Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Guatemalan Headgear

During my time in Central America, I noticed many men (especially those in the pueblos) with sombreros. The younger teenagers ( AKA: hubby's nephews) however prefer baseball caps instead of the traditional sombrero.

Women, however, have a whole different thing going on. And that, my folks is where I would fail miserably. In the market, on the busy street, you name it-I saw Guatemalan women wearing baskets or bags or big old plastic dishes on their heads. The contents were varied, it could be fruits, hot tortillas, masa for the tortillas, groceries, whatever.

My sense of balance is already pretty bad. I can trip over my own two feet at times and the contents of said headgear would be toast. I observed my mother in law one day preparing to go out with one of these contraptions on her head. In her case, it was a HUGE plastic bowl filled with what I thought were white beans that had been soaking in water for hours. (hubby just laughed, because it was actually corn that was going to be made into masa for the tortillas) I didn't want to be rude and take a photo of her, so snapped shots in the city of other women carrying similar cargo on their heads.

I watched intently as she wrapped what looked like a long piece of cloth into a perfect circle and placed it on her head, and then put the huge bowl on top of that. I thought for sure the minute she moved those "white beans" were gonna spill out all over the floor, and my mouth opened wide in amazement as she took off walking at a pretty good clip, up the hill to her other daughter's house so they could prepare the masa.

Jose assured me that she's been doing this for years, and has never dropped anything as far as he knew. I was kind of doubtful, because the woman had broken at least 9 glasses in the time I had been there. ( FYI, the day before I left, a particularly sharp shard of glass jumped up off the floor and embedded itself in my leg- as I pulled it out and tried to stop the bleeding, I jokingly told her I was gonna go home and tell everyone my mother in law tried to stab me --not one to be outdone, my father in law chimed in "And make sure you tell them it was with a cuchillo" aka knife, lol)

So off went my mother in law, and during my time there I never saw her drop anything from her head-she asked me if I wanted to try it, but I had visions of impending migraines and the day's tortillas finding their way to the floor. After the pila spitting incident, I wanted to remain on her good side-so I politely declined.

I know in other countries, women also do this. I wonder why we don't do this here... I can see it now-women in the produce department at the local grocery store stuffing items into their reusable shopping bags and then balancing it on their heads... heck, if you don't have room for that bag of rice in your cart, just stick it on your noggin. Maybe I will try it with a bag of rice at the supermarket-just to observe the onlookers and see the reaction I will get, lol.

Next time I'm in Guatemala, I am gonna try it. Maybe not with a huge bowl of masa, but I'll start with something small. Like a couple of melons from the market. I promise I will take pics... lol... as they say, when in Rome...


Debbie said...

I couldn't ever do that! I can trip and fall over the mere suggestion of something.

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