And while the Olympics storm London…here in Guatemala…

We couldn’t be further away from the Olympics but at least we’ve found a family who has a TV so we just watched the opening ceremony. This is the moment Guatemala came on screen.

Here is a little update on the interesting couple of weeks we’ve had here in El Paredon.

The great news is that: 

  • We have sold our first lancha installation(20 small boats made out of tin cans, nails and painted seed pods) to the lovely owners of the Surf House  – Kristof and James – for their office in Antigua. We are really excited to be selling our own artwork and open to more commissions!

The Surf House are also going to have a shop which we are going to stock, which will be great.

  • Larry – one of our lead followers of this blog from the US  has rallied enough support from his community to fund 30 books for teachers for the local school here and is going to come out and visit us in November.
  • We have had some lovely people to hang out with who are staying at the Surf Camp – Zach – an adventure boy from America who introduced me to two inspirational books – Walden; Life In the Woods – about simple living and As a Man Thinketh – about positive thinking. Also Kara – a nurse from California who was our hair wrap guinea pig, my surf buddy and a strong lady who also gave us some money towards art materials for the workshop and let us share her dinners when she had a dodgy stomach (thanks Kara!). Then there is Hubi – who is still here 3 weeks later and who has fallen in love with El Paredon – a snowboarder and teacher from Austria who has created some amazing new products for our project and is a big sparkle (a blog post will be dedicated to him soon). This is him after leading a driftwood creature workshop. 
  • Carlos, our godfather from the city, came in his breaking down truck and brought us a wardrobe and 6 homemade stools, as well as some peanut butter, cotton earbuds and some pills to prevent fever! We have made it clear that you don’t kiss your friends on the mouth in our country when you say hello and since then he has told us about his wife, so all is good all round.
  • My surfing is finally improving after 4 months of nosedives, wipeouts and duck dive disasters. I am getting up and even getting to the line up with the local boys. Photos to follow! A healthy dose of adrenaline each morning gives me some calm in my heart for the rest of the day.

Some tricky times

Life is however not always one big paradise here. We came into a cultural conflict last weekend when an over-generous tourist gave the three kids who were selling work with us 200Q each (over $20 – twice the average daily wage) We decided it would be fairer to split the tips with the whole group  but the parents of the kids didn’t think so and the whole town turned against us for a day. We had a big meeting to clear up matters, explaining that in our country there is a culture of sharing, something that is not normal practice here. Fortunately things are better now, but it was a good reminder that we cannot assume that things work here like at home.

Another thing
Turtle eggs are like ping pong balls, but dent at the slightest touch.
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The friendship bracelet bar

  

Friendship bracelet bar

Carla has made a friendship bracelet bar at the front of our shop which is one of  the best inventions ever. Kids fight for a place at it.

And now, thanks to Heidi, Sofia and Alicia (tourists passing through El Paredon) we have learnt how to make 4 different styles of friendship bracelets that our young artists are mastering (and are already looking professional!)

The wrap bracelet

The olas (waves) bracelet

The plano (flat) bracelet

And, the most complicated, the flecha (arrow) bracelet

The kids are already much better at it than we are and are starting to teach each other, which is superb. They are addicted, asking for pita (thread) to take home every night to make more.

Volunteers

In the last 2 weeks, we’ve had our first four volunteers working with us in the workshop. Thanks to Mike, Sofia, Aisha and Cedic for stopping kids nailing into their hands, for your patience and laughter. Anyone else who wants to come and develop our artistic programme, teach our makers new techniques or work with us on our business or sales side, is very welcome. We will be launching our volunteer scheme shortly, so get in touch if you’re interested! Learn to surf in the mornings, work with us in the afternoons and watch the moon on the canal or sit by a fire in the evenings!

First sales trip

 

Last weekend we recruited some young salespeople from our team and went around the hotels in El Paredon selling our work.

We sold 30 items and made over 400Q!

This gave everyone a big boost.

We learnt a lot from this weekend – mainly to train the kids in selling the products, not take so many people and not to sell when it is the European Cup final!

The Mayor caught us on our way back and he seemed pleased with what we’ve achieved so far. This is him with our young artists:

The energy and enthusiasm of the kids, and a few adults too, drives us forward when we start questioning things. At the moment we are just doing it, going with it, and seeing what emerges, without worrying too much about the future. All we know is that there is a hunger for this project and it is fulfilling a real need. And that is a good recipe…

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