It keeps being true: as much as I admire and like Ana Pu, the line I like best in her story is the last, when her son Juan says, “It’s exciting to have you here. We don’t get visitors from the outside. I’m also happy that you came because the neighbors said it was a lie that you would come and it isn’t!”
Here is how much they don’t get visitors from the outside. The second time we visited them, at one point I was up on the road above their house getting something from the car. I saw some women and children walking toward me, I looked down at what I was doing, and when I looked up again they had vanished. I mentioned it to Teodoro, our friend and translator, and he said that the fear of child-stealing is so prevalent there that any stranger would be viewed as suspect, but especially a white woman. So it is that much more wonderful how Ana, her son Juan, his wife Eva, and their two children Santiago Enrique and Ana Cristina have not only welcomed us into their home, but been truly warm and very enthusiastic about us being with them.
When we returned last week to give wool warp spinner Ana her copies of Traditional Weavers of Guatemala: Their Stories, Their Lives – two full books in English and one smaller one that Tere made up with the Spanish translation of Ana’s story – we were welcomed as enthusiastically as we had been on our previous trips. They had set up chairs for us to sit and visit, draped a plastic tarp to provide shade, and were eager to see the book. Everything was perfect except for one glaring omission – Ana herself was nowhere to be seen. It turned out that her daughter had just had a baby (girl) and Ana had gone to stay with her for awhile, as moms/grandmas do. We asked how far it was, then loaded up the car with not only Juan and family but more family who had come for the occasion of our visit. Someone at Toyota might think a 4Runner was built to hold five people, but we know better. We had nine and could have squeezed more in the back with me easily! So off we went, on the toughest of all the roads we drove for the entire book.
Neither Ana nor her daughter had a phone, so our arrival was totally unannounced. Once she got over the surprise, Ana was glad enough to see us. We talked some, showed her the book, did what we could without interrupting the new-baby-caring too much. Ana is one of the artisans who very likely had never held a book in her hands. Her 11-year-old grandson is in school now, the first in the family ever to go, so he may be bringing workbooks home. (Or may not, as rural schools tend to be woefully underfunded.) But she did like seeing her picture, that made sense to her. And when we left, she sent all the books home with Juan to make sure they would be safe, not get damaged in the shuffle of new-baby activity. Later Santiago Enrique, her grandson, will read and translate the story for her.
As we were leaving Juan and family back at their home again, Juan made a point of saying that he hoped we would be back, that we were more than welcome to visit anytime. We made sure to get his phone number, as in fact we do plan to take a group of visitors to meet them in February. And that will be nice, for all of us.