Senior Natik Adventures in Chiapas!

thumb_IMG_0307_1024In March, a group of five intrepid seniors from Portland, Oregon ventured to Chiapas. The personal histories of Nancy Johns, Turner Odell, Jeanne Pace, Dale Stitt and Davis Fisher include educating groups about social-political realities in Africa, India and Haiti, education of young children and their families, family psychology, diplomacy, and pastoral. This blog is about their adventures…

The trip began with an overnight in Chiapa de Corzo, the charming colonial capital of Chiapas, and a boat ride through the misty and majestic Sumidero Canyon. During our time in San Cristobal, we had a historic tour of downtown, and visited the Mayan Textile Museum. Yoli Hernandez (Yo’onik co-founder, and Mujeres Sembrando la Vida designer) practiced her English by being our guide to the markets and churches of the Mayan villages of Chamula and Zinacantán.


In honor of Yoli’s natural talent for design, our group gifted her a copy of the recently published book Maya Threads: A Woven History of Chiapas.

The book is in English, and therefore gives Yoli the opportunity to practice her English for international clients, and other visiting groups!

We had a lovely morning playing games and sharing the books and toys with the children of the Yo’onik program. We each received a copy of the beautiful ABC of My Culture Tzotzil, Spanish and English literacy book, which is the final product of the teen photography project. Below are photos of Davis doing magic tricks for the children!

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Then we traveled overland to the tropical rainforest, to visit the Mayan Ruins of Palenque, which was beautiful, but incredibly hot and humid.  We were all melting, and Anita and Manuel kept saying how good it was that we were there while the weather was still coolish!

Since we returned home, Anita informed us that after much deliberation, the Hernandez sisters Xunka and Yoli decided how to ‘invest’ our donation: to host an in-person meeting and workshop for the members of the Mujeres Sembrando la Vida artisan cooperative.  The women live in the mountain villages around Zinacantán, and normally only representatives go to the meetings, since it is too costly for all of them to attend every meeting. Now the artisans will be able to spend the whole day together, including a meal and formal presentation with their new projector!

We were happy to learn that the projector that they are buying with our donation will also contribute to their idea of offering occasional family movie nights at the center for entertainment and edification of the local children and their families– and thereby help subsidize some of their programs at the center!

Everyone at Yo’onik is thrilled that their small library is continuing to grow, and all of them are eager to be able to share books with the schools in the villages near Zinacantán.

All of us are enthusiastically looking forward to being advocates for the upcoming fundraiser, so their dream of having a Yo’onik Traveling Library will come true!