The hammock are made by hundreds of Mayan families in the Yucatan State of Mexico. These families live in small villages about one hour outside the city of Merida. For many, hammock weaving is their only source of income. Read more about how Mayan hammocks are made and who we work with in the villages.
Soila is 43 years old. She is the mother of 6 kids.
She knows how to write her name and basic writing but does not know how to read. She first started weaving as a child of 10 years old and has passed on the skills to her children. Her 6 children range in age from 24 to 5 years old. Apart from the youngest, all the members of her family weave hammocks for a living. In can take up to 2 weeks to make a hammock, and the family can weave about 6 hammocks a month.
They live in a 1 room cinder block house with a cement floor. When we stopped by her humble place, the gate was open and Angelo spoke with her to let her know she had visitors. Like most places in the village of Kinil, the house is fronted by a stick fence. As we enter the yard, a dog barks. Soila has been busy working on the daily tasks, which includes caring for her youngest 5 year old son.
While Soila weaves away on the Mayan hammock, her son is enthralled by our visit. We are likely some of the few visitors to their town and to his house. A little shy at first, he warms up when we take pictures of him and show them to him afterwards. One of the things we like to give to children are pencils. That seemed to open the door, and he ran and got his school bag to show us. Inside he shows us his meager school supplies - a few stuby pencils, a pencil sharpener with a missing blade, and a
few scraps of paper.
As Soila and Angelo talk, Angelo inquires about her completed hammocks. She goes inside to retrieve her finished work. Angelo confirms their sizes and
weaving. As is the case, when he picks up completed hammocks, he distributes the cord to make new hammocks. From his arm, he doles out the pre-weighted bales of colorful cord, Angelo counts out the bales and discusses with her the Mayan hammock sizes to make this time around. He knows
that hammock making is made on her schedule so he lets her know he will be back in a week to pick up what she has completed. No one is ordered or enforced to make hammocks. Only those who want to work with him are involved. Angelo then hands over payment for her labour and lets her know he'll be back in a week.
As our visit with Soila, comes to an end we thank Soila for her hospitality and say goodbye to her son. As we do when we go into the towns, we offer Soila a food bag we put together. This she accepts gratefully, and thanks us for the visit. Her son smiles clutching a new pencil in his waving hand.