Thursday, February 10, 2011

Pretty Things Thursday: Pottery from San Antonio Palopo

In November 2009, Nick and I ventured to Guatemala for two weeks on our honeymoon.  Having only been outside of the US to visit Canada and the Caribbean, it was an interesting and educational trip for the both of us.  Of course we'd pick a Third World Country as our first real trip abroad!  How did we pick this non-traditional honeymoon destination, you might ask?  Nick has been house and cat sitting for our friends for about 15 years now while they travel for business and vacation, and they own a house on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala.  When we got engaged, they told Nick that we could honeymoon in their Guatemalan house, and we gladly took them up on the offer!

I could write pages upon pages about the fun adventures that we had in Guatemala, but as this is Pretty Things Thursday, I'll limit this post to the amazing pottery that we snagged in San Antonio Palopo, the town next to Santa Catarina Palopo, the town where we were staying.  Before we left for our trip, our friends spent a few hours telling us all of the places we needed to go while we were in the various towns and cities during our two weeks.  One of the places that they mentioned was a pottery shop in the very small San Antonio Palopo.  After seeing a few pieces in the house where we were staying, we decided to venture out to find this shop.  We caught a tuk tuk into town.  Tuk tuks are one of the primary modes of transportation around the lake between the small towns that line the perimeter.  They have a small back seat that can fit no more than 3 people if you really squeeze and they are steered by handlebars.  They're hilarious.  Here's us going down a very steep hill in one.

We were told that the pottery shop was right near the lake, but our tuk tuk driver didn't know what shop we were talking about (or maybe he couldn't understand our poor Spanish), so we just had him drop us in the middle of town.  Once we realized that San Antonio Palopo was only about 4 blocks wide, we didn't think we'd have too much trouble finding it.  After exploring the main street and not having much success, we decided to walk down a random winding street that led to the lake.  After a few minutes, we found the shop!  And then we went wild picking out pottery.  The shop had cement floors and had nothing in it but metal shelving and tons and tons of pottery.  What we eventually bought is a very slimmed down stash of what we originally picked out.

The shop is owned by a family who was taught how to make the pottery by a guy named Ken Edwards.  Aren't these little birdies and owls adorable?  We got the textile that they are sitting on from the market in Panajachael, the town on the other side of Santa Catarina Palopo.  Pana is where all of the shops and restaurants are, so we went into Pana pretty much every day.  This shot reminds me of the market.  All of the vendors had these crazy displays of all of their goods and it was so colorful.

If you can't handle that much color all at once, here's a shot of them with a neutral background.

Normally, only the small owl lives on this shelf.  The birdies live on one of the bookshelves in our living room, and the bigger owl actually lives right next to my Tanya bowl that I mentioned the other day, on a shelf in our stairwell.  Here she is in all of her glory!  You can kinda see her face on the brownish side that is facing front.  Please remember that I made this in 7th grade.

This plate has been waiting to be hung up in our powder room, but we can't seem to find a plate holder that we like.  Either we aren't looking hard enough, or what we want doesn't exist.  One day it will hang on the wall!

This bowl serves as our candy bowl.  The design on it and the rest of the pottery is unique to San Antonio Palopo.  Each of the towns around the lake have their own design so you know where the pottery was made.

This double vase lives on the same shelf as the Tanya bowl and owl in our staircase.  Nick carried this in his carry-on on the plane ride back.  We were very thankful that it didn't break en route!

We were the only customers in the store the entire time we were there, so we were able to keep a pile of our goods while we decided what we needed and what we would have to leave behind.  After we finalized our loot, the poor man that worked in the shop was tasked with wrapping all of our stuff in newspaper.  As he did, I looked around at all of the awesome pottery that we weren't able to take with us, when a little girl appeared in the doorway of the shop.  She got a huge smile on her face, waved at me, and mouthed "Hola."  I waved and mouthed Hola back, she lingered a minute watching us in the store, and then the girl she was playing with pulled her away.  It was the most innocent and sweet thing I have ever witnessed, and as cliche as this is, put life in perspective for me.  It probably doesn't make much sense to anyone but me, but that moment continues to remind me what life is all about.  I hope I never forget it.

We left the store with our bags and bags of pottery and set off to go back to the house.  The trouble was, there weren't any tuk tuks to drive us the 3 or so miles back!  It was mid-afternoon by this point and was getting pretty hot and humid as we started walking along the road.  After about 5 minutes, right as we were admiring a hummingbird sitting on barbed wire, a pick-up truck pulled around the bend and we were able to hitch a ride back to the house.  Riding in the back of pick-up trucks was our other method of transportation.  I actually preffered them to tuk tuks!

Next week, I'll share the awesome donkey and bird masks that we picked up in Pana.


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