Welcome to our workshop

our workshop (on the right)

We have opened our workshop/shop! (the building on the right – next to the central hub of the town – el comedor). A quick dust down of the cobwebs, a whiteboard borrowed from the church, a table borrowed from a teacher, plastic stools from home and we are on for business. To begin with, we’re opening between 1-3pm, Mon-Fri, before teaching in the school. This is when the little kids are free (up to age 10) as they go to school in the mornings. We picked up the key from an old man at the end of our street, paid him the £25 for the month’s rent and celebrated with kids and granddads who walked by with 2 big bottles of Mirinda – the local Fanta

inside the space – day one
our custom-made window which lets in as much breeze and light as possible

Day 1

We had invited 8 adults – Janet the hairdresser, William the resourceful maker, Enok’s dad who makes little turtles out of coconut shell, Telma the fierce schoolkeeper, Juan Carlos the grafter, sweet but flakey Pati and a couple of other women who are interested in making artesanias  – to our first meeting where we would explain how our social enterprise would work:

  • We buy the materials (from Guatemala City or Antigua – either way a 5 hour journey)
  • We hold a month of workshops where everyone shares their skills and create a range of products using local and recycled materials
  • Locals buy the materials from us and make the products
  • We sell the products in our shop and in Surf House and Surf Camp to tourists. 75% goes to the maker and 25% goes back into the project.

So we opened for our first day and, true El Paredon style, none of our core adult group showed up and loads of kids did. So we drew birds local to the area – Pelicans and herons. There is some real artistic talent here but they don’t do art in the school. Compared to classrooms in the UK – filled with paintings and displays – the walls are bare with the occasional ‘Jesus loves you’ sign.

In our first hour of our first workshop, we realized we needed to stop kids running in and out with all our precious bits and bobs so sparkly and new. We sent one of our keen helpers to find a piece of wood to lock the door. Another wee boy mopped the floor. Another put up the mask drawings the kids made the day before in an impromptu workshop in the outside eatery. Lots of curious adults wandered by and wandered in, as well as some chickens.

Day 2 in our workshop

our first key rings made by the kids

9 kids came and we made bracelets ‘pulseras’ out of the beads we bought in the city. Everyone were surprisingly calm and orderly, although it was hard to chuck them out at the end of the session. They each made three – 1 to keep and 2 to sell in our shop. It felt like a real success. That night, Telma came round with carved surfboards, triangles and turtles made out of coconut and an enthusiasm we hadn’t yet seen in her. We also met Enok’s dad who is happy to work with us on Sundays when he is not out at sea fishing and show some of the keen kids how to make his beautiful coconut turtles. We need to buy them little saws, files, sandpaper and sanding tools so they can get working. We also need a proper, solid table and lots of chairs (most of the kids are working standing or on drinks crates) as well as a hammer and shelves to put our materials on. We are trying to beg, borrow or steal for these things but may have to tap into our funds and get them from San Jose.

We also made our first sale to some men who were fixing electricity in the village!

our first customers
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4 thoughts on “Welcome to our workshop

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  1. Good morning, I stumbled upon your page while looking for a place to vacation in Guatamala. I find your posts most charming and interesting. My questions for you are do you take donations for your school and do you allow visitors. If my wife and I go to El Paredon on vacation we would enjoy stopping by. Hoping you have a wonderful day!!
    Larry

    1. Dear Larry
      How lovely to receive your kind message. I am really pleased you like the blog and are interested in coming to visit us. We would love to meet you and introduce you to our projects and to the fantastic people we are working with. I had a chat with teachers at the school recently and they desperately need teachers books as all they have is the national curriculum and no extra resources to teach with – no activities or guidance books. Any funding towards this would be amazing. I’ll send you a separate email with some good places to stay in El Paredon. Best wishes
      Julia

    2. Actually, there are 3 great places to stay here – El Paredon Surf Camp which is rustic and the cheapest but lovely and very relaxed, Paredon Surf House which is still great value but more upmarket – like a boutique hotel with a little pool and communal dinners (you should treat yourself to one of the suites – they are about $50/ night and amazing). There is also a new place – El Pelicano which is more expensive and upmarket but small and intimate. You can easily walk into town from any of these places. And although the first two have ‘surf’ in the title, you don’t need to be a surfer to stay there – there are lots of couples and families.

  2. Dear Julia,
    I would like to thank you so much for the information on accomodations near you. I have made tentative reservations at Paredon Surf House for mid-November. These are pending vacation approval from my employer. Please E-mail me with Some specifics on the needs of your school. Thanks again Larry

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