personal favorites from the collection at Taller Leñateros. In addition to shooting fifty to a hundred shots per product, is the laborious editing that happens afterwards, and loading it onto Flickr sets.

After lunch, I walked into the Taller to learn more from our Mayan associates about paper-making techniques and silkscreens. (I should not have worn all white!) Because everything is manual…from mixing the each paint color swab…to creating the positive screens from acetate…to doing the test sheets…the mastery in this work is achieved through experience, not intellect. For the first time, you see how complex making a set of sophisticated posters can be.

Julio, Armano, and Lucio are patient and insightful as Mayan artisans, and I am very privileged to glean skills from them. One thing I volunteer to do is giving comprehensive tours to foreigners, first because it helps me acquire the Spanish vocabulary of all the machines and chemicals involved, and second because it builds trust and camaraderie with all my more-experienced colleagues. Most of them have fascinating backgrounds, and I’ve been told to ask them to take me to their hometowns outside of here for a more authentic experience. More on this later.

Preview of Romeo & Julieta

We attended the Kinoki theatre to watch Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet (1996) whose profound visual artistry inspired me to see Mayan tradition with a little irony this week. As important as it is to conserve the root of the indigenous Mesoamerican culture, it is also crucial to have fresh eyes, to infuse things with wit and clever perspectives. So in addition to a compelling story, I paid close attention to the scene editing, the elements of surprise and intrigue. (By the way, the Spanish subtitles really helped me understand the story better than Shakespearean English.) If I ever get to work with the products more closely, this is what integrate into our products. The story resonates, the process is interesting, but ah, what we lack now is this effervescent irony. There is eternity in creating something like that.

Does this inform my morning photo sessions with these Mayan Love Charms and secret Hexes? I’d like to think that my Asian-American heritage and global sensibilities help.

Besándote – Des’ree

El orgullo puede resistir
Mil juicios.
Los fuertes nunca caerán.
Pero al mirar las estrellas sin ti,
Mi alma lloró.
El corazón me sube y me baja, lleno de dolor.
Oh, oh, el dolor.

Porque te estoy besando, oh,
Te estoy besando, oh.

Acaríciame mucho,
Puro y verdadero
Regalo para mí, para siempre.

Porque te estoy besando, oh,
Te estoy besando, oh.

¿Dónde estás ahora?
¿Dónde estás ahora?
Porque te estoy besando,
Te estoy besando, oh.

Tzotzil Words of the Day: Kuavelan = Greetings. | O’kun’to = See you tomorrow