Tag Archives: international women’s day

Women of Chiapas Photo Essay

International Women’s Day was Thursday, March 8, 2018.  It’s days later and I now find time to acknowledge, honor, recognize, applaud some of the women we met along the way during our two back-to-back Chiapas Textile Study Tours in February and March this year.

Women make, sell, suckle babies in Magdalenas Aldama, Chiapas

I don’t know all their names.

The Virgin of Guadalupe is a Zapatista icon in Chiapas, role model for justice

Their hands, feet and faces are universal stories of women who work hard with little recompense.

Shop keeper, San Juan Chamula, Chiapas

Their garments tell the stories of culture, history, creativity and subjugation by Spanish conquerors who imposed clothing style as indigenous identifier.

Maria and her niece, Aguacatenango, Chiapas

Most are women who weave or embroider.

Maruch is her Tzotzil name, Maria is her Christian name, San Juan Chamula district

Some are women who craft pottery — cooking vessels and decorative jaguars, many of them life-size.

This is Esperanza sculpting a clay jaguar, Amantenango del Valle, Chiapas

A few are famous. Most are not.

Grand Master of Mexican Folk Art Juana Gomez Ramirez, Amantenango del Valle

They are mothers, daughters, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, nieces.

Rosa, center, and her nieces, Magdalenas Aldama

Some, like Rosa and her husband Cristobal, participated in the 1994 Zapatista uprising to stand for indigenous rights. The movement paved the way for a stronger voice for women.

Producing handmade paper, Los Leñateros, San Cristobal de Las Casas

They carry babies on their backs, harnessed by robozos.

Market day, San Juan Chamula, Chiapas

They use rebozos shifted to the front of their bodies so infants can suckle. They use rebozos to carry market vegetables and fruit to the cooking fires.

Lourdes, research coordinator, Museo Textil Mundo Maya

Few are professionals like Lourdes who translates Spanish to English for us, educated in sophisticated cities far away.

Maria Meza, weaving cooperative director, Tenejapa, Chiapas

Others head cooperatives, organizing the business of textile making and selling to sustain families.

A metaphor for indigenous women worldwide, essential and faceless

Some are faceless. We see their progeny.

Manuela Trevini Bellini with PomPom Shawl at her shop Punto Y Trama,

A few are expats from Italy, France, Canada, the United States or Japan, who migrate to the promise land.

Women’s hands make organic tortillas from native corn

We see hands making tortillas, tending the cooking fire, soothing a child’s cry, serving a husband dinner.

Pioneer Swiss photographer, Gertrude Duby Blom, at Na Bolom

Most of all, we know that women’s work begins early and ends late, is continuous, often self-less and usually in the service of others.

Andrea Diaz Hernandez weaves this for eight months, San Andres Larrainzar

Take a moment to consider what women around the world give as we regard those whose photos we see here.

In Yochib, Oxchuc, impaired mobility, health care access hours away

Take a moment to give thanks to all the women in the world. We are more similar than we are different.

Meet the Women of Chiapas: 2019 Textile Study Tour

What will become of the next generation of women?






Tribute to International Women’s Day Through Poetry

Left to right: Giselt, Simona, Jennifer, Beth, Norma, Robin, Debbie, Kelly, Becky

Who knew there would be a full moon illuminating the courtyard at Las Granadas  Bed and Breakfast last night, March 8, when Professor Robin Greene and I planned our Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat a year ago?  And, who knew that it would coincide with International Women’s Day?  Who knew that nine magnifient women would gather on this day to lift voices in poetry, song, memoir, and reflective writing?  Sometimes, the universe aligns perfectly.


We invite Zapotec women from the village of Teotitlan del Valle where our retreat was based to share our experience.  Expatriates join in.  Together we sit, hear stories and poems about mothers, loved ones, the experience of first-time travel out of the U.S., a first date.  We honor each other with applause, a wonderful meal, a toast of sweetened juice made from the hibiscus flower (agua de jamaica).  This is our local tribute to the universality of women.  We lift our voices in community.


Rebecca King, one of our retreat participants, is a writer and poet who returned to college to complete a degree in English and creative writing as an adult.  She will graduate from Methodist University in Fayetteville, NC, this spring.  This is the poem she wrote during the retreat and read last night, giving me permission to share it with you. (Above: Becky works on last minute changes before the fiesta and final reading.)


(Reyna’s mole amarillo with green beans, choyote squash and potatoes, that she dishes out from the cooking pot.)

Where I Stand by Rebecca King

I stand

on the kitchen chair,

in the white house

before the twins came.

My mother, wearing

her green dress with the

white flowers,

moves her arms

back and forth,

a slow rolling.

I am five,

clumsy, messy.

Soft, squishy dough

sticks to my fingers.

Together, my mother

and I knead, roll,

gather the dough

back to center.



almost forty years

later, I stand

on the dirt floor

of Reyna’s kitchen

in Teotitlan, Mexico.

I move my arms

back and forth

a slow rolling.

I am forty two,

clumsy, messy.

The mano de matate

heavy in my hands.

I knead, roll,

grind the onions,

peppers, tomatillas,

roasted sesame

seeds into stone.

I gather the paste

back to center,

feel the ancient

rhythm of the women

where I stand.



Photos immediately above:  we are eating a lunch of amarillo molé prepared by cooking teacher Reyna Mendoza Ruiz outside in her immaculately clean traditional dirt floor kitchen.  She prepared the luscious traditional sauce using a metate that Rebecca refers to in her poem.  Rebecca opted to also take a cooking class with Reyna, which inspired her poem.