At the beginning of November 2015 I was SO blessed to be able to go to Guatemala. Ali, creator of Nena & Co (their website here), invited my friends Tessa (find her blog here) and Zoe, and I to Guatemala to help bring awareness and to experience her company's journey. Nena & Co is a company based in Utah and Guatemala, working with Guatemalan artisans to create hand-woven textiles that are used to make all of their products. This method provides Guatemalan mothers with honorable incomes and time to care for their children as they work from home. All of their products are designed with functionality and style in mind, embodying the free spirit. SO dope right?!
We flew late at night on Halloween, thank goodness they didn't have a time difference from Utah so there was no jet lag! First thing we did when we got there, got their version of McDonalds LOL! Fast food for the win. Finally we made it to the beautiful home where we stayed (see pictures below of this AMAZING house) and went to bed so we would be all rested for a super LONG day the next day.
Like I said before, we arrived at night so it was super dark and I couldn't see what the landscape was like, I was SO curious. When Tessa, Zoe, and I woke up the first morning we threw on some sweats and ran up to the rooftop of our home for the week..... HOLY fjka;fjafdkl;a;flkdjal. THIS PLACE WAS UNREAL. We literally couldn't believe our eyes.. we could see not one, not two, but THREE volcano's from our rooftop. Yes, VOLCANO?!!!!!! Still blows my mind. I had NEVER seen anything like this before, one of the most beautiful things ever. Every building there is a different color, everything is so bright and colorful and fun and full of culture. We went back downstairs, rushed to get ready and downstairs to eat breakfast. First thing on our agenda for the day was the Day of the Dead Kite Festival. Guatemalan's take the Day of the Dead very seriously, they go all out. The kites were HUGE, the kids would run until they got the kites up. Zoe and I almost got run over (keep reading to find out why the term "run over" is ironic) by the kids running to get their kite up. After we looked at all the kites and explored the festival and saw a few dead pigs being roasted (EW!!) we drove a few hours to one of the biggest markets in Central America. EVERYTHING WAS SO COLORFUL, I loved it. We went to pick out some old fabric for Nena & Co to turn into a vintage, one of a kind bag for us. I am so excited for the one I picked and I can't wait to get it and show you all once it is done! Side note.... can we talk about Guatemalan babies for a second... yes, all of the babies... ALL OF THEM... CUTEST THINGS EVER, seriously, Tessa and I were dying at every single one. Everywhere we went was SO busy because of the holiday (Day of the Dead) which made this whole experience so invigorating, so much energy and culture and excitement everywhere we turned. After the market, we went back to the hotel we were staying at just for the night (because the market was about 3 hours from our house) to rest up and get some energy. That night we went to the cemetery there because they were having music and celebration for the holiday and we were so interested to see how they celebrate the Day of the Dead. Their cemeteries are SO cool and SO colorful (like everything else) I wish every single one of you could have been there.
After a LONG first day, I couldn't think I could fall more in love with Guatemala, oh boy...The second day, everything just got even better. Today was the day that we had the privilege to go to Yolanda's house to see behind the scenes of the process and learn how they actually hand weave the fabric's that Nena & Co use on their bags. We all had different teachers, giving us one-on-one lessons on how to hand weave the fabric. Yolanda was my teacher, and even though we couldn't fully communicate because we don't speech the same language, I fell in love with her. She was the happiest soul I have truly ever met, she was so smiley and so grateful for everything that Nena & Co has done for her. Because of Ali and Nena & Co, Yolanda was able to build a home for her and her family to live in and work out of, this home was made brick by brick with their bare hands, roofed with a tarp for cover. After weaving lessons, we drove a few hours to Lake Atitlan, had lunch (and about 12 limonada con soda's, my new obsession), and then took a boat ride across the lake. Being able to go out in the middle of this lake and be able to see the scenery and landscape of Guatemala from a distance was so amazing, and SO beautiful (still blown away by the real life volcanos). Once we got all the way across the lake, we explored the little artisan town at the bottom of one of the volcanos. We went to this place that had medical plants, and they taught us all about different herbs and how they can help you with things like headaches and colds, so interesting!! After, we went to a few different shops, explored some more, then headed home on the boat to go back to the house.
The last few days were spent around our house and neighborhood shooting tons of different looks for Nena & Co's look book. Tessa and Zoe modeled, along side Natazha another one of our fabulous friends. Time in-between shooting was spent venturing around the markets and streets around our house.
A trip like this truly changes you...I can't even put into words how grateful I am to Ali and everyone else at Nena & Co for all of the eye opening experiences and adventures this trip gave me.