Friday, 17 May 2013

Basket Weaving in Nicaragua

 Can you locate it on a map? 
Do you know one snippet of information about this off the beaten track spot?

I was lucky enough to visit Nicaragua this February as a stop on my journey through Central America. What a fantastic country to visit! I would thoroughly recommend it. It's a country dominated by volcanoes and filled with super friendly people.

I stayed with my family for a week at the Mariposa Spanish School near Masaya, an area famous for local artisans.

 In the mornings we studied Spanish and in the afternoons we explored the local area. We crawled through ancient lava tubes, sampled local delicacies and watched in awe as local artisans created masterpieces before our eyes. 

 One afternoon we visited Los Pueblos Blancos. The buildings in these towns were originally painted white (blanco) to ward off evil spirits. Each village specializes in a particular craft. We started in Niquinohomo, the birthplace of Augusto Cesar Sandino, to visit a basket weaver and his family. 

First the bamboo is sliced lengthways. Note the knife is pointing towards to the man! Not a job for wimps! The man was covered in cuts and scars from knife wounds. His brother then creates a frame from the sliced bamboo strips in a star shape. A length of thinner bamboo is then woven in a spiral from the centre towards the edges of the basket. This too resulted in blood letting while we watched! The men worked at speed and at the end of each day have a pile of baskets ready for sale. Most of the baskets are used by locals to carry their wares to market. They are huge and sturdy enough to be thrown from the roof of the chicken buses on reaching the market.

Oscar was completely mesmerized by this process and later in the trip we made a mini woven rug from bits of palms on the beach. 

Searching online I found some great projects. Purchase of baskets from this site provides food for children in schools. Local women have been empowered by basket weaving projects. A little monthly income in Nicaragua goes a long way. This clip shows a lady using pine needles for her basket.

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