My friend Pat joined me for a Kumiai basket weaving class at el museo comunitario de Tecate. All of the money paid for the class is dedicated to helping local indigenous people maintain their way of life.
Diana (who is not a big fan of pictures) was the teacher at our table.
The hardest part is to get the junko project started. Junko is the type of reed used to make baskets, plates and other artisan crafts. I could not do this on my own. I had to continuously ask for Diana's help, and after breaking my first one I had to start another (with Diana's assistance). This took about two hours to make.
It was time for our catered lunch; delicious enchiladas and jamaica to drink for me.
We had the luck of experiencing live traditional Kumiai music at lunch time.
After spending hours working on my piece of 'art' it gives you a real appreciation for their work. This pot took about a month to make, working 4-5 hours every day. It has two snake patterns and costs 500$. If I had an extra 500$ I would buy it. It is incredible. Buying Kumiai art is like buying history. These traditions have been passed down for thousands of years.
The community museum has native plants outside that are used by indigenous people. There are two types of junko, the one being pointed out now is the type used for the 'cola' (the tail) the reed that the 'hilo' is wrapped around.
This is the type of junko that is used for the 'hilo' (the thread). Our guide was so impressed by the hilo grown at the museum; that it did not have any flaws. She said multiple times in awe that is was such pretty hilo. Although she picked a few pieces to show us how to pull out the roots when picking, according to Kumiai tradition it can only be picked no more than three days before or after a full moon.
She took a few of the pieces of junko and made what I am holding below. It took her maybe two minutes (probably less). Kumiai people are incredibly talented.
Some of us got the hang of the process more than others (me).
This is Pat's bowl. She is going to use it for her ring when she washes her hands.
The bowls are made out of willow. They look easier but people at these tables mentioned to me that our task was easier. I think that both are nearly impossible. It takes decades to master.
I joked that maybe in a hundred years I would be able to do it.
This is my piece. It does not look good (and if you think it does look good it is because Diana did that part).
It would not be a day in Tecate without a visit to El Mejor Pan!